Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

Press On: Recent Media Coverage of OK Democrats

Democrats in Oklahoma often have to struggle for positive coverage in the corporate media, but here are a few recent news items we found, along with a TV clip featuring Rep. Jason Dunnington, and a letter to the editor.

NEWSPRINT

Former state senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate talks revenue woes, criminal justice reform – by Carl Lewis of CNHI News Oklahoma, published in Norman Transcript (originally in Ada News), July 21, 2017

Differing shades of Oklahoma Democrats line up to challenge Steve Russell Justin Wingerter, OKlahoman, July 23, 2017.

Which got this reaction on Twitter:

Oklahoma GOP gets head start on 2018 campaigns – Dale Denwalt, Oklahoman, July 23, 2017

House Dems call for contingency plan negotiations, public meeting – by Caleb Slinkard , published in Norman Transcript, July 19, 2017

Virgin: Knocking doors is key to victories – BY Joy Hampton, published in Norman Transcript, July 22, 2017

VIDEO

LTEs

Letter to the editor: A problem only Republicans can fix – By Mary Thetford, in Tulsa World, July 23, 2017

If you found other news items featuring OK Democrats, please let us know.

Seeing the Light at the End of the Oklahoma Budget Debacle?

If more Oklahoma Republicans can be cured of their tax increase phobia, maybe we can get back to funding critical services in this state. Some real solutions are starting to be discussed at 23rd and Lincoln. Baby steps, but still!

Arnold Hamilton is editor of The Oklahoma Observer, but he also writes a regular guest column for The Journal Record. His latest op-ed addresses the foundational problem that has decimated our state’s budget in recent years: an out of date and unfair tax code.

In “Political spin, special interest cooks and future prosperity” (Behind paywall) Hamilton commends a handful of legislators who are trying to seriously review Oklahoma’x complex (and obviously broken) tax policies, and seek out solutions.

[I]t’s both notable and laudable that senators – led by Okemah’s Roger Thompson – took the first steps toward possible overhaul of a tax system that disproportionately burdens the working class and poor and undermines core state services whose funding is over-reliant on volatile revenue sources like oil and gas.

Noting how previous attempts to raise more revenue – like Gov. Fallin’s expanded service tax idea last year – have fizzled, optimism is not easy to come by, but the dire situation Oklahoma has in seems to have “woke” some Republicans to some realities that don’t mesh well with long-standing GOP dogma.

Thompson’s three-hour hearing this week served as a primer for senators of both parties seeking to better understand Oklahoma’s revenue picture. It also signaled that the Senate’s Republican majority has taken note of Kansas’ failed “trickle down” experiment – cutting taxes do not magically generate more income.

To me, that alone is cause for some ray of hope, but it’s a long way from the interim study currently underway and a supermajority required by State Question 640 to radically reform our tax code by changing rates and thus raising income taxes on high-earning groups. That will mean more than a handful of Republicans will have to recognize that “tax reform” doesn’t always mean cutting taxes for the wealthy and making the poor and middle class pick up the slack and suffer the effects of service cuts. Because, as Hamilton notes,

what helps create sustainable, predictable revenue streams to underwrite vital public services is a fairer, more broadly applied tax code that ensures the working class and poor have more to spend, the economy’s uber stimulant.

Slowly, it appears that this — the only real alternative to our current crisis — is getting through to those who make these decisions on our behalf. Perhaps the winning streak of reality-based Democrats in several recent special elections is playing a part in the new insights by the Republican majority.

We can hope!

What seems to Hamilton – and me – to be a very sane solution that will serve to tamp down Republican politicians’ nervousness about violating the Grover Norquist rule of polcymaking, is, yes, handing the job off to a bipartisan panel, an idea proposed recently by State Treasurer Ken Miller.

Such a group could tackle comprehensive reform – everything from income tax rates to sales taxes on services to gross production and motor fuel taxes – then present a plan for an up-or-down legislative vote.

That won’t be easy (thanks, Yes on SQ640 voters!) but can perhaps cushion the political pain for members of the majority running this state.

Because some of them are coming to the light and getting introduced to reality too. Hamilton quotes Miller, who, unlike some stubborn Norquist-bamboozled state legislators, reads the state’s books: “We need to have a modernization of our tax code,” he says. “It was built for an economy that doesn’t exist anymore.”

Ya think?!

 

Weekly News Roundup

On July 14, Our Revolution Oklahoma, a chapter of the group formed by former staffers and supporters of the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign, had a well-attended organizational meeting in Moore. 80 people from across the state attended. A followup meeting will be held on August 15.

The reconvene of the Oklahoma Democratic Party on July 15 went pretty smoothly once a quorum was present. Anna Langthorn was pretty universally commended for her facilitation of the event, though, afterward, she was seeking out recommendations for orthopedic shoes.

Democratic State Representatives are being pro-active about a possible constitutional showdown over the state budget and resulting special session.

Senator seeks to nail down state’s cost for defending unconstitutional laws – By Barbara Hoberock, Tulsa World, July 23 2017

A new study shows that Oklahoma is dead last in funding for higher education. Add that to the deepest cuts to K-12 public education in the country. Isn’t full Republican control of Oklahoma government great?

Tom Guild, candidate for OK-5, did a 2.5 hour AMA on Reddit.

Meanwhile, Kendra Horn, also running for OK-5, was interviewed by Red Dirt Report‘s Chelsea Copeland.

Most Republicans hold negative view of higher ed  by Ben Felder, published in the Oklahoman, July 23, 2017

Oklahoma delegation in DC works to decimate federal government – DC Report column by Randy Krehbiel in Tulsa World, July 23, 2017.

USGS in Oklahoma showed how following the dots can be really frightening!

A message from Connie Johnson: How to Vote By Mail — and take Oklahoma back

Former state Senator Connie Johnson is an advocate for every progressive cause known, but she has a special calling to increase voter participation, and in particular to increase the use of absentee voting (vote by mail) among Oklahoma Democrats.

Currently running for the Democratic nomination for Governor, Connie sent out this letter recently. Whomever you support in that race, Connie’s advocacy for this tool for increasing turnout is a winning ticket!

Most people don’t know that Oklahoma wasn’t always this way — sold out to the highest bidder, dominated by right-wing extremism, and bankrupted by irresponsible, corporatist leadership. At our formation, we were considered one of the most progressive states in the nation. It was only as recently as 2004 that Republicans took a majority in the House, and then, in 2010, snowballed into a supermajority avalanche.

How did this happen? More importantly, what can we do about it?

Among other things, one of the most successful strategies of the Right is that they push hard for their supporters to Vote By Mail. Traditionally speaking, the candidate who wins the absentee vote wins the election.

The advantages are vast, and the implications for the minority voice are profound:

  1. Never miss an election. Every ballot will be delivered straight to your door three (3) weeks prior to each election, large or small, meaning you will have three weeks to vote instead of three days;
  2. Have time to research. No matter the candidate, state question, or bond initiative — whatever appears on your ballot, you’ll have plenty of time to make an informed decision.
  3. Easily notarize. Your local tag agency or financial institution notarizes ballots for free. If you are disabled, or a caregiver to someone who is disabled, your ballot simply has to be witnessed by two people before sending it off.
  4. Throw a ballot party! Various groups, churches or other community organizations can host a ballot party, with notaries present, and everyone can put two first class stamps on their ballots and send them off all at once; and
  5. Still vote in person if you want! You don’t have to use your absentee ballot — but we are asking everyone to please just sign up! The more people who register to vote by mail, the more successful our movement will be.

Sign up to Vote By Mail at okvotebymail.com. It takes less than 5 minutes. Tell your friends and family all of the benefits. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying something new.
The age of reactionary, defensive strategy on the Left is over. It’s time to get proactive.

It’s time to take our state back.

Welcome to the Movement.

Kind regards,
Connie

Welcome to the new Blue Oklahoma

If you have been a previous visitor to Blue Oklahoma, you will find a few changes. Maybe more than a few!

(Scroll down below this announcement for newer posts.)

The site is in new hands, and while we want to build on the powerful legacy left to us by Kurt Hochenauer (who has moved out of state), we also want to turn a page and try out some new ideas and approaches.

More than anything, we want some new voices to populate these pages, and set them to the long-standing mission: examining the many political problems in our great state, and offering ideas for policies that work for the people, instead of the corporations and the small minority of elite power brokers in business and media, and their operatives at 23rd and Lincoln.

If that is something you also desire, I invite you to join us and become a contributing writer. Read more about getting involved.

Please follow us here, on Facebook and/or Twitter, and share our links to your friends and networks.

Please give us your feedback. We would love to hear your thoughts. Use the contact form for a private email message, or comment on any post via your Facebook account (see more about Comment options if you do not have a Facebook account).

Election Board records show voter fraud rarely occurs in Oklahoma

Through an open letters request, The Frontier obtained a January letter from three Democratic Congressmen to the Oklahoma Elections Board, asking about voter fraud incidents in the state.

The result of the Election Board’s nearly three-month investigation into possible voter fraud in the 2016 general election? Nineteen possible instances of potential voting crimes, 17 of which were instances of double votes, such as when a person votes via absentee ballot, then attempts to vote in person on Election Day.

All 19 instances were forwarded to local district attorneys for potential prosecution, said Election Board spokesman Bryan Dean.

“I have no idea what the disposition (of each case) is,” Dean said. “Most of the time double voting is not prosecuted because it happened by accident and they (the DAs) don’t want to go after a little old lady who voted twice.”

The article also looks at the more recent effort by a Trump administration commission headed by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach to investigate what they say is rampant voter fraud and other irregularities.

The commission, formally referred to as the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” had sought a bevy of information on Oklahoma voters, including full names, addresses, birth dates, political affiliations, the last four digits of each voter’s social security number, voting history beginning in 2006, felony convictions, any information about voting history in other states, military information and “overseas citizen information.”

Many states are refusing to participate, saying the effort is a veiled attempt at voter suppression and violates privacy of voters, and no state has yet found any evidence of fraud any different than the minimal levels in Oklahoma.