More Diversity Needed On State Justice Reform Task Force

The membership of Gov. Mary Fallin’s new task force to study justice reform lacks diversity.

The 17-member board doesn’t include one person of color, according to state Rep. George Young, an Oklahoma City Democrat. In a statement that appeared on the local Facebook page of the Showing Up for Racial Justice organization, Young made these points:

I am disappointed in our Governor’s inability to find and appoint someone of color to her Justice Reform Task Force. This is important to the welfare of our state and our citizens. Once again citizens of color are reminded of the statistics concerning our incarceration rates, but are denied a seat at the table, which could help in understanding and providing leadership in improving our criminal justice system. Thank you, Governor, for appointing 17 qualified individuals without finding one of color.

Here’s a local news story that lists the members of the task force, which mostly include public officials, including former House Speaker Kris Steele, a strong advocate for social justice reform. The task force also includes the presidents of the Oklahoma City and Tulsa chambers of commerce.

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Local Organization Forms To Help OKC Zoo Elephants

A new organization, Oklahoma Friends of Elephants (OFE), has been established in response to the Oklahoma City Zoo’s recent efforts to put up obstacles for those seeking records about the health conditions and treatment of its elephants and to try to protect the animals’ overall welfare and treatment.

The new OFE Facebook page can be found here. I’m a part of establishing this new organization. I urge you to like the page and consider the issues about the overall health conditions right now of all the zoo’s elephants and whether elephants, in general, should live out their days in small, captive enclosures.

Here's a link to an Oklahoma Activist Pointing Left podcast that deals with the issue.

I published a a post here on Aug. 22 about personally obtaining information from a open-records request by the Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants in Seattle. The organization has been concerned about the health condition of 49-year-old Bamboo, who came from Seattle last year, along with 37-year-old Chai, who died recently at the OKC Zoo. The group had vehemently opposed the move and wanted the elephants placed in a sanctuary. The Seattle zoo has closed its elephant exhibit.

Another elephant, 4-year-old Malee, recently died at the OKC Zoo as well.

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Oklahoma Still Has Major Earthquake Emergency

PBS News Hour recently ran a long story about the decline in earthquakes here, but it didn’t even get to the point that the drop in quakes corresponds with less fossil-fuel drilling until the bottom of the story or even forcefully point out that we’re still getting rattled by 4.0-magnitude or higher temblors here.

The story by Michael D. Regan is well-written and documented, but the slant is the fictional script that’s getting sold these days by the oil and gas industry and state officials. The script is that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has instituted new regulations on injection wells used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and thus all is well now when it comes to the earthquake problem here.

I think it’s fair to note that there’s been a decline in earthquakes, but it’s really really relative. I’ve written about the numbers previously. Read my most recent take on the numbers. The numbers get reported in all kinds of different ways according to magnitude and yearly and monthly comparisons. I think the oil and gas industry likes this ongoing confusion because, well, it keeps us all confused. Here’s how PBS put it:

The U.S. Geological Survey announced that the state has experienced 461 3-magnitude earthquakes or larger in 2016, down from 592 during the same period a year ago.

Does that seem like a seismic decrease—wordplay intended—given the world oil glut and the decrease in drilling here? Even if you think that’s the case, isn’t 461 3.0-magnitude or above earthquakes still a lot for a place that is not known for much seismic activity in the first place?

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