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Residents Express Earthquake Concerns In Edmond Forum

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The main takeaway from the Edmond earthquake forum yesterday at the University of Central Oklahoma is that local residents are extremely angry with state leaders for not doing enough to put pressure on the oil and gas industry to stop all the shaking and property damage.

The other more subtle but important issue that emerged at the forum is that people are anxious and scared that a major earthquake is going to do more than just damage a home’s foundation or blow out some windows or collapse a chimney. They’re worried their kids or grandkids might die when the big quake hits because they believe leaders, such as Gov. Mary Fallin and members of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, simply won’t take action because they care more about the profits of the oil and gas industry than people’s safety.

I attended the forum yesterday at the university where I work as a professor. It was sponsored by local state Rep. Lewis Moore, a Republican. The forum was held to allow local residents in Edmond and throughout the state to discuss their concerns about all the recent earthquakes—some in the 4.0-magnitude range and above—that are shaking it up here. It’s an emergency. It’s a crisis. People are tremendously concerned and worried about their personal safety and the welfare and value of their property.

I estimate three hundred or more people attended the meeting, which was scheduled and announced only a couple of days or so before it happened. If people would have known earlier about the meeting, and if it would have been held after normal working-day hours—it started at 4:30 p.m.—there’s no doubt in my mind the crowd would have been triple the size or even more.

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Oklahomans Will Get Chance To Save Education

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court handed down another obvious decision yesterday when it decided in a 6 to 3 vote that Oklahomans can actually VOTE to determine whether they want to raise the state sales tax by one penny to prevent the complete and utter devastation of our public schools.

This was a no-brainer for the state supremes. A coalition supported by University of Oklahoma President David Boren wants to circulate an initiative petition to get enough signatures to place the one-penny sales tax increase dedicated exclusively to education on the 2016 general election ballot so people can vote. A spinoff organization sponsored by the right-wing extremists at the “think” tank Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) doesn’t want the vote to happen so it went to the court to stop it.

OCPA’s petty and illogical argument was that the ballot measure violated the state’s constitution prohibiting having more than one “subject” in a law or measure, even though it was clear this had to do with one basic matter: Saving education in Oklahoma.

”Saving education in Oklahoma” is NOT hyperbole. Oklahoma has cut education funding the most of any state in the nation since the 2008 recession. Oklahoma is dead last in our region and next to the bottom nationwide in funding education on a per pupil basis. Oklahoma teacher salaries rank 49th in the nation. We have a major teacher shortage because of it. The class sizes are huge. Teachers are overworked and obviously not appreciated here. School districts are putting untrained and inexperienced people in front of students while legislators try to micro-manage standards and require more tests.This is called the Oklahoma standard of stupid.

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Progressive Victory In A Red State

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Oklahoma City Ward 2 Councilor Ed Shadid has shown us again what victory looks like for progressives here.

Shadid recently sponsored a legal measure that gives the LGBT community protected status in the city’s anti-discrimination housing law, and the Oklahoma City Council approved it in an extremely close 5 to 4 vote. Essentially the measure outlaws discrimination against people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered when it comes to seeking or living in housing in Oklahoma City.

It’s an important measure. Shadid, of course, was not the only one responsible for it. Local pro-equality groups and supporters were involved in getting the measure passed, as well,but there’s no doubt Shadid’s support was fundamentally instrumental in making it all happen.

What it means on the basic, pragmatic level is that landlords can’t decline to rent or sell apartments and houses to people because of their sexual orientation. It is a much needed provision. Despite recent victories when it comes to same-sex marriage across the country, the LGBT communnity continues to face prejudice and outright discrimination.

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