Getting there is negative half the fun

June 30th, 2006

Today felt like Saturday.

Until I drove to Will Rogers Airport.

At 4 pm.

Via I-40.

Come again another day

June 30th, 2006

There’s always hope.

On this date in weather history

1989: The remains of Tropical Storm Allison dropped copious amounts of rain…
14.66 inches at Oklahoma City, Okla.

Whacking Judge to be penilized

June 30th, 2006

It looks as if history books will have another name to add next to “Hanging Judge“, Isaac C. Parker. Oklahoma’s new “Whacking Judge“, Donald D. Thompson, is sure to garner at least as much attention ’round these parts for a while.

A former judge could be sentenced to four years in prison after being convicted of exposing himself by using a sex gadget while he presided over trials.

The conviction will require Thompson to register as a sex offender and could jeopardize his $7,489.91-a-month pension. Jurors recommended one year in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count.

His former court reporter, Lisa Foster, testified that she saw Thompson expose himself at least 15 times. During one trial in 2002, she said, she heard the pump’s “sh-sh” sound during the emotional testimony of the grandfather of a murdered toddler.

Even if Thompson does get some prison time, it won’t be so bad. He’ll likely come out as an authority on penis pumping. Think of the endorsements.

Blog Oklahoma spins a new web

June 30th, 2006

Blog Oklahoma, my favorite web ring, has had a lobotomy and a new face-lift to boot! The site will celebrate its third anniversary next month (as will Okiedoke), so in Internet years, was getting kind of long-in-the-tooth.

Tom Cole gets little campaign funding from lobbyists

June 29th, 2006

As during the last election year, visits to Okiedoke are beginning to pick up and much of the increase is from people searching for topics related to Oklahoma politics. A few of those are interested in campaign contributions to Rep. Tom Cole, a couple of which specifically noted the oil industry in their search. And for good reason.

A quick look at turns up the top industrial sectors donating to Tom Cole as reported so far for the 2006 election cycle. As searchers expected, donations to Cole from the Oil & Gas industry easily topped the list totaling almost 50% more than the number two biggest industry backing Cole, the Casinos/Gambling sector.

One good thing though, campaign funding from Lobbyists was way down the list at #10 with less than $13,000 reported to date. It’s kind of nice to know that the hundreds of thousands in donations from other industries were not from “lobbyists”.

Raise Oklahoma lowers itself

June 28th, 2006

Last I heard, the going rate for paid petitioners is a buck a signature. So the cost to place an initiative on the Oklahoma ballot in November would cost about $117,000; a pittance to business organizations and most special interest groups. But it looks as if Raise Oklahoma isn’t in their league.

It is with great sadness that we report that we did not collect the necessary number of signatures to make the ballot in November. We fought and we worked and we found so many like-minded Oklahomans who care about our working families. A lot was learned in this campaign. We learned that it takes money and lots of it to run a campaign such as this in such a short time frame.

But that’s not the end of it.

Raise Oklahoma will remain a committee and work to raise the necessary funds and improve our plan in order to resubmit our state question in the near future.

Sounds OK to me. But what’s this?

Born out of this movement of activists, who have expressed their individual frustration of where our party is going politically, is a new umbrella organization. Working Families Project which was formed as a 527 organization will address the issues affecting working families in Oklahoma.

We will bring to the light, votes of legislators who have abandoned working people in Oklahoma. We will work to bring about change in the lives of families in Oklahoma who have gone for too long without any real representation. Our focus will be to hold elected officials accountable to the people in a direct public manner.

We are looking for advisory committee members, finance committee members and members of the Working Families Project. Will you join this important cause where you can bring about real change to Oklahoma? Let’s restore dignity to working families and see that the issues of a increase in the minimum wage, a living wage, affordable healthcare for all, clean campaigns, repealing right to work and making the American Dream available to each of us a reality in the coming years.

Oklahoma working families deserve a voice!

And of course that voice would be the Democratic Party.

Big mistake! To take a single issue, raising the minimum wage – something most Oklahomans can support – and turning it partisan, is a bigger set-back for the cause than the petition drive failing.

Learning about education in Oklahoma

June 28th, 2006

At more than 40% of all state expenditures, education takes the biggest chunk out of the state budget by far. It’s a topic that gets a lot of lip service, especially in election years. (Was there ever a candidate not for jobs and education?) But how much do we really know about the status of Oklahoma’s education system?

Oklahoma is one of 16 southern states making up the Southern Regional Education Board. The SREB compiles and analyzes data to help member states in deciding education policies. Their latest work is a 2006 report (pdf) on Oklahoma’s progress toward its Challenge to Lead program goals. Some tidbits from the Oklahoma report:

  • Oklahoma’s public school enrollment increased by about 5 percent between 1992 and 2002.
  • Oklahoma is projected to have a 2 percent decrease in enrollment by 2012.
  • In 2003, the poverty rate among children in Oklahoma was higher than the national rate and the rate for SREB median states. It was also higher than Oklahoma’s rate in 2000.
  • In 1990, 37 percent of students in Oklahoma were approved for free and reduced-price lunches. By 2004, the percentage had climbed 18 percentage points to 55 percent.
  • Changes in high school graduating classes over the next 12 years in Oklahoma will parallel those in the nation. White students are expected to decline as a proportion of the class from 64 percent in 2006 to 50 percent in 2018. At the same time, black students will decline as a proportion from 10 percent to 8 percent. Hispanic students will grow as a proportion from 6 percent to 17 percent. Other minority groups will grow in proportion from 20 percent to 25 percent, including American Indian students, who will grow as a proportion of all graduates from 19 percent to 23 percent.
  • Eighty-four percent of Oklahoma’s 4-year-old population was enrolled in publicly funded programs.
  • Oklahoma’s suburban youth beat the nation in NAEP reading — but rural youth did not.
  • Oklahoma’s high school graduation rate exceeded the national average.
  • [Oklahoma’s] graduation rate for all racial/ethnic and gender groups met or exceeded the national average except for white female students
  • Oklahoma’s standard diploma requirements specify that all students must take two courses in fine arts.
  • The GED pass rate for Oklahoma surpassed the national average
  • Oklahoma’s college enrollment rate of recent high school graduates in 2002 was lower than the rates in the nation and in SREB states.
  • The percentage of white adults with bachelor’s degrees in Oklahoma trailed the national and SREB percentages. Black adults with bachelor’s degrees equaled the national and SREB percentages. Hispanic adults with bachelor’s degrees equaled the national percentage and trailed the SREB percentage.
  • [S]tandards for fourth-grade students in reading appear to have been lower than the NAEP Basic level in 2005.
  • In 2005, Oklahoma had 122 schools identified as “in need of improvement” — 7 percent of the public elementary and secondary schools in the state.
  • Training and supporting low-performing schools: Oklahoma is providing trained school support teams to deliver research-based training and work on specific issues with school leadership teams in low-performing schools.
  • Oklahoma beat the nation and SREB states in the percentage of high school math teachers certified in mathematics, with 99 percent of teachers certified.
  • The average salary for a beginning teacher in Oklahoma was lower than the averages in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas and higher than the averages in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.
  • In Oklahoma, the average salary for faculty at four-year colleges and universities was $10,770 less than the national average and $6,660 less than the SREB average in 2005.
  • [T]he number of science and technology graduate degrees awarded increased.
  • Too many eighth-graders in Oklahoma were not ready for high school.
  • In Oklahoma, funding for public four-year colleges and universities increased by $152 million (22 percent) from 2001 to 2005. Funding per full-time-equivalent student at public four-year institutions in Oklahoma fell by $397 (4 percent), adjusted for inflation, over the period.
  • In Oklahoma, funding for public two-year colleges increased by $39 million (17 percent) from
  • 2001 to 2005. Funding per full-time-equivalent student at these colleges in Oklahoma decreased by $1,330 (19 percent), adjusted for inflation, over the period.

Plenty of room for improvement, but not too bad for a bunch of poor, hungry Okies.

Tree age nutty

June 28th, 2006

The oldest tree in northwest Oklahoma looks it. Yet, I question the math.

The State Forestry Office cored the tree 25 years ago and estimated its age at that time to be 350 years. That makes the tree now about 385 years old, and the oldest tree in northwest Oklahoma

Or are “tree years” prorated like “dog years”?

Bigots come in all flavors

June 28th, 2006

Brian made a rest stop in Oklahoma.

I went to take a piss, was minding my own business when two imbread redneck hillbillies came in and occupied the urinals on either side of me. The one to my right sneezed… and I though he said queer while he sneezed, ya know the the whole fake sneeze deal. I was sure that I was mistaken. Then he said “Silly faggot, dicks are for chicks!” Next the d-bag to my left piped in with another hateful gay-bashing comment, then the one on my right continued. Ok, I get it. My appearance and fashion choices may be a bit misleading. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone assumed I was gay and I’m ok with that. Some people don’t get out much and are ignorant enough to make those sorts of assumtions. However, to go as far as these two and gay bash someone whom they’ve never even heard speak? They saw me from the back for all of 5 seconds before they had me pigeon-holed as a queer. That takes a few missing chromosomes resulting from a long family tradition of same-family marriage. And they get upset over same-sex marriages, at least gay couples can’t breed. You would thing biggots like that would want them to get married so they would be able to spread their tainted “gay” genes. Backwards ass thinking homophobes. I was really dissapointed that people are that ignorant and hateful.

Funny that Brian assumed these guys at a rest area were from Oklahoma just like they assumed he was gay.

Happiness comes in many colors

June 28th, 2006

Jennifer must get more rain than I do.

How great it is to live in a place where you can not just see rainbows when it rains, but you also get to enjoy beautiful blue skies, lots of green trees, and grass that is mostly green even if you don’t water it. I love Oklahoma. I think I could stay here forever.

Just stay away from the interstate rest areas.