State Rep. Sally Kern, the infamous, nationally-known legislator who claims homosexuality is more dangerous than terrorism, has introduced a bill that would allow students to brandish “a pastry or other food which is partially consumed in such a way that the remnant resembles a weapon.”
No, the above paragraph is not from The Onion. The quoted language is actually in the bill.
The bill, if passed and signed into law, would also allow students to bring toy guns to school, simulate gunplay with their fingers, imitate gun sounds and wear clothing supporting gun rights. It would also allow students to draw or possess images of guns and other weapons or use “a pencil, pen or other writing utensil to simulate a weapon.”
Bang bang, shoot em up, kids. You’re so incredibly adorable when you fake like you’re killing someone. The Lost Ogle has an lively take on the issue.
House Bill 2351, introduced for the upcoming legislative session, has drawn a lot of media attention, of course, because it's just so weird and unneeded and shows just how senseless and useless some elements of the Republican-led legislature have become.
The bill could also have unintended consequences by blurring the lines between hostile, potentially violent students and Kern’s fanatical support for guns, which is shared by many of her Republican colleagues. What if an 18-year-old high school student, for example, forms their hand into a gun and points it menacingly at a teacher? Should that not have a consequence?
Kern, an Oklahoma City Republican, pictured right, has dubbed her bill the Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act, saying it was prompted by a case in Maryland in which a 7-year-old student was suspended from school for two days for chewing a Pop Tart into a gun shape. In response to the suspension, the National Rifle Association awarded the boy a lifetime membership and the gun fanatics in that state made a big deal about it.
Was the suspension a mistake? Who knows? I do know that it really isn’t a local issue and that a plethora of school shootings in recent years have made teachers and administrators justifiably paranoid in adopting no-tolerance rules about guns and their facsimiles.
Kern’s bill is a huge overreach and presupposes a problem that doesn’t exist here. It also, in theory, promotes child “gun play” at schools by codifying such activities into law. Why not also introduce a bill that allows students to play kickball during a recess or draw dinosaurs or play math games in classrooms?
This is a bill that needs to be withdrawn or die in the committee process. If it makes it to a full House vote, however, it will probably pass. I’m unsure how the state Senate or Gov. Mary Fallin might respond to it.
Republican leaders, including Fallin, should put pressure on Kern and other fanatical elements of the legislature to put a lid on their ideological nonsense for this upcoming session. The state faces numerous problems, including catastrophic underfunding for education. Making sure school kids can kill people—all in jest and great fun, of course—is as ridiculous as it gets.
Where’s all the outrage now from The Oklahoman over lack of transparency and secrecy among some members of the Oklahoma City Council, including Mayor Mick Cornett?
As you recall, the newspaper and its editorial page recently made a big deal about unsealing the divorce records of Ward 2 Councilor and mayoral candidate Ed Shadid, pictured right, arguing that he was supposedly trying to “fight” to keep his past secret. Those records have now been released.
Meanwhile, several Oklahoma City Councilors, including Cornett, voted recently to not ask for the release of a 2009 report about a new downtown convention center. The report was conducted for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce right before voters approved MAPS 3.
In other words, here are elected officials trying to keep information secret from the public. Given its sanctimonious stance over Shadid’s records, one might think The Oklahoman would be demanding transparency in this case as well. But I can’t find anything remotely critical about it on its editorial page in recent days. Cornett, of course, is running for reelection.
It seems obviously clear that the newspaper under the guise of journalistic standards and support for freedom of information was merely interested in doing a political attack job on Shadid even as it tacitly condones secrecy in city government. Cornett represents the interests of the corporate power structure in this area just like the The Oklahoman, which is owned by Colorado billionaire and ultra-conservative Philip Anschutz. The newspaper, of course, has had a double standard for decades when it comes to politicians, but this case is so obvious it becomes incredulous.
Cornett, Ward 1 Councilor James Greiner, Ward 3 Councilor Larry McAtee, Ward 5 Councilor David Greenwell, Ward 6 Councilor Meg Salyer and Ward 8 Councilor Pat Ryan all voted not to ask the chamber to release the report. Shadid, Ward 4 Councilor Pete White and Ward 7 Councilor John Pettis voted to ask for the release.
The issue of the convention center, approved by voters as part of MAPS 3, has become controversial mainly because of this type of secrecy. Voters approved the $252 million center, but some city leaders are contending it will need a connecting hotel that could require additional public subsidies of perhaps $200 million or even more. The hotel was NOT part of MAPS 3. Were the voters deceived?
Shadid, in the past, has warned that studies have shown and some experts have argued that there is declining use of convention center and hotel facilities in some cities. Shadid is now leading a citizens group pushing initiative petition drives to take the convention center out of MAPS 3 and thus end tax collections earlier.
Shadid has also said the 2009 report contains information that is relevant to how the city should proceed with the convention center. Why do Cornett and other council members want to keep it secret?
All the main arguments over the convention center and potential hotel in downtown Oklahoma City have their supporters and strong champions, but one thing is sure: There needs to be transparency.
(Here’s an interesting historical look at the issue.)
What’s more important? A contentious divorce filed 10 years ago or perhaps half a billion dollars in taxpayers’ money getting spent right now? The Oklahoman should push for the report’s release in the same strong manner it pushed for the release of Shadid’s divorce records. The fact it apparently isn’t doing so shows once again it can’t be trusted to report the news fairly.
Let’s be clear that House Speaker T.W. Shannon’s insistence the state continue to give costly taxpayer handouts to the oil and gas industry as the state faces budget constraints could have a major detrimental effect on the overall quality of life here.
Education funding has declined to what can only be perceived as catastrophic levels since 2008. The state’s prisons are dangerously understaffed. Many state workers have gone without raises for seven years. There are myriad of mental health initiatives that need to be implemented on the state level.
But Shannon, a Lawton Republican, wants to make permanent $175 million in tax breaks for horizontal oil and gas drilling. The tax credits are set to expire in 2015. According to the Tulsa World, Shannon recently said, “Some have suggested we should raise this tax or allow it to expire in order to bring more money into the general fund and grow government. I don't believe in the tax-more, spend-more approach.”
This type of conservative reasoning defies logic primarily because it’s merely an ideological statement and sloganeering. But it also ignores a basic reality: Oil and gas companies will drill here no matter what. That’s a given, and when there’s no more fossil fuels to suck out of the ground in Oklahoma, these companies will leave the state and never return, leaving only earthquakes and environmental damage in their wake.
Of course, Shannon has other motivations to argue his case. Oil and gas interests, including the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and Chesapeake Energy, have been major contributors to his campaign funding. Shannon is up for reelection this year.
Meanwhile, Shannon will continue to push for income tax cuts next session, according to media reports, even though revenue predictions are not getting met on a monthly basis. The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently threw out last year’s tax cut bill because it violated the state’s constitutional single-subject rule for legislation.
Tax breaks for oil and gas companies along with stagnant or lowered funding for education. This conservative model of governance ultimately only creates more socioeconomic problems for the state. It’s really a no-brainer.
Under Republican dominance, Oklahoma has quickly become a shining example of failed conservative ideology. Despite some state leaders’ rosy rhetoric about the state’s economic development, Oklahoma faces chronic problems in many areas, precipitated by underfunding for education, health issues and corrections. Costly and unneeded tax breaks for oil and gas companies only make it worse.