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2016 Okie Funk In Review III

Image of the elephant Bamboo

(I’m running excerpts from posts this week as part of my annual review. This is the third of four 2016 year-in-review posts. Click on the link below the excerpt to read the full post. Simply put, the year 2016, as defined in posts on this blog, now in its thirteenth year, wasn’t a good one for Oklahoma in any general sense. From the state’s continuing earthquake crisis to a state budget shortfall that led to a nearly 16 percent funding cut for higher education to the typical right-wing theatrics of a Republican-dominated legislature, 2016 has become, in my mind, perhaps one of the worst years in state history, culminating in the coming presidency of the authoritarian and unpredictable Donald Trump. These are not normal times here or throughout the country, and the uncertainty of what might happen in the coming year has many people afraid and depressed. We need independent media voices now more than ever. Thanks for reading the blog, and don’t give up the progressive fight in 2017.—Kurt Hochenauer)

A petition that asks the Oklahoma City Zoo to send one of its older female elephants to a sanctuary now has more than 165,000 signatures, and the number continues to grow.

I wrote about the elephant Bamboo here on Aug. 22. The 49-year-old Bamboo, obtained along with the now deceased elephant Chai from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle last year, has apparently had problems integrating into what zoo officials call a “herd.”

Bamboo has apparently been bitten on the tail and suffered a gash on her trunk when she was attacked by another elephant. She has also apparently attacked another elephant and has been isolated at times from other elephants.

The zoo has called the process of Bamboo’s integration with the other elephants “normal,” a claim strongly rejected by many animal welfare advocates and many of those people who have circulated and signed the petition. The zoo recently tried to put up obstacles to make it more difficult for media outlets and animal welfare advocates to retrieve records about the health conditions of its animals but has apparently relented on this issue.

The issue of how the zoo deals with open records requests, however, is a developing story. The zoo has at least one open records request pending—I placed it—and it remains to be seen how it will process it.

Petition Grows To Free OKC Zoo Elephant Bamboo, September 12, 2016

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2016 Okie Funk In Review II

Image of 1984 painting by Jean Michel Basquiat

(I’m running excerpts from posts this week as part of my annual review. This is the second of four 2016 year-in-review posts. Click on the link below the excerpt to read the full post. Simply put, the year 2016, as defined in posts on this blog, now in its thirteenth year, wasn’t a good one for Oklahoma in any general sense. From the state’s continuing earthquake crisis to a state budget shortfall that led to a nearly 16 percent funding cut for higher education to the typical right-wing theatrics of a Republican-dominated legislature, 2016 has become, in my mind, perhaps one of the worst years in state history, culminating in the coming presidency of the authoritarian yet unpredictable Donald Trump. These are not normal times here or throughout the country, and the uncertainty of what might happen in the coming year has many people afraid and depressed. We need independent media voices now more than ever. Thanks for reading the blog, and don’t give up the progressive fight in 2017.—Kurt Hochenauer)

I think there’s a real chance for some progressive gains this election season in Oklahoma for a variety of reasons, but it’s probably not going to happen if liberals spend money and energy supporting The Oklahoma Observer in its present form, or The Oklahoma Policy Institute in any form whatsoever.

One reason for the “chance,” and, yes, it’s just a slight chance, is that the national Republican Party is a real mess right now with the Trump and Cruz spectacles. Many conservatives are bewildered and confused. This confusion may trickle down to minor, local elections in which Democrats and liberals—in Oklahoma, folks, they aren’t the same thing—are speaking out boldly and sensibly about, say, funding for schools or trying to prevent elderly people from getting kicked out of nursing homes.

The other reason for the chance is that Oklahoma conservative leaders have absolutely broken this state with their careless, reckless fiscal policies. The economy is sinking here, the state is in a revenue failure, and we’re facing a $1.3 billion budget shortfall in a tiny overall discretionary budget of less than $7 or $6 billion or so. I know there are some not-so-smart people in the Oklahoma leadership pool, such as David Blatt, but it’s so so obvious the conservatives have damaged this state in a major way. Everyone gets it even if they relish it, like they do at the conservative Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and The Oklahoman. I bet Blatt loves it, too.

The Oklahoma Observer Needs To Modernize; OKPolicy Needs To Go. Leave, Blatt. Go To Wichita. They Will LOVE You There., April 11, 2016

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2016 Okie Funk In Review I

Image of sign protesting earthquake crisis in Oklahoma

(I’m running excerpts from posts this week as part of my annual review. This is the first of four review posts. Click on the link below the excerpt to read the full post. Simply put, the year 2016, as defined in posts on this blog, now in its thirteenth year, wasn’t a good one for Oklahoma in any general sense. From the state’s continuing earthquake crisis to a state budget shortfall that led to a nearly 16 percent funding cut for higher education to the typical right-wing theatrics of a Republican-dominated legislature, 2016 has become, in my mind, perhaps one of the worst years in state history, culminating in the coming presidency of the authoritarian Donald Trump. These are not normal times here or throughout the country, and the uncertainty of what might happen in the coming year in Oklahoma has many people afraid and depressed. We need independent voices now more than ever. Thanks for reading the blog, and don’t give up the progressive fight in 2017.—Kurt Hochenauer)

I know for many people here this seems like a radical idea, but the only way to bring an end to all these earthquakes in Oklahoma is to ban oil and gas companies from using the fracking process to extract fossil fuels in our state.

Obviously, the negative economic impact of prohibiting hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” would be immense here, but it might finally kickstart the state government into truly diversifying the local economy while doing what it’s supposed to do, which is protecting the safety of citizens and their property.

The major 4.3- and 4.2-magnitude earthquakes that recently rocked Edmond just north of Oklahoma City have brought the issue to the forefront. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has tried to micromanage the problem, but we now know the fracking process most likely reactivated a new fault line running from Edmond to downtown Oklahoma City. The lesson here is that Oklahoma, in a basic geological sense, is just not suited for fracking.

Oklahoma Fracking Ban Would Stop Earthquakes, January 6, 2016

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