Oklahoma Politics: May 2011 Archives

State Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre (D-Tulsa) has come under attack twice in recent days by prominent Tulsans who evidently oppose educational choice and individual liberty, according to two recent stories by CapitolBeatOK.

Last Thursday, lobbyist Margaret Erling harangued the Tulsa senator on the floor of the Senate over Eason-McIntyre's support for the conference report of a bill that will change the cutoff date for school enrollment from September 1 to July 1. (Margaret Erling is the wife of former KRMG morning show host John Erling Frette.) Under HB 1465, "a child would have to be four by July 1 to enter Pre-K programs, and/or five years old by July 1 to enter kindergarten," according to the CapitolBeatOK story.

In the Monday interview, Eason-McIntyre said that at the time of the incident, she had decided to support two Republican bills in the conference, and had approached "my leader," state Sen. Andrew Rice of Oklahoma City to give him a heads up on her decisions. The upper chamber had just recessed for the day. Sen.Rice was working at his desk, according to Eason-McIntyre.

She briefly explained to Rice her support for the two measures in the conference process (signing a conference report does not bind a member to support a measure on final passage), including H.B. 1465. She said Sen. Rice told her "not to worry about it."

He had, she recounted, asked members of the minority caucus to remain unified through the redistricting process to assure protection of Democratic interests. She explained that with that issue now headed toward resolution, Rice told her he understood her positions on the two measures.

Just as the two had finished speaking, Erling approached. As Erling confronted her, Eason-McIntyre was so perplexed by Erling's attitude that she was, she confessed, briefly confused over which of the two bills had so angered her.

"She was irate, and ranting. I thought she was going to have a stroke," Eason-McIntyre told CapitolBeatOK. Erling, who has several major clients at the Capitol, including Tulsa Public Schools, claimed to Eason-McIntyre that another client, George Kaiser of Tulsa, opposes H.B. 1465.

(The story also reports that the chief of staff of State Superintendent Janet Barresi has also been lobbying against the legislation.)

Then, on Sunday, Kara Gae Neal, the superintendent of Tulsa Technology Center (formerly known as Tulsa Vo-Tech), sent a scathing email to Eason-McIntyre for signing a conference committee report for HB 1652, which would allow concealed-carry permit holders to keep their guns locked in their vehicles in parking lots on vo-tech campuses and a few other types of public venue. According to Neal's email, Eason-McIntyre had the leverage to kill the bill in committee.

(Kara Gae Neal is the wife of retired Tulsa World editorial page editor Ken Neal.)

"I cannot believe that under the cloak of no public vote, you signed out of committee the only gun bill left alive this year, HB 1652, which will bring guns to Career Tech campuses across the state.

"I cannot believe that you have said Democrats have no power this year but YOU, single handedly, could have stopped that bill in its tracks. Two others on that committee held firm, one a Democrat and one a Republican and true friend to education, Dr. [James] Halligan. It took 4 votes to secretly slip it through the committee without a recorded public vote and YOURS was the 4th vote...after giving a verbal commitment in advance to Brady McCullough from Tulsa Tech that we could count on your support to kill the bill in committee.

"I cannot believe that YOU, who represents the District with the greatest number of CHILDREN shot in this state every year, did this to them and to us. Our Tulsa Tech facility in your district not only has high school students but a CHILD CARE center on that site.

"I cannot believe that when asked why you did this you said you liked the bill's author, Sen. Russell, and that he had done a lot for you. And what would that be? Surely getting 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' as the state spiritual/blues song was not it. Maybe they will play that in your memory at the funeral of children shot in your district.

Eason-McIntyre replied:

"For the record you can tell anyone you want that I signed the conference committee report at the request of my friend Sen. Russell. For your information there was no deal made!

"I have never hidden behind any excuse for what I decide to do. I do strongly believe that if Republicans believe in guns then openly vote for their gun related bills.

"You mentioned the problem with guns in OUR community, not just my district but I have yet to hear of any effort you have provided to solve Tulsa's gun problem, particularly in my district.

"The catty remark about the State's gospel song being sung at a funeral in my district, I will ignore and assume it had no any racial overtones intended.

"As it relates to our 'friendship' I am sorry always to lose a friend, but you made that choice."


School choice activist Brandon Dutcher, linking to these two stories, writes:

State Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre (D-Tulsa) is a liberal pro-abortion Democrat with whom I have virtually nothing in common. But I've always admired the way she has stood up for giving underprivileged students more school options -- even when doing so has been difficult for her politically. So I must say I felt sorry for her recently when she had abuse heaped upon her in the most inappropriate of ways. ...

The good senator will live to fight another day. Here's hoping she comes back next year and helps push another school-choice bill across the finish line.

Technical note: Copying and pasting tweets into this post was a very frustrating and time-consuming process. In the end, I had to paste the HTML into an Emacs buffer, use a series of regex replacements to clean the text up enough so everything would post without messing up everything else on the page. I simply wanted to reproduce the text and links without the avatars and all the Twitter-specific style info. If there's a simpler way to do this, please let me know.

My long-awaited wrap-up of the 2011 Oklahoma Republican Convention, held on May 7 at the Meridian Conference Center in Oklahoma City, is long overdue, so in its stead, here are my tweets (and the things I retweeted from other attendees) through the course of the day. We had a brief "tweetup" of the handful of Twitterers after the convention was adjourned. Next time around there may be a much bigger back-channel conversation happening during the convention.

In general, I came away from the convention feeling encouraged, particularly by the reports from statewide elected officials like State Auditor Gary Jones, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi, State Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, and Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony.

I was disappointed by the defeat of a return to the caucus system for pledging delegates to presidential candidates. When it appeared that no one was going to rise to speak in support of the idea, I stepped up, pointing out that Oklahoma Republicans haven't had a meaningful say in the selection of the party's presidential nominee since 1980, when we elected national convention delegates based on their pledge to vote for a particular nominee. In every presidential primary, Oklahomans have been left with a choice of the front-runner and a stop-the-front-runner candidate. The front-runner takes the statewide delegates and most of the congressional district delegates, usually with a very small plurality of the vote; the stop-the-front-runner takes one or two congressional districts at best. Given that the last time the caucus system was used was 31 years ago, I imagine only a few people remember that the system worked well and encouraged large turnouts at every level of the process. Some silly things were said in opposition: One delegate objected to caucuses because Barack Obama used them to "steal" the nomination from Hillary Clinton by busing people to the caucuses.

A point concerning the platform: Two amendments were brought to the convention in accordance with the convention rules, which required a certain number of signatures in order for the matter to come before the convention. 

Another amendment, striking a plank calling for the 9/11 investigation to be reopened, was moved by a delegate from the floor. The chairman, former Broken Arrow State Rep. John Wright, did an excellent job running the meeting, but I think he erred when ruling that the amendment was in order as it didn't constitute a substantial change. Wright's definition of "substantial" depended on the complexity of the proposed amendment, so striking a plank would be insubstantial. Although I was happy for the opportunity to get rid of that plank, I believe Wright's interpretation of "substantial" was incorrect. Anything that changes the substance, or meaning, of the platform should be considered substantial. Fixing a typo or grammatical error would qualify as insubstantial.

After the jump, my tweets and retweets from the 2011 Oklahoma GOP convention.

The Oklahoma Senate redistricting plan, drawn up by political consultant Karl Ahlgren, will move five incumbent state senators -- two Democrats and three Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee -- out of their own districts, according to a BatesLine analysis of the new boundaries.

A BatesLine geocommons map shows the new Oklahoma State Senate boundaries, the 1992-2000 boundaries, the current boundaries, and the locations of current state senators.

By state law (51 O.S. 8), the seats will become vacant as soon as the redistricting plan takes effect.

Generally, a redistricting plan is designed to accomplish one of the following purposes:

(1) Protect incumbents of all parties. This produces a map with odd-looking districts, but exactly one incumbent in each district.

(2) Help the majority party and hurt the minority party. This produces a map with odd-looking districts, but with more than one incumbent in some districts. Often two incumbents of the minority party will be placed in the same district, making it likely that the minority's numbers will dwindle by one. Another approach is to take a small area of a minority incumbent's district and join it to an adjacent district controlled by the majority party, forcing the minority incumbent to compete for reelection at a great disadvantage.

(3) Reflect communities of interest, without regard to party advantage or incumbent protection. This only happens in states that use a combination of a non-partisan commission and some automated method of drawing boundaries.

This plan appears to be something altogether different, as it targets three majority-party incumbents. Is this some effort to punish dissenters? Or is personal animus or vengeance on the part of the mapmaker involved?

The five victims:

SD 3: Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah). SD 9 (incumbent Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee) has been redrawn to extend a narrow strip along US 62 to encompass Tahlequah, separating the Cherokee County seat from the rest of the county. Wilson is term-limited after the 2012 legislative session.

SD 20: David Myers (R-Ponca City). Myers, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, would be thrown into SD 36 (Eddie Fields, R-Wynona), while SD 20 would be moved to the south, to cover Noble, Pawnee, and Logan Counties and most of Kingfisher County, except for Kingfisher itself. Myers was elected to his third and final term last fall without opposition. He would hit his term limit after the 2014 session, assuming he doesn't lose his seat via this redistricting plan.

SD 22: Rob Johnson (R-Kingfisher). A former state representative for four years, Johnson has been thrown into SD 26 (incumbent Tom Ivester, D-Sayre). SD 22 currently encompasses southern Kingfisher and northern Canadian Counties, with small adjacent segments from Logan and Oklahoma Counties. SD 22 would shift south, to cover western Canadian and northern Grady Counties. The new SD 26 has a narrow strip reaching into Kingfisher County to grab the city of Kingfisher where Johnson lives. Johnson was elected to the State Senate in 2010. He would be eligible to run for reelection in 2014.

SD 33: Tom Adelson (D-Tulsa). The Democrat nominee for Tulsa mayor in 2009 would be in a redrawn SD 39 (Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, incumbent) which would reach west to incorporate Utica Square and surrounding neighborhoods, while SD 33, currently covering midtown and west Tulsa, would be relocated to snake its way through south and east Tulsa County, from 211th St. South & 33rd West Ave., south of Bixby, through Leonard and Broken Arrow, to 41st and Memorial. Adelson is eligible to run for one more term in 2012. The new boundaries for SD 35 and 39 make a detour to include Utica Square; that sort of maneuver has been used in the past to accommodate a legislator who wishes to move to a posher neighborhood outside his current boundaries.

SD 43: Jim Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City). SD 43 is currently in Oklahoma County, mainly east of I-35 and south of I-40. The district would be moved to McClain and parts of Stephens, Grady, and Garvin Counties, while Reynolds would be thrown into SD 45 with Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma City). Reynolds is term-limited after the 2012 election.

Under this plan and the state law that requires a member to live in his district, David Myers would lose his Senate seat as soon as the plan takes effect. Presumably, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee would be in line to take the chairmanship. The vice chairman is Clark Jolley who is, coincidentally, the Republican co-chairman of the Senate redistricting committee.

The proposed boundaries for the new Oklahoma State House districts have been online since Friday, but the maps lacked any street detail that could be used as a point of reference. In response to my request, the Speaker's Office sent me the GIS data and a data table assigning each census block to its new House district. While the legislation (HB 2145) is on the House redistricting webpage (all 1,627 pages of it!), they haven't posted the computer-friendly files there, so here they are, in a 3.18MB zip archive.

Oklahoma House Redistricting 2010 GIS shapefile

Paul Monies of The Oklahoman has created an interactive map featuring the proposed State Senate districts. I've taken his work and added (from U. S. Census Bureau data) shapefiles showing the Oklahoma Senate districts created after the 1990 and 2000 censuses. You can turn each layer on or off to see how the districts have evolved over time.

I had really hoped that, having won overwhelming control of the legislature despite the Democrats' gerrymander in 2001, Republican legislative leaders wouldn't feel the need to perpetuate the errors of the past or create monstrosities of their own. It appears that I was mistaken.


A follow-up to the previous entry about State Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City):

A CapitolBeatOK piece from April 20, 2011, by Pat McGuigan, argues that Mike Reynolds and several Republican colleagues (Mike Ritze, Randy Terrill, Mike Christian, John Bennett) should be more like Sally Kern, who regularly votes in favor of emergency clauses, a separate vote on an approved bill that allows it to go into effect immediately rather than 90 days after the end of the legislative session. During the current session Reynolds, Ritze, Terrill, Christian, and Bennett have frequently voted against emergency clauses.

Here is the usual text of an emergency clause:

It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.

The 90-day waiting period (and the emergency exception) is established in Article V, Section 58, of the Oklahoma Constitution:

No act shall take effect until ninety days after the adjournment of the session at which it was passed, except enactments for carrying into effect provisions relating to the initiative and referendum, or a general appropriation bill, unless, in case of emergency, to be expressed in the act, the Legislature, by a vote of two-thirds of all members elected to each House, so directs. An emergency measure shall include only such measures as are immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, and shall not include the granting of franchises or license to a corporation or individual, to extend longer than one year, nor provision for the purchase or sale of real estate, nor the renting or encumbrance of real property for a longer term than one year. Emergency measures may be vetoed by the Governor, but such measures so vetoed may be passed by a three-fourths vote of each House, to be duly entered on the journal.

I can see how a constitutional conservative might have qualms about proclaiming an emergency when no threat to the public peace, health, or safety really exists, in order to bypass a provision of the constitution. I've found a couple of articles by free-market state policy think-tanks complaining about abuse of the emergency clause in the state of Washington, pointing out that the emergency clause doesn't allow time for a referendum to prevent a new law from going into effect.

Perhaps our legislative leaders could restrict the use of the emergency clause to true emergencies and even then spell out exactly how failure to put a law into immediate effect jeopardizes the public peace, health, or safety.

The Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce has put State Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-OKC) on its "most wanted" list for his opposition to tax credits that seem to be more about rewarding the politically connected than helping Oklahoma's economy grow. The Chamber's website highlights two Reynolds quotes:

That's what [the Quality Jobs Program] does is it's wealth redistribution, and we can talk all day long about how it creates jobs. It doesn't create jobs. It rearranges jobs. It has to do that by artificially incentivizing certain companies with your taxpayer dollars. Where else would they get the money? It didn't grow on trees. It didn't come in a federal grant. We didn't find a gold mine and say "all the gold in this mine is going to quality jobs". Somebody found a gold mine when they passed the Quality Jobs Act, and that's for sure.

--Rep. Mike Reynolds debating against SB 154, Updating Quality Jobs Act

"It's not for small business, it's for... very selected, well connected, highly lobbied, huge campaign contribution, big business. We can see very clearly a pattern to where these tax credits exist. ...it's legalized socialism."

--Mike Reynolds debating against HB 1008

To try to marginalize Reynolds, the Chamber placed his quotes next to Democrat legislators calling for more regulations and outright state acquisition of industry for relocation. Reynolds advocates neither position.

On HB 1008, Reynolds joined 22 other Republicans in opposition to removing "the aerospace incentives from the list of credits on moratorium as of July 1 this year." The moratorium was already set to expire on July 1, 2012, one year later.

SB 154 is still working its way through the system. It seems to make the Quality Jobs Act retroactive in some way to include jobs that otherwise would not have qualified, but the language is obscure.

Reynolds is right to be concerned about tax credit abuse in Oklahoma and about the misuse of the state's power to tax to pick economic winners and losers. Well-intentioned programs designed to give businesses an incentive to move to Oklahoma or expand may do genuine good in many cases, but they can also be gamed by the unethical.

Reynolds is not anti-business or anti-growth. He believes that the best way to encourage business and growth is to reduce the burden of government on everyone, not just specially-targeted industries. That's a respectable position, even if you disagree with it. It certainly doesn't warrant his inclusion on the State Chamber's target list.

CORRECTION: An addendum to this piece incorrectly identified the previous positions held by Chamber CEO Fred Morgan, who was a State Rep. and House Minority Leader. My apologies for the error.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Politics category from May 2011.

Oklahoma Politics: April 2011 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Politics: July 2011 is the next archive.

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