Liberal activists have targeted business members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonpartisan association of conservative state lawmakers dedicated to “limited government, free markets, federalism, and individual liberty.” Walmart is among those who’ve withdrawn after coming under fire. Now, some conservatives argue the Oklahoma Legislature should leave the National Conference of State Legislatures. From fiscal years 2005 to 2012, the state of Oklahoma paid over $1 million in dues to NCSL, which often lobbies for increased government spending and activism. “Oklahomans already have representation before the federal government — known as United States representatives and United States senators,” writes Jonathan Small, fiscal policy director for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. “In addition, there are a multitude of state officials and lawmakers who represent the state. Membership in NCSL is unnecessary.” If private support of such groups is somehow despicable, how can one justify spending limited tax dollars on similar organizations?
Photo by Paul B. Southerland, The Oklahoman
Although most of the more than 3,000 soldiers from Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have returned from Afghanistan, more than 285 remain on active duty…because they are at military hospitals. That’s a somber reminder of the price these men and women paid to defend the rest of us. Those soldiers are undergoing rehabilitation for wounds suffered during their service, and recovery is expected to continue for years for many. When we think of military sacrifice, our thoughts usually go to the fourteen soldiers killed in action during the nine-month deployment. The news that hundreds of Oklahomans suffered serious wounds that have prolonged their service is a somber reminder of the enormous debt we owe them. Even those who make it back home often have a long road ahead. They deserve our thanks and strongest support.
Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
According to Bloomberg News, this year’s Oklahoma wheat yields will range as high as 60 bushels an acre, and the state’s crop was 73 percent harvested as of June 3. Oklahoma is typically the second-biggest U.S. winter-wheat producer, and our production may near 154.8 million bushels, the highest in four years. But achieving those numbers was no sure thing due to potential federal regulations. Last year, proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations would have essentially made dust illegal during harvest, leaving farmers worried that they had to achieve the impossible or face fines. Then federal Labor Department officials proposed regulations banning teenagers from taking traditional jobs on farms, including harvest work. Fortunately, regulators backed down after public outcry. This year’s early wheat harvest may have been made possible by weather, but it also owes a lot to the failure of those regulations.
Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
Once upon a time, advertisements for junk food were part of Disney programs for kids. But in 2015, such ads on TV, radio and websites will be banished from the Magic Kingdom. The Walt Disney Co. announced new nutrition guidelines today, furthering a 2006 initiative to make food at its theme parks and resorts healthier. “The emotional connection kids have to our characters and stories gives us a unique opportunity to continue to inspire and encourage them to lead healthier lives,” CEO Bob Iger said. He hopes to influence not only children but also companies. Though advertising revenue may initially decline, Iger’s goal is for companies to eventually create products meeting Disney’s standards. Ultimately, individuals and families make the decisions about what food to purchase and consume; government attempts to set the menu aren’t the answer to our nation’s health challenges. Disney’s effort at self-imposed corporate responsibility and media pressure is a fresh approach. We hope this change will help children live happily, and healthily, ever after.
AP File Photo
To a degree, one can sympathize with U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, a former Sooner seeking the Democratic nomination in Massachusetts. Tales of an American Indian ancestor are not exactly unusual in Oklahoma. But most Oklahomans know better than to formally claim that status without documentation. That Warren was identified as an American Indian professor at two universities indicates she benefited from playing a race card she never held. In a radio interview, Twila Barnes, a spokesperson for “Cherokees Demand Truth from Elizabeth Warren,” flatly declared her disgust with those who claim “they have a great, great grandma who is a Cherokee princess” that is “usually just a fictitious story somewhere that was invented, and when you do the genealogy it’s not there.” We’re not fans of racial gamesmanship, but in this case it appears claims of ethnicity may reflect on the candidate’s ethics.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s obsession with other peoples’ health has taken a new turn. Bloomberg, who has pushed a number of initiatives while in office including banning smoking in restaurants and parks and prohibiting artificial trans fats in restaurant food, is now attacking soft drinks. He proposes a ban on the sale of nondiet soft drinks larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. Public health officials nationwide are “wringing their hands” over obesity, Bloomberg said. “New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something.” The city’s health board must approve the idea, a near certainty given that Bloomberg appointed every member. But our guess is it’s less likely to hold up in court. One obvious challenge: its arbitrariness. Why is a 16-ounce soda OK, but a 20-ouncer isn’t?
Above: Various size cups and sugar cubes are displayed at a news conference at New York’s City Hall, Thursday, May 31, 2012. (AP Photo)
A blogger in San Antonio has a suggestion for those in his city who may look down their noses at Oklahoma City: Stop it. Robert Rivard, a former longtime newspaper editor in San Antone, wrote this week that his hometown would be wise to “use the occasion of this exciting series against the Thunder to learn more about the 20-year metamorphosis of Oklahoma City as we labor toward our own transformation in San Antonio.” Rivard recounted our city’s growth as a result of MAPS and its many successes since the Murrah Building bombing in 1995. “San Antonio has more to work with: We are bigger, more economically and culturally diverse, and have a richer history than the Sooners,” he wrote. “But Oklahoma City has been working longer and they’ve done so with greater unity. Just about everyone in Oklahoma City seems to understand that a more vibrant downtown means a more vibrant city for all. We are not there yet.” The full, very flattering, article can be read at therivardreport.com.
Photo provided by Cooper Ross
Coverage of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals has included analysis not only of the dueling teams but their respective cities, with commentators drawing comparisons between San Antonio’s Riverwalk and Oklahoma City’s Bricktown Canal. Another topographical similarity comes from the new park system rankings by the Trust for Public Land. Of the 40 biggest cities, Oklahoma City ranked 33rd and San Antonio 35th. Since one of the criteria is the amount of park space relative to a city’s size, a more spread out city like ours is at a disadvantage compared with the more densely populated coastal cities such as Eastern Conference finalist Boston, tied for third in the ParkScore Rankings. But with recent investments in parks and the upcoming MAPS 3 Core to Shore park, our future in coming years looks bright on the court and in the park.
Above: Will Rogers Gardens in northwest Oklahoma City is an older city park with new additions. Ongoing efforts to improve the city’s green spaces, and add new parks, could help the city move higher in rankings of big-city park systems in the U.S. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
If the weather this week didn’t offer enough proof, an online hazard mapping firm tells us that Oklahoma is a top destination for hail. Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Midwest City landed in the list of top 10 hail-prone metro areas. Colorado also contributed three cities, and Kansas and Texas had two each. While this compilation by Boston-based CDS Business Mapping, LLC., first reported last fall, is an unfortunate reminder of a natural phenomenon, it beckons us to be prepared and alert. Severe and strange weather has become all too familiar in this Tornado Alley state, but our communities continue to persevere, with Rumble of the Oklahoma City Thunder as an appropriate mascot.
Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Archives
Breaking news last week regarding New Orleans’ Times-Picayune concerned not the contents of its pages but the future of the newspaper itself. The 175-year-old publication plans to cut its daily circulation to three days a week and focus on online news. In a letter to the paper’s owner, New Orleans Saints and Hornets owner Tom Benson urged the organization to rethink its decision. As a major league city with a strong heritage, Benson believes New Orleans deserves a daily paper. If his challenge doesn’t succeed in overturning the ruling on the field, The Times-Picayune would be the largest metro newspaper in the country to cease daily circulation. Avid readers may be left feeling as if the digital age placed a bounty on their morning papers.
Tom Benson (AP File Photo)