Oklahoma Observer

The Legacy of Helen Troy

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Helen Troy, longtime publisher of the Oklahoma Observer, died last week.

Troy, who published the political journal for 36 years with her husband, Frosty, was a true Oklahoma legend, providing a voice for progressive writers and thinkers in the state.

This blog and others like it owe much to Troy, who was a progressive trailblazer in an ultra conservative state. She created and maintained a forum for the most intelligent commentary in Oklahoma. As The Daily Oklahoman became increasingly irrational and extremist on its right-wing editorial page over the last three decades under the late Edward L. Gaylord, Troy and her husband provided an alternative and truthful depiction of Oklahoma politics and culture.

The Observer, now published by Arnold and Beverly Hamilton, is still a blue oasis in a very red state and that is because the Troys worked tirelessly for truth and justice for 36 years. What they gave to Oklahoma and continue to give—Frosty still writes for the publication—is inestimable. They helped the marginalized, the poor. They stood up relentlessly for teachers, who are always under attack by the state’s anti-intellectual, right-wing politicians. They were the conscience of Oklahoma. They were brave.

As the world and Oklahoma became more corporate-influenced and shallow, the Observer spoke out for humanity and reality, and it still does. The journal’s motto is “To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Under Troy’s guidance, the journal did so with style and wit, with a moral center that was inclusive and compassionate.

Long after the current slew of rich, self-important Oklahoma oil barons and business executives are dead and forgotten, Troy’s legacy will live on. It is a legacy, a history and a life that will never be forgotten here. Troy’s work remains immortal.

Laurel: To Helen Troy for making Oklahoma a better place to live, for inspiring us to live meaningful lives.


Dank Wants to Shut Down Schools

(Frosty and Helen Troy, who publish The Oklahoma Observer, have been tireless champions of what is right and true in the state for decades. Please subscribe to their publication, The Oklahoma Observer, P.O. Box 53371, Oklahoma City, OK 73152-3371.)

Frosty Troy has an excellent article running in The Oklahoma Observer this week about Odilia Dank, R-OKC, the Oklahoma House member who wants to close down rural schools and towns in the state.

Dank initially filed two bills that could have ultimately force the consolidation of some schools in Oklahoma. They have been apparently withdrawn, but Dank is the head of the Common Education Committee, so do not be surprised if these bills raise their ugly, town-destroying heads once again. We have seen this before.

As Frosty’s article points out, some legislators found it ironic that House Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, who is from a small-town would implicitly support this obvious attack on small towns, including (possibly) his own small, town.

I know it is a dog-eat-dog Republican world (or how about the ironic auto-cannibalism of the extreme right) these days, but this is getting so ridiculous it is almost funny. So let’s get this straight because this sort of thing can only happen in red states like Oklahoma these days. Some local upstanding citizen (Hiett) runs for an office from a rural community he plans to destroy based on an ideology he embraces that is anti-rural town, anti-family farm, and anti-education. The people in the small town elect him because ___. You fill in the blank.

I wonder how solid the schools are doing in Kellyville, a town that listed a population of 906 in the 2000 census? How are they doing with the NCLB requirements, another Republican mandate? According to information obtained on the Internet, Kellyville Schools has approximately 1000 students with at least one district-level administrator. This last fact—a district-level administrator—must have OKC’s Dank salivating at the thought of how she might get rid of him/her and right there in the speaker’s hometown, too!

If I worked for Kellyville Schools or any smaller school district in Oklahoma right now, I would be mighty worried about what Dank and Hiett had in store for me, no matter what is coming out their mouths these days.

And Dank? Well, her legislative profile on the net says she attended Casady School here in Oklahoma City. That’s the school that is pretty much solely for the super wealthy in this area, and it’s a long, long way from Kellyville both in distance and philosophy. (The Casady administrators, I am sure, will tell you all about their wonderful financial aid program, blah, blah, blah, but it remains the school of choice for the super wealth in the Oklahoma City area.)

Oklahoma voters are getting duped in this disastrous conservative juggernaut that has seized the state and held it hostage to an ideology that is slowly but surely destroying our small towns.

I have traveled far and wide in the state, and I know people from small towns in Oklahoma do not want some Casady-educated, Oklahoma City elitist telling them they cannot have a high school in their community. But the problem here is that these same people continue to vote against their own interests.

When you elect politicians who are wedded to a conservative ideology that wants to shut down rural America, then you ultimately pay the price. This is what is happening all across red-state America under the George Bush administration and especially during this second-term.

This is plain, common sense. Progressives have always supported strong public schools and strong family farms in Oklahoma, and they will continue to do so. Republicans only support the wealthy elite in this state and nation. Maybe Kellyville schools will be closed, and then that extra savings can be passed on in the form of tax cuts to those super wealthy people in Oklahoma City who want to send their kids to Casady. It just does not get clearer than that, folks.