Newly posted on the Oklahoma House website this morning.
Here’s the statewide map (minus the Panhandle):
Here’s the inset for the urban areas:
They’ve also got plenty of smaller, more detailed maps on the site here. I’ll have more on this later.
But here in Oklahoma, so far all the public has seen from the redistricting efforts of the state House and Senate are some static PDF maps dealing with congressional redistricting from the House. The Senate hasn’t publicly released any maps.
Transparency has been the big buzz word this session. But all the redistricting work has gone on behind closed doors.
A new House map is expected to be unveiled Friday.
Oklahoma should join other states and release the data and the geographical files, typically called shapefiles, for all to see.
Here’s what Texas offers:
Florida goes one better, and lets the public draw their own maps using a tool called MyDistrictBuilder.
Here’s why the data is important: With the map shapefiles, you can layer other important information like voter registration and demographic information on top of each redrawn district to get a fuller picture of the represented areas. The Texas Tribune put out some good maps earlier this week doing just that.
Today is the deadline to register for the Gov 2.0a conference here in Oklahoma City.
This is the second year of the conference on open government, technology and citizen engagement. I attended last year and was very impressed with the lineup. This year’s lineup looks equally (if not more) impressive.
The conference starts Friday morning at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. It continues throughout the day and concludes with several keynote speakers Friday evening, including Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Tom Walker of i2E; and Hillary Hartley of NIC Inc.
On Saturday, the conference splits in two. One part, Mash-It-Up Camp, is geared more toward a tech audience. The other event, City Camp, will cater more to a government and community audience. My job straddles both worlds, but I plan to be at City Camp on Saturday.
For more on the Gov 2.0a conference, just check out their website. The conference is organized by a great group of local folks: Sid Burgess, Derrick Parkhurst, David Glover, Lindsey Coster and John R. Wood.
Posting today’s story:
- Scroll to the bottom for a complete list of agency expenditures on private attorneys.
BY PAUL MONIES
Published: May 4, 2011
Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Tuesday he’s concerned about an exemption for higher education in a bill that would place bidding requirements on private attorney contracts with state agencies.
Private attorneys and law firms have made more than $47 million performing legal work for state agencies and boards since fiscal year 2005, according to annual reports filed with the attorney general’s office. That works out to almost $8 million each year.
“I’m hopeful the bill will pass,” McCullough said. “It is a good government reform measure. A great deal of thought, research and work has gone into this legislation.”
Among the state agencies spending the most on private attorneys since fiscal year 2005 were the Transportation Department ($11.9 million), the Grand River Dam Authority ($6.1 million) and the Department of Human Services ($5 million).
Oklahoma State University spent $2.5 million since 2005 on private attorneys and law firms, according to the annual reports.
The state Accountancy Board went from spending about $11,000 on private attorneys in 2005 to spending more than $252,000 in 2010.
Randy Ross, executive director of the board, said administrative and disciplinary actions are now handled by outside attorneys. The board also contracts with the attorney general’s office for other legal work because it does not have an attorney on staff. It spent almost $32,000 through the attorney general’s office in fiscal year 2010.
Ross said costs increased recently because a case went to district court.
“That’s a pretty big case, and anytime you have one that goes outside the administrative process, it gets a lot more serious and lot more expensive,” said Ross, who recently became executive director.
AG part of process
Under current law, agencies and boards must apply to the attorney general’s office to contract with private attorneys. Attorneys or law firms who want to be considered for legal work also must request permission to be added to the attorney general’s list. Among the information attorneys provide are their hourly billing rates and other fees.
HB 1223 would require agencies to put out bids for private legal work on their websites. At the end of each case, private attorneys would have to detail their hours, fees and other expenses.
The bill also puts a cap on the hourly rate charged by private attorneys at $1,000.
The Legislature would continue to be exempt from restrictions in hiring private attorneys. Since fiscal year 2008, the Senate has spent $285,000 on private attorneys. The House spent $223,000 during the same period.
Opponents of HB 1223 said agencies and boards need the flexibility that exists under current law. Some lawmakers also said the measure could give the attorney general too much control over the legal affairs of agencies.
Thad Balkman, executive director of the Oklahoma Lawyers Association, said his group still has concerns with HB 1223.
Balkman said forcing outside attorneys to detail their hourly billing could give away their litigation strategy.
“Most of what is in the bill can be accomplished by the attorney general without legislation,” Balkman said. “He already has the discretion whether or not to approve those contracts. I think in the past, approval was given pretty routinely.”
Pruitt said HB 1223 is a step in the right direction. In a statement, he said the exemption for higher education “does not exist in current law and would be a step backward in the state’s effort to keep the public informed.”
The Senate amendment on the exemption for higher education was offered by Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman. The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 30-14 in April.
Separately from the legislation, Pruitt has developed stricter registration requirements for private attorneys who want to contract with agencies. Those changes will remain regardless of the fate of the bill, a spokeswoman said.
Click for larger view:
From Sunday’s paper:
BY PAUL MONIES
Published: May 1, 2011
Minority children are now the majority among children in 11 Oklahoma counties, including Oklahoma County, the state’s largest county.
That’s a big change from a decade ago, when just four** Oklahoma counties had “majority-minority” child populations.
Hispanic children and children of two or more races accounted for most of the state’s under-18 population growth in the last decade, according to an analysis of census data by The Oklahoman.
Also, the racial gap has widened between children and adults, another indication of a demographic shift that could change the face of Oklahoma. In almost half of the state’s counties, the gap between the share of white adults and white children exceeds the statewide average of 17 percentage points.
William Frey, a demographer at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, calls the differences between child and adult populations a “racial generation gap.” Oklahoma ranked sixth in the United States for the largest racial generation gap. Arizona was first.
“Change in the nation’s child population over the 2000s show the sharp distinction between the country’s aging white population and its growing, youthful new minority populations,” Frey said in a recent report. “These gaps could signal emerging cultural and political divisions across generations.”
Overall, 44 percent of Oklahoma’s children were minorities in 2010. That compared to 27 percent of adults who identified themselves as minorities. In 2000, minority children made up 35 percent of the child population. Almost 23 percent of adults were minorities.
For the analysis, minorities were anyone not identifying themselves or people in their household on census forms as white. Hispanics can be of any race, according to U.S. Census Bureau definitions.
Some of the demographic changes could be attributed to how people report race and ethnicity, said Patricia Bell, a sociology professor at Oklahoma State University.
“Some of that is not necessarily population growth or change, it’s re-identification where people identify themselves differently,” Bell said. “Sometimes when you have a couple who are of different races, they leave the race of a child blank on the form and the Census Bureau makes the assignment.”
Other changes could come from migration or differences in birthrates in rural or poverty-stricken areas, Bell said. Some white and black college graduates with children have left the state for job opportunities in the last decade. Also, the Hispanic growth in Oklahoma has been rapid, but the share of Hispanics in the state remains lower than neighbors such as Kansas and Texas, she said.
“It can be a combination of migratory patterns for women and children as well as birthrate,” Bell said. “People who have a multiracial background are more likely than before to identify themselves in some category that they didn’t use before.”
Changing child demographics
In the last decade, the number of children in Oklahoma increased by 4 percent to almost 930,000. By contrast, the adult population grew 10 percent to 2.82 million.
Oklahoma was among 27 states that had increases in their child populations.
Among children in Oklahoma, the growth was uneven across the state. The child population grew in 36 counties and fell in 41 counties.
The child populations in Canadian, McClain, Marshall, Logan and Wagoner counties all grew by more than 20 percent. It fell by more than 20 percent in Tillman, Grant and Cimarron counties.
Since 2000, the number of Hispanic children (of any race) grew by more than 62,000, or 89 percent.
At the same time, the number of children of two or more races grew by almost 27,000, or 49 percent, and the number of Asian children increased by 4,400, or 41 percent.
The number of American Indian children grew by more than 6,300, or 7 percent.
To contrast that, the state’s population of white children fell by nearly 57,000, or 10 percent, during the last decade. The number of black children fell by more than 6,700, or 8 percent.
In his report, Frey said similar shifts are happening across the country.
“Slower growth among whites owes in part to their lower fertility rate — about 1.9 births per white woman, compared with 3.0 births per Hispanic woman — as well as a relatively low contribution to population growth from immigration,” he wrote.
Child advocates said the demographic shifts among children have policy implications in Oklahoma.
“If we want a progressive, educated and healthy workforce, we have to look at the demographics within our state and assure that we have the needs to move forward to where we want Oklahoma to be,” said Linda Terrell, executive director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.
Terrell said one of the biggest needs is educational support for bilingual programs. She cited a recent case of a woman in Cleveland County whose daughter had been treated for chronic earaches. Once a translator became involved, it turned out the woman wasn’t following medicine instructions.
“Once we got that language barrier taken care of, the baby was better,” Terrell said. “That’s just one kind of extra supports we need to make sure our children are cared for properly.”
**The four counties in 2000: Adair, Cherokee, Harmon and Muskogee.