Monday, June 17, 2019

Music Monday: I Want To Be That Man

In honor of Father's Day, this week's Music Monday is I Want To Be That Man, performed here by Brian Free & Assurance, a Southern Gospel group.


See below for all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to suggest for a future Music Monday? Email me at

June 3rd, 2019: "Les Toreadors" from 'Carmen'
May 20th, 2019: Lonesome Road
May 13th, 2019: Mr. Mom
April 29th, 2019: Have Faith in God (Muskogee's hymn)
April 15th, 2019: The Government Can
March 25th, 2019: Transcendental Étude No. 4, "Mazeppa"
March 18th, 2019: St. Patrick's Day in the Morning
March 11th, 2019: What Wondrous Love is This
March 4th, 2019: Scandinavian Waltz
February 18th, 2019: Adagio for Strings
February 11th, 2019: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 4th, 2019: Columbia, Gem of the Ocean
January 7th, 2019: Loch Lomond
December 31st, 2018: Auld Lang Syne
December 24th, 2018: Remember O, thou Man
December 17th, 2018: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 10th, 2018: Carol of the Bells (medley)
December 3rd, 2018: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 26th, 2018: Happy Birthday
November 19th, 2018: My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness
November 12th, 2018: Hymn to the Fallen
October 29th, 2018: A Mighty Fortress is Our God
October 22nd, 2018: Hymn to Red October
October 15th, 2018:  Indian Reservation ("Cherokee People")
October 8th, 2018: Wagner's 'Columbus Overture'
October 1st, 2018: Danny Boy
September 24th, 2018: Dvorak's 'From The New World' Symphony, 4th Movement
September 17th, 2018: Deep River
September 10th, 2018: Muleskinner Blues
September 3rd, 2018: Boomer Sooner
August 20th, 2018: Psalm 23
August 13th, 2018: Ashokan Farewell
August 6, 2018: How the West Was Won
July 23rd, 2018: I Just Can't Wait to Be King
July 16th, 2018: 'Jupiter' from 'The Planets'
July 9th, 2018: Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
July 2nd, 2018: Turn The Tide
June 25th, 2018: Good Guys Win
June 18th, 2018: Watching You
June 11th, 2018: Adoration
June 4th, 2018: March from 'A Moorside Suite'
May 28th, 2018: Taps
May 21st, 2018: Listz's La Campanella
May 14th, 2018: Handful of Weeds
May 7th, 2018: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
April 30th, 2018: Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 ("Heroic")
April 23rd, 2018: Blow Ye The Trumpet
April 16th, 2018: Asturias (Leyenda)
April 9th, 2018: Old Mountain Dew
April 2nd, 2018: His Life For Mine
March 19th, 2018: See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes!
March 12th, 2018: Choctaw Nation
March 5th, 2018: Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal
February 19th, 2018: The Olympic Spirit
February 12th, 2018: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
January 29th, 2018: Hail to the Chief
January 23rd, 2018: Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15
January 15th, 2018: Bleed The Same
January 8th, 2018: Saint-Saëns' Symphony No.3 'Organ' (Maestoso)
December 25th, 2017: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 18th, 2017: I Saw Three Ships (The Piano Guys)
December 11th, 2017:Who Is He In Yonder Stall
December 4th, 2017: Carol of the Bells (Mannheim Steamroller)
November 27th, 2017: Joy to the World!
November 20th, 2017: We Gather Together
November 13th, 2017: Mansions of the Lord
November 6th, 2017: Träumerei
October 30th: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 23rd, 2017: In Christ Alone
October 16th, 2017: When I'm Knee Deep In Bluegrass
October 9th, 2017: I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
October 2nd, 2017: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major (Brahms)
September 25th, 2017: Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C minor ('Pathétique')
September 11th, 2017: Have You Forgotten?
September 4th, 2017: Bach's Double Violin Concerto
August 28th, 2017: Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord
August 21st, 2017: The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God
August 14th, 2017: Beethoven's 5th Symphony
August 7th, 2017: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley
July 31st, 2017: Fanfare for the Common Man
July 24th, 2017: Variations on 'Happy Birthday'
July 10th, 2017: Summer (Presto) from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
July 3rd, 2017: Freelance Fireworks Hall of Fame
June 26th, 2017: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
June 19th, 2017: A Christian Home
June 12th, 2017: Ol' Man River
June 5th, 2017: Choctaw Cowboy
May 29th, 2017: Armed Forces Salute
May 22nd, 2017: Double Bass Concerto No.2 in B minor
May 15th, 2017: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major
May 8th, 2017: The Army Goes Rolling Along
April 17th, 2017: He Is Alive
April 10th, 2017: Surely He Hath Borne/And With His Stripes/All We Like Sheep
April 3rd, 2017: Here Comes Carolina
March 27th, 2017: 'Spring' from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'
March 20th, 2017: Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation") Finale
March 13th, 2017: The Pigeon on the Gate
March 6th, 2017: Finlandia
February 27th, 2017: When I Can Read My Title Clear
February 20th, 2017: William Tell Overture - Finale
February 13th, 2017: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 6th, 2017: White Winter Hymnal
January 30th, 2017: Hail, Columbia
January 23rd, 2017: Hail to the Chief
January 16th, 2017: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
January 2nd, 2017: Auld Lang Syne
December 26th, 2016: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
December 19th, 2016: I Wonder as I Wander
December 12th, 2016: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 5th, 2016: A Christmas Festival
November 28th, 2016: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 21st: Beethoven's 'Hymn of Thanksgiving'
November 14th: Hymn to the Fallen
November 7th: This World Is Not My Home
October 31st, 2016: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 24th, 2016: 'Mars', from 'The Planets'
October 17th, 2016: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
October 10th, 2016: Spain
October 3rd, 2016: International Harvester
September 26th, 2016: 'The Imperial March' from Star Wars
September 19th, 2016: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound
September 12th, 2016: Before the Throne of God Above
September 5th, 2016: The Hunt
August 29th, 2016: Liberty
August 22nd, 2016: Summon the Heroes
August 15th, 2016: Bugler's Dream
August 8th, 2016: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
August 1st, 2016: 'Prelude' and 'Parade of the Charioteers' from Ben-Hur
July 25th, 2016: How The West Was Won
July 18th, 2016: Six Studies in English Folk Song
July 11th, 2016: From Everlasting To Everlasting
July 4th, 2016: The Stars and Stripes Forever
June 27th, 2016: Rule, Britannia!
June 20st, 2016: Bugler's Holiday
June 13th, 2016: Ride of the Valkyries
June 6th, 2016: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, Allegro Vivace
May 30th, 2016: Armed Forces Salute
May 23rd, 2016: Paid in Full (Through Jesus, Amen)
May 16th, 2016: Overture from 'Carmen'
May 9th, 2016: L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 - Prelude
May 2nd, 2016: My God Is a Rock
April 25th, 2016: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
April 18th, 2016: Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A Minor
April 11th, 2016: Fantasia on a 17th Century Tune
April 4th, 2016: Hark The Sound/I'm a Tarheel Born
March 28th, 2016: Rustle of Spring
March 21st, 2016: 'Ode to Joy' sung by a 10,000-voice choir
March 14th, 2016: Hard Times Come Again No More
March 7th, 2016: 'The Suite' from Downton Abbey
February 29th, 2016: Moonlight Sonata
February 22nd, 2016: Liebestraum No. 3
February 15th, 2016: Help Is On The Way
February 8th, 2016: God of Grace and God of Glory
February 1st, 2016: 'My Story'
January 25th, 2016: Israeli Concertino
January 18th, 2016: What Grace is Mine
January 11th, 2016: "Meditation" from Thaïs
January 4th, 2016: Praeludium and Allegro
December 28th, 2015: Appalachian Carol
December 21st, 2015: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 14th, 2015: O Holy Night
December 7th, 2015: Christmas Fantasy
November 23rd, 2015: Simple Gifts
November 16th, 2015: Preacher Tell Me Like It Is
November 9th, 2015: Armed Forces Salute
November 2nd, 2015: Amazing Grace
October 26th, 2015: The Harmonious Blacksmith
October 19th, 2015: Liberty Fanfare
October 12th, 2015: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
October 5th, 2015: Elgar's 'Enigma' Finale
September 28th, 2015: Stayed on Jesus
September 21st, 2015: Great Gate of Kiev
September 14th, 2015: Nearer, My God, To Thee

Saturday, June 15, 2019

OCPA column: A much-needed agency lobbying reform

A much-needed agency lobbying reform
By Jonathan Small

Should agencies be allowed to indirectly fund politicians’ campaigns with taxpayer dollars? If you think the answer is “no”—as I do—then you should welcome Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to ban agency use of contract lobbyists.

The Stitt administration found 33 state agencies, boards and commissions have private contracts with lobbyists and spent about $1.5 million per year for each of the last two years on lobbying. Now he’s implemented a ban on that practice.

This is good policy on several fronts, including government transparency and accountability.

For one thing, agencies’ practice of hiring contract lobbyists indirectly allowed taxpayer money to land in politicians’ campaign coffers. While state agencies cannot contribute to political campaigns, contract lobbyists can. Thus, when agencies hire contract lobbyists, they are sending taxpayer money to lobbyists who then often contribute to legislators’ campaigns. This creates a roundabout funnel in which agencies effectively use taxpayer money to fund political campaigns. As President Trump would say: Not good.

Agency use of contract lobbyists also impedes public access to open records. If an agency uses an in-house legislative liaison to communicate with legislators, those communications are public record and may be obtained by any Oklahoma citizen. But if an outside lobbyist is used, that lobbyist’s direct communications with legislators are not subject to open-records law. Does anyone think new layers of secrecy will produce better government for Oklahomans?

Most importantly, Oklahomans elect the governor to run the executive branch, and no agency should be pursuing any objective that isn’t first cleared with the governor’s office. A major focus of the Stitt administration has been to reform government so the head of the executive branch truly runs the executive branch. Stitt’s ban on agencies’ use of outside lobbyists is in the same vein with his successful effort to gain the power to appoint the leaders of five major state agencies.

While technically legal, agencies’ use of contract lobbyists never passed the smell test. This is especially true when agencies would scream “poverty” even as they diverted taxpayer money to contract lobbyists who would then lobby the Legislature to provide the agencies more taxpayer money.

For too long, Oklahoma government has been a system in which rogue agencies work at cross-purposes with each other, the governor, and the will of the voters. Under Stitt, Oklahoma’s executive branch will have a true executive leader who gets the credit for success but shoulders the blame for failure.

That’s a welcome, and much-needed, change.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Stitt appoints interim director for Dep't of Corrections


OKLAHOMA CITY (June 14, 2019)— Governor Kevin Stitt has appointed former Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Chief of Operations Scott Crow as interim director of the state’s second-largest agency.

Crow has been with the agency since April 1996, when he was hired as a Special Investigator Supervisor.

Before ODOC, he worked in law enforcement in southwest Oklahoma, from officer-level up to leadership, including as a captain with the Comanche County Sheriff’s Department and Assistant Police Chief for the City of Cache.

Crow’s appointment comes after former-Director Joe M. Allbaugh announced his immediate resignation Wednesday during the monthly meeting of ODOC’s volunteer governing board, the Oklahoma Board of Corrections.

“I appreciate Joe Allbaugh’s time serving the state of Oklahoma and building a team of talented employees,” Stitt said. “After learning of Allbaugh’s resignation, I immediately brought in Scott Crow to meet with me and to hear about his vision and passion for this important agency. Scott is the right person to step in as interim. Crow is committed to ensuring stability in leadership change and helping our administration map out a plan to build upon our recent success to increase correctional officers’ wages.”

While the search for Allbaugh’s replacement takes place, Crow will lead the agency’s more than 4,300 employees working in its 24 facilities stretched across Oklahoma, as well as Probation and Parole Services and Community Corrections.

“This agency remains in a position of strength due to its high-caliber of leaders and dedicated employees committed to public safety,” Crow said.

As of Thursday morning, the system was home to 26,145 inmates, with 32,383 under community supervision and 730 in county jails awaiting housing in prison.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Federal disaster assistance granted for 7 more Oklahoma counties


OKLAHOMA CITY (June 11, 2019) - Governor Kevin Stitt announced today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the state's request for disaster assistance for seven more Oklahoma counties impacted by flooding, tornadoes, severe storms and straight-line winds.

The disaster assistance benefits individuals and business owners affected by severe storms that have occurred since May 7 in Delaware, Kay, Mayes, Okmulgee, Payne, Pottawatomie, and Sequoyah counties.

Canadian, Creek, Logan, Muskogee, Osage, Ottawa, Rogers, Tulsa, Wagoner, and Washington counties have already been approved for Individual Assistance.

The designation makes available federal assistance for housing repairs or temporary housing, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest loans for individuals and businesses to repair or replace damaged property, disaster unemployment assistance, and grants for serious needs and necessary disaster expenses not met by other programs.

Governor Stitt stressed that the state will continue to request additional counties be added to the Individual Assistance Major Disaster Declaration as damage assessments of impacted homes and businesses are completed.

To apply for disaster assistance individuals and business owners may call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or go online at FEMA will also have Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams on site in the declared counties listed above to help people register for FEMA aid.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Gov. Stitt launches 'Oklahoma Checkbook', putting easy online access to state spending


OKLAHOMA CITY (June 12, 2019) — Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the launch of Oklahoma Checkbook, fulfilling a campaign promise to provide Oklahomans with an easy-to-navigate site so they can understand how their taxpayer dollars are being spent. The interactive website, which provides near real time data on the state’s expenses, ensures citizens can quickly and easily review the state’s ledger, providing a greater means of accountability and transparency.

“Since day one I have said we need to put our state government checkbook online so the people of Oklahoma can hold their agencies and elected officials accountable,” said Stitt. “Oklahoma Checkbook creates a level of accountability and transparency within Oklahoma’s government that is unprecedented. I look forward to seeing how this user friendly tool helps keep us on track to becoming a top ten state in budget transparency.” 

Oklahoma Checkbook can be accessed at The initiative is a partnership between the Stitt Administration and the Office of the State Treasurer.

“Today we are opening a window to let the light shine brightly on state government spending,” State Treasurer Randy McDaniel said. “The use of taxpayer funds should be transparent and readily available. I’m honored to work with Governor Stitt and his leadership team to improve openness and accountability in state government. “

The site is built on extensive datasets. Users can visualize the data using the interactive features and dive into the details of each expense down to the transaction level. It is powered by OpenGov, the leading cloud-based solution for government budgeting, performance, and communications.

“Oklahoma Checkbook will shine a bright light on our financial records and uncover potential accounting errors in state government,” said Sec. Ostrowe. “The interactive website will provide Oklahomans with much-needed transparency and help the agency heads and elected officials, charged with keeping our financial house in order, make more efficient and effective decisions.”

About OpenGov
OpenGov is the leader in cloud-based solutions for government. The OpenGov Cloud™ is the only integrated cloud solution for budgeting, performance, communications and reporting. This multi-tenant Software-as-a-Service ("SaaS") solution connects stakeholders to the budget process, engages them for real-time feedback, accurately forecasts personnel costs, and integrates with key government systems, resulting in improved outcomes, enhanced internal efficiencies, and more time for strategic planning.

Over 2,000 public agencies use OpenGov -- including the State of Ohio; the City of Richmond, VA; and Minneapolis, MN. OpenGov was founded in 2012, and is backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Emerson Collective, 8VC, and Thrive Capital.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Former State Sen. Earl Garrison (D-Muskogee) dies

From the Muskogee Phoenix:
Funeral arrangements for former State Senator Earl Garrison are being planned. Garrison, 78, a former Democratic member of the Oklahoma State Senate, died Sunday.

Garrison represented District 9 from 2004 to 2016. He also served as assistant minority leader. Services are pending with Cornerstone Funeral Home and Crematory.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Landfill vouchers available for Muskogee County flood debris removal

Muskogee County Commissioner Ken Doke posted yesterday that the County has negotiated discounts with the Muskogee County Landfill for those affected by the recent flooding:

Multiple relief organizations are working in Muskogee County helping flood victims with mudouts, demolition and debris removal. Here is some information passed along by Clean Pro, a cleaning and water damage restoration company in Muskogee:
click here for full size

Lucas comments on Trump Agreement with Mexico

Lucas Statement on Trump Agreement with Mexico

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement regarding President Trump’s announcement of an agreement with Mexico and their commitment to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the United States’ Southern border:

“The agreement between President Trump and Mexico is fantastic news for the American economy, American security, and America’s producers. Tonight, we witnessed the President’s ability to negotiate bring a change to the United States.

Instead of imposing a tariff on one of our country’s largest trading partners, President Trump has assured the American people that Mexico will take a much tougher stance on illegal immigration currently migrating through their country. The outcome of this agreement is a win for both Oklahoma and America. I hope this agreement will lead to the passage of the U.S.M.C.A. and I strongly urge my colleagues to move for its immediate adoption.”

Friday, June 07, 2019

Speaker McCall Names Members to LOFT Oversight Committee

Speaker McCall Names Members to LOFT Oversight Committee
House Budget Chair Kevin Wallace Named Co-Chair 

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Charles McCall today appointed members to the oversight committee for the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), a recently created legislative office to evaluate agency budgets and programs for lawmakers.

Speaker McCall named House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace as co-chair of the LOFT Oversight Committee. In addition, he appointed the following members to the Committee:

  • State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, Co-Vice Chair
  • State Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City
  • State Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond
  • State Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa
  • State Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City
  • State Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa

LOFT was created, effective immediately, when Gov. Stitt signed Senate Bill 1 into law. Senate Bill 1, by House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, creates LOFT within the existing Legislative Service Bureau (LSB). The LSB is a shared office between the House of Representatives and the Senate that currently has limited functions. LOFT will be similar to the federal Government Accountability Office within Congress.

LOFT will have an oversight committee made up of seven members of the House and seven members of the Senate. All members and the co-chairs of the committee are to be appointed by the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, with at least two members from each chamber being members of the minority party.

"Taxpayers expect lawmakers to ensure their dollars are being spent efficiently, without waste and as they were intended," said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. "LOFT will give the Legislature an office that works for lawmakers, not the state agencies, and give us confidence that the information and analysis it provides our members will be unbiased, timely and accurate. The members I have chosen to serve Oklahomans on the LOFT Oversight Committee have shown the temperament and willingness to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work that digging through agency budgets and complex agency programs requires."

LOFT would employ financial examiners who would routinely audit agency budgets and spending and evaluate the effectiveness of agency programs and services. The office would then provide reports to the House and Senate.

"LOFT has been a priority for House Republicans for several years, and I am glad we finally got this legislation passed and are ready to utilize these new resources to benefit citizens," said Co-Chair Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston. "Having worked on the state appropriated budget for three years now, I can tell you it can be difficult at times to get accurate information from the agencies, and there have been times when some agencies have provided different information to the House and Senate. As lawmakers, we have to get useful information quickly in order to make good budgeting decisions on behalf of the Oklahomans that sent us here. LOFT will help us do that."

Senate Bill 1 requires agencies, boards and commissions to turn over to LOFT upon request all records, documents and budgets and make personnel available. LOFT will also have subpoena and investigation authority.

The Legislature appropriated $1.7 million to fund LOFT in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget that just passed.

OCPA column: Foot-dragging on open records

Foot-dragging on open records
By Jonathan Small

Is it too much to expect that public records be readily available to the public? The answer to that question is obvious, yet the default setting for many government entities is to withhold information, delay its release, and obscure transparency when they do.

The University of Oklahoma has not been the worst offender, but it could do much better. To its credit, the university did respond promptly to one request submitted by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. In case you were wondering, OU paid the journalist Soledad O'Brien $50,000 for this year’s commencement address.

But in other areas, the college appears to be in foot-dragging mode.

Like many colleges and universities, OU has a “bias reporting hotline” that allows any aggrieved or offended party to anonymously inform on students or employees. OU has an “Office of Diversity and Inclusion” with a “Bias Response Committee” (BRC) whose purpose is “to evaluate and deliberate on bias and discrimination reports” received through the hotline. “The BRC will review and provide guidance to Office of Diversity and Inclusion and other collaborating units on how to deal with specific incident reports.”

Nationally, these hotlines have been a source of controversy because they can effectively chill free speech. Also, a system in which people may be targeted for scrutiny based on anonymous complaints can easily be abused. At the University of Michigan, an organization called Speech First sued the school over its use of anonymous reports to the bias response team, among other things.

Thus, OCPA has sought to learn what kinds of incident reports have come in at OU and how they were dealt with. So far, college officials refuse to say.

Since last summer, OCPA has sought through open-records requests to learn details about cases reported to the bias hotline. Because the hotline is financed with public funds, it is subject to disclosure, but you wouldn’t know it from OU’s response.

Our request was only for case details, and allowed the school to redact any personally identifying information contained in a report. Yet the school provided only a summary statistical report covering two years’ worth of calls, and declined to provide case specifics.

In March of this year OCPA made an updated open-records request, asking for the case files of all the reports received since the hotline’s launch in 2016, again allowing for redaction of personal information. We’ve gotten no response.

OU’s interim president, longtime David Boren staffer Joe Harroz Jr., has touted transparency, and schools in other states have produced similar reports to watchdog groups. Why has OU not done the same? One possibility is the documents would show most complaints are frivolous, which would raise the question of why the school needs to fund the hotline. But a more worrisome possibility is that the system has been abused and used as a tool of coercion or free-speech suppression. I hope that’s not the case, but OU’s continued silence doesn’t inspire confidence.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.