When Oklahoma’s richest, most powerful business people come together with the state’s intelligentsia to form a quasi-political coalition, you know, well, you know pigs are flying and armadillos are directing traffic, right?
But a group of business people the Associated Press described as a “Who’s Who” of power brokers in the state filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the TABOR initiative petition that would put a constitutional measure limiting the growth of the state budget on the November ballot.
Most educators and state educational organizations, from the Oklahoma Education Association to the Oklahoma Conference of the American Association of University Professors, have been outspoken in their opposition to the measure for months.
The new lawsuit claims the submitted petition is “deceptive and misleading” and does not include enough valid signatures. The protest was filed against the Oklahoma Supreme Court and Rick Carpenter, of Tulsa, who led the drive locally with out-of-state money.
Carpenter, a “right-wingnut” (see image above), says the lawsuit will have no effect on the petition’s validity, and that TABOR will be on the November ballot, according to local news account. The petition needs 219,000 signatures.
If the TABOR constitutional measure is approved, the state budget’s annual growth would be tied to the inflation rate and population increase. Any money leftover after this formula is applied would have to be given back to taxpayers.
The one state that has adopted TABOR, or the so-called Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, was Colorado. Voters there recently rescinded it because it had devastated that state’s educational systems and economy.
But the Colorado experience did not stop out-of-state elites from coming into Oklahoma and literally buying enough signatures to put the TABOR issue on the ballot. These people figured Oklahomans were so stupid, they could come in here and lie and manipulate, and no one would care,
But we did care, and we stood up. Meanwhile, Okie Funk and many others were wondering when the state leadership would stand up to really fight this issue.
How could they just stand by and watch the disgusting spectacle of out-of-state, ultra-rich, elites with nothing but an ideology and a whim destroy the state’s economy, educational systems, and infrastructure? How could they stand by and watch Grover Norquistand his crowd use Oklahoma as an experiment in their quest to transfer as much money as possible to the wealthiest people in our country at the expense of elementary schools.
On Wednesday, that all changed. The group of business people who serve as “protestants” (i.e. protestors) against the petition include Clifford Hudson, CEO of Sonic Corp and chair of the Oklahoma City School Board, Aubrey McClendan, CEO of Chesapeake Corp, J. Larry Nichols, CEO of Devon Energy, and Luke R. Corbett, CEO of Kerr-McGee Corp.
That’s right . . . Sonic, Chesapeake, Devon, Kerr-McGee.
And another protestor is Clayton Bennett, who is an extremely powerful, local businessman married to Louise Gaylord Bennett, a daughter of the late Edward L. Gaylord, the longtime publisher of The Daily Oklahoman. Louise Bennett assists her sister, Christy Gaylord Everest, in running newspaper these days, according to Wikipedia.
Count on The Oklahoman coming out against the petition soon, though its editorial page has leaned heavily in TABOR’s direction, criticizing those who spoke up against the lies of those people gathering signatures for two dollars a name. Its mantra then was that everyone should just step aside and let the petition go forward, so we could vote on it in November. As I recall, according to one editorial, people like me who spoke up were trying to stop American democracy or some nonsense like that.
Also, local civic leader G. T. Blankenship and Tulsa businessman John Brock signed on against the petition. Both are listed as trustees of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a local, conservative think tank which has been highly supportive of TABOR. I wonder what OCPA leaders Max Nichols and Brandon Dutcher think about the lawsuit? So far there is nothing about it on the OCPA Web site.
Other local people of interest on the lawsuit include V. Burns Hargis, vice president of the Bank of Oklahoma, and Kirk Humphreys, Oklahoma City’s former mayor.
What is especially interesting about the lawsuit is that it pits some powerful right-wing business people against others in their camp who share their basic ideology and reality about the world. What is going on here? Is there a split among the cut-taxes-for-the-rich-no-matter-what crowd? It there trouble in Rich City, folks?
More importantly, what were the political tradeoffs on this deal, and how will these tradeoffs affect ordinary people like you and me? Are more tax cuts for the rich forthcoming this legislative session? Count on it.
Oh yeah, the lawsuit was filed by the Crowe & Dunlevy law firm, one of the most prestigious and powerful legal firms in the state.
What is encouraging about this lawsuit is that it means the rich and powerful in this state do have a breaking point when it comes to ensuring we provide our children and college students here a decent education. This is not the typical, conservative lip service about improving schools with assessment tests and school choice and vouchers and No Child Left Behind. This is real action.
So, my fellow Okies, don’t be surprised when you look up today and see the state’s pig-filled sky or when an armadillo waves you through an intersection that has a broken stoplight.
Sally Kern’s Christian Crusade Continues Onward
Okay, the bigwigs have come out against TABOR and The Daily Oklahoman has come out against the teaching of intelligent design in our science classrooms.
So when will the state leadership come against the continuing Christian crusade of State Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City)?
Kern’s latest attempt to ensure Oklahoma becomes the first theocratic state in America is her “Student Freedom of Religious Expression in Schools Act.” Yes, you read that title correctly, and the bill did pass out of a House committee Wednesday.
House Bill 2428 would allow students at schools to pass out religious material, pray, express their religious viewpoints, and be absent from school for religious events. Of course, the bill says “religious” not “Christian” (wink, wink).
Everyone knows this is bill and others like it pending in Oklahoma and elsewhere across the country are part of the Christian right-wing theocratic agenda.
Can you imagine what it would be like at state high schools if this bill gets passed?
I picture students accosted in the hallways by religious zealots and teachers of all disciplines unable to present material that might go against Christian viewpoints.
I imagine large groups of intolerant Christian students intentionally excluding people of other faiths in activities. I see a group of students holding hands in a classroom praying loudly and openly before a test, daring the teacher to say something, anything that might be construed as anti-Christian.
Our schools will become freaky, religious enclaves in violation of basic founding principles separating church and state.
The bill lacks commonsense as well. It would create all types of problems. How can anyone support such a weird, murky measure that does not take into account its real-world ramifications? How will the bill affect high school classrooms, the hallways, the lunchroom, the parking lots, etc.?
In today’s volatile world of religious extremism and religious-inspired violence, the last thing we need is to add religious tension in our high schools.
Maybe we could just build a chapel in each state high school, pass a “Christian Students Do No Have To Go To Class Freedom Act” and allow students to spend ALL school hours praying and discussing the Bible, especially Genesis. Then we could create and build secular charter schools for everyone else. These schools would honor strict limits on separation of church and state. They would promote the study of science and math, English, technology, and other real academic subjects, not fundamentalist Christianity.
This is from Okie Funk’s “No Hyperbole Zone”: If Kern’s act passes and holds up in the courts, it could become impossible to get a real high school education in this state.
Religious moderates and secular people need to speak up. And where is the state leadership on this bill and on all the freaky religious legislation proposed by Kern and others? When will they truly come out against crackpots like Kern and say enough is enough? If Kern’s bill passes, then, really, so what if TABOR becomes law? Who wants to fund religious extremism in our schools, anyway?