Shine on

April 30th, 2005

Like any other state, Oklahoma has plenty of wildlife hampered by shrinking habitat. And of all the 247 Oklahoma Species of Greatest Conservation Need listed by the Wildlife Dept., from mountian lion to butterfly, one puny little fish is getting the bulk of attention.

Six months proved to be not enough time to figure out the economic impact of protecting a silvery, 2-inch long fish found along 1,200 miles of rivers in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

…the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife] service proposed designating 1,244 river miles, plus 300 feet of land measured out from each riverbank, as critical habitat for the shiner. The areas picked included parts of the Canadian River in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, and the Cimarron River in Kansas and Oklahoma.

You may have already heard about the Arkansas River Shiner. Since its disappearance from 80% of its range in twenty years, it has drawn attention to the degradation of local rivers blamed on low water flows and pollution. It was eventually listed as “threatened” back in 1998, and while there’s no argument on what needs to be done to restore the shiner, there is disagreement on how to do it, or if we even want to. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau is one such group.

Marla Peek, assistant director of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation, said the group was working on a watershed management plan that could spur the shiner’s growth without designation of a critical habitat in Oklahoma.

The farm bureau sued the service over concerns about what impact a habitat designation might have on land used for farming and ranching.

That is the reason for the seven year discussion so far.

I hope the Farm Bureau can come up with a good plan for everybody. But judging from their past of defending irresponsible farming and ranching methods, which end up degrading property owned by all Oklahomans, I have my doubts. And they seem to already have their hands full with another threatened commodity.

Full background by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (pdf)

Okie round-up

April 30th, 2005

camedwards says not to over-estimate blogs.
Dan and Angi join a carnival.
Cutting to the Chase looks at high end blogging.
Fistful of Fortnights admits the blogosphere ain’t what it used to be.
Audience of One has his D-day.
Happy Homemaker offers up a cat.
Shutupdude loves her memes.
The Gleeson Bloglomerate draws upon A Truth Laid Bear.
Library Stories notes a sex change in Internet policy for Enid’s library.
Tower of the Sun says it’s a Christian Air Force.
Program Witch Pages gets a new blog.
Lip Schtick wants a dream interpretation.
Swinging Fists wonders how much film sanitizing is enough?
Mainstream Baptist feels atheists, more than Christians, lack a political voice.
Tulsa Topics chooses right.
OkieMinnie recalls an Earth Day protest littered with irony.
Reflections in d minor censors herself and more.
Oklarama salutes homeboys.
Practical Progressive responds to Bush’s Social Security goals.
Ramblin’ Educat is in the mood to swing.
The Daily Bitch pens a note to Big Momma.
This is not for you puts one between the eyes.
Sooner Politics predicts a Brad Henry re-election.
Redneck Diva is a qualified money manager now.
dustbury weeds through his mail.
Sister Scorpion knows she’s a Muslim.
This is Class Warfare explains how to piss him off.
Torrent of Consciousness has his wife perform.
BatesLine has tips to start a recall petition.
Tropiary dwells on 33.
So Blog Me gets UNreasonable.

OK loves GM, not UAW

April 29th, 2005

Even though General Motors changed their mind about laying off the second shift at their Oklahoma City Assembly plant this June, the OKC Chamber of Commerce is still keeping their ‘OK Loves GM’ campaign going. One of their efforts is to post testimonials from people on ways GM’s local presence has benefited them and/or the community.

But evidently, they don’t want everyone’s testimony. Take Robert for instance:

A week ago I submitted a testimonial to the Chamber of Commerce website but I see that it wasn’t put up. Since they haven’t published it maybe you will here. I am sort of surprised that only one identified UAW member’s comments are posted. Where are the other 2000 comments? In the same memory hole mine ended up in?

“I know many of the UAW members out at the plant. One of the many reasons to love GM is that they brought the UAW down here. As a result every Christmas hundreds of foster children have their presents under the tree due to the UAW’s Women’s Committee “Adopt-A-Child” program. Thousands have benefitted from the untold number of blood drives held at the plant and strongly supported by UAW members who go right back to the assembly line after their donation. When the Murrah Building was bombed UAW members supported the recovery efforts through the UAW Local 1999 Community Service Committee. There are a several scholarships awarded by UAW Local 1999 to students in the community continuing on to college . This is money for advancing the education of our Oklahoma youth that would not otherwise be there.

UAW members are active in political campaigns providing energy, ideas, time, talent and money. Many UAW members contribute to United Way, many give more than their “Fair Share” and every year a UAW member participates as a “loaned executive” in the United Way campaign. Because GM is here the UAW is here. We need to keep them both so our community will continue to reap the benefits of an active and caring UAW workforce.”

Robert probably isn’t aware that, chances are, OKC’s Chamber of Commerce is already working on an OK Hates UAW web page at this moment.

How the weather is

April 29th, 2005

Whether you’re an amateur weather geek like me, a regular geek, or not a geek at all, there’s bound to be something of interest in the Spring 2005 edition of the Oklahoma Climate.

Included in the Spring 2005 issue:

  • Who is the Oklahoma City meteorologist that helped bring down Machine Gun Kelly? Find out in this issue.
  • The ARM/Mesonet science fair continues to enhance science education in Oklahoma.
  • PARMS … does the “M” stand for “Mesonet” or “Mobile”? The world-renowned Mesonet station grows legs!
  • Fall hasn’t cornered the market on beautiful colors. See Oklahoma’s springtime beauty through our eyes (or camera lens).
  • Okay, we had to throw at least ONE storm in this issue. For educators, a classroom exercise about supercells.
  • OCS has created a fantastic new teaching tome: “Explorations in Meteorology.” We give you a preview in this issue.
  • Allergies and Oklahoma go together like Burgers and Fries. Just don’t lay blame on the pretty flowers and shrubs.
  • Spring horticulture tips for lawn and garden enthusiasts.
  • How to prime your garden to ease your allergy ills.
  • An agricultural summary of the winter months.
  • A summary of winter’s weather, including daily highlights.

(Via OCS Mesonet Ticker)

Being special in Altus

April 29th, 2005

One of the advantages of living in a small town is the sense of fellowship. And the Altus Times helps instill that neighborly feel by honoring area residents with a “Special Photo” on the front page of its online Friday edition.

This week’s “Special Photo” is of good old Charlie Romines. Charlie was surprised at his home and a little overwhelmed by all the attention. Mr. Romines was awarded with a stay at the historic Jackson County House in beautiful downtown Altus, with all accommodations paid.

Charlie lives in nearby Headrick and will be leaving for an extended vacation soon. A going away party is being planned at the town square. All are welcome to come out and give Charlie a good send off.

A preliminary hearing conference for Charles Randy Romines is set for May 11.

If you live in the Altus area and want to be featured in a future Altus Times “Special Photo”, email the editor at the Altus Times with your name, address, and any extra special activities you engage in. We’ll be looking for you in the next installment of the Altus Times’ “Special Photo”.

It’s all about trust

April 28th, 2005

I’m anxious to see the amount of money the lottery brings in for education and how it’s used to benefit Oklahoma’s children. But guess I’d better get over that urge.

Legislation that would have required state officials to publicize how lottery funds are spent has stalled in the Oklahoma House of representatives.

“This bill was about open government,” said State Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. “I want to make everyone feel certain that lottery money is being spent as promised.

Senate Bill 695, by State Sen. Angela Monson and Shelton, would have required the state to publish an annual report on lottery revenue and expenditures in major newspapers.

Senate Bill 695 passed the Oklahoma Senate without dissent on a 42-0 vote, indicating wide bipartisan support for the concept, Shelton noted.

The bill also received approval in a House budget subcommittee, but was not granted a hearing before the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

Shelton recently tried to bring Senate Bill 695 directly to the House floor for a vote, but that parliamentary motion was defeated.

As a result, the bill is essentially dead for the remainder of the 2005 legislative session.

What a crazy idea to begin with. If this kind of stuff got started, folks might want to know how all sorts of state funds are spent.

Puppies, kids and oil

April 28th, 2005

The Oklahoma Partisan
Volume 2, Issue 11 (pdf)
(See left hand column ad for login instructions. Clicking on ad takes you to the Oklahoma Partisan archives.)

Driving taxes

April 28th, 2005

Most Oklahomans agree that money needs to be allocated for repair of the state’s neglected roads and bridges. But where should the money come from? We all know it’s got to be taxes, and based on how much they spent to collect petition signatures, the road construction lobby thinks it should be from increases in the state fuel tax.

Gov. Brad Henry scheduled a Sept. 13 statewide special election Wednesday for voters to decide whether to increase fuel taxes and create a trust fund for road and bridge construction and repair.

“I’m glad the governor set a date,” said Neal McCaleb, former state transportation secretary and president of Oklahomans for Safe Bridges and Roads.

“We’re raising money and we’re going to do an advertising campaign and we’re going to inform the public about transportation issues,” McCaleb said. “We’re going to do a full-court press.”

The group obtained 289,082 signatures, 69,518 more than was needed to force a vote.

The 5 & 8 cent per gallon tax increase is estimated to raise up to $150 million per year. Evidently, legislators don’t agree.

The group backed a statewide vote last year after lawmakers killed proposed fuel tax hikes three years in a row.

Well, if we don’t raise taxes, what other options do we have? It’s not like we have a half billion dollars sitting around. House Speaker Todd Hiett:

“In a year when we have more than half a billion dollars in surplus revenue, we must give some of that money back to taxpayers,” said Hiett. “It would be wrong to simply spend all that money.”
-House media

However, it would be right to dish out that money disproportionately to the wealthiest Oklahomans, and then create additional taxes that would impact those folks with more modest incomes the most.

That’s how it’s done folks.

Wanted: Dead or alive

April 28th, 2005

Our rare pet bird, Woody, escaped from his cage yesterday and I need your help in locating him. He was last seen headed east at a high rate of speed. We’ve had reports of a possible sighting in this area.

The reason we ask for him dead or alive is that we were planning to have him stuffed and placed on our mantle next week anyway. He’s kind of sentimental to us as we raised him from since he was a baby after I shot his mother and father when they nested in a nearby tree and wouldn’t stop their incessant tapping.

Kerr-McGee could use a tax break

April 27th, 2005

Since the price of oil is only $54 a barrel, and the state is flush with money, legislators see the need to dish out more tax breaks to the oil industry. (NewsOK reg.req.) Of course, some folks disagree.

There’s HB 1715:

education officials complained the bill removes at least $50 million in ad valorem taxes that currently go to schools and other property tax recipients.

And HB 1588:

which would give a gross production tax break to companies that are drilling gas wells at or below 15,000 feet. Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D- Durant, said the bill would reduce state revenues by $17.2 million.

There is good justification for this shifting of the tax burden to working folks though. Profit growth for Oklahoma energy companies is less than what they like.

Oil and gas producer Kerr-McGee Corp.’s quarterly earnings more than doubled, driven by rising output and surging oil and natural gas prices, the company said on Wednesday.

See what I mean? How’d you like to have to pay taxes on those kind of profits? Plus, they could put the tax savings to good use.

Kerr-McGee two weeks ago unveiled a proposal to buy back up to $4 billion of its stock, sell some shorter-life assets and expand its hedging program to lock in higher energy prices.

Still not convinced? Well, according to some analysts, state legislators also want to permanently reduce the top income tax rate for some of us regular folk too.

The Republican-led House wants to permanently reduce the top income tax rate from 6.65 percent to 6.25 percent, which would cost $108 million each year.

The Democrat-led Senate has proposed raising the standard deduction over a period of years to the amount allowed by the federal government. The projected cost: $252 million.

The plan to cut the top income tax break would mean a tax cut of only $9 on average and would mainly benefit the wealthy

Other tax-cut plans, including proposed tax breaks to the oil industry, could increase the amount of lost revenue needed for critical state services to more than $600 million each year

You may appreciate this more when your income doubles.