UPDATING this post continually.
A proposal has been brought to amend Rule 10. It would set up a commission that would report back to the RNC at some later date, and then the RNC would have to approve any changes proposed by a 2/3rds vote.
Morton Blackwell is speaking in opposition. Democrats, he says, have bitter struggles over rule changes by the DNC between conventions. Those fights are set in terms of principle, but they are always to advantage one candidate over another. He doesn't believe the decision should be entrusted to the RNC, even by a supermajority. "RNC meetings are, almost without exception, entirely scripted.... It is not a deliberative body."
A speaker from Rhode Island points out that it's the fear of the shadow of disagreement at the convention that has pushed the issue of reform further and further back.
The Arkansas committeeman points out that the RNC chairman would appoint nine of the 15 members of this committee. The RNC would not be able to amend the recommendation of the committee -- just an up-or-down vote to adopt by a 2/3rds majority.
Maine committeeman -- the Democrats will make their decisions "confident that we have tied our own hands and are unable to respond strategically."
Nebraska committeeman -- We don't need another committee to tell us we need to make a change. We've had changes proposed over and over again, only to arrive at the convention to have the nominee's representatives kill it. [That last happened in 2000.]
[There's a simple solution: Rules committee members could have the backbone to tell the nominee/president to get lost.]
This sets up a supercommittee that transfers the authority that you have been given by your states to make recommendations to the entire convention. Let's not follow the flip-flopping Democrats who tinker with the rules between meetings.
Clark Reed, Mississippi: "Thank God we don't have the flexibility the Democrats have."
Ohio committeeman: Has been an opponent of "flexibility" but supports this proposal. Commission would expire summer of 2010. Gives Republicans the flexibility to negotiate with the Democrats [whose commission runs through calendar year 2009]. 38 states have indicated they'll move to the first permitted primary date. The commission could bring all the stakeholders to the table.
Helen Blackwell, Virginia: "They didn't elect me to come here and pass off my authority to some other commission that hasn't even been appointed yet.... We need to roll up our sleeves and do our work."
Utah committeeman: In support. "We should not be afraid" to allow the duly elected RNC to conduct the affairs of the party.
[The problem with leaving this to the RNC is that the RNC is weighted toward weak Republican parties in small states, since every state has three members, regardless of the size of the state or the strength of the party.]
The motion passed by a show of hands, although the hands were not counted. One southern committeewoman indicated that there would be a minority report to the convention on this issue. McCain's operatives aren't likely to be happy with that outcome, as it means substantive debate during the convention. The signature of 28 members of the rules committee is required to move a minority report forward to the convention as a whole, where it will be debated alongside the majority report.
With that, the first section, Rules 1-11, is complete.
The next item would delete Rule 13(A)(2), the closest thing Republicans have to superdelegates. Morton Blackwell -- who reminds that he was Goldwater's youngest elected delegate in 1964 -- says his aim has always been to ensure the flow of power in the party remains from the bottom up, so he wants "all the national convention delegates to be elected contemporaneous to the presidential campaign."
The Indiana committeewoman reminds that the reason for this rule is to free up delegate seats for people other than RNC members. This is especially important for small delegations. The committeewoman from the Virgin Islands spoke in opposition for that reason. They have only six delegates other than the three
South Dakota committeeman says he felt uncomfortable being an automatic delegate, and received criticism in his state for qualifying automatically rather than going through the process like everyone else.
Missouri committeeman was the original proponent of the amendment in 2000. "The idea was to open up the opportunity for other grassroots workers to have the privilege and have the experience to come as delegates to the Republican National Convention."
Washington committeewoman points out that these are not "superdelegates" but are in fact bound by the rules of their respective states.
Mississippi committeeman Clark Reed reminds that the RNC committee members are elected four years before the convention. He says this is a slippery slope toward elected officials and other party officials being made automatic delegates.
Chairman stepped down from the chair to speak against the amendment. There hasn't been a slippery slope. By having RNC members as delegates, it frees up 168 seats for grassroots Republicans.
Blackwell's motion failed, but he's making another motion -- delete 13(A)(2) but increase the number of at-large delegates from 10 to 13. Chair ruled it out of order.
Now back to rule 15: A minor amendment passes to allow N.H. and S.C. to go on or after 3rd Tuesday in January rather than just "after."
Another amendment: Any delegate selection prior to the first Tuesday in March must be allocated proportionally.
Blackwell considers proportional representation a "pernicious" practice, considers imposing PR on early states an imposition. Rep. Backus agrees that we shouldn't dictate to the states.
Ryder of Tennessee: Purpose of proportionality amendment is to "extend the primary calendar by making it impossible for any state to be determinative of the outcome prior to March 1."
Rule defeated overwhelmingly.
Florida proposal would penalize early states by losing voting delegates but not delegates. Seconded by Michigan. Looks like it will fail.
There's a Maryland motion to allow states to use alternates to fill convention committee slots if no delegate of the proper sex is available. For example, suppose only two women delegates from a state are available to come to the convention city a week early to serve as committee members. Under current rules, the state's female seat third committee would go vacant. Under the proposed amendment, a female alternate could fill that spot. The motion passed, 45-33. The chairman noted that this might have the unintended consequence of reducing the pressure to elect women as delegates.
A proposal to amend rule 41 from Ron Kaufman of Massachusetts passed overwhelmingly. It went by very quickly, but it had something to do with when the rules committee could be consider constituted.
2:50 pm: Just had the final vote on the full committee report.
The committee will reconvene on September 1, River Center Ballroom A, during the opening session of the convention, roughly about 2:30 pm. Once the convention approves the permanent organization of the convention, the rules committee will be officially elected by the convention, and can officially vote to approve this rules recommendation.
There was a point Tuesday evening, with about 95% of the precincts reporting, when Ernest Istook still had fewer votes than Don Carroll received in 1998. Carroll, a small businessman who won a runoff against a dead woman, received 268,898 votes, 31.28% against Sen. Don Nickles, who was running for his fourth term and was Senate Majority Whip. The total vote against Nickles, including two independents, was 289,031 or 33.62% of the vote. Istook finished the night with 310,273, which amounted to 33.50%. Ponder this: A credible, respected congressman representing Oklahoma's largest city almost loses as badly against a lackluster governor as an air conditioner repairman from Tahlequah did against a high-ranking and well-liked senator.
A race like the Nickles-Carroll race gives you a good idea of how many hard-core party voters there are, the people who will vote the party line no matter how great the disparity in experience and credibility between the candidates.
This year, Istook had the lowest number of votes of any statewide candidate, a very unusual circumstance for a candidate at the top of the ticket. And yet there wasn't a wide disparity in experience and credibility between Istook and Henry. Istook had acceptable credentials for serving as governor, with service in the state legislature and in Congress. He made no gaffes during the campaign, said nothing outrageous, made no major stumbles. Henry has no charisma, no plan. And yet Istook's share of the vote is on par with some fringe candidate challenging a wildly popular incumbent. How could that have happened?
In the sixth year of a two-term Presidency, Americans rebuked Republicans on Capitol Hill who had forgotten their principles and a President who hasn't won the Iraq war he started. While a thumping defeat for the GOP, the vote was about competence, not ideological change.
This is not to minimize the Democrats' victory, which they deserve to savor after several frustrating election nights. Credit in particular goes to Rahm Emanuel and Chuck Schumer, who led the House and Senate efforts to pick candidates who could win in GOP-leaning states. Their leaders, notably Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi, also kept in check their ideological ambitions to make Tuesday a referendum on Republican governance. It was a shrewd strategy.
All the more so because the GOP gave them so much ammunition. By our count, at least eight GOP House seats fell largely due to scandal; campaign-finance ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff probably cost Conrad Burns his Senate seat in Montana. These columns have spent several years warning Republicans that their overspending, corrupt "earmarks" and policy drift would undermine their claim as the party of reform. On Tuesday they did.
Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, architect of the 1994 revolution, points to the Republican caucus' shift from principle to powermongering:
For most Republican candidates, fiscal responsibility is our political bread and butter. No matter how voters view other, more divisive issues from abortion to stem-cell research, Republicans have traditionally enjoyed a clear advantage with a majority of Americans on basic pocketbook issues. "We will spend your money carefully and we will keep your taxes low." That was our commitment. This year, no incumbent Republican (even those who fought for restraint) could credibly make that claim. The national vision--less government and lower taxes--was replaced with what Jack Abramoff infamously called his "favor factory." One Republican leader actually defended a questionable appropriation of taxpayer dollars, saying it was a reasonable price to pay for holding a Republican seat. What was most remarkable was not even the admission itself, but that it was acknowledged so openly. Wasn't that the attitude we were fighting against in 1994?
Armey chides Republicans in Washington for a loss of nerve in pursuing important reforms, such as allowing individuals to own their retirement accounts. He points to welfare reform as a model:
They missed the opportunity of a lifetime by failing to embrace retirement security based on personal ownership. Instead, from both parties we heard about "saving Social Security"--to the extent we heard anything at all. Republicans should be for reforms that free individuals and their families from failed government programs. We should not be for "saving" failed government programs. When we took on welfare reform in 1995, we knew we were taking on a Goliath. Once we threw the first rock, we knew we had to finish the job. Otherwise, the worst claims of our opponents would have stuck with us in future elections. With legislative success, the horrible accusations of our opponents were replaced with reduced welfare roles, and the individual dignity and self-sufficiency that naturally followed....
We need to remember Ronald Reagan's legacy and again stand for positive, big ideas that get power and money out of politics and government bureaucracy and back into the hands of individuals. We also need again to demonstrate an ability to be good stewards of the taxpayers' hard-earned money. If Republicans do these things, they will also restore the public's faith in our standards of personal conduct. Personal responsibility in public life follows naturally if your goal is good public policy.
Will Democratic leaders take seriously evangelical concerns, or will they be like those who last year held a seminar at the University of California, Berkeley entitled, "I Don't Believe in God, But I Know America Needs a Spiritual Left"?
It will be fascinating to watch Democrats trying to make their tent bigger without alienating their Christophobic base. I hope they succeed, because America could use two parties that respect Biblical belief, so that evangelicals aren't captive to one.
Ace of Spades reacts to Sen. Tom Coburn's statement:
Half of this election was lost due to Republicans not being more proactive in preventing and rooting out corruption. The other half was lost due Republicans spending like drunken Democrats in a misguided attempt to buy the public's support.
Don't get into a spending contest with Democrats; you'll always lose.
A commenter at JunkYardBlog compares the Republican Party with the Contemporary Christian Music industry: And See Dubya responds to accusations that the Republicans lost because Evangelicals stayed home.
Club for Growth's Andrew Roth links to a clip from Sunday's 60 Minutes about Rep. Jeff Flake's battle against earmarks.
Roth also reports that Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, a budget hawk, will seek the leadership of the House Republican Caucus. In his announcement, Pence wrote:
Our opponents will say that the American people rejected our Republican vision. I say the American people didn't quit on the Contract with America, we did. And in so doing, we severed the bonds of trust between our party and millions of our most ardent supporters.
NYC radio host Kevin McCullough has a six-part series on the election aftermath, including a review of damage done by initiatives passed around the country. He argues that we should be happy that the pivotal figure in the U. S. Senate is no longer Jim Jeffords but Joe Lieberman. And he says it was a mistake for the RNC to run this as a national campaign -- seats could have been saved if local issues had been made the focus. I think he has a point, and it reveals how power has corrupted the congressional Republican message. In the '80s, Democrats delayed the impact of the Reagan Revolution on the Congress by means of gerrymandering and by playing local politics better than the GOP. The nationalization of a congressional election worked in '94 because Republicans in Congress had a coherent vision and the Democrats in Congress didn't. This time neither congressional party had a coherent vision to sell.
A news release from Sen. Tom Coburn's office, followed by some mentions of Coburn in the blog world which I found on my own.
Dr. Coburn Statement on Mid-Term Elections
Says election shows “total failure of big government Republicanism” and a hunger for “honor and dignity” in Congress
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement tonight regarding the outcome of the mid-term elections:
“Although this election represents a short-term setback for Republicans, it could be an important turning point for the Republican Party and, more importantly, the country. Every incumbent was reminded that the American people, not party establishments, hold the reins of government. Throughout our history, when the American people rise up and force change our country benefits. In our system, the wisdom of many individual voters still outweighs the wisdom of a few,” Dr. Coburn said.
“Many factors contributed to these election results. The American people obviously are concerned about the conduct of the war in Iraq. Members of both parties have an obligation to work together to offer creative and constructive solutions that will help our troops accomplish their mission.
“The overriding theme of this election, however, is that voters are more interested in changing the culture in Washington than changing course in Washington, D.C. This election was not a rejection of conservative principles per se, but a rejection of corrupt, complacent and incompetent government.
“A recent CNN poll found that 54 percent of Americans believe government is doing too much while only 37 percent want government to do more. The results of this election reflect that attitude. Among the Republicans who lost their re-election bids a surprising number were political moderates who advocated a more activist government. Several Republican members of the appropriations committees, which have been on a spending binge, also were not re-elected. On the other hand, the two Republican senators who pulled off the most impressive victories were unapologetic conservatives, Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Ensign (R-NV). It is also notable that the Democrats who won or who ran competitive races sounded more like Ronald Reagan than Lyndon Johnson.
“This election does not show that voters have abandoned their belief in limited government; it shows that the Republican Party has abandoned them. In fact, these results represent the total failure of big government Republicanism.
“The Republican Party now has an opportunity to rediscover its identity as a party for limited government, free enterprise and individual responsibility. Most Americans still believe in these ideals, which reflect not merely the spirit of 1994 or the Reagan Revolution, but the vision of our founders. If Republicans present real ideas and solutions based on these principles we will do well in the future.
“What Republicans cannot continue to do, however, is more of the same. Our short-term, politically-expedient, bread and circus governing philosophy has failed. Iraq is an important issue in the minds of voters but it is not the only issue. Our majority was severely weakened by a long series of decisions that pre-date the public’s current concern about Iraq.
“Republicans oversaw a seven-fold increase in pork projects since 1998. Republicans increased domestic spending by nearly 50 percent since 2001, increased the national debt to $9 trillion, passed a reckless Medicare expansion bill and neglected our oversight responsibilities. While some of these decisions may have helped secure specific seats in the short-term the totality of our excess did not secure our majority, but destroy it.
“There should now be less doubt about whether overspending and pork projects are bad policy and bad politics. This year, in particular, pork did not save our vulnerable incumbents but helped drag them down. The challenges facing our country are too great and complex for members of Congress and their staff to continue to be distracted by endless earmarking.
“Some have said that Republicans and Democrats now need to govern from the middle. I disagree. We do not need to govern from the center as much as we need to govern from conscience. When politicians have the courage to argue their convictions and lose their political lives in an honest battle of ideas the best policies will prevail.
“The American people do want civility but they also want real debate. Civility does not mean an absence of conflict, but a return of honor and dignity in our politics. The great debates in American history like the Lincoln-Douglas debates or the debates about the Constitution were intensely confrontational, but no one feels soiled after reading them. That same quality of debate is possible today if politicians put their country first and party second. The problems facing our country are too great to not have these debates. Voters are bored and tired of partisan role playing in Washington. The answers to securing Iraq, winning the War on Terror, and preventing the impending bankruptcies of Medicare and Social Security will not be discovered by portraying the other party as the focus of evil and corruption. If we don’t debate these issues with honor and agree on solutions we will be the first generation of leaders that left the next generation worse off, and we will see our relative power in the world diminish.
“One of the great paradoxes in politics is that governing to maintain power is the surest way to lose it. Republicans have the ideas to solve our greatest challenges. If we focus on ideas, our majority status will take care of itself,” Dr. Coburn said.
In his analysis of the election, Ed Morrissey writes:
Republicans have traditionally stood for fiscal discipline and a strong defense above all other issues. The GOP needs to return to those values first and keep them foremost when creating their strategies for 2008. They need to elect clean leadership, and Tom Coburn's phone should be ringing off the hook this morning if Republicans want to get serious about rehabilitation.
Ennuipundit mentions Coburn in a note to the GOP:
Easy, find likable, personable, articulate, smart candidates. You know whose those people are. They are our donors. They are our thinkers and writers. They are the folks who keep the party humming. They are the grass root folks. And some of them don’t want to trade their current jobs for Government work. Their jobs pay more. Their careers matter to them. They do not want to disrupt their family life. And these are really valid reasons. But the ones who are persuadable need to be approached to consider a run for public office. We need to get away from career politicians and find guys with lengthy resumes in the private sector or in service to our nation in other roles. People like Tom Coburn.
There actually is a bit of suspense left this evening. The Oklahoma State Election Board, which would normally be at 100% by now, is showing 309 precincts out of 2244 yet to report. 72 of these are in Tulsa County and 75 are in Oklahoma County.
The biggest Republican precinct in Tulsa County, 720174, which votes at the ORU Mabee Center, had ballot scanner problems and had to accept marked ballots in a sealed emergency ballot box. When this happens, even if they get the scanner back up and running, they have to zero the machine and scan all the ballots through. I suspect that those numbers are not yet in the online totals.
Here's a telling fact: House District 69, which includes precinct 720174, is showing only 7 of 17 precincts reporting. It's a strongly Republican district.
Here's where it gets interesting. Republicans appear to have gained two seats in the State Senate, regaining Senate 24 in Stephens County and winning Senate 12 in Creek County, bringing that body to a 24-24 tie. (Would have been a 25-23 Republican majority if not for Nancy Riley's defection.)
So it all comes down to the Lt. Governor's seat. Although Democrat Jeri Askins is leading, it's close enough that Todd Hiett could win with a strong finish in the traditionally Republican precincts that haven't yet been counted. The remaining votes could also switch the lead in the Labor Commissioner's race, but there probably aren't enough of them to make a difference in the Auditor's or Insurance Commissioner's race, which are not quite as close
UPDATE 11:50 p.m.: Evidently not. We're now at 2214 precincts out of 2244, and Hiett is still lagging by 29,000 votes. But 28 of the remaining 30 precincts are in Tulsa County.
In the Tulsa County Associate District Judge race, challenger Dana Kuehn leads incumbent Caroline Wall by about 250 votes.
Sometime last year, Sacha Baron Cohen, as Borat Sagdiyev, his Kazakh news reporter persona, visited the offices of the Oklahoma Republican Party and spoke to then Oklahoma Republican Party chairman Gary Jones about the art of speechmaking:
I think Gary handled himself with a lot of grace, particularly with the awkward situation that Borat put him in at the end of the clip.
Funny, but the music is all wrong. It should start with ominous minor-key strings and change to something bouncy and upbeat when the good guy comes on screen.
I will add to this as developments warrant.
Steve Roemerman has an item about a last-minute, anonymous, and badly produced flyer denouncing HD 23 candidate Steve Gallo, which is being put into mailboxes. A response call from Steve Gallo went out later the same day. The incumbent, Sue Tibbs, knows better and has no reason to do it, as she is expected to win and has plenty of campaign money to put out quality print pieces. There are two theories about the flyer: (1) Gallo put it out himself to garner sympathy and allow him to tar Tibbs as a practitioner of dirty campaigning; (2) someone who supported Gallo's opponent in the bitterly fought Democratic primary put out the flyer hoping to harm Gallo's chances.
Fred Jordan, Republican nominee for House District 69, will go to the Capitol a free man. His wife Kyndra Brooke Littrell Jordan filed for divorce in September, shortly after Jordan won the Republican runoff, and the divorce was final in late October. The filing was done in a way to make it had to tell that the candidate was involved. Jordan's website still refers to him as married and features his wedding photo and other photos with his now-ex-wife. The speed and timing of the divorce makes one wonder if this had been in the works for some time, with an agreement to wait until after Jordan's election was secure before making it official.
For my own reference (and yours as well, if you like), a little cheat sheet to help me keep all the races straight.
The front side of the ballot varies from precinct to precinct. If you live in Tulsa County, this page has links to an image of each precinct's ballot. Here's the front side of my precinct's ballot. After each category name, you'll find a link to an earlier entry where I wrote about the race in detail:
State Officers (details and rationale):
Governor: Ernest Istook, Republican
Lieutenant Governor: Todd Hiett, Republican
State Auditor and Inspector: Gary Jones, Republican
Attorney General: James Dunn, Republican
State Treasurer: Howard Barnett, Republican
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Bill Crozier, Republican
Commissioner of Labor: Brenda Reneau, Republican
Insurance Commissioner: Bill Case, Republican
Corporation Commissioner: Bob Anthony, Republican (details here)
Congressional Officers (details and rationale):
U.S. Representative, District 1: John Sullivan, Republican
District Judge, District 14, Office No. 1: Cliff Smith
District Judge, District 14, Office No. 10: Deirdre Dexter
District Judge, District 14, Office No. 13: Jonathan M. Sutton
Associate District Judge, Tulsa County: Dana Kuehn
(Although I won't get to vote for them, I would vote, if I could, for P. Thomas Thornbrugh and James M. Caputo.)
Legislative, District, & County Officers (details and rationale):
State Representative District No. 78: Jesse Guardiola, Republican
County Assessor: Ken Yazel, Republican
If I lived in County Commission District 1, I would vote for John Smaligo.
Because control of the State House and State Senate is so important, I recommend voting Republican wherever you live, but I especially urge the re-election of Mark Liotta (HD 77), Sue Tibbs (HD 23), John Trebilcock (HD 98), and Randy Brogdon (SD 34). I also urge you to elect Mark Wofford (SD 18) over his opponent, who prefers her much nicer house outside the district to the company of the people she claims to represent.
The back side of the ballot is the same everywhere in the state. Here's a PDF sample ballot.
Read my UTW column for my rationale for voting against retention for several judges. Following each name, I list the party shown on the judge's voter registration record as of the filing period, age as of election day, city of residence according to the voter record, appointing governor, and, where I can find it, year of appointment.
Steven W. Taylor (D, 57, McAlester, Henry, 2004): NO
Marian P. Opala (D, 85, Oklahoma City, Boren, 1978): YES
Yvonne Kauger (D, 69, Colony, Nigh, 1984): NO
Tom Colbert (D, 57, Tulsa, Henry, 2004): NO
James E. Edmondson (D, Muskogee, Henry, 2003): NO
Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals:
Judges of the Court of Civil Appeals:
Jane P. Wiseman (D, 59, Tulsa, Henry): NO
Doug Gabbard II (D, 54, Atoka, Henry): ?
Kenneth L. Buettner (R, 56, Edmond, Walters): ?
Robert Dick Bell (D, 39, Oklahoma City, Henry): ?
E. Bay Mitchell III (R, 53, Enid, Keating): YES (He's not for sale to the highest bidder!)
Carol Hansen (D, 77, Oklahoma City, Nigh): ?
State Questions (click here for details and rationale):
SQ 724: YES
SQ 725: NO
SQ 733: YES
SQ 734: YES
The Oklahoma Republican Assembly and the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly, both affiliates of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, which calls itself the "Republican wing of the GOP," has issued endorsements in a number of contested races, but, interestingly, not all. A certain percentage (2/3rds I think) of the membership must vote to endorse in order for the group to make an endorsement.
OKLAHOMA REPUBLICAN ASSEMBLY ENDORSEMENTS
FOR STATEWIDE AND CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE 2006
James Dunn, Attorney General
Gary Jones, Auditor & Inspector
Brenda Reneau, Labor Commissioner
Bill Crozier, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Bob Anthony, Corporation Commissioner
John Sullivan, Congressional District 1
Mary Fallin, Congressional District 5
TULSA AREA CHAPTER OF THE OKLAHOMA REPUBLICAN ASSEMBLY ENDORSEMENTS
FOR LOCAL AND STATE OFFICE 2006
NOTE: Judicial races are NON-PARTISAN
James Caputo, District Judge Dist. 14, Office 4
P. Thomas Thornbrugh, District Judge Dist. 14, Office 8
Deirdre Dexter, District Judge, Dist. 14, Office 10
Jonathan Sutton, District Judge, District 14, Office 13
Dana Kuehn, Associate District Judge (Tulsa County)
Kevin Buchanan, Associate District Judge (Washington County)
Brian Kuester, District Attorney (Wagoner, Adair, Cherokee & Sequoyah Counties)
Ken Yazel, Tulsa County Assessor
John Smaligo, Tulsa County Commissioner, Dist.1
Sandy Hodges, Wagoner County Commissioner, Dist. 3
Jamie Sears, State Senate Dist. 10
Mark Wofford, State Senate Dist. 18
Randy Brogdon, State Senate Dist. 34
Wayland Smalley, State House Dist. 6
Steve Martin, State House Dist. 10
Sue Tibbs, State House Dist. 23
Skye McNiel, State House Dist. 29
Rex Duncan, State House Dist. 35
Eddie Fields, State House Dist. 36
David Derby, State House Dist. 74
Jesse Guardiola, State House Dist. 78
Ron Peterson, State House Dist. 80
John Trebilcock, State House Dist. 98
MeeCiteeWurkor went to the Tulsa County Election Board website, printed out the ballot for his precinct, and is circling his picks, which he shares with us.
(And I agree with Mee that the Barnett ad jingle is cheesy.
There's a man we trust in Oklahoma. Howard (beat) Barneh-ett. B-A-R-N-E-T-T Howard (beat) Barneh-ett.
It sounds like a generic ad designed to fit just about any name and any state. If, e.g., Julie Neidlinger were running for governor of her home state, it would be easy to fit "North Dakota" in place of "Oklahoma," and "Julie Neidlinger" has the same number of syllables as notes they use to sing "Howard Barnett." You'd be pressed to spell out her last name in the time available, though.)
Steve Roemerman challenges the claim that his state rep, Sue Tibbs, is a do-nothing, listing important legislation that she helped write and pass. He also challenges her opponent's claim that he's not a politician:
The dictionary defines a politician as
A. One who is actively involved in politics, especially party politics.
B. One who holds or seeks a political office.
A. Steve Gallo is the Vice Chairman of the Tulsa County Democrat Party. I think that qualifies as actively involved in politics...especially party politics.
B. Steve is actively seeking a political office.
The problem I have is that the only realistically electable opposition is the Democratic Party, and those who fail to go vote Republican this year are saying, in practical terms, that Democrats deserve to win. Ah, no. I don't think so.
As disappointed as I am in some Republicans, I can't turn a blind eye to the complete and utter disaster that is today's Democratic Party....
Of course, some of my Democrat acquaintances will be saying, "Isn't it sad that the best you can say about your party is that they're not Democrats?" Well, yeah, it would be. As it happens, I don't think that that's the best thing you can say about Republicans. But even if it was, it's sadder by far that the Democratic Party is so bad these days--so dedicated to butchering infants, just for starters--that that is actually reason enough to vote Republican.
Jeff Shaw looks at the purported benefits and the damage done by Brad Henry's lottery. Not only has it taken in less than half of the revenues Henry promised, the impact on the public school classroom is minimal:
So start at $205 million. Then, transfer the statutory amount of $68 Million. Then take 45% of $68 million - that's $31 million. Wow! Where'd all that money go?
To see what kind of direct impact this might have on each student and teacher, take that $31 million dollars and distribute that over the population of K-12 pupils and teachers. According to the Heritage Foundation there are around 664,728 K-12 public school students and teachers combined. I added the pupils and teachers together because that is how it's distributed above in the rules.
This comes to the ANNUAL grand total per student and teacher benefit in the area of $47.00.
That's compared to $6,176.00 in per pupil spending in 2004. Less than a 1% increase, funded on the backs of "the poor and disillusioned."
The Tulsa Whirled put out its list of endorsements. It's instructive to see the whole list in one place.
Here are the Tulsa Beacon's endorsements.
A reader writes to say that State Rep. Jeannie McDaniel (D-HD78) is telling tall tales:
We received two flyers the other day. One was from Jeannie McDaniel and the other from Jesse Guardiola. [My husband] noticed on Jesse's flyer that McDaniel had voted "against gov. Brad Henry's Achieving Classroom Excellence initiative." On Jeannie's flyer is stated the opposite, "helped pass SB 1792". I looked on her voting record and sure enough, she had voted NO to SB 1792. We just thought that was interesting. I looked up her voting record on www.vote-smart.org.
Another politically-active friend sends along his take on judgeships, advising the defeat of the two members of the Court of Criminal Appeals who are on this year's retention ballot:
I am voting "no" on both that are up because in my opinion they have overturned the unanimous opinion of 12 jurors too often. I think sending them some "no" votes might send a message that we want jurors' opinions to prevail except in unusual circumstances. Some also say that the two that are up (Henry appointees) are too liberal.
He also includes this disclaimer, which applies to my judicial recommendations as well:
I would not presume to tell anyone how to vote but in order to pass on what my decision is, to anyone interested, as a result of talking to attorneys and victim advocates that I respect, I am putting out this email. In no way does this mean that the candidate that I am not voting for is not qualified. The opposite choice may make a good judge. I am simply passing on the consensus from those people I respect.
That's all for now. Tune into 1170 KFAQ this morning -- I'll be on all morning for a special election preview.
Here is a half-hour video about Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondon's Federal lawsuit attempting to classify animal waste as hazardous material.
The video includes interviews with Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Republican AG candidate James Dunn, and Rick Stubblefield, a member of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission. If you've wondered, as I have, why Dunn would oppose Edmondson's suit against the poultry producers, this sets out his rationale. According to the video, 42 state attorneys general oppose Edmondson's lawsuit because of the implications it would have for farmers. The video also says that cooperative efforts involving Oklahoma and Arkansas are having positive effects, that the lawsuit is interfering with implementation of the existing efforts to clean up the Illinois River watershed, and that this lawsuit may be more beneficial to Oklahoma trial lawyers than our scenic rivers.
I had great plans of producing a post every evening this week, each one highlighting a different race in detail. But the rest of life intruded on those plans, so now I am hurriedly composing a short post, so that tomorrow at church, when friends ask me, "Who should I vote for?" I can point them to the website.
It will come as no surprise that, as an elected official in the Tulsa County Republican Party, I am urging you to vote for Republicans in every race. While I am not equally enthusiastic about all Republican candidates, nevertheless, I think there are good reasons in each race to pick the Republican.
As a supplement to this entry, read my debate with former Tulsa County Democratic Chairman Elaine Dodd in this week's UTW, in which we talk about some statewide and legislative races.
Governor: Ernest Istook. Brad Henry has led Oklahoma in the wrong direction. Instead of helping to provide a solid foundation of laws on which businesses can build, he has made gambling the centerpiece of his plan, creating problems that will plague the state for generations. While he has not stood in the way of the Republicans' most popular initiatives, he isn't providing positive leadership for the reforms Oklahoma needs most. Ernest Istook, for all his flaws, understands what Oklahoma needs to do to become a more congenial place to start and grow businesses and create jobs. And Ernest Istook is in line with Oklahoma's views on social issues. When you consider the questionable decisions made by state courts elsewhere, it matters who is appointing state judges.
Treasurer: Howard Barnett. I don't like how Barnett treated Dan Keating in the primary. I don't like Barnett's support for at-large councilors here in Tulsa. But I do believe that Barnett would be honest and intelligent in managing the state's funds, and all the reasons to get rid of Brad Henry apply doubly to Scott Meacham, the brains behind Brad Henry's gaming-centered economic plan. Meacham was appointed by Henry to fill Robert Butkin's unexpired term when Butkin left to head the TU law school.
Lt. Governor: Todd Hiett. It's essential, in what may be a closely divided State Senate, to have a Republican as Lt. Governor who can cast the tie-breaking vote. If Henry is reelected, we need a conservative Republican as Lt. Governor to act as a foil and to get in position for a run for governor in four years. As speaker, Todd Hiett did a fine job overseeing the transition of the State House to Republican control and had some significant legislative accomplishments.
Attorney General: James Dunn. I'm still amazed that the incumbent, Drew Edmondson, joined in an amicus curiae brief opposing the Boy Scouts exercise of their 1st Amendment right of freedom of association. I'm even more amazed that Edmondson hasn't paid a political price for putting the state's name and resources behind this suit that would have forced the Scouts to hire homosexual scoutmasters. More recently, Edmondson initiated an amicus and sought the support of other Attorneys General in support of Judith Miller, the reporter who went to jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury. Edmondson seems to think the Oklahoma AG's office is his personal law firm, at his disposal to get involved in any national interest that strikes his fancy. On the other hand, he wouldn't defend Haskell County, which sought to keep the Ten Commandments on the courthouse lawn. There's reason to believe he wouldn't defend the state's own laws, passed by our elected representatives, should they come under constitutional scrutiny. Last year Capital Research Center, a national non-profit watchdog group, called Edmondson an aggressive activist. That report, a PDF file, goes into detail about Edmondson's career as AG, including his participation in the tobacco lawsuit that brought home the bacon for his lawyer pals:
The tobacco settlement for Oklahoma alone generated $250 million in private attorneys’ fees. Edmondson hired two out-of-state firms (that got $150 million), which then selected four Oklahoma firms from a list he gave them (they split the other $100 million). Earlier Edmondson had gotten Oklahoma law changed to permit him to file lawsuits independently of the request of a state agency.
One of those favored firms is Tulsa's Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis, which was paid $30 million. Lawyers at the firm contributed heavily to Edmondson's reelection campaign.
James Dunn is an experienced attorney who will stick with the constitutional responsibilities of the Attorney General's office. Dunn will defend our laws, will defend Oklahoma land owners against eminent domain abuse, and will act in accordance with our state's values when asked to weigh in on Federal court cases.
I should also say that, having met and observed Dunn and his family, they seem much more normal and well-adjusted than a typical political family. I sometimes get the impression that a candidate spouse is smiling through her pain, miserable, but putting on a good show. I don't get that vibe from Regina Dunn.
Auditor and Inspector: Gary Jones. Here you have an honest, credentialed challenger (Jones) who refuses to take campaign money from people connected with companies regulated by the State Auditor facing an incumbent (McMahan) who doesn't have the necessary education to be an auditor, much less run the State Auditor's office, is connected with all sorts of questionable characters in southeast Oklahoma, and has filled his campaign coffers with money from the firms he regulates. McMahan even fired the head of his Tulsa office, despite commending her on her work, because she didn't campaign for him in the 2002 election. (There's audio of that conversation, and I've heard it.)
McMahan has had performance problems as well. For his eight years in office, McMahan's predecessor, Clifton Scott, issued audited end-of-year financial statements by December 31, six months after the end of the previous fiscal year, in accordance with generally accepted accounting practices. Under McMahan, those same audited statements haven't been completed until February 20, May 20, and February 24 of the following year.
Jones is a CPA, served honorably as a Comanche County Commissioner, winning bipartisan praise.
Labor Commissioner: Brenda Reneau. The labor unions are still mad that they don't own this office like they used to, and they're trying again with Lloyd Fields to get it back. Reneau's focus has been on helping workers and businesses cooperate to make the workplace safer. Her "Safety Pays" program helps businesses identify and correct hazardous work conditions before they get hit with Federal sanctions, resulting in fewer injuries for workers and lower workers' compensation insurance premiums for businesses. The program won an award this year from the U. S. Department of Labor as the best of its kind in the nation.
Insurance Commissioner: Bill Case. Case is a longtime veteran of the insurance industry and a term-limited legislator from Oklahoma City. While I'm not crazy about him, his opponent is Kim Holland, who was appointed to fill the term of the disgraced incumbent, Carroll Fisher. Holland also worked in the insurance industry, but her most important qualification seems to be that she is close with Oklahoma Secretary of State Susan Savage. Holland's husband is Jim East, who was on Savage's staff when Savage was mayor. While Case has a college degree, Holland does not.
Holland has the distinction of being the first mayoral appointee to be rejected by the City Council. Savage had reappointed her as a member of the EMSA board. I was in the audience that night, and I remember her defiant and ungracious response to the Council's decision.
In the State Legislative races, I can't emphasize how important it is for Republicans to gain control of the State Senate and retain control of the State House. Control of one house made possible a tax cut, a doubling of road funding without raising taxes, and landmark pro-life legislation. With GOP control of both houses, the State Senate will no longer be the place that good bills go to die.
I'd like to single out several Republican legislators who are in contested races and are worthy of your support: Mark Liotta in HD 77, John Trebilcock in HD 98, Sue Tibbs in HD 23, Randy Brogdon in SD 34. I personally know and respect all of these people. They have demonstrated themselves to be honest and courageous. They understand the temptations faced by the Republican caucus now that it is in the majority, and they have been working to keep the party true to its principles and promises.
Jesse Guardiola, running against an incumbent in HD 78, is cut from the same good cloth. He would be a vast improvement over the incumbent, Jeannie McDaniel, whom Oklahomans for Life called the biggest disappointment in the legislature for her consistent voting against pro-life legislation.
Three more races: One federal, two county.
US Congress: John Sullivan. Sullivan has been a consistent conservative, even when that puts him at odds with House leadership and the White House. He was one of about 60 congressmen to vote in support of amendments to pull specific pork-barrel items out of appropriations bills. On illegal immigration, he's pushed for a tougher response to the problem. Because the GOP House majority is so slim, a vote for either of his opponents is a vote to put liberals from the coasts in charge of the House and all of its committees. We need the Republicans to keep control, and we need real conservatives like Sullivan there to move the Republican caucus back on track.
County Commission: John Smaligo. While I wish he would come right out and say that he thinks asking taxpayers to fork over $600 million to build islands in the river is ridiculous, he has said in the past that county government needs to use its funds for needs, like roads, bridges, and flood control, not frills. He's bound to be better than Wilbert Collins, who has simply gone along with everything Bob Dick wanted him to do.
County Assessor: Ken Yazel. I like and respect former assessor Jack Gordon -- I especially appreciated the way he went after out-of-state non-profits who were violating the terms of the property tax exemption on the Tulsa apartment complexes they owned, and I appreciated his willingness to oppose Vision 2025 publicly. But overall, I think Ken Yazel has done even more for fiscal responsibility in county government by reducing his own department's budget and, as budget board head, finding ways to cut costs and improve accountability. I also appreciate Yazel's willingness to assess all homes at their fair, full value, even the sort of enormous homes are owned by powerful folks like the Lortons and Mayor Kathy Taylor. While I wish there were a place for both men in county government, I have to choose, and I think Yazel is the better choice.
Since my column came out on Wednesday, I've had several phone calls and e-mails from friends and even from a sitting judge politely taking issue with my picks in the district judge races.
It's interesting that I have yet to hear any dissent to my call to vote against retention of all the Supreme Court justices except Marian Opala and against Civil Appeals Court judge Jane Wiseman, on grounds of partiality. I certainly felt more confident in making that case, and that's why it formed the bulk of my column. In Wiseman's case, I had read the court documents from the 1995 jail election case and the 2003 Vision 2025 election case, and it was apparent that in the latter case, Wiseman deliberately ignored the law. The TABOR petition case was simple -- the proponents were simply not given the chance to argue their case to the Supreme Court.
In the district judge cases, I've had to rely on the testimony of attorneys I know and trust who have worked with, argued against, or argued in front of the candidates. I've also taken note of the endorsers in each race. In some races, there are people I know and trust on both sides of a race. Because of my involvement in the local Republican Party, the anti-recall and anti-at-large councilor campaigns, Tulsa Now, and urban planning and zoning issues, I have a pretty diverse group of friends and allies who have my phone number and wouldn't (and shouldn't) hesitate to share an opinion with me.
It's worth noting, then, that no one has called to argue against my support for Deirdre Dexter for Office 10, my support for incumbent Tom Thornbrugh for Office 8, or my support for Cliff Smith for Office 1.
While I am supporting Jim Caputo for Office 4, I see a number of friends on the endorsement list for his opponent, Daman Cantrell. Office 4 is one of five judgeships elected by district, rather than at-large in Tulsa and Pawnee Counties. Whatever Cantrell's good points, he rented an apartment in the district the week of filing in order to get on the ballot. There was a protest of his candidacy on the grounds that he hadn't lived in the district long enough to qualify to run, but to my amazement the State Election Board let him stay on the ballot. Even if he is within the letter of the law, Cantrell's actions violate the spirit of the law, which is intended to promote geographical diversity on the bench.
A friend e-mailed to express disappointment with my decision to vote for Jonathan Sutton over incumbent Judge Deborah Shallcross. He had been on the opposite side of several cases with Sutton and thinks he would be "a disaster." I don't believe my friend's concerns are sour grapes. Those who support Sutton speak of him as a hard worker, borne out by the way he put himself through law school:
A week into law school, Jonathan had the opportunity to switch shifts at UPS from that of driver supervisor to supervising loading and started working from 2:00 am until noon. During law school Jonathan's usual schedule was to work at UPS from 2:00 A.M. till noon. He later started a part-time job working at the office of the Tulsa County District Attorney from 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P. M. After working 12 hours, he would attend law classes from 5:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. During the last two years of law school, Jonathan worked at the UPS airport operation, running one of two shifts. Jonathan kept that grueling schedule Monday through Friday. On the weekends, he would read, study and prepare for the week ahead.
On the other hand, the case that has been made to me against Shallcross is that she has been frequently absent from the bench, that her recent docket reassignment was a censure in all but name for that absenteeism, and that, in her oversight of the family and domestic docket, she has promoted judges who take what I'll call a Lifetime Network view of men.
This may be some indication of Shallcross' ideological leanings. Through a web search, I learned that in 1991 Shallcross won a Newsmaker Award from the Tulsa Chapter of the Association of Women in Communications. While there are plenty of women on that list who have contributed positively to the Tulsa community, you will search in vain for an identifiable conservative Republican, although there are plenty of Democratic officeholders and activists listed. Anita Hill, famous for her public trashing of Supreme Court Clarence Thomas' reputation, was one of the award winners for 1992. Winners must be "philosophically compatible with the goals of AWC."
Yesterday I got a call from Associate District Judge Caroline Wall, who told me she had stopped by the Urban Tulsa Weekly offices hoping to talk with me about what I wrote about her in my column. She objected that I didn't interview her before writing the column. (I didn't interview her opponent, Dana Kuehn, either.) She had specific things to say about the Tulsa World articles, displayed on Kuehn's website, about controversial cases handled by Wall. I hesitate to convey what Wall said, as I wasn't able to take notes, and I don't want to misrepresent what she said. What she should do is post an explanation/rebuttal to each of those cases on her own website.
Ideally, attorneys would be willing to identify in public specific examples of good or bad judgment on the part of each candidate, and we could dig out the case files and argue the pros and cons. But there's a fear of violating the canons of judicial conduct (despite the U. S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated similar rules in Minnesota), and attorneys reasonably worry about offending a candidate before whom they may one day argue a case.
Some may argue that the lack of solid information is why we need to go to an appointive system for all judges. I’m grateful that Oklahoma’s constitution gives the voters the opportunity to hold judges accountable. If nothing else, the election process requires judges to knock on doors and march in parades, reacquainting them with the people they are sworn to serve. All elected officials need an occasional booster shot of humility, an inoculation against arrogance; a judge, who is the king of his courtroom, has an even greater need to get knocked down a peg or two from time to time.
If we no longer had judicial elections, the politics would not go away, they would just go further behind closed doors.
The most important thing in next Tuesday's election is turnout. There are many close races at every level of government. Because the presidency isn't on the ballot, a lot of people don't bother to vote, or forget to vote. They don't understand that state policy affects their lives as much or more than federal policy. They don't understand that the composition of Congress will determine what the President can and can't accomplish these last two years in office.
So they need reminders. And the Republican National Committee is asking people like you to do the reminding.
Just click this link, fill in a few blanks to sign up, and you'll be given a script and a list of phone numbers to call, about 10 at a time. Call as many or as few as you have time for. You can get through about a call a minute. The phone lists are targeted in states with close races affecting the control of Congress.
This approach is one of the luxuries of mobile phones with free long distance included. I did calls like this for Pat Toomey when he challenged Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary in 2004.
In the words of Dr. Gene Scott, "Git onna phones!"
The Oklahoma Family Policy Council has its complete voter's guide online, with background information and questionnaire responses. In addition to the yes/no answers you find in the printed version, the online version has the scanned questionnaires submitted by the candidates, which allows you to read any qualifications or elaborations on their answers.
The section on the statewide judicial retention ballot tells you which governor appointed each judge. It's interesting that, despite eight years of service not that long ago, Frank Keating has only one appointee on the list. (That's E. Bay Mitchell, III, whose ideal campaign slogan should be: "E. Bay: Justice isn't for sale to the highest bidder.") Don't believe that your vote for Governor makes a difference? Look at the number of judges that Brad Henry has elevated to the Supreme Court and the appeals courts in just four years.
Oklahomans for Life also asked candidates to complete a questionnaire, and the results are in their October newsletter. The newsletter also explains the impact of overall control of the State Legislature on pro-life legislation. An individual candidate may be pro-life, but will that candidate vote to give control of the chamber, control of the committees, and control of the agenda to pro-life leaders or pro-abortion leaders? There are a number of pro-life Democrats in the legislature, but the Democratic leadership, particularly in the State Senate, has worked to block pro-life legislation.
The Oklahomans for Life newsletter also singles out Tulsa State Rep. Jeannie McDaniel as a disappointment:
The discredit of having had the most disappointing record of abandoning the unborn child in the Oklahoma legislature this session goes to Democrat Rep. Jeannie McDaniel of House District 78 in Tulsa. Of nine abortion-related votes on the House floor this year, she cast seven pro-abortion votes. A year ago, all six of her votes on the House floor were pro-life. She is opposed in the Nov. 7 general election by pro-life Republican Jesse Guardiola.
This year, McDaniel was one of five state representatives to oppose landmark informed consent and parental notification legislation, bills that had overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature.
Mary Easley, who moved out of her State Senate district, SD 18, to Owasso in SD 34, has a new TV ad, now claiming that she lives in a house somewhere in northeastern Mayes County, at the opposite end of the district from her old house in east Tulsa. The ad never mentions the name of the town, but it refers to Cherokee Lane, shows a house that appears to have the house number 106 on it, and then shows a map with an arrow pointing somewhere east of Langley. The only Cherokee Lane I find in the area is in Grand Lake Towne, a tiny municipality just south of Ketchum, just south of the Craig / Mayes County line.
There is someone registered to vote at 106 Cherokee Lane: Lucille K. Howard, a 68 year old Republican.
But this is silly, I thought to myself. Surely, Sen. Easley listed her true address on her declaration of candidacy. But she listed a P.O. Box in Tulsa -- 690027 -- no way to tell if that's in the district. And where is she registered to vote? As of July 1, just a few weeks after filing for office, she was still registered at 9909 E 12th St, Tulsa, as was her husband Truman. That was their home in the handful of precincts where her old House District, HD 78, overlaps SD 18. (Truman's record lists the P.O. Box as his mailing address, although Mary's does not.) Between November '05 and July 1, 2006, Mary didn't vote, while Truman voted by absentee ballot in the Tulsa city primary, city general, and the 3rd Penny sales tax renewal.
But when you do a phone search on AT&T's Anywho service, Mary and Truman Easley still show up in Owasso at 19009 E Knightsbridge Rd. There aren't any listed phone numbers for an Easley near Langley, Ketchum, Disney, or Grand Lake Towne, or indeed on a street named Cherokee anywhere in Oklahoma.
Here's my guess: Easley thought she could get away with moving outside her district, got caught based on land records and phone records, and made some hasty arrangement to find a place to live in the district.
In this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly column, I explain why four state Supreme Court justices and state civil appeals court judge Jane Wiseman should be voted out of office next Tuesday. I also pass along recommendations in three races. Space didn't permit covering all the Tulsa County judicial races, but here is the list of candidates for whom I intend to vote (or would if I could -- two of the races are only for portions of Tulsa County):
Office 1: Cliff Smith
Office 4: Jim Caputo
Office 8: Tom Thornbrugh
Office 10: Deirdre Dexter
Office 13: Jonathan Sutton
Tulsa County Associate District Judge: Dana Kuehn
Feel free to chime in on the judicial races over at Voices of Tulsa.
This morning on KFAQ, in between reports about the host's gastrointestinal health, Sen. Randy Brogdon (a man with the patience of Job) provided an informative overview of the four legislative referenda on next Tuesday's ballot. (Here is a PDF with the language you will see on the ballot.)
My brief take on each, plus a link to a Rich Text Format (Microsoft Word compatible) version of the constitutional amendments that would be enacted if the question is passed:
SQ 724: Would restrict state pay to incarcerated or convicted legislators. (SJR 5, passed in 2005.) Adds the underlined text below to Article V, Section 21, of the Oklahoma Constitution:
Members of the Legislature shall receive such compensation as shall be fixed by the Board on Legislative Compensation; provided, any member of the Legislature who is incarcerated for any period of time during his or her term of office shall not receive any compensation from the state or be eligible to participate in any compensation programs funded in whole or in part with state revenues during the period of such incarceration. In the event a member of the Legislature is incarcerated due to being charged with a criminal offense and is subsequently acquitted or the charges are dismissed, any compensation withheld from such member shall be paid to such member.
I'll be voting FOR this question, although it should be broadened to include any legislative compensation paid to former members of the legislature (e.g., Gene Stipe).
SQ 725: This would allow the Governor, Speaker of the House, and President Pro Tempore of the Senate to plunder the Constitutional Reserve ("Rainy Day") Fund to bail out inefficient but politically influential industries. (SB 755, passed in 2005.) Despite the safeguards, this is bad business. The purpose of the rainy day fund is to pay for state services when the economy tanks and revenues drop. (Remember the mid-'80s? 2002?) I'd reproduce the full text, but it's two pages long, further beefing up what was once the World's Longest Constitution. Polls are showing this thing passing 60-40. I'm hoping Oklahomans will wise up and vote AGAINST SQ725.
SQ 733: Allows package stores to sell liquor on election day. (HJR 1066, passed in 2006.) The Constitution still bans package liquor sales on Sundays, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Regardless of how you feel about alcohol as a beverage, it's hardly fair to allow bars and restaurants to serve alcoholic drinks while package stores can't sell alcohol for consumption at home. Also, a politically-active friend reminds me that the current law means you can't stock up for election night watch parties (champagne for the victors, champipple for the vanquished). Vote FOR SQ 733.
SQ 734: Provides for the administration of a freeport exemption from personal property tax for inventory that stays in the state for less than 90 days. (SJR 37.) I heard a news story this week about Amazon.com looking for workers for their Coffeyville, Kansas, distribution center -- paying $10/hour for locals, $12/hour for those willing to ride a company bus from Tulsa. I imagine this sort of exemption would make a big difference to a company like Amazon, and I wonder if that's why they're located just north of the Oklahoma border, instead of in Oklahoma. As I read it, the exemption is already authorized in the Constitution, and this amendment only deals with authorizing the Legislature to legislate how the exemption is to be applied for:
The Legislature shall enact laws governing the procedures for making application to the county assessor for purposes of the exemption authorized by this section, including the time as of which the application must be filed and information to be included with the application.
This is a housekeeping amendment and deserves a vote FOR.