A Summary of LWV SD 39 Forum

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Thursday evening, June 9, the League of Women Voters held a public forum for Senate District 39 candidates at the OU Tulsa campus. Senate District 39 is currently held by term limited Brian Crain, which makes SD39 an open seat.

Three candidates participated in the forum – Dave Rader, Amanda Teegarden and Alan Staab, approximately 40-45 people attended the forum. The questions came from the audience, read by the moderator and the time keeper kept everything running smoothly. The League of Women Voters did a great job and a great service to our community by hosting this event.

The questions asked were very thoughtful and the answers provided insight into the differences between the candidates. The first question was “were the candidates familiar with the legislative process and if not, who would they look to for guidance?”  Staab answered first, stating that he would rely on friends and other legislators to educate him in the legislative process. Rader said he will find like-minded individuals within the legislature to teach and mentor him, while Teegarden reminded the audience that through her work as a citizen activist she has already spent most of the last ten years learning Oklahoma policy and procedures for herself.

On education and budget issues, all agreed that these are the top issues affecting our state.  Rader is in favor of allowing school boards to raise the debt bonding limit from 10% to 15%. Teegarden explained that currently 51% of the state budget goes to education, appearing as a single line item on the budget; she would like to carve out a dedicated funding stream for classroom instructors and require transparency about all sources of revenue and education expenditures, which currently appear to be top heavy in administrative costs. Staab was in favor of increasing the general budget item for education and was fully supportive of the cigarette tax as well.

Of course, the Boren 1% sales tax was brought up. Both Staab and Teegarden were opposed to the regressive tax. Rader’s response was non-committal in that he said it didn’t matter how he votes and would not answer with his opinion on the matter.

When asked about mental health in Oklahoma, Rader didn’t give a clear, straight answer. He did say that maybe Insure Oklahoma was the way to go but that all options must be considered. Staab was in favor of expanding Medicaid for the purpose of receiving more federal funding and as stated earlier, he favors the cigarette tax. Teegarden is opposed to Medicaid expansion due to the current national debt and the fact that there is no money to fund expansion, and that she supports more health care freedom of choice in Oklahoma.

One question was regarding their opinion as to what was the most significant piece of legislation from this last legislative session. Teegarden stated that SB1552 was probably the most significant bill of the session and that it was unfortunate that Gov. Fallin had vetoed it.  Rader was in agreement with Teegarden in regard to SB1552. Staab voiced his support of the cigarette tax and touted it as the most important bill (it was defeated).

When asked how each candidate would build consensus with their fellow legislators, Staab mentioned his ability to build relationships, and stated that if he wins the election, he and his wife will move to OKC and purchase season tickets to the Thunder games to represent the people of Tulsa. Rader cited his experience as a player and coach to begin consensus building. Teegarden stated that finding consensus is not the goal of a legislator, that there is usually a right and wrong and that, “legislation is either good or bad.  The job of a state senator is to uphold the oath of office, and defend and support both the US and state constitutions.”

It was a good evening with engaged citizens. The evening offered insight on the candidates of SD39, some similar, some vastly different.

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Smart Meters – Take them or else!

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NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op appears to be in a race to complete the installation of Smart Meters before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), votes on the cost for customers to opt out of receiving a Smart Meter. This has resulted in three different occurrences between NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op customers who have expressed opposition to the new meters.

Monday, October 5, NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op jumped a locked gate and replaced the analog meter with a Smart Meter at Mr. Chuck Clawson’s home. Mr. Clawson had expressed to the electric co-op that he did not want his meter replaced on more than one occasion. Knowing Mr. Clawson’s objection to the installation of a Smart Meter, the electric co-op waited until Mr. Clawson was not home, jumped his locked gate and changed out his meter.

Tuesday, October 6, NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op forced the installation of a Smart Meter on another customer who had rejected the new meters, Ms. Marlene McClelland. Ms. McClelland made her objections known to the electric co-op regarding the new Smart Meters through phone conversations, face-to-face conversations as well as a sign on the meter clearly stating that she wanted to retain her current meter and not receive a Smart Meter. Once again, with full knowledge of Ms. McClelland’s objection, the NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op forced her to receive a new meter by changing the meter when Ms. McClelland was not home.

Also, on Tuesday, October 6, Mr. Randy Love’s electrical service was terminated due to his refusal of receiving a Smart Meter. NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op went to Mr. Love’s home on Monday to replace his meter, Mr. Love declined the installation to which he was then informed that if he did not allow for the meter to be replaced they would come the next day to retrieve their property (meter) and leave Mr. Love and his family without electrical services. NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op returned on Tuesday, stated they were operating under Oklahoma Corporation Commission guidelines (though they couldn’t state specific guidelines), that no opt out option is available and they were removing their property (electric meter), leaving the Love’s with no electricity.

NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op is regulated by the OCC.  The Opt out case at the OCC has received the administrative judges’ opinion and awaits the Commissioners approval which is expected within a few weeks.  It would appear that NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op is trying to deploy their Smart Meters before the OCC decision.  Will the Opt out fees be too punitive to have a meter removed once installed by NE Co-op.   Considering that NE Oklahoma Electric Co-op has a monopoly on electrical services in that area should they be allowed to force customers to receive a Smart Meter that the customer believes will threaten their health, safety and privacy within their home?  Since when, does a Corporation or a Co-op have the right to put a non- grounded, telecom device which collects and transmits personal  data on private property without any due process? No federal or State law mandates the deployment of these problematic meters.

Tulsa County Grassroots Republicans Speak Out

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For years the grassroots have battled issue after issue in Oklahoma and witnessed recent victories in our fight against ObamaCare Health Exchanges in Oklahoma, in repealing Common Core, opposing National Popular Vote and fighting to keep the Presidential Primary date on Super Tuesday in Oklahoma. Additionally, we have made great strides in getting more and more grassroots individuals active and involved at all levels of the Republican Party process from precinct chair to county chair and finally to our newly elected State Party Chair.

Of course this means that those who continually oppose the grassroots movements are upset that they are not the only ones at the table anymore. We see this in the vindictive and underhanded division going on right now within the Oklahoma Republican Party against our new State Party Chair.

While we do not seek to elevate these petty claims any more than necessary, we do see a need to clarify that the grassroots in Tulsa County seems to be currently misrepresented. Many of us in Tulsa County do not agree with the statements made by our County Chair. We stand behind the decisions that Chairman Brogdon has made and see through the attempt to undermine his leadership by equating junior high politics to major issues like racism and domestic violence. The grassroots focuses on the issues for a reason and we look forward to working with the new chair on issues and growing the Republican Party during the next two years.

The Art of the Witch-Hunt

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In politics there are two ways to win: by merit or by destroying your opponent. Rarely does one win by merit. What is more common is the art of the political witch-hunt. The key to a good witch-hunt is public frenzy. Find something the public will emotionally connect to and pursue the victory at any cost, destroying whatever human capital is in the way.

For a state that has spent most of its existence controlled by Democrats, we are no strangers to the witch-hunt. All one needs is a good accusation and in the age of social media, the dogs are sent off. For the past few weeks, some in the media and some in the legislature have latched onto a political witch-hunt against the new administration of the State GOP. The motives vary from personal vendettas to self-promotion. Facts matter not when political egos are at stake.

What matters is that the victim is bullied publicly by as many as can jump on the bandwagon. Public opinion must be swayed so that whatever happens, the monsters on Maple Street are summoned into existence.

We are seeing the mob mentality emerge with one faction of the party going after the new State GOP Chair and his Political Director, TC Ryan. I have worked closely with Mr. Ryan on numerous meetings, conferences and events, he is a good and honorable man; a man of his word. He has organized minority outreach seminars for the County Party. He arranged an ice cream social event to unify behind our Republican nominees. He has promoted the principles of the party in various positions and across the entire state, building bridges between various groups around Oklahoma. Yet despite all of his accomplishments, despite those who know the man he is, the witch-hunt has begun and the only thing that matters is that he is bullied out of the party and cast aside once the mob is finished.

As Republicans we believe that our past does not define our future. We have always been the party of God’s grace and of hard work. We have seen both exhibited in TC’s history of assisting the party. Our conservative values and emphasis on the individual should enable us to examine the situation and forgo following the crowd. I am proud to call to TC a friend and stand by him and OKGOP State Chairman Randy Brogdon during this ridiculous personal attack.

#IStandWithTC

#IStandWithRandy

New Day

Actions Have Consequences – Or Do They? Will the Tulsa Chamber hold Mike Neal accountable for his Actions?

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Neal Landrieu

Last week an invitation was issued for a fundraiser in honor of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, (best known for selling her vote in support of PPACA (ObamaCare) for $300 million in additional concessions to support Louisiana’s Medicaid system, which became known as “The Louisiana Purchase.”), one of the most liberal senators in Washington, D.C., to be held at none other than Tulsa’s former Mayor, Kathy Taylor’s home. Mike Neal, Louisiana native, President and C.E.O. of Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce is one of the co-hosts of the Landrieu fundraiser. This is not surprising and not out of the ordinary and in the grand scheme of things it would appear that everything was on the up-and-up, until you get to the letter written and signed by Mike Neal on Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce stationary, in his official capacity as President and C.E.O. Invitation and letter

All hell broke loose when the invitation, coupled with the letter was made public. The outcry of the citizens and an Open Letter signed by the entire Oklahoma delegation was heard loud and clear. All seven members of the Oklahoma delegation expressed their surprise and disappointment at the letter written on Chamber stationary, inviting Chamber members to a fundraising event for Senator Landrieu. In their Open Letter to Chamber members they expressed their displeasure with the Tulsa Chamber for “benefitting an out-of-state Democrat running for U.S. Senate. This is not only one of the most competitive races in the country, but a race that will determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.” The letter from the delegation goes on to say, “Contrary to the Tulsa Chamber letter, electing Mary Landrieu is not good for American energy policy, Oklahoma business, or the Tulsa region. Rather, she will keep Harry Reid in charge of the Senate and allow him to continue to block key energy legislation that would benefit our nation, our state, and our region.” Delegation letter to Chamber

What on earth was Mike Neal thinking? Neal abused his office by using his position at the Tulsa Chamber to influence members of the Chamber to attend a fundraiser for one of the most liberal senators in the U.S. Senate by using the Chamber mailing list, Chamber letterhead, the Chamber staff and resources. Through his participation and support of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, it appears that Mike Neal wants to keep Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader, a view that does not represent the values and principles of Tulsa and the surrounding communities.

It seems to be the status quo for the citizens in Tulsa and the surrounding communities to not have their principles and values represented by the Chamber of Commerce. Just last legislative session, Mike Neal and the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce led the charge to raise taxes, supported comprehensive immigration reform, expansion of Medicaid, supported and lobbied for the full implementation of Common Core State Standards, and pushed for more of our tax dollars through state-wide bonding for the building of a Pop Museum, by pushing the One Voice Agenda and its contrary beliefs to conservative Oklahomans.

It is past time for the Chamber to quit being involved in politics. They recruit and fund candidates that will champion the Chamber’s agenda, regardless of what the citizens of Oklahoma want. It is one of the reasons it is so difficult for citizens to get conservative legislation passed. The Chamber hires lobbyists to work against the will of the people to promote crony capitalism, giving unfair advantage to big corporations. It is time for the Chamber of Commerce to go back to what its original intent was, to assist small businesses, to encourage commerce and to once again be the champion of the small business owner.

Neal’s response to this debacle reads more like he was “sorry for getting caught”, or the ol’, “it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission” type of remorse. Mike Neal should resign his position as President and C.E.O. of the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce effective immediately. As President and C.E.O, he knew what he was doing was wrong and unethical, and yet he chose to do it anyway. The Tulsa Regional Chamber is taxpayer funded (in part), which is unusual for Chamber of Commerce funding. The citizens should be able to call for Neal’s resignation and demand that no more tax payer dollars go to fund this organization – let it be funded by its membership the way most chambers are. Chamber and Neal response

Will Gov Fallin Live Up to Her Word to Sign HB3399?

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March 21, 2014, following a meeting where Governor Fallin was the keynote speaker, I approached her about signing HB3399. It was the last bill remaining alive this legislative session, so I ask using the specific bill number. She agreed to sign HB3399 if the bill made it through the House and Senate and to her desk. She has until Saturday, June 7 to sign the bill or it defaults to a pocket veto. Is our governor a woman of her word? Time will tell.

Who Attended The Common Core Meeting With The Governor?

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In response to The Oklahoman article, “Common Core Plan is Focus of Meeting,” by Andrea Eger dated June 4, 2014, the question was asked by those opposed to Common Core and supporting HB3399 in many forums and Facebook pages, “Do you know of anyone that participated in the meeting regarding HB3399 that took place on Tuesday.”  Amazingly, no one knew anyone that was even asked to participate.  There were none of the groups or parents associated with the groups fighting Common Core that participated in that meeting and yet the opposition groups and Superintendents were included in that meeting and listed in the article.

A call was placed to the governor’s office requesting a list of the names of the people attending that supported the repeal of Common Core and HB3399, Governor Fallin’s Press Secretary; Alex Weintz refused to give any names and would not directly take the call.

It is time for the governor to make a decision; the people have spoken loud and clear on where they stand on Common Core.  Governor Fallin has received thousands if not tens of thousands of phone calls from Oklahoma citizens and citizens from around the nation asking that she sign HB3399.  The people of Oklahoma have spoken overwhelmingly through their elected representatives that they want HB 3399 signed. The governor needs to stop with the delay tactics and sign the bill.