Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma’

Where I Stand On the 2016 Oklahoma State Questions

31 August 2016

These are the initiatives currently on the ballot, along with how I will vote on each, and why.  I took the text describing each initiative from Balletpedia.

If any others are added, I will endeavor to add them here.

State Question 776 was designed to assert that all methods of execution shall be constitutionally allowed, unless prohibited by the United States Constitution, and designated statutorily by the legislature.

My take:  I will vote NO on this.  I have been a capital punishment supporter pretty much all my life.  OTOH, I have changed my opinion over the past couple years, with the large number of people freed from death sentences following DNA testing and other advances in crime science, along with the appalling race bias in the courts.  I am of the opinion that the standard for capital punishment should change from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “proven”, given that capital punishment is something that can’t be recovered from once it is applied.  Until then, I oppose any loosening of the ability for states to ease execution.  The disgraceful rush to kill exhibited in Oklahoma over the past couple years is a good enough reason to keep the brakes on.

State Question 777 was designed to establish a constitutional guarantee for farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices.

My take:  I will vote NO on this.  This looks to extend extra protections to farmers that would essentially make them unregulated or less able to be regulated.  Since unregulated farming has made huge messes (think chicken farms in Arkansas or hog farms in Oklahoma), they clearly need the scrutiny.

State Question 779 was designed to increase the state sales tax by one percent to generate revenue for education funding.

My take:  I will vote YES on this, under protest.  The protest is that this is yet another state question that is required because the Oklahoma State Legislature will not do the job the Legislators swore they would do.  Specifically, fund education.  One difference is that this measure is not on the ballot by the Legislature, but in spite of it.

State Question 780 was designed to reclassify certain property offenses and simple drug possession misdemeanor crimes.

My take:  I will vote YES on this.  I do wish that the felony limits on theft of personal property were left at $500 instead of $1000, but overall, this looks like better use of prison resources.

State Question 781 was designed to use money saved by reclassifying certain property and drug crimes as misdemeanors outlined in State Question 780 to fund rehabilitative programs.

My take:  I will vote YES on this as well.

State Question 790 was designed to repeal Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits public money from being spent for religious purposes.

My take:  I will vote NO on this.  If they had a way, I would vote HELL NO ( 🙂 ).  This is an attempt by the Legislator and Governor (all Republican controlled, it should be noted) to pander to Christians and try to get a monument to Deuteronomy 5:4–21 placed back on the state capitol grounds, Establishment Clause be damned.  We’ve had too much in the way of enshrining religious practice in law in the country, and this state, and I hope this is not approved.  I do think that if it is, it will be found un-Constitutional in Federal court.

State Question 792 was designed to allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine.

My take:  I will vote YES on this.  There isn’t any good reason for alcohol drinks to only be sold in liquor stores.  Sounds like a chance for good, healthy competition to me.  Next, lets’s open it up to all booze, and let’s see it sold on Sunday (and Election Day, if that’s still not legal).  It’s done that way in numerous states, and they haven’t seen any moral collapse.

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Stuffing Safety Down Our Throats. Maybe.

28 May 2014

I just saw a news article on KOCO about the Memorial Day so-called crackdown on drivers by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP).

The data point I noticed was the 818 tickets DHS issued for seat belt violations over the weekend.

I’ve said before: I would NEVER even move my car without putting on my seat belt, but I completely oppose compulsory seat belt laws. They are claimed to be “for our safety”, but in reality they are just another tax, collected by gun-toting troopers from whom there is zero recourse.

So “keeping us safe” netted the state over $16,000 in ill-gotten gains. Sickening.

One thing: I don’t know where KOCO got their information. I looked over the DPS and OHP sites on the web, and there were no press releases or anything like that.

One thing I did notice. I wrote a blog post a couple years ago about the DPS and their totally fracked-up, probably least well-thought-out process (and I use that term very loosely) for scheduling tests for getting drivers licenses.

I saw on the DPS site that they have a prototype on-line scheduling system! Great for them. Except… if you want to use it after this testing period, you HAVE TO PAY FOR IT!

This is another example of government working against the citizens.

Driver’s License Testing In Oklahoma

2 June 2012

When I got my drivers license in 1975, my Mom took me down to the examiner station in Muskogee, I took the written test, and then took a ride with an examiner. They made my license right then and there. Since I was 15-1/2, I had the restriction that I had to have a licensed driver in the front seat with me. At 16, that got taken off – with a typewriter used to X out the restriction from the back of the license.

Now the licenses are “graduated”. Ian has had his Learners Permit since June 2011. He was ready for the next step, an Intermediate Driver’s License (IDL). This involves a driving skills test with an official state examiner.

So yesterday, we went down to the examiner office in Edmond. There was a sign up (at 1300) that they were full up. We came home and started calling other offices, in south OKC, Norman, Yukon, Shawnee. One place said that people had lined up that morning at 0430. All the others were full up. WTH, I thought.

This morning Ian and I got up at 0545 and were out of the house at 0620. My plan was to drop him off, then run over to McDs and get some portable breakfast. The office opened at 0800, so I figured we were in great shape. We got there at 0640 to find at least 40 people in line already. Yes, forty. The queue grew to 70 in short order. They started letting people in at 0700 (as opposed to the posted time of 0800).

We waited until 0940. At that point, we talked to an examiner. He checked a number of documents, took a bunch of data (fingerprint, photo), and told us that the next available drive test slot was the next Thursday at 1430.

So two examiners, we found out, were doing ten (10) drive tests that morning. The rest of the people in line were assigned a date and time in the future. So most of the couple hours we spent there were really spent waiting for an examiner do only schedule a time. Half of the examiners were doing data entry instead of driving examinations.

We got back home around 1010. I put Ian to calling drivers test locations in a spiral moving away from OKC. Several of them do not have phone numbers listed; customer service, not so much.

He scored in McAlester. They accepted an appointment for 1300. We immediately hopped in his car for the two-hour drive to McA. We got there at 1230, waited for a bit, and Ian had his passing grade by 1325, and a valid license by 1430. We had lunch and drove back, getting to OKC around 1745.

Now, NONE of this process is discussed on the DPS website.

This process is probably the least efficient and most opaque that I have seen in working with various government agencies for the past 30 years.

Why doesn’t DPS allow on-line scheduling?

Why are examiners doing scheduling? There were two of them doing the data-entry scheduling process in Edmond. If you let people do on-line scheduling, those two examiners could have been out doing driving tests instead of data entry.

Why are the examiners collecting photos and fingerprints? That data is captured by the tag agents that actually make the licenses.

Which reminds me. The fingerprint and other data is required by the REAL ID act, legislation pushed by cowards in Congress that think that restricting American rights somehow fights terrorists. Yes, Congressional cowards who were supposed to be looking out for Americans, not restricting them.

The bottom line is that examiners need to be examining, and not doing data entry. The DPS needs to set up an online scheduling system. The stand-in-line-at-0400 before opening at 0800 no 0700 just seems deliberately designed to annoy and inconvenience the citizens that are supposed to be served.

Why Do Republicans Want To Keep People From Voting?

1 September 2011

Republicans, who *profess* to be 100% for individual liberty (well, except for what people do in the privacy of their bedroom, or a womans uterus, they do want to control those), want to supress voting.

The supposedly liberty-loving Republicans want everybody to show an identity card in order to exercise the basic right to vote. Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Indiana Republicans pushed through voter identity card requirements in the past year.

BTW, where are the jobs bills? Voter ID laws are more important, apparently. Or maybe, power for incumbant Republicans.

Regardless, there is NO indication of systemic voter fraud anywhere in the country. Except maybe in a certain district in Indiana, that is controlled by a Republican chairman, and who delivers vote results, MUCH later than the rest of the state, and in at least two cases is significantly Republican-favorable.

Nonetheless, any additional requirements for voting are bad. The Republicans, let’s face it, do it to try to hang on to power. They do not deserve to be allowed to govern.

And again, where are the jobs?

Book Read: Oklahoma Hiking Trails, by Frates and Floyd

7 May 2011

I have to say up front, I hate Mr. Frates and Mr. Floyd, just because *they* got to write this book! All kidding aside, this is the sort of book I would have written if I didn’t have that pesky job to attend to.

I got this book from the kids as a gift in December. I have glanced at it several times since then, and finished it cover to cover today. The authors have good advice on hiking Oklahoma, in particular the areas with lots of ticks and chiggers.

They have a list of the top six trails in Oklahoma (why not top 10?). I am proud to say that I have hiked five of the six, and will hike #6 (the David Boren Trail) sometime in May or June of this year, since it is (sort of) conveniently on the way to Dallas from Oklahoma City.

The book is divided into regions of the state. I was gratified to find that the authors identified a number of trails that I was not aware of that are near routes that I frequently travel. This will no doubt translate into some hiking diversions when I am on the road to Omaha and Dallas.

I would have liked to see a bit more discussion of water in the book. As an example, the notes for the Greenleaf trail indicate there is no water. A better description would have been that there is no water source at the alternate trailhead (which is the one used in the book, although it is not identied as such), but there is water available at the main trailhead in the state park. There is no ground water on the high parts of the trail, but there is abundant water in the lake and the streams that flow into the lake if you have purification by chemical or filtering means. The location of “last water available” is important to make sure you don’t get to the trailhead ready to go seven or eight miles, but the nearest water is 10 miles behind you in a Loves.

Most, but not all of the trails in the book have the trail overlaid on a topo map, which is a nice overview to complement the text. I also liked the beta on most of the trails pertaining to the blazes or markers you need to look for.

Books like this really fill a needed area. I’ve noted that most trails are not documented anywhere online. As an example, my most recent hike, at Indian Cave State Park in Nebraska, the Nebraska parks department has an online map with what looks like only about 1/3 of the trails in the park, but when you get to the park, the paper trail map shows the much more extensive trail set available. It is even so with “Oklahoma Hiking Trails”. I’ve lived in the state all my life, and have been a hiker all my life, and this book identified trails very close to me that I did not know existed.

So bravo to the authors for putting the book together. It’s a good read, and an excellent reference. And I’ll be on some of those trails soon.

Mid-Road Barriers

15 February 2011

Today as I drove through Norman on I-35, on my way south to the Dallas area, I noticed a guy from the state marking a place in the median road barrier that needed to be fixed. It looked like a car had driven into it. The three (I think) cables that form the majority of the barrier were intact, but the post supporting them was broken off, I imagine by the car impact.

So this made me pay a bit more attention to the barriers as I drove south (for those that drive this road a lot, there is not a lot of visual stimulation, especially after you have driven it about a thousand times over the years, in all seasons, and all weather conditions).

As I got south of OK 9, I started noticing more and more areas where crashes had occurred. I started counting, and from where I started counting until I got to the Purcell exit (about 18 miles), I counted 25 of the impact points. That count does not include those from south of the South Canadian River until I started counting, so there are probably 30.

Some of the impacts are minor, maybe one of two of the posts broken, bent, or pulled out, but a fair number of them show multiple broken posts and one or more broken cables.

I think that quite a few of the problems are as a result of the ice and snow we have had recently. But I also think that those posts and cables probably prevented or at least mitigated a *lot* of wrecks that might have been in-the-other-lane head-ons.

When the various governments put those post and cable systems in, it cost a bit of money, but I think that it also saves real lives, and so are a very good idea.

Legal Action Against State Question 751

12 November 2010

I just read in the paper that a lawsuit was filed against the anti-immigrant SQ 751, which requires the State of Oklahoma to do most government business in the English language only. I opposed that question, and voted against it.

The lawsuit was brought on First Amendment grounds. That’s fine, since the issue at hand is really the right of people to petition the government, and neither the State or US Constitutions require an official language, the government is subserviant to the people no matter what language we speak.

People like Randy Terrell need to get over their fear or hatred of non-light-skinned people. This country was not formed by just English-speaking light skinned people.

Trying To Figure Out The 2010 Election

7 November 2010

I am really disappointed in the election results. I am relieved that the Republicans were not able to take the US Senate. I am also very disappointed in the results here in Oklahoma, for both the elected offices and some of the State Questions.

I looked at vote counts for some of the elections. I basically picked out three state-wide election results (figuring they would be similar to each other, and so would be similar to the other state-wide results), and the race for my Congressional District. I was wondering if there would be any indication of yellow-dog voting. I also assumed that the primary and general elections would be fairly close in total voters. I was wrong.

The thing that I was was amazed at is the disparity in vote totals from the primaries to the general election: about doubled! I would have thought that the number of interested voters would have been closer from election to election.

The total number of voters as of 20 October was 2,179,603, according to a story in “The Daily Oklahoman”, sourced to the Oklahoma State Election Board, including 1,077,984 Democrats, 857,834 Republicans, and 243,785 independents (or, “nonaffiliated” as the state calls them; I am proudly one of those, but for the record, I voted 100% Democrat this time around).

As to the percentage of the electorate who voted, here are some facts:

  • The total voter participation was 23% in the primaries, and 46% in the general. In my view, that’s pathetic.
  • 263,688 Democrats voted for Governor in the primary; that’s 24% of registered Dems.
  • 249,069 Republicans voted; that’s 30% of those registered.
  • This is a definite “enthusiasm gap” for the Dems. One thing that might confound this is the “yellow dog” factor, where sympathizers of one side are actually registered as voters for the other side, to influence the general election by trying to vote a weaker candidate into play. Regardless, another couple xxx votes would have turned around…

    The State Questions were of interest to me. I suspect that a number of the Questions were put on the ballot by the Republican controlled OK State Legislature in spite of the fact that a number of them are clearly not Constitutional, as a way to help get conservative Republicans to the ballot box, much like they did with the many anti-gay measures in 2006 and 2008.

    I looked at the Questions and made my own determination as to whether each would be of particular interest to conservatives. I wanted to see the number of voters for the Questions:

    A couple observations: There is a correlation (although it doesn’t look all that strong) between the items I think are conservative interest, and the number of votes for those. It is interesting to note that in no case was a Question voted on more than the Governor race.

    Again, I am struck by the wide vote totals between the Questions. I would have expected less than a small fraction of a percent difference, and there are some large gaps.

    I will think about this more, and probably post some more later.

    State Questions on the 2010 Oklahoma General Election Ballot

    8 August 2010

    The Muskogee Phoenix printed a list of the state questions for the 2010 General Election here in Oklahoma. I have that list reproduced here, with my vote, and my commentary and questions.

    The “Legislative Referendum” questions are those that the state Legislature punted to the voters.

    This post is completed on 06 Sep 2010.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 744
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 391

    The measure repeals a section of the State Constitution. The repealed section required the Legislature annually to spend $42.00 for each common school student. Common schools offer pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.

    The measure also adds a new Article to the Constitution. It sets a minimum average amount the State must annually spend on common schools. It requires the State to spend annually, no less than the average amount spent on each student by the surrounding states. Those surrounding states are Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado and New Mexico. When the average amount spent by surrounding states declines, Oklahoma must spend the amount it spent the year before.

    The measure deals with money spent on day-to-day operations of the schools and school districts. This includes spending on instructions, support services and non-instruction services. The measure does not deal with money spent to pay debt, on buildings or on other capital needs.

    The measure requires that increased spending begin in the first fiscal year after its passage. It requires that the surrounding state average be met in the third fiscal year after passage.

    The measure does not raise taxes, nor does it provide new funding for the new spending requirements.

    This is a tough one. On the one hand, our spending per student is bad – we are always in the lower couple states in terms of how much we spend per student. On the other hand, I think that new buildings and technology don’t necessarily help the educational process.

    More money could mean higher standards, or it could mean paying teachers more, or paying certain high-performing teachers more (merit pay).

    One downside is that since it would be in the State Constitution, the Legislation would be forced to fund education per the formula in the bill.

    So I would prefer a non-political compromise. How about a State Commission to work out the funding requirements based on curriculum requirements set by the State Department of Education, and then approved or rejected in whole by the Legislature. The Commission would be non-partisan. The Legislature would be required to appropriate what the Commission came up with. This would take politics out of the picture.

    So I am going to vote NO on this measure as it is too blunt an instrument. But I would not be unhappy if it passed, either.

    And I may end up changing my mind, depending on how much the state Republicans are jerks during the remainder of the campaign.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 746
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 347

    This measure amends statutes relating to voting requirements. It requires that each person appearing to vote present a document proving their identity. The document must meet the following requirements. It must have the name and photograph of the voter. It must have been issued by the federal, state or tribal government. It must have an expiration date that is after the date of the election. No expiration date would be required on certain identity cards issued to person 65 years of age or older.

    In lieu of such a document, voters could present voter identification cards issued by the County Election Board.

    A person who cannot or does not present the required identification may sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot. Swearing to a false statement would be a felony.

    These proof of identity requirements also apply to in-person absentee voting. If adopted by the people, the measure would become effective July 1, 2011.

    I am of a couple minds about this. First, I approve of keeping our voting process clean. However, every requirement that is levied reduces the number of voters. I have heard of numerous studies that state that requiring an ID check would suppress voting, and further suppress minority and poor voters in a disproportionate amount. This is bad. It also would tend to suppress Democrat voters more than Republicans.

    So, until there is proof that voter fraud is taking place, an ID requirement hurts the election process more than it improves it.

    As such, my vote for this Question is NO.

    So my counter-proposal would be this: put in place at every precinct a report of instances of apparent voter fraud. For example, when I go to vote, if someone has already marked out my name (you have to sign on the voter roll in Oklahoma by your name), then a report is made. If the number of reports for that precinct would impact the election results, then the election is done over, with a full investigation to find the people voting illegally.

    This to me is in line with the idea of liberty. ID requirements are inherently based on the theory that you are
    not who you say you are, and so are very much guilty-must-be-proven-innocent. Voting should be as open to the population as is possible, so anything that lets fewer people vote is bad. If there is a problem, then the police can investigate and find the problem.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 747
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 348

    This measure amends Sections 4 and 23 of Articles 6 and Section 15 of Article 9 of the State Constitution. It limits the ability of voters to re-elect statewide elected officers by limiting how many years those officers can serve. It limits the number of years a person may serve in each statewide elected office. Service as Governor is limited to eight years. Service as Lieutenant Governor is limited to eight years. Service as Attorney General is limited to eight years. Service as Treasurer is limited to eight years. Service as Commissioner of Labor is limited to eight years. Service as Auditor and Inspector is limited to eight years. Service as Superintendent of Public Instruction is limited to eight years. Service as a Corporation Commissioner is limited to twelve years.

    Service for less than a full term would not count against the limit on service. Years of service need not be consecutive for the limits to apply.

    Officers serving when this measure is passed can complete their terms. All such serving officers, except the Governor, can also serve an additional eight or twelve years.

    I am for term limits in general. I do not think that term limits should apply to higher judiciary, though.

    I will vote Yes on this measure.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 748
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 349

    This measure amends Sections 11A and 11B of Article 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution. These provisions deal with how the Legislature is divided into districts. This process is known as apportionment. The Legislature must make an apportionment after each ten-year federal census. If the Legislature fails to act, an Apportionment Commission must do so. The measure changes the name of this Commission. It removes all three existing Commission members. It removes the Attorney General. It removes the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It also removes the State Treasurer.

    The measure increases the number of members from three to seven. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate appoints one Democrat and one Republican. The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints one Democrat and one Republican. The Governor appoints one Democrat and one Republican.

    The measure provides that the Lieutenant Governor chairs the Commission and is a non-voting member. It requires orders of apportionment to be signed by at least four members of the Commission.

    I think that the apportionment process should be quite mechanical. It ought to work something like this: Take all of the counties in the state and add up their populations. Divide by the number of representatives we are allowed; that would be the target X. Start in the northwest corner of the state, and start moving diagonally to the SE. When the added population of the counties reaches X, that would be the 1st District. Keep moving SE until the population reaches X again, those counties are District 2. Keep going until the last county is reached. The numbers would not be equal, but the process would be fair. There are other ways to do this that are equally fair, but the key thing is that it is a process that any person in the state could duplicate, and it would be politically fair.

    Regardless, we currently have people doing the apportionment. This proposal evens the process out, and seems to be fair. So I am going to vote YES on this.

    My one comment is that the process is oriented to a two-party system. I think that we need more political parties in general that have power to do stuff; I think that would motivate both the “big” parties (the Republicans in particular) to be a bit more motivated to bend a bit to serve all Oklahomans.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 750
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 350

    This measure amends a section of the State Constitution. The section deals with initiative petitions. It also deals with referendum petitions. It deals with how many signatures are required on such petitions. It changes that requirement.

    “Initiative” is the right to propose laws and constitutional amendments.

    “Referendum” is the right to reject a law passed by the Legislature.

    The following voter signature requirements apply.

    8% must sign to propose law.

    15% must sign to propose to change the State Constitution.

    5% must sign to order a referendum.

    These percentages are based upon the State office receiving the most total votes at the last General Election. The measure changes this basis. The measure’s basis uses every other General Election. General Elections are held every two years. The Governor is on the ballot every four years. The measure’s basis only uses General Elections with the Governor on the ballot.

    The President is on the ballot in intervening General Elections. The measure’s basis does not use General Elections with the President on the ballot.

    More votes are usually cast at Presidential General Elections. Thus, the measure would generally have a lowering effect on the number of required signatures.

    This sounds reasonable, so I plan on voting YES on it.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 751
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 351

    This measure amends the State Constitution. It adds a new Article to the Constitution. That Article deals with the State’s official actions. It dictates the language to be used in taking official State action. It requires that official State actions be in English. Native American languages could also be used. When Federal law requires, other languages could also be used.

    These language requirements apply to the State’s “official actions.” The term “official actions” is not defined. The legislature could pass laws determining the application of the language requirements. The Legislature would also pass laws implementing and enforcing the language requirements.

    No lawsuit based on State law could be brought on the basis of a State agency’s failure to use a language other than English. Nor could such a lawsuit be brought against political subdivisions of the State.

    This is an easy one – vote NO. This is a result of xenophobes like Randy Terrill, who seems to have a deep-seated hatred or fear of anyone who is not European and light-skinned.

    The march of history will result in all of us communicating in different languages, including Spanish. Deal with it.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 752
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 352

    This measure amends a section of the Oklahoma Constitution. It amends Section 3 of Article 7-B. The measure deals with the Judicial Nomination Commission. This Commission selects nominees to be appointed judges or justices, when a vacancy occurs. The Commission selects three, sometimes four, qualified nominees. The Governor must appoint one of the nominees.

    The amendment adds two at-large members to the Commission. At-large members can come from any Oklahoma congressional district. The Senate President Pro Tempore appoints one of the new at-large members. The Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints the other. At-large members cannot be lawyers. Nor can they have a lawyer in their immediate family. Nor can more than two at-large members be from the same political party.

    Six non-at-large members are appointed by the Governor. They cannot be Oklahoma lawyers. The measure adds a new qualification for non-lawyer members. They cannot have a lawyer from any state in their immediate family. Each congressional district must have at least one non-lawyer member.

    Six lawyer members are elected by members of the Oklahoma Bar Association. Each congressional district must have a least one lawyer member.

    This is reasonable, so I will vote YES on it.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 754
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 354

    This measure adds a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution. It adds Section 55A to Article 5. The Legislature designates amounts of money to be used for certain functions. These designations are called appropriations. The measure deals with the appropriation process.

    The measure limits how the Constitution could control that process. Under the measure the Constitution could not require the Legislature to fund state functions based on:

    1. Predetermined constitutional formulas,

    2. How much other states spend on a function,

    3. How much any entity spends on a function.

    Under the measure these limits on the Constitution’s power to control appropriations would apply even if:

    1. A later constitutional amendment changed the Constitution, or

    2. A constitutional amendment to the contrary was passed at the same time as this measure.

    Thus, under the measure, once adopted, the measure could not be effectively amended. Nor could it be repealed.

    This was put on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Oklahoma Legislature of 2010. It was intended to override SQ 744 should it become law.

    Now, I am not really in favor of the Legislature trying to back-door the people of Oklahoma. So, I am voting NO on this measure.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 755
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 355

    This measure amends the State Constitution. It changes a section that deals with the courts of this state. It would amend Article 7, Section 1. It makes courts rely on federal and state law when deciding cases. It forbids courts from considering or using international law. It forbids courts from considering or using Sharia Law.

    International law is also known as the law of nations. It deals with the conduct of international organizations and independent nations, such as countries, states and tribes. It deals with their relationship with each other. It also deals with some of their relationships with persons.

    The law of nations is formed by the general assent of civilized nations. Sources of international law also include international agreements, as well as treaties.

    Sharia Law is Islamic law. It is based on two principal sources, the Koran and the teaching of Mohammed.

    This, I think, should be entitled the “Hatred of Islam Act”. Or how about the “We Are Small Minded Isolationist Idiots Act”?

    The general problem with this is that it tries to keep Oklahoma from being part of the greater United States. I suspect that this is another one that the hacks in the Legislature knew would not be passed, since it is invalid on its face. Oklahoma is obliged under the United States Constitution to follow federal law, and that includes treaties. I am not a lawyer, but it seems I remember that it is routine in some cases for courts to cite case law from other countries (maritime law, IIRC, as one example).

    So, one improvement I could make here. The United States Constitution (which flows down to the Oklahoma Constitution) forbids making any law “respecting an establishment of religion”. So if this Question were modified to require courts from using ANY religious law, that would be an improvement, and would be legal at that level. That would also help to overturn all of the christian-based stuff that plagues us, including blue laws, keeping businesses a certain distance away from churches, and the like.

    But the Question is not Constitutional in the slightest, so I’m voting NO.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 756
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 356

    This measure adds a new section of law to the State Constitution. It adds Section 37 to Article 2. It defines “health care system.” It prohibits making a person participate in a health care system. It prohibits making an employer participate in a health care system. It prohibits making a health care provider provide treatment in a health care system. It allows persons and employees to pay for treatment directly. It allows a health care provider to accept payment for treatment directly. It allows the purchase of health care insurance in private health care systems. It allows the sale of health insurance in private health care systems.

    This is an anti-Obama referendum that some of the Republicans in the Legislature put on the ballot to trash the health insurance reform initiative. I am pretty sure that this is un-Constitutional due to the supremacy of
    federal law over state law. As such, I am voting NO on this question. I suspect that the anti-Obama Republicans knew that this was the case, and that’s why they did not try to make it law through the Legislature.

    ———————————————–

    STATE QUESTION NO. 757
    LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 357

    This measure amends the State Constitution. It amends Section 23 of Article 10. It increases the amount of surplus revenue which goes into a special fund. That fund is the Constitutional Reserve Fund. The amount would go from 10% to 15% of the funds certified as going to the General Revenue fund for the preceding fiscal year.

    This is pretty straightforward, and I think we should all, including the Government, have some savings.

    I would only add to this by requiring that some part of the savings also go to purchasing Oklahoma Bonds back and reducing the state debt. Maybe next time.

    ———————————————–

    That is all of the questions for this election.

    Oklahoma Legislature Being Silly Again

    28 May 2010

    As a bit of background, the Oklahoma Lottery Commission has been airing some commercials over the past couple months talking about how the Oklahoma Lottery helps Oklahoma schools. I don’t have quotes, but the ads have kids asking “How much will $X [of lottery money] buy?” and other kids answering “42,000 buses”, “x school books”, and the like.

    So it was reported on several news broadcasts the the Oklahoma Legislature (controlled by Republicans who support rape by instrumentation of women seeking abortions), that Republican State Representative Leslie Osborn (you just knew she had to be a Republican) introduced a bill that would ban children from being in ads about the lottery.

    Ms. Osborn, quoted from the KFOR TV website:

    “We did a lot of digging and those were unsubstantiated claims. So what this bill did was say if the Lottery Commission wants to run those types of commercials it’s fine, but they can’t utilize any minors in the commercials because it does promote gambling.”

    So the limited-government crowd here is trying to get into other people’s business by making more government mandates. I don’t know what the “unsubstantiated claims” were, but I suspect that there is a real reason for this, and it’s something like Osborn and her Republican friends trying to force their version of “morality” (i.e. we don’t like gambling…) on everybody else (…so we don’t want anyone else to gamble).

    This is just silly. Ms. Osborn surely has better things to do than this pointless posturing.

    This Is One Reason I Don’t Like Some Republicans

    29 April 2010

    So the Oklahoma Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, voted again this year to put a bunch of restrictions on the legal procedure of abortion. Governor Henry (a Democrat) vetoed one of those measures, which require an invasive ultrasound of a pregnant woman, without her consent. The Legislature grunted out a veto override.

    A couple observations:

    Any of those legislators that railed against the recent Federal health care reform measure, especially invoking the “bureaucrats getting between the patient and the doctor”, are utter and complete hypocrits. And, they are rapists, by proxy.

    The measure requires that an invasive ultrasound be used, not just an external ultrasound. So here, we have the ultimate rape by proxy: the State requiring pregnant women to have medical devices inserted into their vaginas against their will. Every single legislator that voted for this in any way is a rapist by proxy. Rape is the forced insertion of ANYTHING into a womans vagina against her will. This measure demands rape. It’s horrifying. What makes it worse is that it’s largely supported by so-called conservatives that supposedly value individual liberty. Where are the tea party people that are so against the intrusion of the government into our lives? Into this most private parts of our lives?

    I have sent emails to both my legislative and senate representatives to see if they voted for this odious bill in any form. If they did, they have lost my vote.

    There are times I really do not like my state. The Republicans, and any Democrats that supported this, need to be voted OUT.

    Median Cable Barriers

    16 February 2010

    As we drove on errands this afternoon, we traveled along I-35 and I-44. Raegan and I noticed that there were at least 10 places along the route where the cable barrier restraints were torn up.

    This is what they are there for. We figured that our recent spate of ice and snow made for a lot of potential crossover accidents that were avoided by the barriers.

    So hooray for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for putting those things up. I think they have saved a lot of lives.

    Checkerboard Cafe and Bakery, Midwest City, OK

    9 October 2009

    This place has the potential to be one of my favorite restaurants. I found it via an indirect route – a guy who was at a meeting I was at heard me make a comment about Chicken Fried Steak, and he said that the CFS at Checkerboard was the best in OKC.

    Such claims must be verified!

    A couple work friends (let’s call them Dlorah and Kram). Checkerboards is in a shopping center on the NE corner of Reno and Air Depot, next to an Office Depot (I think). The place looks like crap from the outside, but when you walk in, you get a pleasant surprise. The restaurant is really well decorated on the inside, really nice. It’s quiet and open. It smells good!

    The menu had one thing on it I’ve not seen before. It talks about how Checkerboards has free wifi, except from 1130 – 1300 (that time range might not be 100% accurate – I just know that it implies that wifi is turned off during lunch.

    I had every intention of having a CFS here. But up on the chalkboard was the daily special – roast beef, and it smelled really good!

    Two of us got CFS. I got the dinner size. It was really, really good. It was not fork tender, but the meat was easy to chew and had a lot of flavor. The breading was light and not terribly sweet like some places – it was good! I got whipped red potatoes and gravy (both very good) and some green beans – tasty but a bit mushy. I also got a cup of decent potato soup. It had a bit too much cheese (I’m sure Erin would disagree), but that was about the only thing I could find wrong.

    The other guy (Kram) got Chicken Marsala. It looked really good also. It was on a bed of pasta (angel hair, I think).

    I got iced tea, it was good and strong.

    The dessert menu had a lot of potential, but all of us were pretty much stuffed and so did not partake. I’m thinking that Checkerboard might be a good place to take a work break…

    That was a really good CFS. The Marsala looked excellent, and the other meals I saw looked good also.

    This place has real potential, and that potential must be explored! We got there about 1145, and there were a total of four occupied tables, and a small group. When we left about 1245, it was about the same. I hope that it is a bit busier at other times. My check, for the dinner-sized CFS, soup, and iced tea, was $18.62.

    Qboda Mexican Grill

    1 October 2009

    I walked into the Qboda in Midwest City yesterday for lunch, thinking that it was a Chipotle location. For once, I was just not terribly focused. I walked in and ordered a Burrito Bol, getting a funny look from the guy behind the counter, and a snicker from the two flight suits behind me.

    They did not have a Burrito Bol, but they did have a Taco Salad that was pretty close. I got it with grilled chicken and the hot variety of salsa. It was OK, not spectacular. The “hot” sauce was, to my taste, just barely spicy (and I do not like really spicy hot stuff); the salsa did not even raise a bead of sweat on my forehead. The iced tea was good.

    Next time I go back (hopefully on purpose), I will get it with the steak instead of the chicken.

    Free Museum Day – Oklahoma

    22 September 2009

    September 26th this year is Free Museum Day. It’s coordinated by The Smithsonian. A large number of museums grant free admission all day. You have to print out a card, at this URL:

    http://microsite.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/admission.html

    Here is the list of participating museums in Oklahoma:

    You Searched for: Oklahoma

    Chisholm Trail Heritage Center, Duncan

    Confederate Memorial Museum & Cemetery, Atoka

    Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City

    Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa

    Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, Shawnee

    Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City

    Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa

    Sam Noble Museum, Norman

    Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City

    Tulsa Historical Society & History Museum, Tulsa

    Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch, Oologah

    Will Rogers Memorial Museum, Claremore

    Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/museum-search/?state=Oklahoma#ixzz0Rn4fnpFW

    Encyclomedia 2009

    21 September 2009

    Encyclomedia is essentially a conference of teachers that is oriented to library staff. It’s run by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. It’s fairly oriented towards use of new technology in libraries and classrooms. Since I am the IT department for St. John’s, and I’m always looking for ways to make better use of our school technology infrastructure (especially if they are free or cheap), I like to go to Encyclomedia looking for cool stuff.

    This year was pretty interesting. I went to sections talking about some free research databases that are available to Oklahoma schools (EBSCO and another one). I also went to a section that talked about how to use Smart Boards in classrooms. That was pretty cool

    I talked to a couple of the reps at the trade show. The two most interesting were the OPUBCO booth, where I found out that St. John’s was already on the authorized list for using the archives of The Daily Oklahoman, which was a full-text search going back to 1913, and a Smart Board booth.

    I got about 30 minutes of quality time with a Smart Board, and learned how the Smart Boards are set up and used. We might be able to get one or two Smart Boards via a grant, so that’s good info.

    A lot of Encyclomedia is geared towards classroom teachers, who have a skill set I do not have, so I didn’t attend those sections. I ran into a college friend, which was really nice, but I didn’t see anyone else I knew.

    My only real complaint is that the rooms were limited in attendance (due to fire code, we were told), so I rearranged my schedule to hit one of the sections I could not get into due to the limits. It seems kind of silly to only let a room be half full.

    The last Encyclomedia I went to was a couple years ago. I missed the notification about the 2007 event, and the 2008 event was held while I was on a business trip so I missed it. I hope I’ll be back next year.

    Edmond Memorial High School and Technology

    11 September 2009

    This evening there was an open house at son Ian’s school, Edmond Memorial High School (EMHS), so we went up there to check it out.

    We had made several visits and walked through of the building during the enrollment process, and we admired the computer labs with their flat panels, and the Smart Boards and projectors in the classrooms. However, the Open House was our first chance to talk to Ian’s teachers.

    Now, a bit of a baseline. I think that the technology infrastructure as St. John’s is pretty good, especially given that we have zero budget for technology. We have the following capabilities:

  • Every teacher and staff member for both school and church has a workstation, email, and web access.
  • Every classroom from Kindergarten on up has at least two computers with age-appropriate software. Two of the classrooms have FOUR workstations.
  • School management software and parish management software.
  • A redundant server with our own email, world-class Internet filter (DansGuardian), the school “internal” web server, a total of 10 network shared directories. a killer firewall, real-time virus scanning, and remote access. This includes an on-line grade reporting system that is fed from the teachers electronic gradebook (Fedora Linux kicks serious tail).
  • We stream two video feeds through the building; one is from Cox Cable for TV, the other is for the building security camera system.
  • So we come back to EMHS. Two of the six teachers had PowerPoint presentations, which was cool. There are seven or eight computer labs in the building, and the library has about 20 machines just there. The aforementioned Smart Boards. Most of the classrooms had overhead projectors with remote, driven by a dedicated computer. It looked like most of the rooms had TV access, and of course each had a teacher workstation. The teachers talked about what they do in the classroom. Two of them use online course management software where all the notes for the class are stored, along with all the assignments (one uses the Smart Board to capture the notes and directly upload them to the course management software). Half of the teachers use online versions of the book(s) for the kids, so they don’t have to haul paper copies of the books around. The math classrooms has networked wireless-enabled calculators (!). In fact, the math classroom has a virtual calculator that runs on the Smart Board. The cafeteria and snack bar run on what are essentially debit cards tied to a virtual account for each student. One of the teachers blogs about the daily classroom activity and assignments.

    This is all a much higher level of technology enabling than I thought I would see. I was impressed. Of course, EMHS is awash in money in a way St. John’s isn’t. They have an IT department. It’s more than one highly skilled (if I do say so) geek who volunteers as a labor of love and service.

    I am trying to put some similar capability in. Blogs from the classroom are easy – Open Source! I am modifying our Online Grades (OLG) software to track classroom assignments in a more granular way of initial assignment to final grade. If I had time this could be done in a matter of days, but I do have to earn a living, so it stretches out in the time domain.

    The Oklahoma State Department of Education hosts a yearly conference called EncycloMedia. I am going to it next week to scope out some more ideas and resources for St. John’s. We might take a while to get to the level of EMHS (in terms of capability if not population), but hopefully we will get there.

    Oklahoma State wins in Boone Pickens Stadium

    5 September 2009

    Well, OSU just scored a win over Georgia in football today. Good job for the Pokes.

    Maybe I don’t watch enough football, but one thing horrified me. The ABC sideline reporter reported that several of the Georgia players had had IVs during and after halftime; they had bandages wrapped around their forearms right under the elbow. I presume that they received hydration fluids. Why could the players not stay hydrated enough by drinking water or juice or Gatorade or whatever? It seems a bit extreme to me that players (or coaches?) feel they are not playing to their capability unless they get a vein punctured during the game. That just seems to be too much.

    Mr. Pickens donated $165M of his money, and OSU is spending $260M on sports. I have been to OSU numerous times since I graduated, and I have not seen any upgrade in the Engineering or Math or Biology buildings. In fact, the university destroyed many of the dorms, and replaced them with apartments (that every single student we talked to said some variation on “they suck”).

    I got, I think, a good education at OSU. I enjoyed my experience greatly, and I have given a bit of money to the university and to a couple of the clubs specifically. But I have been concerned that the students and education have become a second priority. The Kamm Center and all the new new buildings on the north side of the campus, I don’t think are directly for educating students. About 10 years ago, the university spent some money for a consulting group to see what could be improved. The group returned a large number of recommendations, and I seem to recall that the OSU administration decided to implement none. I specifically remember that OSU had 21 (that’s twenty-one) vice presidents, and that about 2/3rds of those should be eliminated.

    The only buildings where there is much evidence of change is Whitehurst (which admittedly was not really very user friendly), and as R points out, the Student Union. The Union was a place where I had a lot of really good memories. I spent almost every lunch there, and spent a lot of between-class time there. They used to make a hell of a good cheesesteak there! You could also get cheeseburgers or a hot lunch. I have it on good authority that the Cowboy Burrito was simply outstanding. However, as long ago as 1995, the “OSU unique” eateries were replaced with chain stuff. I remember asking a guy that worked there why this was done, and he said that it was because the university made more money with the chains, even though they made money with the original eateries. They pulled out the bowling alley (which was always packed), the barber shop, etc. I read this as a de-emphasis on the Union being a hub of socialization. Somewhere in the past couple years, they also enclosed the former outdoor patio were we had lunch concerts, and put a lot of the university business offices there.

    Stillwater was home to me for the better part of six years. I met my very cute and OSU-loving roommate there also, and spent a LOT of time there between those two events. It was a perfect place to live (to the point that we seriously considered building a house there), but it seems the university is trying to become another institution, and that’s sad for me.

    So I’m glad the Cowboys won today, but I also recognize that not a single football game is relevant to the educational mission of the university, and I wish they would try to put money towards the sciences or the library or the arts.

    Backyard Grill, Del City, OK

    29 July 2009

    Back Yard Grill on Urbanspoon

    Today I met a couple work buddies at Backyard Grill for lunch. Backyard Grill is at 29th and Vickie in Del City. It’s been there for years. I have had many, many cheeseburgers there, and I have never had a bad one. I usually get a chili cheese burger there, and they are also really, really good.

    But that’s not what I got today. The Backyard Grill has a number of other entrees, and today, I got Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. You might be thinking, what the heck was he thinking? But it’s really, really good. You get a largish bowl of angel hair pasta, some chopped up grilled chicken (I prefer sauteed, but I dislike grilled-to-the-point-of-burned chicken, and it has never been at Backyard Grill), and a copious amount of alfredo. This is not canned or bottled, they make it right there. It has something in it that gives the usual cream-colored alfredo an orange-pink tint. It’s good!

    I’ve had Chicken Parmesan there also, same result. Really, really good.

    And then there are the cheeseburgers. Always well cooked, and never greasy. If you get chili on it, they do go overboard; that’s too bad! Yum.

    The tea is always good also.

    Recycling in Oklahoma City

    2 July 2009

    I started recycling stuff when I was about ten. There was a recycling center in Muskogee that paid for newspapers and soda cans (mostly steel back then). I went around to all our neighbors and asked them to save their newspapers, I would pick them up a couple times a month and my Mom would haul me and the papers down to the recycling place. I think I got something like $20 each time I did this.

    When I lived in northwest OKC, the city of Oklahoma City provided big blue dumpsters and smaller blue recycling containers, and these would be picked up curbside. Since we moved out to northeast OKC, we are somewhat second class city citizens, in that we do not have fire hydrants or recycling.

    One note about the hydrants. We pay exactly the same taxes as anyone else in the city (in fact, more since the houses in my addition are larger and on an acre or more), but the city wanted us to pay about $5K per house to run water the 3/4 mile from the nearest hydrant. So even though our taxes clearly subsidize a new addition at, say, Council and Britton, or the new apartments in Bricktown, the city also wanted us to directly pay for our hydrant(s). This policy, BTW, means we pay more in homeowners insurance. I would state that I have brought this up to our Council reps office (Ward 7), but have never had the courtesy of a reply.

    It is even so with recycling. They do not sent the recycling trucks here. I would imagine if I tried to hold out an amount of taxes, the city would quickly send me to jail or something. Taxation without recycling or hydrants.

    So I still recycle. We have been collecting our newspapers (I always bring home the USA Todays that I get at hotels), various homework papers that are returned, etc., cans that used to hold soup and veggies (I even cut the labels off for the paper recycling), broken metal stuff, cardboard, etc. Thanks to Nichols Hills, we recently became able to recycle #1 and #2 plastic stuff, like milk bottles.

    We stash stuff in Braums paper sacks (for metal and paper), and in Wal Mart plastic sacks (for plastics). Once a month or so, we haul it off. We used to go to a couple places: a cardboard recycling container behind a Panera Bread, the Nichols Hills city recycling center for metal, and our school for paper. Now we are able to take cardboard and plastics to Nichols Hills. I have occasionally (for example, a recent garage cleaning produced huge amounts of recycling stuff) loaded up our Rendevous with stuff and taken it to the Norman recycling center.

    I am currently taking our former dishwasher apart to recycle (it’s timer melted into slag, and I cannot find a replacement anywhere; I’ll be keeping some motors and pumps that still work). I offered the whole thing for parts on OKC Freecycle, but no takers.

    The strangest thing I ever recycled: My 1984 Toyota truck after the block cracked. I recycled most everything from the cab forward (the back became a trailer), and resulted in about 700 pounds of metal. I think it netted me $80, but it was out of the driveway.

    One more thing: I thought about this at lunch, and I think that, on average, of the stuff that leaves the house, we probably have a 60/40 proportion of trash/recycled. Our neighbors on both sides of us are just the two of them (no kids), and yet almost every week they end up putting out two pretty full big blue dumpsters, our friends to the west have the two of them and two girls, and they put out THREE almost every week. Except for recently, while our big house and garage cleaning has been going on, we usually put out one, about half full, and that’s with four of us.

    Sara’s Restaurant, Del City, OK

    30 June 2009

    Sara's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

    This restaurant used to be called Cowboys, and closed a couple years ago. It reopened sometime in the past year, and a couple work buddies re-discovered it.

    I went there for lunch today with a work friend. The last time I was here, I saw some pot roast and thought it looked good. Both Harold and I ordered it today and it was excellent. The amount was right (not too much), the pot roast was tender and tasty, the brown gravy was very good, and the green beans were really, really good. I don’t usually get dessert, but I got a slice of chocolate cake, and it was very moist and tasty. My check was about $10.00.

    We ate lunch at Sara’s a couple months ago. I got a CFS. The CFS was good. I do not think it was an example of my favorite CFS, which is fresh cube steak breaded and flash fried in vegetable oil. It also was not a mass-produced “manufactured” CFS. On a scale of 1 to 10, the Sara’s CFS was about a 6 (inedible is 4 or less, outstanding is 8 or better). The mashed potatoes and gravy were decent, and the green beans were outstanding.

    Sara’s has excellent iced tea.

    Sara’s is on SE 15th, about 1/4 mile west of Sunnylane.

    Van’s Pig Stand

    20 June 2009

    Van's Pig Stand (Shawnee) on Urbanspoon

    We picked Erin up from St. Crispin’s camp outside of Seminole today, and joined an old friend and her kids for dinner at Van’s. We ate at the location in Shawnee, OK, on Harrison.

    This is the fifth or sixth time we’ve been to this location. We have also eaten at the location in south Shawnee, and I’ve been to the one in Moore. All were good, but the Harrison location is best, I think.

    I got a two-meat with ribs and chicken. The ribs were good, but seemed a bit dry and were fairly tender. The chicken was very tasty, although also a bit dry. The green beans were excellent, and the baked beans were also.

    Raegan got a two-meat with turkey and pork. She also got a some pecan pie, so I got about half of hers. I really liked both the pork and turkey, although again, the turkey was a bit dry.

    Ian got the rib dinner and liked it, and Erin got the turkey dinner and liked it also. The total tab for the four of us was right at $50.

    I wonder if we had the last of the meat, since we got there around 1300. Maybe the stuff had been sitting in the warmer for a while and got a bit dry. I’ve always had good meat there before.

    The iced tea was great as always.

    We ate a lot of meals at the location in south Shawnee, but the quality was variable. A couple years ago, we tried the Harrison location, and aside from today, the quality has always been good (it wasn’t bad today, it should be noted, just things were a bit dry).

    That Oklahoma State Trooper

    16 June 2009

    That guy is an embarrassment to the State. I am in Orlando, FL, and the video of the trooper throwing his weight around and cursing were played on both CNN, and the local NBC affiliate (WESH).

    OK, so the ambulance driver missed the trooper going by. The trooper called it in, and the ambulance driver had already been called about it.

    For the trooper to then complete his call, then go back and chase down the ambulance, and start yelling and cursing, is too much. The guy shows no class, no restraint, and no good judgment. The trooper acted like a two-year old who didn’t want to share his toys. I don’t know that I want him “protecting” us.

    Even though I heard in a news report that someone in authority (the head of the OHP or the head of the Department of Public Safety) said the trooper was not in the wrong, the fact that the trooper grabbed the ambulance driver by the throat is ASSAULT, and the guy ought to be out and/or up on charges for it.

    And he ought to have the integrity to apologize publicly, like the incident is public.