Attorney General’s Office
Attorney General Scott Pruitt today named longtime prosecutor Charles S. Rogers as a Senior Assistant Attorney General for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.
Rogers most recently served as Chief of the Multicounty Grand Jury Unit.
“Charles has impressive credentials as a prosecutor who has fought for justice across Oklahoma,” Pruitt said. “He brings great expertise and dedication to this office, and I look forward to tapping his knowledge of law through his expanded role.”
Rogers, 59, earned a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in 1975 and a Juris Doctor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1978.
He has served Oklahoma as a felony prosecutor for 28 years, handling cases that include bribery, securities fraud, murder, perjury, embezzlement and multiple cases of government corruption.
Rogers first joined the Attorney General’s Office in 1978 before leaving briefly to serve as a deputy appellate public defender for Oklahoma in 1980. Over the next 20 years, he served as a prosecutor in the AG’s Office and for district attorneys in Payne, Logan and Oklahoma counties.
After General Pruitt took office in January 2011, Rogers was named Chief of the Multicounty Grand Jury Unit, where he served until becoming a Senior Assistant Attorney General.
Rogers and his wife of 36 years, Nancy, have two children and live in Stillwater.
House Communications Division
Rep. Josh Cockroft announced today he will file two pieces of legislation that would make county elections non-partisan in Oklahoma.
The first bill will focus solely on sheriff elections. The second bill would make all county elections non-partisan.
“Making these non-legislative positions non-partisan is an important step to simply putting the right people in the right office, no matter their party,” said Cockroft, R-Tecumseh. “Constituents are always telling me about the frustration they have with the current system, where they can’t always vote for the candidate they want because of his or her party designation. While I believe legislative positions should be partisan, I don’t think most of us see a need for partisan county elections.”
The Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association voted unanimously for the first time to support legislation to make sheriff elections non-partisan, Cockroft said. Non-partisan elections would allow all voters to participate, even if candidates that file belong to only one party.
“Individuals will still be able to run for office pointing to the ideals of the party they belong to, but the duties that they perform don’t require an R or a D behind their name, and the ballot box won’t either,” Cockroft said.
Lawmakers are currently in the process of drafting legislation, which must be filed by Jan. 17, 2013. The legislative session convenes Feb. 4, 2013, with the governor’s State of the State address.
Oklahoma State Auditor Gary Jones today released information regarding the agency’s success in eliminating a pre-existing backlog of county audits, promoted the expanded use of Performance Audits to eliminate wasteful spending, and announced the restructuring of the agency for the next two years of his first term.
“We have completed three years worth of audits in two years and that is truly remarkable,” said State Auditor Gary Jones. “When you consider that when we took office the agency was compliant in conducting audits in only 25 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, our employees have accomplished a remarkable feat. We have literally completed 231 years of audits and the backlog has virtually been eliminated.”
A state map with color coded counties identifies when the last fiscal year audit had been completed as of January 10, 2011, and compares it to the status of county audits two years later. Today, only Cotton and Murray counties remain from the original backlog list and audits are currently underway in both counties and also Love County to bring all three counties current as of fiscal year 2012. In total, 67 counties are now fully compliant with the auditing requirement and all 77 counties will be in compliance by the end of the current fiscal year.
“Two thousand twelve was a particularly busy year for the State Auditor’s Office,” Jones said. “In addition to the 160 county audits completed, we engaged in several Performance Audits on behalf of Governor Fallin and others. I don’t generally talk about the audits, preferring instead to let the audits speak for themselves. I do want to mention a couple because we appreciate the confidence the Governor has demonstrated in our ability to do the work Oklahomans expect from their State Auditor.
“We’re often called the watchdog and that’s okay,” Jones said. “The term, though, also tends to pigeonhole us without acknowledging that we’re a whole lot more, both as a tool for lawmakers and government leaders to use to identify program weaknesses and in achieving transparency and accountability in government.
“The Native American Cultural and Education Authority Performance Audit identified considerable waste that has prolonged completion of the project and resulted in skyrocketing costs,” Jones said. “The audit identified numerous problems while also recommending an equal number of solutions to put the landmark history-preserving project back on track.
“A Performance Audit of the Department of Central Services pointed to multiple problems with the state’s capital asset management,” Jones said. “We have property we didn’t know we owned or buildings in disrepair that only receive attention when an emergency erupts or the public’s health is at risk.”
Currently, Performance Audits are underway at other public entities including EMSA, the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs and the City of Oklahoma City.
Special Investigative Audits resulting from Citizen Petition Requests are underway in Miami, Elk City, Glenpool, and Dewar with requests pending for the towns of Beaver and Rock Island.
DA requests include ongoing or pending Investigative Audits for the towns of Spencer, Healdton, and Woodward. The town council requested Special Audit of New Cordell will be released soon.
“Without a doubt, we’re busy, and there’s more we can do to serve our residents as the independent auditor for the state,” Jones said. “We never identify a problem without offering a solution and its good solutions, regardless of whose idea it is, that are necessary if we wish to achieve good government.”
In a continuing effort to improve agency operations, Jones announced a restructuring of his organization effective immediately. Deputy State Auditor Steve Tinsley, who came out of retirement in 2011 to accept his current post in the Jones’ administration, will re-enter retirement after 25 years of service to the State Auditor’s Office at the end of June.
As part of the restructuring, Jones announced the creation of three Deputy State Auditor positions to oversee various aspects of agency operations and functions.
Lisa Hodges, CFE, CGFM, has been named as Deputy State Auditor for State Agency Auditing and Information Services (bio follows).
Cindy Perry, CPA, has been named as Deputy State Auditor for Local Government Services (bio follows).
Janice Buchanan, MBA, has been named as Deputy State Auditor for Special Audits, Administration and Public Policy (bio follows).
“I’m pleased to announce the appointments of three very capable and talented individuals to the position of Deputy State Auditor for the State of Oklahoma,” Jones said. “Each of these individuals is an exceptional public servant who understands the importance of good governance and has spent much of her adult life in the pursuit of improving Oklahoma government operation and the delivery of government services.”
LISA HODGES, CFE, CGFM, currently serves as Director of State Agency Audits and has been with SAI since 1981. Lisa became a Certified Fraud Examiner in 1993 and qualified in 1996 as a Certified Government Financial Manager. Since 1998 she has served on the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers’ (NASACT) Peer Review Team as team member, team leader and concurring reviewer. Lisa currently serves on the Oklahoma College Savings Plan Board as the State Auditor’s designee and sits on the Commissioners of the Land Office Internal Audit Committee. Lisa earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Oklahoma State University in 1981.
CINDY PERRY, CPA, has served as the Director of the County Audit Division for the Office of the State Auditor and Inspector since July 1, 2011. Cindy graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant. She has 17 years of local governmental auditing experience which includes county audits, district attorney audits, emergency medical services district audits, and investigative audits.
During her career with the Auditor’s Office, Cindy has held the positions of Audit Supervisor, Audit Manager, and Division Director. As Director of County Audits, Cindy has been instrumental in implementing training programs to assist county officials with preparation of annual financial statements, and in identifying weaknesses in a county’s system of checks and balances to safeguard taxpayer funds.
JANICE BUCHANAN, MBA, graduated with a BA in Behavioral Science from the University of Chicago and an MBA from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, OKC Branch and has over twenty years of state government policy, finance, and legislative experience. While serving as Fiscal Director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Janice formulated fiscal policy, negotiated state budgets and created strategic plans for legislative leadership. Janice currently is a member of the State Auditor’s Performance Audit Team.
Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, House Speaker T.W. Shannon, Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage and House Democratic Leader Scott Inman announced today the members of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security.
Lt. Governor Lamb, a former United States Secret Service Agent, will serve as chair of the commission and looks forward to the work set to be accomplished.
“Partnering with legislative leaders to create the Oklahoma Commission on School Security was a much-needed, proactive decision,” said Lt. Governor Lamb. “Our children deserve safe and secure learning environments and this commission is committed to doing just that. Each commission member brings experience from their respective field that will generate ideas and solutions to enhance school security.”
Members of the Oklahoma Commission on School Security include local school personnel, law enforcement, parents and health care professionals, and are as follows:
1) Roger Webb – Headmaster, Oklahoma Christian School/former President, University of Central Oklahoma/former Commissioner, Department of Public Safety
2) Maj. Gen. Lee Baxter (retired) –State Board of Education Member
3) Dr. Ryan Brown – Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Oklahoma
4) Lyn Watson – Oklahoma City School Board, District 1
5) Randy Holley – Superintendent, Shattuck Public Schools
6) Dr. Gary Quinn – Superintendent, Bartlesville Public Schools
7) Kevin Burr – Superintendent, Sapulpa Public Schools
8) Mike McClaren – Superintendent, Claremore Public Schools
9) Dr. Trice Butler – Principal, Wilburton Middle School
10) Dr. Sharon Brady – Assistant Director of Special Education, Lawton Public Schools
11) Tammy Will – Teacher, Morrison Public Schools
12) Dr. Eleanor Goetzinger – Behavior Specialist, Oklahoma City Public Schools
13) Jerry McConnell – Director of Facility Operations, Moore Norman Technology Center
14) David Prater – Oklahoma County District Attorney
15) Kim Carter – Director, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security
16) Brandon Clabes – Midwest City, Chief of Police
17) Captain Tim Dorsey – Captain, Edmond Police Department
18) Darry Stacy – Cleveland County Commissioner, District 2
19) Gary Rudick – Chief of Police, Tulsa Public Schools Campus Police
20) Major James Blocker – Director of EMS, Oklahoma City Fire Department
21) Gary Armbruster – Principal Architect, MA+ Architecture
22) Phil Armstrong – Assistant Pastor, Metropolitan Baptist Church, Tulsa
“There is nothing more important than doing everything in our power to keep Oklahoma’s kids safe,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman. “I am tremendously thankful for these subject matter experts—they are generously giving of their time to help us build safer schools and address the fundamental problems that could potentially put our kids in harm’s way. I appreciate their service.”
“Our children are our highest priority,” said House Speaker T.W. Shannon. “I applaud these men and women for volunteering their time and expertise to help safeguard the future of Oklahoma. My hope is they will strike the right balance between public safety and personal liberty.”
“We must have a serious, fact-driven discussion about the safety of our schools,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sean Burrage. “The formation of the non-partisan Oklahoma Commission on School Safety is an important first step. I applaud those who have stepped up to serve our state in this capacity, and I look forward to the findings of the commission.”
“As a parent, I never want to second-guess the safety of my children while they are at school,” said House Democratic Leader Scott Inman. “The Oklahoma Commission on School Security’s work will be timely and necessary if we want to proactively create learning environments where our children feel safe, secure, and fearless throughout their education. I look forward to the commission’s findings and know these experts will provide us with a meaningful road map to ensuring our schools are secure.
Commission members will hold various meetings, the first set to convene at the Oklahoma State Capitol, Room 419-C, on January 22 at 1:30 p.m. Meeting agendas will include speaker testimony and discussion on the various factors related to school security including but not limited to public safety, mental health, training, engineering and local control. The commission plans on providing suggestions and legislative recommendations regarding school security for the 2013 legislative session.
Oklahomans across the state are encouraged to submit their ideas for study in the commission by calling the Lt. Governor’s office at 405-521-2161.
Jan 9 2013 | Posted in General
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National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Vice Chair Governor Mary Fallin delivered the association’s first-ever State of the States address today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The governors focused on the current conditions and challenges faced by states and discussed the governors’ collective vision for 2013. Markell also highlighted several gubernatorial successes from the past year.
“It should come as no surprise how much we can accomplish when we work together. Governors and their federal partners were successful in crafting the command structure so that states and the federal government can respond in natural disasters,” Markell said. “We also worked with the first responder community and others to secure needed broadband radio spectrum to build a national emergency communications system, and we engaged on issues ranging from transportation to education to preserving the capabilities of our National Guard.”
Markell noted that while each governor has his or her own unique circumstances, each must facilitate job growth, improve schools and be financially responsible. He pointed out that uncertainty from Washington and the reality of shrinking federal support hurts both state economies and state budgets.
“As much as we do in our states, our economies are tightly linked to the national economy. As a result, our states’ prosperity depends, in no small measure, on the ability of our public servants in Washington to come to terms on a path forward,” said Markell.
He continued by saying that one of the largest uncertainties concerns elements of the “fiscal cliff” that were postponed or left out of the recently enacted American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
Markell also highlighted job creation, noting his NGA Chair’s initiative, A Better Bottom Line: Employing Individuals with Disabilities, in addition to infrastructure, the nation’s tax code and education as priority issues for governors.
Fallin focused her remarks on the importance of a strong state-federal partnership, noting that governors are “committed to a vibrant and strong collaboration with Congress and the administration to maintain and promote a balanced federal system.”
She highlighted four points governors have asked the president and Congress to keep in mind when addressing sequestration and deficit reduction:
- Federal reforms should produce savings for both the federal government and states;
- Deficit reduction should not be accomplished by merely shifting costs to states or imposing unfunded mandates;
- States should be given increased flexibility to create efficiencies and achieve results; and
- Congress should not impose maintenance of effort provisions on states as a condition of funding.
“Essentially, all of these points can be boiled down to two words: flexibility and partnership,” said Fallin. “We need the flexibility to take care of the unique needs of our citizens and the unique challenges facing our states…and states need to be treated as partners, not underlings, as we work to implement good public policy. As we told the president, reducing the deficit simply by shifting costs to states is not indicative of a good partnership.”
Fallin also highlighted health care and its costs as a critical challenge for the country. She noted NGA’s new virtual resource center as a tool to help navigate the various complexities of health care policy.
“This website will provide policymakers with expert analysis and best practices already adopted in states that are working to improve health care access, affordability and quality,” Fallin said.
Fallin outlined NGA’s initiative to tackle the fastest-growing drug problem in the country: the abuse of prescription drugs. The initiative is co-chaired by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and seeks to develop and implement comprehensive and coordinated strategies to reduce prescription drug abuse.
Finally, Fallin noted that governors remain committed partners in the maintenance of the nation’s armed forces—especially the men and women of our National Guard. The National Guard plays a critical role responding to emergencies here at home as well as fighting alongside our active duty military overseas.
Fallin said, “Governors will continue to work with the Department of Defense and Congress to better leverage the National Guard’s cost-effectiveness and high level of experience while preserving military capability for the nation because the safety and security of our citizens is crucial.”
Senate Communications Division
With workers compensation reform among the top priorities for Senate leaders in the coming session, Senators Anthony Sykes and Josh Brecheen are getting a firsthand look at Arkansas’ administrative model this week.
The two Senators traveled to visit with Arkansas officials about their transition to an administrative system, and its success in lowering workers comp premium rates and getting employees back to work efficiently.
Oklahoma’s is now the fourth most costly workers comp system in the country. Arkansas transitioned to an administrative system in the early 1990’s, and has since seen premium rates decline to well below those of the national median. Sykes said Arkansas’ workers comp success story could be a model for Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma’s workers comp structure imposes costs upon businesses that are a hindrance to job growth,” said Sykes, R-Moore. “Currently, Oklahoma is a regional outlier, with premium rates considerably higher than those of surrounding states and the national average. Our status as one of the worst performing states in workers compensation is a disincentive for economic development and is keeping us from reaching our full potential as an engine for prosperity.”
“We can learn a lot from Arkansas’ success in establishing a system that controls costs, operates efficiently and gets injured employees back to work.”
Brecheen said Oklahoma is one of only three states states that use a legal system for work-related injury cases. Surveys also indicated the issue is the primary concern for Oklahoma business, he added.
“Arkansas’ experience can provide us a roadmap for successfully reforming our system and producing positive results,” said Brecheen, R-Coalgate. “Ours is the mostly costly system in the region, and is simply an inefficient use of public resources. Oklahoma taxpayers deserve better than this.”
“We feel confident a system modeled on Arkansas’ successes would remove a significant barrier to growth in Oklahoma.”
“We live in a country with an out-of-control federal government that is bankrupt financially and morally. As a result, we have fewer freedoms, we pay more in taxes than we should, and there is little hope of these things changing under our current president and this Congress. So let me say this: The state of Oklahoma will not be following the lead of Washington, D.C. Not on my watch. In fact, we will push back at every turn. We will fight every invasive regulation. We will refuse each costly expansion.” ~ House Speaker T. W. Shannon
Jan 9 2013 | Posted in General
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School teachers in Texas and Ohio are flocking to free firearms classes in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre, some vowing to protect their students with guns even at the risk of losing their jobs.
In Ohio, more than 900 teachers, administrators and school employees asked to take part in the Buckeye Firearms Association’s newly created, three-day gun training program, the association said.
In Texas, an $85 Concealed Handgun License (CHL) course offered at no cost to teachers filled 400 spots immediately, forcing the school to offer another class, one instructor said.
Jan 9 2013 | Posted in General
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