Sally Goes Out Slinging Hate

It will be said and remembered about Sally Kern that she went out swinging with punches of hate to the very end of her legislative career. It’s obviously what she wanted. She knew she could get everyone’s attention at least one more time.

The controversial Oklahoma Republican state representative gave a goodbye, hate-filled speech to her legislative colleagues last week, and she didn’t even begin to apologize for how much she has embarrassed Oklahoma throughout the world with her vitriolic rhetoric aimed at gay people and minorities. She’s leaving the state Capitol because she’s term limited this year, not because of the damage she leaves behind.

It seems weird and discombobulating to realize that we’ve been dealing with Kern’s fundamentalist thinking and mean-spirited rhetoric since she took office in 2005. What’s weirder to consider as open-minded and inclusive Oklahomans is that she was elected to office by people who think like she does. Bible-thumping, right-wing, hate-filled arguments and rhetoric are not unique to Oklahoma, of course, but Kern took it to a new level, and her conservative constituents and colleagues mostly supported her.

Actually, I wouldn’t even write about Kern because it’s tiresome and, frankly, it creeps me out a bit at this point that I expended so much mental energy on her antics, but I need to do so at least one more time for the historical record. This blog has chronicled her career through ALL her years in office in a countless number of posts. Okie Funk was established the same year she was first elected. You might say Okie Funk and Sally Kern’s political career were a fated Oklahoma binary.

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Where Is The Budget?

At this point in the current Oklahoma legislative session, I think it’s reasonable to argue that our not-so-popular conservative state leaders are waiting until the last minute to fully address the $1.3 billion budget shortfall for next fiscal year.

I think it’s also reasonable to argue that the Republicans in the legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin are probably going to implement serious cuts to state agencies, and they want to wait until the last minute so there’s less time for people and various stakeholders to organize protests or explain fully how the cuts could be devastating to ordinary Oklahomans before they go into effect. The session is scheduled to adjourn by May 27, only two working weeks away. Legislative leaders in the past have adjourned sessions several days before the adjournment date, and that could happen this time as well.

Conservatives, then, could create the carnage, and then go home and let everyone suffer through the mess they created by approving income tax cuts in recent years that primarily benefited the wealthy and by giving major tax breaks to the oil and gas industry.

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60 Minutes Reports On State Earthquake Crisis

A reporter for the television show 60 Minutes did a segment Sunday on Oklahoma’s earthquake crisis, shedding more light on a serious issue that needs to be resolved by state leaders.

What’s important to note before I discuss the segment is this: The earthquakes continue here in Oklahoma because of disposal well activity used in the hydraulic fracturing or fracking process. In fact, there were two larger earthquakes in the state on the day the segment appeared on our television screens. A 3.6-magnitude earthquake struck a few miles west of Perry at 4:19 p.m followed by a 3.4-magnitude in the same area at 7:10 p.m.

The 60 Minutes segment was reported by Bill Whitaker, who did an excellent job just initially pointing out the huge increase in earthquakes here. (The following quote and other quotes from the segment used in this post are from the transcript of the show.) “Before 2009, there were, on average, two earthquakes a year in Oklahoma that were magnitude 3 or greater,” Whitaker reported. “Last year, there were 907. That's right, 907.” I think the “that’s right, 907” set the tone for the segment.

I also thought Whitaker did a great job interviewing Kim Hatfield, who is on the executive committee of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. Hatfield tried to downplay the role of disposal wells in the crisis. “This is something that's been going on for 60, 70 years,” Hatfield said. “And we've had-- had a sudden change. And the question is what changed.” Whitaker’s response to Hatfield was short and to the point:

The thing that's different is the amount of water that the oil industry is pumping into the Arbuckle Formation. That's what's different. And along with that difference comes these earthquakes. That's not the trigger?

Hatfield’s response should elicit groans from anyone who has felt a larger earthquake here or experienced damage to their property because of the shaking. “The injection of water is a factor,” Hatfield said. “But it is not possibly the only factor. We don't know.”

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