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.

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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

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

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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.

Elected Officials vs Citizens: Who do YOU trust?

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Trust, like character takes a lifetime to build and only an instant to destroy.  Trust is sorely missing in how citizens feel about the officials they elect to represent them and look out for their best interests.  Trust is missing because of the influence of outside factors, such as big business and the chamber of commerce that distract our elected officials from their tasks at hand.

It seems every time we turn around our elected officials have found something new they need to raise your taxes over.  Two years ago there was Vision 2 – a hair brained idea brought to the voters by the city, county and chamber of commerce, to extend the Vision 2025 sales tax until 2029.  The problem was the Vision 2025 sales tax doesn’t expire until December 2016 and they had no plan on how they would spend the money.  Your elected officials were willing to extend a tax that didn’t expire for 5 years, for an additional 12 years, with no plan on how to spend the monies collected and to top it off were eager to spend in excess of $90 million in bonding and interest. Look for the Vision 2025 sales tax extension to come back again soon. Politicians best known secret is, never allow a temporary tax to expire – in other words, there is no such thing as a temporary tax.

Last November a new tax proposal by City of Tulsa elected officials was touted by G.T. Bynum as “the first proposal in city history to lower tax rates.”  What he failed to tell you was your property taxes went up when “Improve Our Tulsa” passed and the amount your sales taxes were lowered was .067, exactly the amount the county is coming after now to expand the jail and build the juvenile justice center.  The citizens never get a break!

Now it’s almost April, just enough time for you to forget that your property taxes were raised and if this jail/juvenile center tax passes you will NEVER see the “lowering of your taxes” that G.T. Bynum promised.  It is shameful the way elected officials play games with its constituents – the very people we elect to look out for our best interests just can’t seem to keep their hands off our hard earned money or speak honestly.

I haven’t even delved into the school bond issues that keep your property taxes high.  Tulsa World reported that Oklahoma’s average state and local sales tax rate is the fifth-highest in the nation, according to a report released by the Tax FoundationMore taxes are NOT the answer.

There are needs at the jail and the juvenile justice center but raising taxes isn’t the solution to the problem.  The county can find other ways to fund these needs, like using the overage from Vision 2025.  No one is quite sure exactly how much overage there will be, which is why Tulsa citizens should demand an independent accounting of Vision 2025 funds and anticipated overage before another new sales tax is considered.  The citizens should also be allowed to vote on the repurposing of Vision 2025 funding to pay for the expansion of the jail and the building of the juvenile justice center, and if the funding falls short, after the depletion of Vision 2025 overage a small short term bond can be voted on to complete the project and will be terminated upon completion of project.  There will be minimum bonding and interest fees since those costs are already factored into Vision 2025’s bonding.

As mentioned in my previous post, the amount of the projected overage from Vision 2025 is all over the board from $6 million to $123 million, to $150 million plus.  The $6 million figure comes from County Commissioners Karen Keith and Ron Peters (elected officials) and the $150 million plus figure comes from someone who sits on the Tulsa County Vision 2025 Oversight Committee (a private citizen).  Which figure do you believe?  Or better yet, who do you trust?

On December 23, 2013, Commissioner Keith signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” between Macy’s Corporate Service, Inc. and the Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners “agreeing to seek any remaining required funds from the Tulsa County Vision Authority” (Vision 2025) to help pay for road construction for Macy’s new building.

It appears that the county is willing to spend taxpayers hard earned money on building a road that benefits BIG business, not to mention all the other tax breaks Macy’s is receiving from moving here that the ordinary citizen or small business doesn’t receive but they have no problem continuously asking the tax payers for more of their hard earned money.  Macy’s was never a part of the Vision 2025 projects and funds should not be used from Vision 2025 to pay for an access road.

How can citizens trust the people they elect when the answer to every need is to raise taxes?  How can citizens trust their elected officials when the officials are eager to waste hard earned tax dollars on millions of dollars in bonding fees and interest instead of using the pay-as-you-go system resulting in more tax dollars going to actual projects?  How can citizens trust when year after year they hear, “this is a temporary tax” and yet it never goes away?  I trust the citizens to vote NO on both propositions April 1st .  I trust the citizens to hold our elected officials accountable by demanding they terminate bonding and use a “pay-as-you-go” method of paying for existing and future projects.  I trust that if given a choice, the citizens would choose to use Vision 2025 overage funds to pay for the needs of the jail and juvenile justice center.  I trust the citizens will send a message to our county commissioners that “Tulsa CAN DO BETTER” and raising our taxes isn’t the end all-fix all to the problems in Tulsa county.

Posted by Ronda Vuillemont-Smith on Just Ronda