"Just Before a Big Storm…"

June 1, 2008

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant

Hello again, everybody. The 2008 session of the Oklahoma Legislature ended at 10:30 p.m., Friday, May 23 – a week before the date by which we must complete our session.
It was a strange session. The atmosphere at the Capitol was very much like that just before a big storm. Throughout the session, you could feel the storm coming but it had not arrived.
That “storm” will be the elections that will occur this year, determining the composition of the Legislature in 2009. Term limits, as much as Oklahomans’ votes, continue shaping the Legislature. In the Senate, there will be at least five new members replacing five who reached their service limit of 12 years.
Because this is an election year during which partisan control of the Legislature will be determined, neither side took many risks. Neither Republicans nor Democrats wanted to make any mistakes that would come back to haunt them come election time.
There were few major battles. Even the budget was resolved with little creativity or squabbling.
My fight to end insurance discrimination against autistic children probably was the most watched battle. Despite the public attention to the fight, it came to an end in the proverbial “smoke-filled room” when House leaders refused to even allow a vote.
On that issue, you may rest assured that the families who fought alongside me and I will both be back to pick up the battle in 2009. Every child is precious, including those afflicted with autism, and they and their families deserve our help.

One measure I believe will have the greatest long-term impact was my bill to create an Oklahoma public umbilical cord blood bank. In time, this measure – which had to overcome many obstacles – will give every Oklahoma family the ability to bank umbilical cord blood resulting from the birth of a healthy baby.

Researchers tell us that many diseases can currently be treated with the adult stem cells in cord blood. This law will give us the means to treat more Oklahomans with these life-saving therapies, and open the door to every Oklahoma family rather than just those families who can afford the thousands of dollars it costs to privately bank cord blood.
Over the next several editions of “The Senate Minute,” I will review some of the accomplishments and disappointments of the 2008 session of the Oklahoma Legislature. There is much to discuss.
Despite the session being adjourned, the work of state government goes on. As always, if you have any comments, questions or concerns about any issue, feel free to contact me. You can reach my Capitol office at either (580) 924-2221 or (405) 521-5586. You can also reach me by email at gumm@oksenate.gov. You also can follow news on my website at http://www.gumm.us/.

Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute.” Have a great week and may God bless you all.
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Will Brad Engage? Or Will He Fiddle While Largely African American N.E. OKC Goes Down the Tubes?

June 1, 2008

While officials like Shelton, Congresswoman Mary Fallin, Mayor Mick Cornett and County Commissioner Ray Vaughan are aggressively publicly opposing the casino, at least two officials are conspicuous in their silence: Gov. Brad Henry and County Commissioner Willa Johnson.

The controversy surrounding the proposed Shawnee Tribe’s casino in northeast Oklahoma City is heating up.

It’s rumored that there will be a Tuesday night town meeting of citizens whose homes and businesses in the area surrounding Remington Park will be harmed if construction of the casino is allowed to move forward. Remington Park, who most observers believe will go bankrupt if the casino begins operation, sits in State Rep. Mike Shelton’s house district 97. Shelton is publicly calling on citizens to voice their concerns to the BIA before the Friday deadline.

While officials like Shelton, Congresswoman Mary Fallin, Mayor Mick Cornett and County Commissioner Ray Vaughan are aggressively publicly opposing the casino, at least two officials are conspicuous in their silence: Gov. Brad Henry and County Commissioner Willa Johnson.

Henry is rumored to be meeting with agricultural interests regarding the track this week. When the casino becomes operational, the subsequent bankruptcy of Remington Park will kill the horse breeding industry in Oklahoma according to a report filed by News9’s Rusty Surrette Friday. The race track says 25,000 Oklahoma jobs will be lost.

The BIA’s 30-day comment period closes Friday, and Henry’s painfully slow reaction to take a position, given his chummy relationship with a key Shawnee Tribe official, has given rise to speculation the governor will either sit this issue out or intervene on behalf of the tribe, which will enrage Oklahomans and elected officials from both parties. If Henry were to go on record in opposition to the casino, it would carry great weight with the BIA, and insiders tell OKPNS that business leaders and other officials are steamed at the governor, who always goes to great lengths to avoid taking positions on tough issues.

Developing…….

Related:

The Casino and Mr. Chicken

Mickey Leftwings Strikes Again!

June 1, 2008

“Let me begin by citing a few of your statements with which I am in accord (and with which most liberals and progressives also agree)….I also agree it “would be wrong for conservatives to adopt a knee-jerk negative response to tax proposals or spending initiatives.” -Liberal Washington Post Columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr. (5/21/08)

Former Oklahoma Congressman Mickey Edwards, who was run out of town for his involvement in the house banking scandal, is busy today doing what he does best: back-stabbing the Republicans in a liberal setting.

Taking a cue from the Scott McClellan-Benedict Arnold wing of the party, the former Congressman was in the ‘conservative’ Washington Post back in March, slipping the knife into long-time colleague Dick Cheney.

“For at least six years, as I’ve become increasingly frustrated by the Bush administration’s repeated betrayal of constitutional — and conservative — principles, I have defended Vice President Cheney, a man I’ve known for decades and with whom I served and made common cause in Congress. No longer.

For those too young to remember, Edwards is the former Oklahoma 6th-District Congressman who was a principal ‘perp’ in the house banking scandal of 1992. Edwards was one of 22 representatives condemned by the House Ethics Committee after it was revealed he had bounced 386 checks at the House of Representatives bank in 13 months, further illustrating Edward’s elitist reputation for playing by different rules than normal folks.

While many folks like his buddy Vin Weber simply slunk off into the sunset, Edwards had the temerity to try re-election in the 1992 Republican primary, and Oklahoma Republicans fired him as he finished last in a three-way primary that eventually saw Ernest Istook elected to replace the congressman.

Since his firing by the electorate, the humiliated Edwards has held a string of academic positions that allow him to criticize Republicans and dissemble on an unsuspecting public. Just this week, Edwards fabricated an easily-disproved tale when he attempted to fool our readers into believing that uber-liberal billionaire George Soros was not involved with the liberal think tank Aspen Institute. Ironically, Edwards attempted to use Weber, and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, as evidence that the Aspen Institute is “studiously, and carefully, non-partisan and non-ideological.”

From a 2006 Time Magazine article titled: “The Rise and Fall of Ralph Reed”

“For a high-profile religious conservative like Reed, the stories of being paid millions by one Indian tribe to run a religious-based antigambling campaign to prevent another tribe from opening a rival casino made him look like something worse than a criminal–a hypocrite. He had once called gambling a “cancer” on the body politic. And the e-mails to Abramoff didn’t help, especially those that seemed to suggest that the man who had deplored in print Washington’s system of “honest graft” was eager to be part of it. “I need to start humping in corporate accounts!” he wrote Abramoff a few days after the 1998 election.”

So today the bitter and arrogant Edwards is in the Washington Post: Obviously a much better opportunity to fool people than in OKPNS.

Aspen Institute’s “Ghost Commissioner” Says He’s Running. Is It a Negotiating Ploy?

May 31, 2008
As OKPNS predicted, the intrigue regarding the corporation commission races is exploding as Monday’s three-day filing period approaches.

The Aspen Institute’s candidate, incumbent Jeff Cloud, is upping the ante today with an announcement that he is going to file for re-election for the full six-year seat. That has left Chesapeake’s favorite, Jim Roth, scrambling for a deal.

It is common knowledge that Cloud is squatting on the seat in which Chesapeake wants to place Roth. The lethargic Cloud is being wooed by “interested parties” in the private sector so that Roth, who is perceived to be a much brighter and energetic commissioner, can move to the full six-year term.

Today’s announcement gives Cloud leverage to negotiate a better salary, but at least one corporation commission insider says all the scenarios floated by pundits and even OKPNS have got it all wrong for one reason: Cloud’s penchant for slothfulness. “This man has the worst work ethic imaginable. Cloud arrives late, leaves early, have long breakfasts at Classen Grill, and jogs with his dog in the early afternoon. He consistently embarrasses his assistants with his ability to disappear when work beckons and he’s not real quick on the uptake even on the rare occasions when he actually is in the office. The fact is, Cloud wants Denise Bode pay for ghost commissioner work, and nobody wants to pay for that.”

So Cloud may have decided that short hours with little accountability are more important than big bucks with responsibility. But issuing a press release on Friday is a telltale sign that something fishy is going on: it is standard political operating procedure to issue bad news on Friday, and put good news out early in the week. Or perhaps in keeping in character, Cloud was just running behind schedule for his release.

If Cloud is running for real, what becomes of Roth? We know the Roth folks didn’t anticipate Cloud staying in, and reports are they’re freaked out. But this we know: if Roth files against Cloud, it means Cloud has cut a deal, with Cloud dropping out AFTER filing is over. Cloud would remain in the race until after filing to keep Dana Murphy and/or Rob Johnson from following Roth to the six year seat. But if Roth files for the two-year seat, it means Cloud really is staying, unless someone new emerges to take him on.

Developing…………….

Video: Murphey Legislative Update (June 2008)

May 30, 2008

UPDATE: First Amendment Think Tank Misreads Bill; Sends Out Erroneous Press Release

May 30, 2008

We have an update to a story we posted yesterday from The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) which supposedly highlighted serious First Amendment concerns with H.B. 2196, the “Oklahoma Clean Campaigns Act of 2008. The group sent a letter to Governor Brad Henry yesterday expressing their Constitutional concerns with the pending legislation awaiting Henry’s signature.

KTOK Capitol reporter Peter Ruddy provides us with a correction:

As heard on KTOK radio, this group has it all wrong.

They were looking at Senate amendments to the bill, not the enrolled version that is on the governor’s desk.

The House rejected those Senate amendments and sent the bill to a conference committee. In that committee, the bill was changed so that the only thing it deals with is contributions to lawmakers or canidates for the legislature by lobbyists during the session and five days afterwards.

I talked with the spokesman for the Center for Competitive Politics and he was not aware the bill had been changed.

You can see for yourself by going to http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.u…tatus/ main.html and reading the nerolled version of the bill which is on the governor’s desk.

Or you can take the word of someone in Washington who puts out a press release.

Your choice.

Peter J. Rudy

KTOK Radio

State Capitol reporter

Cong. Edwards Responds to OKPNS

May 30, 2008

By Hon. Mickey Edwards

I suppose if one is going to screw up, it’s best to make it a real doozy. As OKPNS did with its really strange blog about Jeff Cloud — a blog that somehow managed to get absolutely nothing right.

According to OKPNS, Jeff Cloud is a member of an ultra-liberal Aspen Institute, which, also according to OKPNS, is a front for left-wing financier George Soros.

Actually, not to let facts get in the way, but George Soros is not connected in any way, directly or indirectly, or even remotely, to the Aspen Institute. The Institute is not only not liberal but is studiously, and carefully, non-partisan and non-ideological. that is, in fact, its essence.

Jeff (just a minor mistake)is not a member of the institute. That’s because the Institute has no members. Rather he was selected to be a part of a program for outstanding young elected officials which is run by Aspen Institute Vice President Mickey Edwards, a former member of the Republican leadership in Congress, a former national chairman of the American Conservative Union, Chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, a founder of the Heritage Foundation, and Director of Policy Task Forces for Ronald Reagan’s Presidential campaign. Participants in the program are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, including, by the way, some very conservative Republicans. Among the people whose works they study when they come together are Milton Friedman, John Locke, and James Madison. Oh, and Ronald Reagan. Now that would be a strange thing for George Soros to be supporting, don’t you think?

Walter Isaacson, who by the way is not a liberal (OKPNS got that wrong, too), is president of the Institute (that was right), and its board members include people like Newt Gingrich’s close friend and ally Vin Weber, a former conservative congressman who is one of George W. Bush’s closest advisers (and helped manage Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign), and Robert Steel, one of the top officials in George W. Bush’s Labor Department. At least 25 prominent Republicans are members of the advisory committee for the program in which Jeff participates, including Ralph Reed, former director of the Christian Coalition, and former conservative congressman and Reagan ally Jack Kemp.

I haven’t checked to see whether the date at the top of the blog was accurate; if it was, it was the only thing in the blog that was.

Mickey Edwards

Mickey Edwards, a lecturer at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, was a Republican member of Congress from Oklahoma for 16 years (1977-92). He was a member of the House Republican leadership and served on the House Budget and Appropriations committees. Since leaving the Congress he has taught at Harvard, Georgetown, and Princeton universities and has chaired various task forces for the Constitution Project, the Brookings Institution, and the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition, he is currently an advisor to the US Department of State and a member of the Princeton Project on National Security. His book, Reclaiming Conservatism (Oxford University Press), comes out in March 2008.

First Amendment Think Tank: "Oklahoma Clean Campaigns Act" Poses Serious First Amendment Concerns

May 29, 2008

Oklahoma Bloggers Beware!

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) highlighted serious First Amendment concerns in H.B. 2196, the “Oklahoma Clean Campaigns Act of 2008,” in a letter the educational group sent today to Governor Brad Henry. The bill would make it a crime for any person to intentionally participate in the dissemination of false political advertising. The engrossed bill currently awaits the governor’s signature or veto.

CCP is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to protect the First Amendment political rights of speech, assembly and petition. If enacted, the bill “would place a chill upon political speakers of all varieties and undermine the robust nature of political debate in Oklahoma,” writes CCP president Sean Parnell in the letter to the governor. While truth in political speech is important, the specific provisions of the bill, “puts the government in the position of determining what constitutes ‘truth’ in an arena where what is ‘truth’ is itself often the focus of fierce debate,” Parnell counsels.

The bill relies on a vague standard that “allows the State to determine the ‘truth’ of any communication that relates to the ‘character, voting record or acts of the candidate,'” Parnell continues. “Statements about the ‘character’ of a candidate are more opinion than fact; they are characterizations. A governmental system that determines the ‘truth’ of a characterization, under penalty of law, is a standard so vague and overbroad that to enforce it would chill speech of every variety.”

Parnell notes that in an opinion overturning a similarly crafted Washington state law last year the Washington State Supreme Court wrote, “the notion that the government, rather than the people, may be the final arbiter of truth in political debate is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment.”

“As the Supreme Court of Washington aptly put it, a provision like the Oklahoma proposal ‘naively assumes that the government is capable of correctly and consistently negotiating the thin line between fact and opinion in political speech,'” Parnell concludes.

EXCLUSIVE: Commissioner Jim Roth Arrested for DUI in ’95; Resolution of Case a Mystery

May 29, 2008

Monday June 2nd begins Oklahoma’s filing period for elective offices, and thanks to the proliferation of blogs, Oklahomans will have more information about candidates than ever before.

Some of the information will be items that the old and slow media, dogged by conflicts of interest from their wealthy owners, simply will not share with their readers, listeners and viewers. Some information will get altered, due to people like Mike Turpen, who tried to kill an extraordinary, and true, story that was damaging to his buddy Drew Edmondson. Some information is tainted, as exemplified by Turpen continually pimping his clients, without disclosing that fact to his viewers on the formerly respected political affairs show Flashpoint.

Further, with the slow and lazy Oklahoma media, the last minute dirty trick has become standard operating procedure. Responses through traditional media seldom are successful. Sometimes the press makes value judgments that a particular claim is in fact a dirty trick when it is not: the press erred when it did not take seriously Gary Jones’ campaign claims about disgraced Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan. The press didn’t do its job, and the voters did not have the information they deserved before they re-elected McMahan. Some watchdog, huh?

But there’s also the clever tactic some candidates use when, in the rare occasions the press actually does their job and uncovers real character issues, to denigrate the information by actually employing the ‘victim’ mode: “they’re throwing mud,”as the saying goes.

At OKPNS, we think open and vigorous discussion is what the votes deserve. After yesterday’s revelations about Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud’s ties to the George Soro’s radical-left Aspen Institute, it seems another issue that could dog corporation commission elections is beginning surfacing.

OKPNS has obtained a copy of an arrest report that is being circulated. Commissioner Roth was arrested December 12, 1995 after 2 AM in a section of town known for its gay nightlife. Roth was arrested for DUI and following too closely. He refused the arresting officer’s request for the “implied consent request,” most likely a blood or breathalyzer test, and he was accompanied by Joe Mark Elkouri, a special municipal judge, who according to the arresting officer’s report, appears to bargain with the officers to make the officer “forget this happened.” The officer refused, and called in a supervising official. Elkouri died less than a year later after what the paper referred to as a lengthy illness.

It should be noted that the report by the arresting officer is in a public document that represents the officer’s opinion that Roth was intoxicated. There are no attachments to the documents detailing how the case was adjudicated, and there is no indication from the report that Roth was involved in the effort to make the officer “forget this happened.”

Excerpt from the police report. (Click here, here, and here to read entire report. Click on image to enlarge)

“(Elkouri) then stated to this officer, “There must be something I can do to make you forget this happened.” I informed(Elkouri) that there was nothing he could do and that (Roth) was under arrest for DUI. (Elkouri) continued to state that he was a special judge and that (Roth) should not be arrested.”

Undoubtedly, this document would have surfaced in the late hours of either the primary or general election. Now it’s out in the open, regardless, the public will, and Roth’s opponents, will demand an explanation for his behavior.

Some will say the incident, which happened in December 1995, is unfair to Roth because it was so long ago. That’s non-sense. It’s been nearly 40 years since Chappaquiddick, and Sen. Kennedy is yet to come clean. George W. Bush was hit with a DUI revelation less than 48 hours before the 2000 election. There were no Democrats screaming foul on that night. The public deserves to know, and Roth deserves time to make that explanation.

Developing………

Wilson Research Strategies May National Political Environment Assessment.

May 29, 2008

Wilson Research Strategies recently released its May 2008 edition of the National Political Environment Assessment. This edition analyzes this fall’s match up between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain. Here are a few quotes from the report:

“Despite reports in the press about the “revolutionary” status of Barack Obama, current data points to an election that could look much like 2000 and 2004.”

“Compounding the problem with nationalizing an election is the fact that independent voters have not gotten the message they’re supposed to dislike Obama. In fact, Obama’s standing with independents is almost as strong with Democrats.”

“McCain and Republicans continue to enjoy a significant advantage with voters on trust and to handle terrorism. Obama has gained since February.”