Sunday, October 11, 2015

Who should be the Oklahoma Republican Party Chair?

This afternoon (Sunday, October 11th, 2015) a replacement will be chosen for Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman. I was a supporter of the former Chairman, Randy Brogdon, and was sorry to see him resign, but he certainly had reason to walk away from the pressure and the attacks. I wish him the best, and thank him both for his service, and for appointing me to the State Budget Committee. I was able to see things from the "inside" due to this appointment. Chairman Brogdon deserves a great deal of gratitude from all Republicans for pulling the official Party out of the red and into the black. He accomplished more than should have been expected for such a short tenure, at great personal sacrifice. The sacrifice of his staff was even more enormous, and they have my personal gratitude - and always will.

All activists should think long and hard before allowing those who ran things into the ground back into any positions of authority, especially concerning finances. If a political party cannot govern its own affairs, why should the public support it on election day? The answer is, the public should not. If people are more concerned by their own power and advancement you should definitely beware. That describes a large number of people in politics. Which brings me to our election today.

The election of the new State Chair will be done by members of the State Committee. Members of this committee include up to four people elected by county parties - County Chair, County Vice Chair, State Committeeman, State Committeewoman (although I think we changed those last two to be State "Committeepersons"). Then you have elected members of the legislature (State Representatives and Senators) plus federal legislators (7 of those, US House and US Senate), and statewide elected officials (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, etc). Add to that mix the most recent past Chair (Randy Brogdon) and a few others, and you get something around 450 people. They're going to meet at Oklahoma City Community College to vote on three candidates.

Now that we know who votes, and when, there is a little bit more - how. There is a thing called a "proxy", which means "I can't be there so here's my vote, you get to cast it for me based on your own best opinion". You can use a proxy in a GOP Committee but not a Convention. You can also only hold up to 7 proxies - and you can only hold one state senator (the one you can vote for on election day ONLY) and one state house member (again the one you can vote for on election day). If anyone tries to vote two state house member proxies, that person should be stripped of both of them and escorted from the building, since they are attempting to cheat. And cheating is a big deal, since this position is an ENORMOUSLY IMPORTANT one. How important, you ask?

The State Chair - of each state - is a member of the Republican National Committee. There are three people from each state (National Committeeman and National Committeewoman are the other two) who hold these position. Along with the 3 from each territory, they govern the Republican Party between each National Convention, which is held every four years - and that is where we elect our nominee for President. The RNC controls the convention as well, and money, and lots and lots of other behind the scenes things. In the state, the Chair manages the Party on a daily basis, gets paid to do so (although Randy Brogdon did not take a salary while the party was in debt, to his immense credit), and does a number of other things. One of those things is organize and manage the creation of a "slate" of candidates to be delegates to the next National Convention, which is next year. There are 25 on that slate, along with 25 alternates, out of the total of 43 Oklahoma carries. So the new Chair will be one of 43 votes for President, and have a lot of control over who 25 others are that cast that vote as well. Now you know why this is important. This brings us to the candidates.

Robert Hubbard of Canadian County, Pam Pollard of Oklahoma County, and Estela Hernandez of Oklahoma County are the announced candidates today. Robert is a long time activist, successful two time county chair, and current district chair (think US Representative District). Pam Pollard is a long time activist and former staff member of elected Republicans, and has held so many positions it would take another article to enumerate them all. Both of these candidates, in my opinion, have the experience to be a State Chair. Estela Hernandez started going to conventions, from what I can tell, in 2013. She was a county officer for one term, and was appointed to the Oklahoma County Executive Committee for the 2013/2014 term. She was elected as State Vice Chair in 2015. Her limited experience is not enough for this important and difficult position, although her willingness to serve is admirable. 

Regarding ability, both Hubbard and Pollard have demonstrated the ability to manage organizations and have a history and track record of success. Hernandez is an unknown in this regard, although her family business could be pointed to as a model of success - but that is a much different thing than dealing with an all-volunteer army of people. You can't fire a volunteer, or write them up, or berate them. It takes a certain demeanor and approach to be successful in this area, and she just doesn't have the track record here.

Another major category to consider is the ability to build coalitions. Again, both Hubbard and Pollard have shown a level of competence and skill here. Hernandez, sadly, has not. Her short tenure in a leadership role (as Vice Chair) has been marred by major infighting with the previous Chair, and she has lacked the ability or will to work with others beyond the faction that has been backing her and promoting her to higher things. She is a polarizing figure, rather than a uniting one. This is fine, even admirable in a candidate for elected office, but not what you want in a party office.

Sadly, some have tried to make this about the race of Estela Hernandez. That is ridiculous - if anything, her race has benefited her. Most of us don't care what your race is, and those of us that identify with the "liberty wing" of the GOP are the most colorblind of all - unless you try to use your race as a reason to advance, and not your ability. That is a trick of the democrats, and she has used it. For this reason alone I would not support her. 

The other major issue is one of character. There are some nasty things that have been going around, and mailed out to voting members of this committee. I don't know what is not true among those things. I do know that there is a recording of a meeting where Randy Brogdon was accused of yelling at her and treating her very poorly, and it completely and totally refutes that. A radio station in Tulsa listened to it, and then interviewed her. They caught her fabricating what happened - and that is unforgiveable. It looks very much like Estela Hernandez was actively working to undermine the previous Chair, which I believe is grounds for her removal from office. That is up to the State Committee to decide, should they choose to do so. This taped conversation and the radio interview are now public, from what I understand, should anyone wish to review them.

So, in my mind there are two candidates with the qualifications for the office. I have known both for a number of years, and get along with both of them well. If I were voting today, I would vote for Robert Hubbard, because I think he would be a more uniting force in the party. He is someone who has the ability to build coalitions, and gets along with just about everyone. I don't know of any enemies he has, either. As a side note, I will just announce here that I am formally resigning from the Budget Committee, since I was appointed under Chairman Brogdon. If the next Chair wishes my help, they all know how to contact me. Regardless of the outcome, the winner has a massive task ahead of them.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Vaccines and Oklahoma Law

There is great debate on the subject of vaccinations. Among the numerous issues of contention is the subject of legally requiring children to receive particular and specific vaccinations. It should be noted that all rights in the United States are individual rights, so those are what are specifically addressed in “the law”. In a republic, the “Rule of Law” means that if one person has a right, the majority cannot violate that legally. This is very different from a democracy, where the majority can violate whatever “rights” they wish as long as they have 50% + 1 vote for it. Here are a few applicable standards and laws. The laws are specific to the State of Oklahoma.


While the percentage of doctors who are members of the American Medical Association is hard to come by (and is likely about 20-30% range based on THIS article), it is a resource for a number of things including the AMA Code of Medical Ethics. From Opinion 8.08 – Informed  Consent:

Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor, unless the patient is unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting and harm from failure to treat is imminent.


While not a law, the Nuremburg Code is a set of ten ethical guidelines related to medical experiments, which resulted from the nightmarish treatment of concentration camp prisoners by Nazi Germany during WWII. The first of these 10 is of particular note, and addresses the idea of “Informed Consent”:

1.       The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.
This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment.
The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.
It is true that Oklahoma State Law requires certain vaccinations. It is also true that exemptions exist for medical, religious, and philosophical reasons. You read that correctly – if someone objects just “because”, they can tell the school in writing, on any form they wish, that they are exempting the children. The State and any subdivision (including the school) has no power to “grant” the exemption – the LAW already states this is the right of a parent. Here is the actual text of the law:

§ 1210.192. Exemptions 
Any minor child, through the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the child, may submit to the health authority charged with the enforcement of the immunization laws of this state:
1. A certificate of a licensed physician as defined in Section 725.2 of Title 59 of the Oklahoma Statutes, stating that the physical condition of the child is such that immunization would endanger the life or health of the child; or 
2. A written statement by the parent, guardian or legal custodian of the child objecting to immunization of the child; whereupon the child shall be exempt from the immunization laws of this state. 

In 2014, a law known as the “Parental Bill of Rights” was passed by the Oklahoma Legislature, and signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin. It even passed the State Senate with a unanimous vote. It has several sections that are a wonderful affirmation of the rights of parents, but relevant to this subject is Section 4. It is actually Title 25, Section 2004 in Oklahoma Law, and is says (in part):

A.       Except as otherwise provided by law, no person, corporation, association, organization, state-supported institution, or individual employed by any of these entities may procure, solicit to perform, arrange for the performance of, perform surgical procedures, or perform a physical examination upon a minor or prescribe any prescription drugs to a minor without first obtaining a written consent of a parent or legal guardian of the minor.


In summation, if something is mandated by law, there is no “consent” to that thing. It is just force that compels submission to the will of the State. Consent implies a decision to say “yes” or “no”. Oklahoma State Law does not require any specific reason for exempting a child from vaccination; that is up to the discretion of the parent and is not anyone else’s business. The only requirement is that it be in writing (and that does not require a form, although there is one if you ask for it). In the end, you have the power to decide what medical treatments you and your children receive. Any questions about the efficacy, safety,  liability, or scheduling of vaccination (and any other medical treatments for children) should be, and legally are, only to be decided by the parents – as it should be in a free society.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Stand for Liberty - Stand with new OKGOP Chairman Randy Brogdon

Last Saturday, April 11th, Randy Brogdon was elected as Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. Most of us call the GOP home, since it is the most supportive major party in the cause of Liberty - but we don't always feel welcome. The new Chairman is a friend of Liberty, and was even the 2012 honorary Co-Chair of Ron Paul's Oklahoma campaign. This is a major step forward for us all, and a very positive development in the state Republican Party.
I would like to point out a few things about just how big this is:
• The Chairman of the OKGOP is one of three Oklahoma members of the Republican National Committee. 
• The Chairman of the OKGOP is a National Delegate, unbound, for 2016. 
• The Chairman of the OKGOP appoints a large number of positions within the Party, for such things as the Executive Committee, the Finance Committee Chair and Vice Chair, State Treasurer, Secretary, General Counsel, and Assistant Treasurer. 
• The Chairman of the OKGOP appoints the 2016 State Convention Rules Committee, Credentials Committee, and Platform Committee Chairs.
As you can see, this is HUGE. We need to do all that we can to support and help Chairman Brogdon (and Vice Chair Estela Hernandez, also newly elected) to make his tenure as successful as possible. To that end, There are two huge things we need to do:
• DONATE - join the Minutemen, for as little as $8.25 a month. The previous Chairman left the GOP in debt, and we need to fix that ASAP. 
• VOLUNTEER - we need to show up, and make each and every event put on by the OKGOP successful, well run, and positive. This is something we have a lot of ability to do, and we need to do it. 
There are times we all get tired of the "game" of politics. There are other times that are inspirational, and this is one of those times. I strongly encourage you to stand with Chairman Brogdon, support him, and join the Minutemen. Here is the link:
In Liberty,

Steve Dickson

Friday, October 31, 2014

Preferences and Predictions - 2014 General Election, Oklahoma

We believe in limited government, individual liberty, and personal moral responsibility.
-          First sentence, 2013 Oklahoma Republican Party Platform

Absentee ballot in hand, my thoughts wander all over the map. 

How will I vote, on all these races big and small? Judges and ballot questions, what should I do? I know I read the recommendations by *insert trusted source here* but I’m not sure.

Here are my thoughts on my personal ballot, along with my prediction for these races.

Straight Party Ticket
Not this time. Not ever again.                                           

Governor
My default position is to vote Republican. Mary Fallin is a Republican, and has been for many years. She was a State Representative, a Lieutenant Governor, a US Congresswoman, and is now running for re-election. That is a whole lot of record to run on – and not all of it good. I know four things about her I can say with certainty:

1.       She has held office for a long, long time. I don’t like that, most of the time.
2.       She voted for TARP in 2008. For those of you who forgot, that was the bailout of the “too big to fail” financial institutions. She should have resigned in shame after that vote.
3.       She is supposed to be “conservative”, but I will never vote for her again. See number 2.
4.       She can be pushed to do the right thing. See Common Core, or expanding federal intrusion into health care. This is the opposite of inspiring confidence in her conservatism and/or leadership. I wonder if she can be pushed into doing the wrong thing? Sometimes, she does that all on her own – see her policies on “vaping” and anything related to tobacco. Also see number 2.

I expect her to be better than Joe Dorman would be. I don’t know the independents in the race, and probably should, but I will be skipping a vote here (no vote at all). She will win this race but by a much smaller margin than she should – and many, many activists will join me in rejecting her. She is a massive disappointment to many of us.

Lieutenant Governor
Todd Lamb – easy call. Cathy Cummings seems like a nice lady, but she is an Obama Democrat.

Superintendent of Public Instruction
WOW what a hard decision. I was all set to vote for Joy Hofmeister, and then I read what Linda Murphy had to say about this race. I really wanted her to run for this in the beginning, but it was not to be. My friends at Restore Oklahoma Public Education have made their preference known (Hofmeister). I will be voting for her, but I definitely understand the position of Murphy and I think a lot of Republicans will join her. I think she wins, but not by much and this is the best chance the Democrats have for the night.

Commissioner of Labor
Mark Costello – easiest vote of the night. Commissioner Costello has an excellent grasp of the limited government philosophy, an extensive and personal knowledge of private business, and is his own man. He serves out of a sense of duty and principle, and does a great job because of it. My favorite statewide elected official!

US Senate
Jim Inhofe – but this is the last time. I agree with the Senator most of the time, but certainly not all of the time. On the off chance he reads this list, I would make two points. First, you have been in office for a long, long time. It is time to retire – no man should spend more than two decades in Washington DC. You backed 12 year term limits for the Senate – in 1994. Second, I appreciate your support of a strong national defense. I would like you to consider the massive impact our military actions around the world have on the federal budget, and how that makes us a much weaker nation. A truly strong United States does not have or need hundreds of overseas bases. In fact, our interventionism is Wilsonian and Progressive/Communist in the eyes of many liberty Republicans. He will win big – probably the biggest margin of the night.

US Senate, unexpired term
No vote. I will not vote for James Lankford. His trust in the government, as demonstrated in this video clip, is truly stunning. He just doesn’t get it – our government is out of control, and the job of Congress is to dial it back. You don’t get to decide to protect us by sacrificing our liberty, regardless of what some NSA or CIA flunky has told you. End the secrets, and end the police state – if you support the 2nd but not the 4th, you have failed. He will win big.

5th Congressional District
Steve Russell. My opinion has been changed on Mr. Russell, and I will vote for him with cautious optimism. Several people I have great respect for have had in depth conversations with me about this race, and convinced me of my vote. I hope that my previous concerns are incorrect, but time will tell – Mr. Russell will win in convincing fashion.

Oklahoma County Treasurer and Oklahoma County Commissioner, District 3
Both Mr. Freeman and Mr. Vaughn endorsed Democratic Sheriff John Whetsel in 2012. This is unforgivable for many reasons (which I have already detailed in other columns, see here and here and here and here and here).  While I won’t be voting for the Democrats, I will certainly never vote for either of these two again (or the others who back Whetsel). No vote for me, but I expect they will both win.

Judges
I generally vote against all the incumbents. “When in doubt, vote them out”. I will specifically vote to fire every State Supreme Court member, until they are all replaced. We need term limits on judges in this state (and it is exceedingly arrogant to claim we need their experience on the bench to run things the right way. Things are run the wrong way in our judicial system, and those on the bench are responsible in large part for that condition.) They will all be retained, in spite of me.

State Questions

769 – this question allows “those serving state office of trust or profit to also hold certain military positions”. I will part ways with most people who read this and say VOTE NO. We have this thing called “separation of powers” and I like it. If you hold a legislative or judicial office, I don’t want you holding an executive branch one as well – like a military commission. Pick one. There are plenty of other people who can fill the office you give up, you are not special because you got elected. You are replaceable by anyone in the state that is not a felon.

770 – this one allows a homestead exemption for disabled veterans. I am tempted to advocate a “no” vote because I oppose all property taxes, and if we grant exemptions for certain groups – even deserving groups like disabled veterans – we will never get rid of property taxes. Oh well, since that is not going to happen, I will support chipping away at the amount of rent the government charges us for “our” land. Because if you have to pay property taxes on land, or the government takes it away from you, then you don’t actually own it, do you?

771 – I will vote for this, and I have the same reservations as SQ770 (we should just eliminate property taxes altogether for everyone, so you can actually own your land instead of rent it from the State). This one deals with homestead exemptions for surviving spouses of military personnel who die in the line of duty. I can hardly think of a more worthy group to exempt. Well, except I would exempt everyone from property taxes by eliminating them entirely for everyone, but that is a moot point and not on the ballot. This (and 770) will pass with huge margins.

National note 

If you live in the State of Mississippi, please vote for anyone but Thad Cochran. I figure we can spare a few races and still take the Senate, and he is an epic scumbag that defrauded his way to the nomination. He should go to prison for what his campaign did in the runoff election.

Limited government – maximum Liberty!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Case for a Caucus

Primary elections (and a runoff election of note) were held on June 24th in numerous states. Candidates for office were chosen to represent various political parties. The voters spoke one way or another. Millions of dollars were spent. The airwaves were clogged with advertisements, the mailboxes with literature, and the streets with signs. All of this should be changed, and here is why.

The purpose of a primary election is to select candidates for the general election. In many states, such as Oklahoma, the primary is "closed", meaning only those who are registered to vote Republican by a certain date may vote in the primary election. The reason for this restriction is that the primary election is the process to select the candidate that will represent that political party - and the platform, beliefs, values and virtues of that party - in the general election. In other states, there is an "open" primary, meaning anyone registered to vote can cross party lines (which obviously can present some serious problems).

Problem #1: Campaign Finance

In a "closed" primary state, frequently whoever spends the most money wins. While spending money is certainly an expression of free speech and should not be restricted politically, "purchasing" elections is a serious issue. There are two major Supreme Court decisions that have dramatically changed the landscape of elections. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission freed independent groups such as labor unions, corporations and associations to spend whatever they want on an election - as long as it is independent of the candidate's campaign. McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission struck down aggregate donations to political parties and candidates - meaning, there is no longer a cap on what an individual can donate (it was $117,000 for every two years to national parties plus federal candidates, with $46,200 of that being to candidates and the rest to a political party). Both of these decisions are good Constitutional rulings. The left frequently complains we need to reform "campaign finance" and "campaign spending", but they would do so at the expense of our Liberty. There is another way, which will be addressed shortly, that decreases the impact and influence of donations when choosing who the Party will nominate for office. The sad result is this - our elections have become auctions.

Problem #2: The Platform

A political Party (think Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or others) is a private association that organizes to advance political leaders who adhere to their Platform. The Platform is the statement of principles, that theoretically will tell you where a candidate stands on most things. In the Oklahoma Republican Party, for example, each Precinct (there are about 2500 in the state) can write their own "planks" for the Platform. At the County Conventions (77 of them) the "planks" are put together by a "Platform Committee" and then voted on by the Convention. The Platform can - and frequently is - amended (or changed) prior to final passage by the County Convention. At the State Convention, the County Platforms are blended together by the State Platform Committee to come up with the State Platform. It is then voted on - after amendments - by the State Convention. All the people in precincts are volunteers, putting forward their time to make a difference. The precincts choose the delegates to the county conventions, and the county convention delegates choose the delegates to the State Convention. Sadly, no candidate has any obligation to pay attention to any of this, nor are they bound in any way to the Platform.

Problem #3: Private vs. Public

The Republican Party is a private association. The Democratic Party is a private association. The State of Oklahoma pays for them to choose their nominees for office. Let that sink in for a moment. Why does the State pay for a private association to hold an election? This should make almost everyone mad - especially anyone who is an Independent. In some states, due to election law, voters from one party are allowed to vote in the other party primary. Obviously, this brings up a whole new set of problems - but it can only occur when the State pays the bill for the elections.

Solutions

A Caucus could be used to select nominees at Party conventions. The name submitted by the respective Party would then be the only one on the ballot with a "D" or an "R" after their name - and they would reflect the Platform of that party, since they would be chosen by the same people who created the Platform. Since the Parties are private associations, it would be up to them, separately, to decide exactly how they conduct their business. Anyone who wishes to file for office could do so - but only as an Independent. All Independents would appear on the General Election ballot (in November) along with the nominee of each Party. Sound familiar? It should - it is how we determine who will be on the ballot for President of the United States.

A transition to such a system would require some time. It would probably be best accomplished with certain positions - such as all the statewide elected offices, and the US Senators. Candidates for Congress could be selected at the District Conventions (the Oklahoma Republican Party currently holds these every four years to select delegates to the National Convention, but that could be relatively easily changed to every two years). Countywide office nominees could be easily selected at County Conventions. The greatest difficulty in Oklahoma lies with the State Legislature - there are no State Senate or State House Conventions. To complicate this, many of these offices cross county boundaries, so you can't do them at County Conventions. A possible solution would be to do the nominating at the State Convention - and to follow the original federal model, modified for the state. Here is an outline of a potential Oklahoma plan, with state legislators thrown in:

  1. Select Presidential nominee at the discretion of the party - current Republican National Convention Delegates are chosen at District Conventions (3 from each of the 5 districts, along with the same number of alternates, and the Electoral College Electors and Alternates) and the State Convention (25 delegates, 25 alternates, plus Electors and Alternates), and the three members of the Republican National Committee, which are the State Chairman, National Committeeman, and National Committeewoman. The Democratic Party has a different process, but they have one.
  2. Select Governor and other statewide office nominees at state party conventions.
  3. Select US Senator nominees at state party conventions.
  4. Select US House nominees at district party conventions.
  5. Select countywide nominees at county party conventions.
  6. Select State Senate nominees at state convention, with the state convention divided by state sentate districts. 24 potential nominees every two years.
  7. Select State House nominees by popular vote election (current system) until such time as the public becomes familiar with and accustomed to the new system, then implement State House District convention process every two years. Set a timeline for this to take effect.
  8. All Independent candidates for any office would continue to be on the November ballot.
  9. Restrict Platform voting to off-election (odd) years.
  10. Restrict Party office elections to off-election (odd) years.
There will be those who object to this plan because it is not democracy. The United States is a Republic, not a Democracy. There is a giant difference between the democratic process and democracy. This proposed solution respects and uses the democratic process, many times, but it is republican in form (small "R"). A quote that may or may not have come from Benjamin Franklin, but nevertheless gets the point across, about democracy:

"Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch."

We elect people to represent us - that is what all politicians are. Right now they represent big money donors, corporations, unions, trade associations, consultants, and everyone under the sun - EXCEPT the average person.  If a current office holder is no longer representative of the Party Platform, the involved citizens who are paying attention to things will simply choose another candidate. The candidate would represent the Party, and be chosen by the Party, with a nominating process paid for by the Party. Otherwise, they are actually an "Independent" and there would be no restriction to them running under such a banner. This process would involve people at many levels, and would not restrict them from being involved. Indeed, it would REQUIRE them to be involved. Fortunately, almost the entire structure to accomplish this already exists. To be involved in selecting all the nominees of a party, a person would need to attend the following events (and vote at them):

  1. Precinct meeting
  2. County Convention
  3. District Convention
  4. State Convention
    1. State Senate Caucus every other State Convention
While these four events take time from every day lives - and the State Convention would likely be a two day affair - it is a small price to pay for good government, a reduction of corrupting influences, and shifting the power from big money to citizen involvement. The integrity of the popular vote would remain - in the November general election. The power of incumbency at many levels would be reduced. 

The "R" or "D" after someones name would actually have meaning, and so would the Platform.



Sunday, June 22, 2014

$100 Million reasons Oklahoma college sports fans should pay attention to politics...

How the University of Nebraska Athletic Departments benefited from Oklahoma tax credits

The vast majority of men in Oklahoma are college sports enthusiasts. Whether it is the Oklahoma Sooners, or the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the signs of obsession are impossible to ignore. Football rolls into basketball and that into baseball - and both schools are in the Big 12 Conference (and before that the Big 8). One of the many rivalries in all sports, until recently, was the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The citizens of Oklahoma may be shocked to learn just how they have indirectly funded Nebraska Athletics. While that sounds crazy (and it should), there is a clear trail from Oklahoma City, to Kiowa, Oklahoma, and on to Omaha, Nebraska. In June of 2001, a power plant was announced called the Kiamichi Energy Facility. According to Diamond Generating Corporation, and subsidiary of Mitsubishi, it provides over 30 permanent, well paying jobs and generates an annual payroll, including subcontractor services, of approximately $3 million

The company that built the Kiamichi Energy Facility is called Tenaska. It is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. There are many subcompanies and business units of Tenaska, that perform various functions. HERE is the current list of Leadership. The various executives of this company have been very generous to many different worthy causes, and also to the University of Nebraska (which may or may not be a worthy cause depending on where you live). This is easy to do when the State of Oklahoma is giving so much money away.

There is a law that pertains to the subject of this article: Title 68, Chapter 1, Article 23, Section 2357.4. That is a very complicated way of saying "Tax Credit for Investments". As you can see from THIS LINK, certain people have received many of these tax credits. Another place, that accesses the State of Oklahoma records for tax credits and corporate welfare (I mean "economic development") is Subsidy Tracker. Here is who they are, how much they received in tax credits, what year they are for, and what ties they have to the University of Nebraska:

Howard and Rhonda Hawks
2010 - $10,281,136
2009 - $10,273,546
2008 - $10,265,842


Thomas and Mary Hendricks
2010 - $5,738,607
2009 - $5,734,888
2008 - $5,731,114
2007 - 5,728,345


Michael and Susan Lebens
2010 -  $1,788,821
2009 - $1,786,486
2008 - $1,785,623
2007 - $1,785,623

Paul and Annette Smith
2010 - $1,567,096
2009 - $1,566,080
2007 - $1,564,292

Larry and Linda Pearson
2010 - $1,525,009
2009 - $1,524,020
2008 - $1,523,016
2007 - $1,521,776

Neal and Jamie Hawks
Mr. Hawks is the son of Howard Hawks. The Players Lounge inside the Hendricks Training Facility is called the Neal & Jamie Hawks Player's Lounge.
2010 - $1,313,238
2009 - $1,312,085
2008 - $1,310,913
2007 - $1,310,054

Troy and Heather Hawks
2010 - $1,301,658 
2009 - $1,300,512
2008 - $1,299,348
2007 - $1,298,495

Ronald and Terri Quinn
2010 - $1,258,467
2009 - $1,257,652
2008 - $1,256,825
2007 - $1,256,218

Michael and Sharon Lawler
2010 - $1,019,802
2009 - $1,021,407
2008 - $1,018,468
2007 - $1,017,975

Brandon Hendricks
2010 - $900,954
2009 - $900,371
2008 - $899,778
2007 - $899,344

Jennifer and Alfred Hernandez
2010 - $900,954
2009 - $900,370
2008 - $899,778
2007 - $899,343

Darrell and Patricia Hevelhymer
2010 - $769,230
2009 - $768,731
2008 - $768,347
2007 - $767,852

Trudy and Roger Harper
2010 - $600,953
2009 - $600,563
2008 - $600,166

David and Susan  Fiorelli
2008 - $384,947
2007 - $384,737

Frederick and Teresa Hunzeker
2010 - $376,339
2009 - $376,094
2008 - $375,846

The sum total of these tax credits for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 is $103,433,511. That is ONE HUNDRED THREE MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED ELEVEN DOLLARS - for about 30 permanent jobs. The amount that went to people directly tied to the University of Nebraska Athletics Department as donors based on links in this article is more than half of this amount. 

To the University of Nebraska employees, fans and staff, you're welcome! The citizens (and college athletics fans) of the State of Oklahoma have helped to fund your athletic department facilities. The next time someone tells you they are a fan of college athletics in Oklahoma, remind them what they have paid for. Tell them to pay attention, and to root for their new team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. And tell them to keep paying attention to football/basketball/baseball/whatever, but to be sure and not pay attention to politics, or to vote.

Epilogue: Former State Senator Mike Morgan, a Democrat, was charged with 32 counts of mail fraud related to his dealings with Tenaska. He was acquitted of all charges (but found guilty of a single count of bribery in another case). Prosecutors had alleged the $250,000 he was paid by Tenaska from 2004 to 2008 were bribes. The payments were for "professional services" at the rate of $5,000 a month, according to Tenaska executives. Morgan is a  former Senate Pro Tempore (leader of the State Senate).

NOTE - the figures in this article should be accurate but any reader should verify them against the State of Oklahoma's website






Saturday, June 21, 2014

People I would like to vote for but can't...

On June 24th, I will be voting. There are people I would like to vote for, but can't (I don't live in their districts...). Here is that list:

Congress, 3rd District: Robert Hubbard, addressed in THIS column.

Congress, 4th District: Anna Flatt, addressed in THIS column.

State Senate, District 12: JOHN KNECHT. If you have a problem with the State Senate, you can send a message by defeating the State Senate President Pro Tempore, Brian Bingman. Please be aware that our State Senate is where good legislation goes to die, and he is the leader of it. As a bonus, you get a great believer in limited government with rock solid conservative values.

State Senate, District 20: DAN LADD. A.J. Griffin voted for National Popular Vote. That is a deal-breaker.

State Senate, District 22: MARK THOMAS. I know Mark personally, and have seen him stand up, time and again, for conservative Republican principles with a strong healthy respect for individual liberty added to the mix. I can't say enough good things about him. I have not met his opponents, but have this to say about them. One is backed by mysterious groups (Stephanie Bice). That worries me, greatly. The advertisements I have seen on my website, put their by Blogger, ask you to "Stand with Stephanie Bice against Obamacare" and are paid for by "OK United, a project of Catalyst Oklahoma". HERE is a great article about this mysterious group. I should point out that I was one of the people behind STOP, or Stop Obamacare Penalties Now, which advocated nullification of Obamacare by our legislature this spring. Mark was at events. Stephanie Bice was not. The other candidate I don't know, but my daughter does - he teaches school in Deer Creek. I'm going with Mark, who I know and trust.

State Representative, District 10: RANDY BARNETT. I know and like Randy, and while he is more conservative than many of my liberty-leaning friends, he is by far the best candidate in his race.

State Representative, District 31: JASON MURPHEY. Simply one of the best State Representatives we have. He needs to be a Congressman, sooner rather than later.

State Representative, District 38: JASON WARREN. Jason is a strong believer in Constitutional Liberty, and will make an excellent State Representative.

State Representative, District 43: JOHN PAUL JORDAN.

State Representative, District 53: MARK MCBRIDE.

State Representative, District 54: PAUL WESSELHOFT. Mr. Wesselhoft is a thorn in the side of the Establishment at the State Legislature, has a great record there, and has taken some very good principled stands (against drones, against war in Syria). He should be re-elected - and the Chamber of Commerce is going after him. That makes it easy to see he is doing the right thing.

State Representative, District 61: KENNY BOB TAPP. In addition to Mark Thomas, this is the race I would most like to vote in. Kenny Bob is one of the most polite, honest and good men I have ever met. He is the real deal, a true cowboy and rancher. If you picture the character that Sam Elliot always plays, you would not be far from Kenny Bob. STRONG recommend here.

State Representative, District 95: BRENT RINEHART. Mr. Rinehart is a man of great courage, who attempted to challenge the "Tall Building Crowd" of Oklahoma County. After lengthy political persecutions, I would love nothing more than to see him win this race. He would make a good State Representative, and it would be entertaining to say the least watching certain people freak out.

Enjoy your election day!