August 2015 Archives

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) will hold a hearing today on Public Service Company of Oklahoma's request to impose additional fees on customers who opt-out of PSO's "Smart Meter" program.

The hearing is at 10:30 a.m., August 27, 2015, in Courtroom B at the OCC's offices at 2010 N. Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City. The docket number is 201500109: "Application of Public Service Company of Oklahoma for Commission Review and Potential Approval for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Alternatives and for Cost Recovery of Any Approved Alternatives."

I have been unsuccessful so far in finding the detailed application online, but you can read the current PSO tariff, which includes the Smart Meter provisions approved by the OCC that went into effect on April 30, 2015.

Acting on an alert from the Tulsa 9/12 project, I submitted the following comment on the PSO website and the OCC public utility complaints page.

Our family has opted out of the PSO Smart Meter program. I understand that PSO is asking to install a transmitting, data-recording meter everywhere, even on opt-out homes. Please uphold the spirit the opt-out by rejecting this request from PSO, so that opt-out homes can continue to use non-transmitting analog meters.

We also object to the penalty PSO wants to impose on smart meter opt-out customers. Our opt-out does nothing to increase the cost of delivering electricity to our home over the current cost. If smart meters are truly a cost-saving measure, ratepayers should get a rate cut for opting in.

Here is the alert from the Tulsa 9/12 Project:


PSO has filed testimony before the OCC (Oklahoma Corporation Commission), claiming only 150 people have refused the Smart Meter "Offer". They also filed testimony asking the OCC to remove all analog meters on the bypass list and replace them with an AMR (a one way wireless transmitting meter instead of the AMI two-way transmitter currently being installed) claiming they will turn the transmitter off and charge the customer to have it read manually.

What they are not saying is, they can turn the meter on remotely at anytime without the customers knowledge or consent. The AMR meter also requires an FCC license and contains a 900 mhz transmitter which pulses every 15 to 20 seconds at or over 220,000 micro-watts, making it very harmful for those who are electro-sensitive (many AMR's have two transmitters). In other words they have applied for the installation of a Smart Meter on every home with no exception to retain an analog meter. This is not the case in other states where they retain their analog, if the OCC accepts their conditions, and if the Attorney General doesn't intervene, it is NO OPT OUT at all.

The scheme continues to unfold:

Utility costs will continue to skyrocket by design, because "the more the customer conserves the more they pay".

Smart Meters do not conserve energy, people do. You do not need a smart meter to program a thermostat.

If you're not fired up yet - this should do it...

The OCC has amended their rules for what they call the "Demand Program" (Title 165 Chapter 35, Subchapter 41 effective Jan. 1, 2016).

The OCC has set up an incentive program (customer provided funds) for the Utilities to re-educate and convince the customers to reduce their consumption (or the Utility can do it remotely through the meter) to the point that the Utility doesn't build another power plant (EPA and DOE requests 4% reduction). The rules also state that the Utility can apply for a "True-Up Recovery Tariff" for the revenue loss caused by the customer reduced consumption, "the more you conserve (save) the more you pay".

This is a win win for the Utility, they were approved to charge the customer base to remove the reliable analog meter (a 30 to 40 year life) and replace it with an unproven digital meter (3 to 10 year life). The capital investment for IT and the infrastructure to switch over to the digital surveillance is to be borne by the customers while the Utility creates a new revenue stream collecting and selling the customers personal data collected by the meter, a revenue projected to exceed the electricity revenue.

It makes one wonder, is in fact the OCC representing the Utilities and regulating the people when they should be regulating the Utilities and representing the people?

Please attend the Oklahoma Corporation Commission "Hearing On The Merits" (to impose a penalty or tax upon those refusing the "Smart Meter Offer"). Numbers count whether you give "public comment" or fill the court with your presence.

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, 59, was stabbed to death Sunday night.

The fatal attack took place at a Braum's Ice Cream store in northwest Oklahoma City, according to news reports. Christian Costello, the commissioner's son, was arrested.

I join my fellow Oklahomans in mourning the loss of Commissioner Costello. He was an outstanding public servant, admired for improving workplace safety while working with Oklahoma employers as a collaborator, not an adversary. Under his leadership, it became easier for Oklahomans to deal with the Labor Department, as he improved online access to department functions, which made it possible to cut department costs without sacrificing service.

Costello set himself apart by refusing to take campaign contributions from lobbyists, and in 2012, he called attention to the lobbyist effort to curry favor with new Republican officials at the State Capitol, noting the massive shift in contributions by the Oklahoma Public Employees Association -- from 97% to Democrat candidates in 2004 to 64% to Republican candidates in 2010. He reminded his fellow Republican officials that they had taken the legislature despite a tsunami of lobbyist cash supporting their opponents.

Beyond his public service, we remember Mark Costello's sense of whimsy -- campaign ads that spoofed Donovan's psychedelic 1960s tune "Mellow Yellow" ("Vote for Mark Costello"), inviting New York City mayoral candidate Jimmy McMillan (of "The Rent Is Too Damn High" party) to sign autographs at Costello's booth at the 2012 Oklahoma Republican Convention.

May God comfort his family and friends, and may he rest in peace.


Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs pays tribute:

It is with great sorrow that we learned of the death of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello. Mark was a longtime friend to the staff, board and members of OCPA. While our prayers and deepest sympathy are concentrated on his family during this unthinkable time, we remember the life of not just a great public servant but also a great man.

Mark was everywhere. If someone was trying to make their community better, get involved in the political process, or host a group committed to freedom, Mark was there, fully engaged in mind, body, and spirit. This loss will be felt by all Oklahomans in the days, weeks, and years to come.

We are grateful to have known and been led by Mark Costello and remember him most for his keen sense of and commitment to True North.

A statement from the Costello family:

There are no words to express the shock and sadness that our family has experienced the last number of hours. The outpouring of emotion and support our family feels is tremendous.

Our son, Christian Costello, has experienced many difficulties over the past several years. Christian, like thousands of Oklahomans, struggles with a mental health disease and like many families we did our best to support him. Mark was committed to being there for his son and provided whatever help he could as a father.

We ask for your prayers and support as our family tries to cope with and understand this life-changing tragedy.

Mark loved to brag about his kids and their successes, but like many in the public eye, he also viewed his family life as personal.

We ask that you respect our family's privacy as we work through this very difficult time and please understand that our family will struggle with this for years to come as we try and find answers.

Here's one of Costello's 2010 radio ads:

During the 2010 campaign, Costello spoke briefly at a voter education rally in Muskogee, talking about his early working life and how Barack Obama "inspired" him to get into politics. He also deals graciously with a correction from the audience:

In February 2013, Mark Costello spoke to the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee about reforms at the Labor Department:

Tulsa Library CEO Gary Shaffer is an overpaid, left-wing twit.

This is admittedly a snap judgement, but when I saw Shaffer's rationale for a change to the summer reading program that halved participation over the previous year (33,194 down to 16,013) I felt confident in making it.

The summer reading program has been a fun way to encourage children to keep reading and to get to know the Tulsa Library system over the three-month school break. Kids and parents keep track of the books they've read, then turn in their reading card at the end of the summer to receive toys and coupons, donated by sponsors, as rewards for completing the specified number of books.

Here's the apparent cause of the drastic drop, which cut participation to its lowest level since 1985, according to Kelly Jennings, the former coordinator of the program:

Jennings said a change of requiring a library card for each child resulted in children's groups turning away from the program, as did parents of multiple children not wanting to keep up with a lot of cards.

She said the larger groups usually opted for one card for easy tracking of the books checked out.

Shaffer's response:

Shaffer said the change was made to encourage children to get a library card, which he called a "social justice issue."

With the quoted phrase, Shaffer brands himself as a left-wing twit. "Social justice issue" is a Duckspeak phrase. It is designed not to stimulate thought and discussion but to bypass the brain and halt discussion. A public agency's policy could be debated as to its prudence and effectiveness, but as soon as it is labeled a "social justice issue," all discussion must cease. To oppose the policy is to oppose "social justice," and if you oppose social justice, you're a bad person. By using the phrase, Shaffer outs himself as a left-winger, and by using it to stop a discussion about a failure under his leadership, Shaffer outs himself as a twit.

As for overpaid:

Shaffer is an at-will employee who will now earn $171,966 annually. The raise reflects the same cost-of-living increase given to employees earlier this year. He will continue to be paid while finishing his degree.

Shaffer will take a sabbatical starting Sept. 15 and ending in mid-December. He will be paid the equivalent of two months of his salary and will also receive $1,000 for payroll deductions such as health and life insurance for the period between July 1 and Dec. 31.

Other benefits include a $450 monthly car allowance for his private vehicle and three electronic devices (cellphone, home computer and iPad) for work use....

Shaffer was hired in January 2011 at a salary of about $140,000, which was increased to $145,596 in September 2012. Three months later, he was given a raise, bringing his salary to $154,475. A year later, the commission approved a 7 percent bump in pay to $165,288.

The story mentions that he would be one of only four library CEOs in the nation with a doctorate.

We have a great, well-funded library system, with some terrific employees. I particularly appreciate the researchers who have helped me over the years. They, and the taxpayers, deserve better leadership.

A commenter on one of the Tulsa World stories described the move to individual library cards as "nothing but a membership drive. He wanted to make it look like he had increased readership big time and all it did was drive people away." Does this overpaid, left-wing twit have a bonus clause for increasing the number of active library cards?


Saturday morning, August 22, 2015, there will be a nationwide protest against Planned Parenthood, against the organization's dismemberment and harvesting of organs from unborn children. Protests are planned for hundreds of locations across the country.

ProtestPP is a coalition of pro-life groups calling for a National Day of Protest on August 22, 2015 at Planned Parenthood facilities all across America. Our goal is to raise awareness of the heartless and even illegal activities of Planned Parenthood by going to where the killing and harvesting of body parts from aborted children takes place. The four main sponsors are: Created Equal, the Pro-Life Action League, 40 Days for Life, and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society.

Creating a presence at neighborhood Planned Parenthood facilities is essential to inform the public about what is going on behind closed doors. Local sidewalk counselors and activists are a key component to shutting down Planned Parenthood in the long term.

The National Day of Protest will strengthen local efforts by raising their profile with the local press, the community and other pro-life activists. Together, the protests held on August 22 will put pressure on the media, both local and national, to report the truth about Planned Parenthood, and on government officials to stop funding this discredited organization.

Here in Tulsa, the protest will take place between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. near the midtown location of Planned Parenthood at 1007 S. Peoria Ave.

The videos from the investigation that launched this protest -- both unedited footage and edited summaries -- can be found at the website of the Center for Medical Progress.

"Men, you know me. You remember me when I led you out to war. I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East, and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all he tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace and where we never have only victory..."

(From Okuhhatuh's first sermon to the Cheyenne people, June 19, 1881. As posted by Wade Burleson, A Captivating Story of God's Saving Grace: From Cheyenne Warrior to Christian Missionary.)

The diaries of the Rev. David Pendleton Oakerhater, a warrior of the Cheyenne Nation who became an Episcopalian missionary to his own people, have been donated by his family to the Oklahoma History Center. Oakerhater is the first American Indian added to the Episcopal Church's calendar of saints; September 1 is the Feast of St. Oakerhater.

In his journals, which date to 1895, Oakerhater wrote of his everyday life and ministry as an Oklahoma Episcopal missionary, with several notable exceptions, including his mention of meeting the ill-fated George Armstrong Custer at one time and his participation as a warrior who fought against the U.S. cavalry at the Battle of Adobe Walls in the Texas Panhandle.

Oakerhater, known as O-kuh-ha-tu or Making Medicine before he adopted Christianity, was a Cheyenne warrior who fought European encroachment on his homeland until he was imprisoned by the U.S. Army at Fort Marion in Florida in 1875, along with many other American Indian warriors.

He eventually converted to Christianity in 1878 in New York and returned to the Cheyenne and Arapaho people in Oklahoma working to influence many American Indians to receive Christ, make peace and learn the value of education.

Oakerhater, known as "God's warrior" among the Cheyenne people, was ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1881 at age 34....

[Michelin Butler] Lopez, 39, said she prayed for months before deciding to donate the diaries belonging to "Old Grandpa," as her family members fondly call their ancestor.

In the end, it was not so much his journal entries about who he met or what he did, but rather the person who changed his life forever -- Jesus -- that finally convinced her that the journals deserved to be preserved at the history center.

They would, she said, help promote his powerful spiritual legacy.

"Through my grandfather's faith, he didn't turn his back on his people," Lopez said. "He fell in love with Jesus, and he stayed true to his faith so that we would all come to know Christ."

Be sure to read Wade Burleson's article on the life and faith of David Pendleton Oakerhater.

MORE: Oakerhater made it to the "Saintly 16" round of "Lent Madness" this year, losing to King Kamehameha of Hawaii.

Author A. N. Wilson has a beautiful testimony of his "Road to Damascus" conversion to atheism 20 years ago and his "slow, hesitant, doubting" return to the Christian faith. The trigger for his return: The self-evident reality that mankind was created in the image of God.

Do materialists really think that language just "evolved", like finches' beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where's the evidence? How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations? How could it have come about that groups of anthropoid apes developed the amazing morphological complexity of a single sentence, let alone the whole grammatical mystery which has engaged Chomsky and others in our lifetime and linguists for time out of mind? No, the existence of language is one of the many phenomena - of which love and music are the two strongest - which suggest that human beings are very much more than collections of meat. They convince me that we are spiritual beings, and that the religion of the incarnation, asserting that God made humanity in His image, and continually restores humanity in His image, is simply true. As a working blueprint for life, as a template against which to measure experience, it fits....

I haven't mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler's neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer's book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer's serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

My departure from the Faith was like a conversion on the road to Damascus. My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again. Gilbert Ryle, with donnish absurdity, called God "a category mistake". Yet the real category mistake made by atheists is not about God, but about human beings. Turn to the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - "Read the first chapter of Genesis without prejudice and you will be convinced at once . . . 'The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life'." And then Coleridge adds: "'And man became a living soul.' Materialism will never explain those last words."

I've often though that there are two propositions in Scripture that are self-evident to the honest observer: That man was created in the image of God, and that man is fallen, totally depraved.

Consider a highway. Not long ago I drove the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West. The highway was built in the late 1930s to replace Henry Flagler's Overseas Railway, which was destroyed by the 1935 Labor Day hurricane. Several sections, including the Seven-Mile Bridge, have been replaced more recently. Each new bridge is built with more durable materials and techniques than the bridge it replaces.

Beavers build dams, ants build hills, bees build hives, but their designs haven't advanced in all the years of recorded history. No species other than man builds new things that build upon the successes and failures of others, new designs that incorporate the designs of others in creative ways. We are creators, reflecting the image of our Creator.

Back in September 2010, BatesLine first looked at Tulsa City Councilor G. T. Bynum's lobbying practice and the obvious concerns that arise when a local official is acting as a paid agent for an organization actively engaged in local political issues. I mentioned Bynum's lobbying for the George Kaiser Family Foundation again in 2011, when he appeared to be cruising toward re-election without opposition. Shortly before that year's primary, an ethics complaint was filed against Bynum mainly regarding his votes to waive competitive bidding on bond issues, resulting on bond contracts being awarded to the Bank of Oklahoma. Bynum's grandfather, former Mayor Robert J. LaFortune, served at the time on the board of BOK Financial Corporation and owned shares of stock in the corporation worth over $2 million.

Now four years later, journalist Theodore King has a story on the Okie Blaze taking a look at Bynum's current roster of lobbying clients and noting Bynum's work in 2010 lobbying in Washington on behalf of the George Kaiser Family Foundation for federal funding for low-water dams in the Arkansas River and his current advocacy on the Council for a plan to fund the dams.

King notes the silence in local media (BatesLine excepted) about Bynum's work as a lobbyist, specifically his work in the past for GKFF. While news stories occasionally identify Bynum as "managing partner at Capitol Ventures, a government relations firm" (for example, this June 17, 2015, Tulsa World story), I was only able to find one story, from September 4, 2011, in which the word lobbyist was used in reference to Bynum:

[Robert] Pinney also is critical of Bynum's lobbying work for the city of Miami, Okla.

However, the City Charter does not prohibit councilors from working as lobbyists.

It seems like every day another study emerges that reaffirms the wisdom of traditional moral restraints.

An article on the blog of the Institute for Family Studies, Slow But Sure: Does the Timing of Sex During Dating Matter?, reviews two scholarly studies of the timing of a couple's first sexual involvement and their long-term happiness.

My colleagues and I published the first study a few years ago in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Family Psychology. This study involved a national sample of 2,035 married individuals who participated in the popular online couple assessment survey called "RELATE." We found that the longer a dating couple waits to have sex, the better their relationship is after marriage. In fact, couples who wait until marriage to have sex report higher relationship satisfaction (20% higher), better communication patterns (12% better), less consideration of divorce (22% lower), and better sexual quality (15% better) than those who started having sex early in their dating (see Figure 2). For couples in between--those that became sexually involved later in their dating, but prior to marriage--the benefits were about half as strong....

The second study confirmed the finding and delved into the reasons.

They discovered that the negative association between sexual timing and relationship quality is largely driven by a link between early sex and cohabitation. Specifically, sexual involvement early in a romantic relationship is associated with an increased likelihood of moving more quickly into living together, which in turn is associated with lower relationship quality. This finding supports Norval Glenn's hypothesis that sexual involvement may lead to unhealthy emotional entanglements that make ending a bad relationship difficult. As Sassler and her colleagues concluded, "Adequate time is required for romantic relationships to develop in a healthy way. In contrast, relationships that move too quickly, without adequate discussion of the goals and long-term desires of each partner, may be insufficiently committed and therefore result in relationship distress, especially if one partner is more committed than the other" (p. 710).

The author of the article, Jason S. Carroll, says that evidence points to two reasons why couples benefit from waiting: "Intentional partner selection" -- your judgment about the suitability of someone as a spouse isn't clouded by physical entanglement -- and "sexual symbolism" -- emotional intimacy is given time to develop first, and sexual intimacy becomes a symbol of emotional intimacy.

For many young adults, the single life has become synonymous with hook-ups and sexual experimentation. The problem with these patterns is that proper partner selection is often difficult for sexually involved couples who experience strong physical rewards with each other, as these rewards can cause them to ignore or minimize deeper incompatibilities in the relationship. The human brain and body do not just experience pleasure during sex; they also experience strong sensations of attachment and bonding. Simply put, we are hardwired to connect. Rapid sexual initiation often creates poor partner selection because intense feelings of pleasure and attachment can be confused for true intimacy and lasting love. Early sex creates a sort of counterfeit intimacy that makes two people think they are closer to each other than they really are. This can cause people to "fall in love" with, and possibly even marry, someone who is not a good choice for them in the long run....

Emotional intimacy exists in a relationship when two people experience a sense of security, support, trust, comfort, and safety with one another. In dating, focusing on emotional intimacy is a process of coming to know each other from the inside-out, not just the outside in. Sexual restraint allows couples to focus on and evaluate the emotional aspects of their relationship....

...Ultimately, loving and lasting marriages are ones where the sexual intimacy is a meaningful physical symbol of the emotional intimacy shared between the spouses. Without this, sex is just physical and lacks the meaning needed to be truly satisfying over the long term. In dating, couples who hope to marry should focus on developing a foundation of friendship and communication that will serve as the ongoing foundation for sexual intimacy in their marriage. By practicing sexual restraint, couples allow themselves to focus on a true foundation of intimacy: acceptance, understanding, partnership, and love.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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