Saturday, October 12, 2019

Senate Pro Tem appoints Rick Nagel to Judicial Nominating Commission


Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat appoints Rick Nagel to Judicial Nominating Commission

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat on Friday announced his appointment of Rick Nagel of Norman to the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC).

The JNC selects judicial candidates that the governor then considers for appointment to state courts. The Senate President Pro Tempore is responsible for appointing an at-large, non-attorney member of the JNC.

Nagel’s term as an at-large member begins immediately. He will serve a two-year term which expires in October 2021.

“The JNC plays an important role in shaping the courts in Oklahoma. It’s incredibly important that the women and men considered by the governor for judicial appointments be immensely qualified to serve as wise and impartial jurists. Rick Nagel will bring a welcome perspective to the JNC in how it selects the pool of judicial candidates passed on to the governor. I appreciate his willingness to take on this important job and I have full confidence Rick will do an excellent job serving on the JNC,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

Nagel is the managing partner of Acorn Growth Companies. He serves on the board of directors of the State Chamber of Oklahoma and is involved in many civic organizations, including the Oklahoma Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma’s College of Engineering.

Friday, October 11, 2019

After he takes your guns, Beto is coming for your church


CNN held a 'LGBTQ Town Hall' yesterday with nine of the 39 Democratic presidential candidates. During the debate, Robert Francis O'Rourke (strictly called Beto by the fawning media) had the following exchange with moderator Don Lemon:


Lemon: "... should religious institutions -- like colleges, churches, charities -- should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?"
O'Rourke: "Yes. [wild audience applause] There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break, for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us. And so, as president, we’re going to make that a priority, and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans."

Adore, celebrate and worship this sexual perversion or else, you bigots! seems to be the refrain on the Left these days.

This is the same Robert Francis O'Rourke who infamously said that if elected President, he's coming to take your guns.

Pastor JD Hall of PulpitAndPen.org, a Christian polemics and news site, had the following comment on O'Rourke's plan:
We presume that collecting AR-15’s is a necessary first step to “stopping” Christians who believe in traditional marriage from exercising their religion. Please note: First they will come for our guns. Then they will come for our religion… in that order.
If standing on Biblical beliefs and teachings means losing tax-exempt status, then so be it. "We ought to obey God rather than men", the apostles told  the authorities of their day when they were told to stop preaching the truth of God. May the church of today likewise stand firm on truth.

OCPA column: Failing to understand act of forgiveness


Failing to understand act of forgiveness
By Jonathan Small

Ask yourself, which is worse? Losing a brother to mindless violence, or losing your brother to mindless violence and then clinging to bitterness and resentment for the rest of your life?

Neither outcome is desirable, but one is still worse than the other. And only in the latter case is part of the outcome under your own control. It seems some activists don’t understand that fact.

In Dallas, Texas, former police officer Amber Guyger, who is white, entered the wrong apartment by mistake, believing she was entering her own apartment. When she saw the tenant, Botham Jean, a black man, she reacted by shooting and killing him.

The resulting outrage is understandable, as is the desire for justice. Guyger was recently convicted and sentenced to prison.

But during victim impact statements, Jean’s younger brother Brandt surprised many by offering Guyger forgiveness. A professing Christian like his late brother, Brandt Jean said, “If you are truly sorry, I know I can speak for myself: I forgive you.” He also urged Guyger to become a Christian, saying, “I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want for you.”

For many who viewed that exchange, it was an incredibly moving moment. But some activists deride the moment as “cheap absolution” that gives whites a free pass for acts of racism.

In reality, forgiveness is crucial to defeating racism. And it was also the only path forward that would not allow bitterness to consume Brandt Jean.

As Martin Luther King Jr. noted, “Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning.”

To his credit, Brandt Jean chose a fresh start. And all people who care about racism must be willing to do the same.

Clinging to bitterness does not punish those who’ve done you wrong. Instead, it becomes a form of self-punishment that can devastate your health and mental well-being for decades. Consider the contrast between Antifa activists, who hide behind masks and “protest” via acts of physical violence and property destruction, and Brandt Jean, who spoke the truth, forgave and hugged his brother’s killer. The former group’s rage achieves nothing positive; the latter’s gentle action moved millions of hearts and minds.

As a black man I am under no illusion about the realities of racism. But, having been on both sides of the equation, I also understand the value of forgiveness. It benefits not only the offender, but the offended.

Put simply, a world without racism is incompatible with a world in which people are enticed to withhold forgiveness.

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

Thursday, October 10, 2019

1889 Institute: Why are OKCPS teachers begging for basics?


OKCPS Teachers Begging for Basics
1889 Institute identifies $34,000 in basic supplies teacher have had to beg for.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (October 9, 2019) – The 1889 Institute has published a study that identifies $34,000 in charitable solicitations by Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) teachers in their efforts to obtain basic necessities for classrooms that the district should be automatically providing.  Entitled “Why Are OKCPS Teachers Begging the Public for Basics?” the paper highlights 64 separate solicitations from teachers across the district for basics, including frogs to dissect, whiteboard supplies, sets of dictionaries, chairs to fit tables for small children, and basic physical education supplies. All of the solicitations are from the DonorsChoose.org website and were identified on August 22, 2019.

“We did not look at the entire state’s Donors Choose solicitations on that date, but the Piedmont district, which spends about 70 percent of what OKCPS does, had no teacher solicitations for basic necessities on that date,” said 1889 Institute Director Byron Schlomach. Schlomach authored the report with research assistance from fellow 1889 Institute analysts Mike Davis and Ben Lepak. Schlomach pointed out that the necessities identified are only a small proportion of all the Donors Choose solicitations since his study only sought to identify true classroom necessities.

The report points out that OKCPS is not a low-spending district in the state, but is relatively well-funded. Therefore, the study argues, the fact that OKCPS teachers are effectively begging for necessities, like bulbs for district-provided projectors and printers due to poorly-maintained school copiers, is strong evidence that priorities are poorly decided.

Schlomach said he got the idea for the study from his wife having to do a Donors Choose solicitation for copy paper last year, since her campus was not being provided with it. “I wondered if other teachers were being denied such basic supplies. Clearly, they are,” said Schlomach. “Now, I only wonder what I don’t know. How much have teachers spent on basics the district should be readily providing, given that I know the district can afford them? How many teachers around the state are dealing with the same neglect from their district administrations?” he asked.


About the 1889 Institute
The 1889 Institute is an Oklahoma think tank committed to independent, principled state policy fostering limited and responsible government, free enterprise and a robust civil society. The publication, “Why Are OKCPS Teachers Begging the Public for Basics?” and other reports on public education finance can be found on the nonprofit’s website at https://1889institute.org/education-finance-1.

State Sen. Joseph Silk launches 2nd District congressional bid


State Senator Joseph Silk announces run for U.S. Congress

Silk set to run for Oklahoma Congressional District 2 in eastern Oklahoma in 2020 election

 It has been an honor to have served the good people of State Senate District 5 in southeast Oklahoma the past 5 years. Although very difficult and frustrating at times, my family and I have been blessed with many new friendships and support along the way. I believe I have represented those who elected me well, and even though some of the things we tried to accomplish for Senate District 5 and the State of Oklahoma were not completed, many things were and I am grateful to have played a part in it.

With the current leadership in the Oklahoma Legislature, Oklahomans have a tough road ahead. Unfortunately, even though republicans have a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the vast majority of them are very liberal and fall in line with the establishment instead of being champions for true constitutional, conservative ideals. By the time grassroots Oklahomans weed them out and replace them with actual Statesmen and Stateswomen, I will be term limited.

After much thought, seeking counsel, and prayer, I have come to the conclusion my energy and efforts will be best be utilized elsewhere therefore I will not be seeking re-election to the Oklahoma State Senate. Instead, I will be filing to run for U.S. Congressional District 2 here in eastern Oklahoma.

We as conservatives must change the way engage in the political arena. We have settled for status quo legislators who say one thing and then do nothing. We must demand that our government officials stop playing politics and actually take action on protecting individual freedoms and upholding the Constitution.

 If we continue down the road of electing and re-electing legislators who have no history of aggressively attacking current issues, our country will not be recognizable in the future. It is for that reason, that my family and I will sacrifice and press on through the political landscape in order to fight for a country that future generations can enjoy.

You can follow our campaign for U.S. Congress at silkforcongress.com .

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Results Map: Muskogee voters pass $110M school bond

(click to view larger)
Voters in Muskogee approved a $110M school bond today with 68.15% of the vote, clearing the 60% approval threshold for bond passage. The above graphic shows precinct-by-precinct results, illustrating the percentages above or below the 60% mark in each voting district.

Two minuscule precincts were unanimous in their voting -- Precinct 36 (the far western edge of the school district) had five votes cast in favor and none opposed, while Precinct 46 (the darkest red) has a single vote cast in opposition and none in favor.

Aside from the unanimous precincts, the top three precincts for the Yes vote were Precinct 23 (84.4% yes; 238-44), Precinct 17 (83.05% yes; 98-20), and Precinct 38 (79.96% yes; 455-114).

The top three precincts voting No were Precinct 55 (49.06% yes; 26-27, the only outright majority for the No side), Precinct 45 (54.04% yes, 107-91), and Precinct 37 (56.67% yes, 17-13).

Below is a table with results by precinct. I'm hoping the formatting holds and is readable. If not, you can go to the State Election Board website and navigate through their results page, find the Muskogee election, click 'View As', then 'County Details', then click 'Precincts' to get the raw figures without percentages.


Precinct  Yes vote % No vote % Total Vote +/- 60%
5 246 61.50% 154 38.50% 400 +1.5%
7 457 63.03% 268 36.97% 725 +3.03%
9 423 67.79% 201 32.21% 624 +7.79%
11 95 60.90% 61 39.10% 156 +0.9%
13 147 59.76% 99 40.24% 246 -0.24%
17 98 83.05% 20 16.95% 118 +23.05%
21 177 75.64% 57 24.36% 234 +15.64%
22 278 71.47% 111 28.53% 389 +11.47%
23 238 84.40% 44 15.60% 282 +24.4%
28 100 68.03% 47 31.97% 147 +8.03%
36 5 100% 0 0% 5 +40%
37 128 58.45% 91 41.55% 219 -1.55%
38 455 79.96% 114 20.04% 569 +19.96%
45 107 54.04% 91 45.96% 198 -5.96%
46 0 0% 1 100% 1 -60%
47 45 66.18% 23 33.82% 68 +6.18%
49 13 68.42% 6 31.58% 19 +8.42%
55 26 49.06% 27 50.94% 53 -10.94%
61 17 56.67% 13 43.33% 30 -3.33%
3055 68.15% 1428 31.85% 4483 +8.15%

Justin Van Kirk announces for Tulsa City Council District 7


JUSTIN VAN KIRK, LOCAL BUSINESSMAN, ENTERS 2020 RACE FOR COUNCIL, DISTRICT 7 OF TULSA

TULSA, OK – Today, local conservative businessman Justin Van Kirk formally announced his candidacy at the Tulsa Republican Women’s Club luncheon. The guest speaker, Congressman Kevin Hern, gave an update on the latest from Washington D.C. Van Kirk announced that he has entered the race for Tulsa City Council District 7 which encompasses mostly south Tulsa. Van Kirk, owner of Affordable Auto which is also located in the district never imagined the day he’d run for public office.

“Right after attending Rhema Bible College, my wife, Lily, and I started one of our first companies about 10 years ago and have been focused building those ventures ever since. We’ve been blessed. All we knew growing up was hard work, sacrifice, commitment, and determination to leave this world better than we came into it. We were both born and raised understanding and respecting conservative values at all levels of government.”

Van Kirk is a conservative Republican businessman who believes in a limited government, conservative values, and is guided by his faith. He and his wife are active in their church, Life.Church, are avid athletic players, and world-wide travelers. Van Kirk states that:

“We were both born and raised with a strong foundation to believe and follow conservative values. That meant more than in politics – that was in work, life, family, and community.”

Van Kirk is challenging the Democrat incumbent, Lori Decter-Wright who narrowly won her election in 2018 on a special election. She earned 27.40% of the vote and pursuant to Oklahoma law, that was enough to win. Tulsa council races are non-partisan. The election between Decter-Wright and Van Kirk will be held on August 25, 2020. 

Van Kirk adds that now is the right time for him to run, stating, “I'm ready to transfer my business ownership skills from the private sector into government and I want to help make a difference in a way that is not being done right now. The conservative values that we believe in are being fought against – it just doesn’t make much sense to me. Tulsa has so much opportunity and I'm ready to help it grow, recruit new jobs by encouraging new startups, increasing public safety, and prioritize the city's budget with a free-market mindset.”

To learn more or get involved, please visit VanKirkforTulsa.com.

Muskogee voters to decide on $110M school bond today


Today, voters in Muskogee will be deciding on whether to adopt or reject a $110,000,000 school bond, the largest ever considered in the Muskogee Public Schools district. The proposal would spend $37,000,000 on a new football stadium and athletic complex, $5,000,000 on upgraded technology, and about $68,000,000 on demolition/reconstruction or remodeling of most school sites within the district.

The bond would increase the school district's portion of property taxes from 20 mils to about 32 mils, costing approximately $120 per year on a $100,000 property.

The district chose to pursue a lease-purchase bond instead of the more-traditional general obligation bond. Under a lease-purchase bond, the district obtains a loan for the full amount up front in order to begin construction and spending, as opposed to waiting for property tax collections to start coming in before projects can move forward. Lease-purchase bonds have been controversial in the past, as they essentially allow schools to bypass constitutional limits on indebtedness and can tie up bond capacity for longer periods of time than traditional bonds.

Voters in the district approved a bond in 2013, about 38% of which has not yet been collected and spent. This proposed bond was touted by school administration as a 12-year obligation, but a recent article in the Muskogee Phoenix quoted County Assessor Ron Dean as saying that it could extend into 16 years, depending on local growth rates.

Some highlights of the bond election details:

  • Activity Center and Varsity Stadium: $37,000,000
  • Freshman Academy @ Alice Robertson: $18,000,000
  • Tony Goetz Elementary: $13,000,000
  • Muskogee High School: $12,000,000
  • Sadler Arts Academy: $10,000,000
  • Early Childhood Center: $6,000,000
  • Technology acquisition and installation: $5,000,000
  • Benjamin Franklin Science Academy: $2,000,000
  • Grant Foreman Elementary: $2,000,000
  • Irving Elementary: $1,000,000
  • Creek Elementary: $1,000,000
  • Pershing Elementary: $1,000,000
  • New Tech at Cherokee Elementary: $1,000,000
  • Whittier Elementary: $1,000,000
  • TOTAL: $110,000,000
According to the 2017 Bond Transparency Act fact-sheet posted by MPS, there is still about $18,000,000 remaining to be collected and spent from a bond that was passed in 2013. Those bonds would still be collected and allocated as specified regardless of the outcome of Tuesday's vote.

You can view specific building projects, maps and details at this link. You can see concept renderings of the proposed building projects here, also provided by MPS.

School bonds require a 60% affirmative vote for passage. The last bonds received over 80% of the vote. However, the high percentage of funds in this round going toward a new stadium and athletic facilities has sparked more opposition than usual, it would seem.

The below graphic shows the proposed schedule of construction if the bond is approved. Projects on the athletics complex, Alice Robertson and Tony Goetz schools would begin almost immediately, while the rest of the schools wouldn't see work until mid-late 2020 or late 2021.


Due to the structure of the lease-purchase bond, about $20,000,000 to $30,000,000 would go to paying the bond owners. There's a lot of late-breaking conflicting information (this didn't seem to get covered in the MPS campaign materials), some saying that it's figured into the $110,000,000 figure (such as the aforementioned Phoenix article) and others saying that it would be on top of the full bond price. I'll be honest, bonds aren't my specialty. 

MPS estimates that the top per-year cost of the bond would be about $60 for a $50,000 assessed property, $120 for a $100,000 property, $240 for a $200,000 property, and so on.

Polls will be open from 7am to 7pm. Don't forget to exercise your right to vote, as this will impact everyone who lives within the MPS district.

Monday, October 07, 2019

State task force awarded DOJ grant to address rape kit backlog


Attorney General Hunter Announces State Awarded Grant to Address Rape Kit Backlog

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today announced the state has been awarded the federal Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Grant to help collect, prioritize and test a number of the sexual assault forensic evidence kits that have been identified in police evidence rooms.

The three-year, $2.4 million grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, will fund the initiatives put forth by the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Task Force after an audit identified over 7,000 sexual assault evidence kits were in police evidence rooms statewide.

A sexual assault evidence kit, also known as a rape kit, is a forensic exam used to collect evidence from a victim of sexual assault. The SAFE Task Force has met over the last two years to address the backlog.

Attorney General Hunter said applying for the grant was a natural decision by the task force to help with continued reform.

“We have made tremendous progress over the last few years in improving the entire process in our state,” Attorney General Hunter said. “This funding is going to help us expedite the reforms we have implemented, like the collection and testing of rape kits, while putting more resources toward helping victims. It will also assist us as we continue to reform the system to ensure the backlog never happens again. The grant announcement wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of the members of the SAFE Task Force, who have given so much time and attention to this very important issue.”

Governor Kevin Stitt, who earlier this year signed legislation recommended by the task force and also signed an executive order extending the work of the task force through 2023, commended members’ efforts.

“Because of the work and dedication of the members of the SAFE Task Force, our state now serves as a national model on how to end the backlog,” Governor Stitt said. “It is thanks to our significant progress in overhauling the system that our state was able to receive these funds to expedite the collection and testing of some of the kits. I applaud the members of the task force, who continue to do an exemplary job on behalf of victims of sexual assault.”

The conditions of the grant stipulate that the funding may only be used to inventory the existing numbers of unsubmitted rape kits, testing the kits and assign designated personnel to pursue new investigative leads and prosecutions and to support victims throughout the investigation and prosecution process.

The grant may also be used to develop evidence-tracking systems, train law enforcement on sexual assault investigations, conduct research on outcomes in sexual assault cases and increase the collection of offender DNA.

The state will use the funding to collect rape kits currently in law enforcement custody, categorize them to determine which kits will be submitted for testing and hire four positions. The positions will include a project manager that will assist district attorneys in re-opening cases, a victim advocate who will work directly with victims, a lead investigator and an additional agent who will work on cases.

Funding will also be provided to pay for overtime for lab technicians already on staff at the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

SAFE Task Force

Made up of lawmakers, law enforcement officials, victim advocates, a survivor of sexual assault and other stakeholders, the SAFE Task Force has overhauled how rape kits are handled in the state.

The task force has developed a priority list for which untested kits would be submitted for testing.

Additionally, during this year’s legislative session, the task force proposed three pieces of legislation that all eventually passed and were signed into law.

The legislation included:

  • The use of one standardized kit;
  • A requirement for law enforcement agencies to submit kits for testing within 20 days;
  • A mandate to keep all kits for at least 50 years or the length of the statute of limitations, whichever is longer;
  • Requirements for all medical providers, law enforcement agencies, forensic labs and other agencies that have custody of sexual assault evidence collection kits participate in a statewide electronic tracking system being implemented by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation; and
  • Additional training for law enforcement related to sexual assault response and evidence collection.

The task force continues to meet regularly to ensure the successful implementation of all initiatives.

Treat taps Sens. Paxton, Rader to lead Senate's redistricting committee


Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat appoints redistricting committee leaders

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat on Monday announced his appointments to lead the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting.

Treat appointed Senator Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting and named Senator Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, as vice chair of the committee.

“The Senate will conduct its redistricting process in a thorough, bipartisan, and professional manner. I have full confidence Senator Paxton and Senator Rader will do a great job in leading the select committee’s efforts,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

Treat said internal Senate discussions are ongoing regarding the redistricting process. He said other members of the select committee, including Democratic members, would be announced at a later date. Treat said Senate staff already is at work gathering information.

Legislative redistricting takes place every 10 years following the release of U.S. Census data. The state Constitution provides that each legislative chamber oversees redistricting efforts to ensure districts are updated as necessary to reflect any population changes.

Also, Treat announced the hiring of Keith Beall as Senate redistricting director. Beall will lead Senate staff efforts on redistricting and help coordinate Senate efforts to encourage Oklahomans' participation in the 2020 Census. Beall has prior experience with the redistricting process.

“Keith Beall has a wealth of knowledge and experience on redistricting in Oklahoma. I know he will do an exemplary job for the Senate and am pleased he accepted my challenge to join the Senate team,” Treat said.