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.

Enjoy!



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 JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

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


GOVERNOR STITT ANNOUNCES INTERIM DIRECTOR OF ODOC

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


FEDERAL ASSISTANCE GRANTED FOR ADDITIONAL OKLAHOMA COUNTIES IMPACTED BY FLOODS, STORMS

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 www.disasterassistance.gov. 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


GOVERNOR STITT LAUNCHES OKLAHOMA CHECKBOOK ENSURING EASY ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT’S SPENDING LEDGER

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 checkbook.ok.gov. 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.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Gov. Stitt replaces Director of OKDHS

Photo credit: @NonDocMedia

GOVERNOR STITT APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR OF OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

Oklahoma City (June 4, 2019)—Governor Kevin Stitt today announced the appointment of Justin Brown as Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS).

“Justin is a fellow Oklahoman who has a strong record of helping healthcare and human-service oriented businesses become great success stories in their delivery of compassionate care,” said Gov. Stitt. “His time working at the Villagio Senior Living is just one example of this, where they have 7 communities in 3 states serving individuals with memory loss. Justin is a strong organizational leader and a proven problem solver. He has a passion and desire to help the state deliver better services to those who depend on DHS. Justin shares my administration’s vision to help strengthen Oklahoma’s families, provide customer-centered services, and improve the quality of life for all engaging with DHS. I look forward to working with him as we move our state forward.”

Justin B. Brown has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Choice Capital Partners since 2008. Brown joined Choice Capital Partners, the ownership entity for Villagio Senior Living, following an eight year career in healthcare finance. During his banking career, Brown was involved in financing a range of healthcare entities across all industry segments, including seniors housing. For Choice Capital Partners, Brown directly manages all capital needs, acquisition and development strategies, investor relations, and directs the company’s core business strategy. Additionally, Brown plays a role in programming and resident satisfaction, community design and development, and improved quality of life. Brown also serves on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer’s Association, the Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City. He and his wife, Kelly, have been married for 18 years and have two children, Hannah and Ford.

“I look forward to working with the amazing staff at the Department of Human Services and the communities they serve,” said Brown. “The work the staff does every day is vital to vulnerable Oklahomans and our state as a whole. It is a challenge, but I believe the staff and I are up to the challenge.”

Brown has stepped down from his role at Choice Capital Partners and will continue to serve in an advisory role on the Board of Directors. The assisted living and Alzheimer’s centers managed by Brown during his time as CEO neither currently receive nor have they ever received money from the state of Oklahoma or the federal government.

The Department of Human services is the largest state agency in Oklahoma. DHS provides a wide range of assistance programs to help Oklahomans in need including: food benefits (SNAP); temporary cash assistance (TANF); services for persons with developmental disabilities and persons who are aging; adult protective services; child welfare programs; child support services; and child care assistance, licensing and monitoring. DHS also handles applications and eligibility for Sooner Care, the state’s Medicaid program offering health care to families with low incomes.




Oklahoma City—Ed Lake, current director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, announces his departure from the agency June 14 following Governor Kevin Stitt's appointment of a new DHS Director.

"Serving at the will of the Governor, I have always understood the nature of this appointment.  I support a Governor's authority to select his or her own team and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have served in this vital role." said Lake.  "While I am disappointed about not being able to finish some important work, I am extremely proud of many accomplishments and the solid framework created at DHS which leaves the agency in excellent condition for the next administration. I will do all that I can to help ensure a smooth transition for the new director."

During Lake's leadership, he employed proven business process improvement methods to achieve more than $13 million in efficiencies and cost savings at the agency.  Despite the worst state budget crisis the agency has ever faced, Lake redirected more than $170 million internally to support Child Welfare Services and Pinnacle Plan goals, while avoiding service cuts to other core programs across the agency.

In the most recent progress report from monitors overseeing the agency's foster care reforms and the Pinnacle Plan, DHS achieved "good faith" ratings in 29 of 31 performance areas.  This was the most positive report to date since the agency began reform efforts in 2012.

Under Lake's leadership, DHS changed its operations dramatically by closing the two state-operated institutions for people with intellectual disabilities as well as the two large state-run emergency children's shelters, focusing resources on community-based services and home-like settings.

Lake highly valued community partnerships and was known for continually saying, "DHS cannot do this work alone."  He actively sought support from multiple community foundations to fund innovative service programs the agency could not otherwise afford to create.  Lake increased alliances with churches and faith organizations in support of foster care and adoption goals, privatized portions of foster care recruitment, and created a Tribal Affairs liaison position.  Internally, he implemented the first-ever, agency-wide supervisory and management training programs.

Lake was notably the last DHS director hired by the Commission for Human Services and the first director to be appointed by a governor.   The Commission hired Lake on November 1, 2012, following two nationwide searches and was the first DHS director to hold a Master's Degree in Social Work. Within days, Oklahomans voted to pass a state question which changed the state constitution and put the agency and the appointment of the director under the authority of the governor.  Governor Mary Fallin then reappointed Lake with Senate confirmation.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Rep. Shane Stone says he won't seek reelection


Stone Announces He Won’t Seek Reelection

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Shane Stone (D-OKC) has announced that he does not plan to seek a fourth term as House District 89’s representative.

Stone was elected to the Oklahoma House in 2014. Part of House Democratic leadership, Stone served this past session as the Assistant Democratic Minority Leader. He has also served on the following committees: Administrative Rules, Appropriations & Budget General Government Subcommittee, County and Municipal Government and Insurance.

“Serving with Rep. Stone has been a true honor,” said Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman). “His commitment to working families not only in his district but across Oklahoma has been nothing short of inspiring. I am especially thankful for his friendship and support during my time as minority leader. The House Democrats are extremely grateful for his service to our caucus and the state.”

Stone and his family have deep roots in Oklahoma, especially in House District 89. Having the opportunity to represent the South OKC community has meant a lot to the South Sider.

"Serving South Oklahoma City in the State House has been a dream come true,” Stone said. “However, after much consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection in 2020. I will be forever thankful to my family and friends that helped me become the best representative I could be, to my colleagues for working every day to make this state a better place, and to the people of House District 89 for their continued support and the opportunity to serve."

During Stone’s tenure, through his tenacity when advocating for his constituents, he received the respect and appreciation of his Democratic colleagues.

“Shane’s dedication to the good people of House District 89 was apparent the first day I met him,” said Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa). “Over the last three years I’ve watched him – one of the youngest legislators serving – become one of the most powerful voices for hard-working Oklahomans. On a personal note, Shane has been my very best friend in the Legislature. Although he’s 10 years younger than me, I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him and consider him one of my greatest mentors. I will miss him dearly. I wish both he and his wife Courtney the best as they shift to a new and exciting chapter in life.”

And his Republican counterparts.

“Representative Stone has been a fierce advocate for South Oklahoma City,” said Majority Leader Jon Echols (R-OKC). “He is always concerned first and foremost with doing what he believes is best for the people of his district. It has been a true honor to serve with him and count him as a friend. South OKC has been served honorably by Representative Stone, and he will be missed.”

Always in the minority, Stone saw the need to ask questions and ensure that legislation passing through the House by the majority was fully vetted by the body.

"There is something special about being an Oklahoma House Democrat and having had the opportunity to serve under Leaders Scott Inman, Steve Kouplen, and now Emily,” Stone said. “I'm beyond optimistic about the future of this caucus knowing that many will continue to ask questions of the supermajority and drag Oklahoma back toward the middle for quality bipartisan solutions.”

Stone’s career has been highlighted with milestones and major victories both inside the Capitol and back in District 89.

"Many of my proudest moments as a representative have occurred close to home,” Stone said. “Coaching Police Athletic League teams, speaking at graduation ceremonies and organizing public meetings; but I was also very honored to have sponsored the inaugural Hispanic Cultural Day at the State Capitol and to have been part of the historic revenue-raising measure to deliver hundreds of millions of annual dollars to public education last year."

Low-interest federal disaster loans available in Muskogee, Tulsa, Wagoner counties


SBA Stands Ready to Assist Oklahoma Businesses and Residents Affected by Severe Storms, Straight-line Winds, Tornadoes and Flooding

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Oklahoma businesses and residents as a result of President Trump’s major disaster declaration, U.S. Small Business Administration’s acting Administrator Christopher M. Pilkerton announced.

The declaration covers the Muskogee, Tulsa and Wagoner counties as a result of the severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and flooding that began on May 7, 2019.

“SBA is strongly committed to providing Oklahoma with the most effective and customer-focused response possible and with access to federal disaster loans to help businesses and residents affected by this disaster,” said Pilkerton. “Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available to businesses regardless of any property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates can be as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.75 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.938 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must first contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.disasterassistance.gov. As soon as Federal-State Disaster Recovery Centers open throughout the affected area, SBA will provide one-on-one assistance to disaster loan applicants. Additional information and details on the location of disaster recovery centers is available by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Music Monday: "Les Toreadors" from 'Carmen'

This week's Music Monday is "Les Toreadors" from French composer Georges Bizet's opera Carmen. Bizet died on June 3rd, 1875 -- exactly 144 years ago.

Enjoy!


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 JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

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

Vice Pres. Pence to visit Tulsa, tour flood damage


VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE TO VISIT TULSA TOMORROW

Tulsa, OK – Following President Trump’s declared state of emergency for Tulsa, Wagoner, and Muskogee Counties, Vice President Mike Pence will be coming to Tulsa on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) and Vice President Mike Pence will be touring flood damage.

“Although it’s under these sad circumstances, I look forward to welcoming the Vice President to Tulsa,” said Rep. Kevin Hern. “After the heart-wrenching weeks our state has suffered through, it’s good to know that President Trump and Vice President Pence have our backs and are here to help our community rebuild.”

OCPA column: A notable contrast in legislative priorities


A notable contrast in legislative priorities
By Jonathan Small

The 2019 legislative session passed many good reforms, but its failures provided a glimpse of lawmakers’ priorities that should disturb Oklahomans.

Rather than act, lawmakers chose to sideline two measures that would have addressed some of Oklahoma’s most pressing needs in education and health care.

Lawmakers failed to raise the cap on the successful Equal Opportunity Scholarship program, which uses tax credits to inject millions of private dollars into public schools and private-school scholarships. Independent evaluators have concluded the program actually saves taxpayer money even as it increases student opportunity. Yet lawmakers chose not to expand this successful program, leaving thousands of children with special needs, kids struggling with addiction, and students living with the challenges of poverty unable to attend the schools that can best serve them.

Similarly, lawmakers failed to give voters the chance to direct state tobacco settlement payments to rural health care needs through a constitutional amendment. As rural hospitals close, lawmakers chose to instead leave tobacco dollars in a fund that pays for walking paths and advertisements that tell people to drink water.

But legislators did find the will to double the “Hollywood handout” film rebate, a de facto voucher program that sends millions out of state. Consultants hired by the state Incentive Evaluation Commission concluded the film program does nothing to permanently boost the Oklahoma film industry and does little for the state’s image. They recommended the program be ended.

Instead, lawmakers doubled program payments this year and even voted to allow some filmmakers to get payments from the Oklahoma Quick Action Closing Fund. Apparently, they concluded that the Harvey Weinsteins of the world are more deserving of Oklahoma taxpayer cash than homeless children or elderly rural patients in need of care.

The Legislature did advance some good reforms in other areas, including proposals OCPA has endorsed for many years. Those measures, if implemented correctly, should result in better oversight of government, less waste, and greater freedom for citizens.

Those measures include legislation giving the governor the ability to name the leaders of five major agencies, creation of a Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency to conduct performance evaluations of agencies, boosting state savings by $200 million, and requiring state agencies to report the use of all federal funds in a transparent manner.

Other worthwhile bills that became law provided for Oklahoma Supreme Court redistricting that increased the pool of potential jurists by hundreds in some cases, further criminal justice reforms, free speech protections on college campuses, and lawmakers’ commendable decision to not expand Medicaid and keep their focus on aiding the truly needy.

Put simply, the Legislature did some good this year. But when it was bad, it was really bad.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org).