Sunday, March 30, 2014

4 Serious Questions About Tulsa County Govt.

A hard look at Tulsa County Government

  Why does the Tulsa County Government want to be the solution to problems they don't own?

If cities see a municipal need, shouldn't they go to their own voters? 

  Shouldn't cities keep control of their own projects?
Vision 2025 was almost completely a collection of capital projects for  individual cities. Is the county supposed to become the hired fundraiser for cities who want a civic center?

  Why are the county commissioners so silent about the abuse and failure of the state government?

  When the state closes mental hospitals, why does the jail become the only solution?

  And when the state refuses to take inmates who've violated state law, why should the counties have the cost of caring for them?

Why should the counties build the prison housing for the state?

  Not one public Tulsa county statement about lack of state mental health deficits have been recorded in recent history. Does Tulsa county really care about what it's costing us in jail funding? Or do the commissioners see it as an opportunity to further grow the size of the county bureaucracy?

  Why does the county want to raise money for the cities, instead of letting cities hold their own bond elections?

  Isn't this a case of city failure? Does our city govt. lack the courage to ask the voters for approval? And doesn't the city risk their autonomy by having to submit to more bureaucracy in order to get their own money back?

  When a local shop owner leases a space for his business, the lease specifies the terms. Not many landlords offer to remodel retail space for the local merchant.  This is another case of big businesses like AA buying favor with politicians while "mom & pops" businesses pay all the bills.

  Why do the commissioners want to put the county further in debt until 2029?
  Reports say the 1995 County jail is still not paid off. And now they want to put a 2nd mortgage on the county's tax burdon?
  The commissioners still haven't answered how the excess moneys from vision 2025 will be dispersed. 
  This bond election is not about jail needs as much as it is about big appetites for money which the county commissioners get to play with and buy more influence.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Oklahoma Scores a 'D', in State Mental Health Leadership

  In 2008, NAMI conducted their 2nd national study and grading of the several states' effort to bring relief for mental illness. Oklahoma was among the 6 top states for levels of improvement in state mental health resources. The Oklahoma legislators gave themselves a "pat on the back" for being the heroes of the afflicted.

  But since that study was published, in 2009, a sad legacy of neglect has hit the sooner state, and the capitol building has a cloud of collective shame settling in.

  Every state felt the effects of the 2008 economic crash. Yet the Sooner State leadership used this excuse to cut mental health resources by a higher percent that 35 other states. 

  Even without taking inflation into account, Oklahoma cut mental health resources by 5.9%. When you  factor inflation, the cut becomes more than 12% over the 3 years of 2010-2012. When you factor in the medical inflation rate, the cuts are absolutely devastating. If not for some promising new legislative initiatives, Oklahoma could not justify any claim to a passing grade. 'D' is the best grade that Oklahoma's state government can mercifully be granted, in my best judgment.

 “It’s going to cost us,” said Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, who’s heading a House study on how the state should handle the growing inmate population. In 2014, Blackwell estimates;  "the state will need an additional $25 to $30 million in next year’s budget just to address overcrowding at corrections facilities.". And this is just for inmates of state-run correctional facilities. The 77 county jails and municipal detention facilities have borne an even greater financial hit. 

  Is there a connection between the mental health neglect and the ballooning costs of incarceration? Absolutely! The Oklahoma prison population began an astronomical climb in 2011. The mental health funding was cut at the beginning of the previous year. Only Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have a higher rate of state incarceration than Oklahoma. Why do conservative administrations so foolishly spend so much more money on incarceration as a 'cure-all' for people we find inconvenient to care for?

  When will relief come? It will come as soon as preventative and crisis resources are available and utilized. But the prison budgets will still be with us, unless judges or parole boards also tap into treatment alternatives.
sadly, we will have to fund prisons and full mental health resources at higher levels, until the intervention treatment begins to change the prison populations. But Oklahoma currently incarcerates at a higher percent than any other American state.

  Mentally ill people are not criminal. Criminality requires criminal intent. An ill person's delusions and desperation are a greater punishment than jail cells, but the harm caused by delusional acts are still difficult for a society who is looking for someone to punish. A society has a moral right to demand accountability in the stabilization of an ill person whose behavior has harmed others. To this end, Oklahoma's senate has passed an Assisted Outpatient Therapy bill which would mandate accountability of such individuals. The threat of incarceration may serve as an excellent deterrent, for the benefit of all of us.

Swimming Upstream to Solve Problems at the County Jails

By David Van Risseghem

  The Mental Health Association Of Tulsa Has Entered The Debate On The Tulsa Jail Bond Politics.
Executive Director, Michael Brose Addresses His Complex Response To The Jail Bond Vote.

   Like Michael,   many of us who serve in leadership for mental health advocacy are sorting out conflicting concerns about mental health treatment, and the format in which it is being delivered; or not delivered.
   I am the President-elect of NAMI Tulsa. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the largest advocacy organization for mental health issues. Our organization has not endorsed either side of the upcoming bond election, in Tulsa County. I happen to personally oppose the current jail bond and several others in NAMI are also concerned that the jail has encountered "mission creep" into  public mental health through criminalizing people who are experiencing a nervous breakdown.
Mr. Broce's comments (printed in blue) are very insightful and I want his concerns to be further amplified.  I'm going to post Michael's recent letter and give my own comments:
   Unfortunately, sometimes you have to swim upstream
   Over the past few weeks, I've been repeatedly asked about my thoughts regarding the April 1 tax extension vote to expand Tulsa’s David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, and to improve its facilities and treatment for inmates impacted by severe mental illness.
   Mental healthcare is critical care. It needs to be available wherever and whenever it plagues humanity. To neglect it is to endanger the sufferer and every person within that person's sphere of interaction. Most people with mental illness are NOT violent. But life-threatening concerns are always present. As the current trend progresses, one day, someone you love will likely face the criminal charge of being mentally ill.
   Like many issues in search of a simple answer, this question is complex. I do support Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s proposal for several reasons. First, Sheriff Glanz, and deputies who operate the jail, have no control over who is placed in the jail. They have to accept and care for whomever law enforcement charges and brings to the jail. Inmates can only be released if the sheriff receives an order from the court to do so. Second, the sheriff clearly recognizes inmates with severe and untreated mental illness committed crimes they would not have committed if they were receiving the treatment they desperately need in their respective communities.
   This is a very valid point.  The county sheriff houses inmates whom the sheriff has prosecutorial role. He and his deputies are charged with the duty to keep the inmates safe and keep the county safe. He is not responsible for the failures of the state in providing the preferred mental health facilities which many of these sufferers should should be treated at.
   Sheriff Glanz has personally witnessed bad things happening to people who are severely ill, and have been placed in his jail, almost always due to the absence of enough treatment beds in the community. Because of our failure, and the State of Oklahoma’s failure, to fund treatment beds adequately for Northeast Oklahoma, people who are severely mentally ill continue to be placed in his jail. He wants to properly care for them in an area where they are free from being preyed upon in the general population of inmates. The sheriff also wants to have the resources to properly train specialized officers who understand mental illness, and their special needs.
   Sheriff Glanz is personally named as a defendant in wrongful deaths. He does not get to choose the medical staff which treats the inmates. That is the county commissioners' role. He does ultimately answer for the failure of his wardens and staff, when they fail. If their failure results in harm or death, then he cannot pass the blame on lack of resources. If he feels he cannot do his duties correctly, his duty is to resign his role.
   Is the sheriff’s proposal the long-term answer? No.

   Sadly, this is the reality of our refusal to properly fund treatment beds to serve the size and population of Northeast Oklahoma. We need to help the jail properly care for these inmates who live with severe, untreated mental illness at no fault of their own now. At the same time, we must organize all of our combined efforts to insist lawmakers begin investing in people who, if they receive the treatment they need in their own communities, become taxpaying, contributing members of the community. Sixty percent of Mental Health Association in Tulsa employees are doing just that — living in recovery with severe mental illness, because they secured adequate treatment in the community. Many of our employees have histories, and sad stories, of incarceration in jail and in prison. With adequate treatment, they live in recovery, pay taxes, have families, and they are gainfully employed. They are the fortunate ones. Right now, the jail is full of people facing charges because their severe mental illness went untreated and, subsequently, have committed non-violent and often petty crimes. On any given day, 33 percent of inmates in the jail will present with a severe mental illness, according to the Tulsa World’s own Julie DelCour. Simply put, these inmates were unable to secure adequate treatment in their community, and now they are behind bars.
   This is the "heart" of the Oklahoma issue. None of the problems will truly be resolved by a jail bond. In fact, it may take longer to bond and build a jail than for the state to appropriate funds to open treatment centers in existing facilities. Correcting the state funding problem this month, could result in a shrinking jail population in every county of our state, this year! The legislature is now in session. we don't need to wait until the next bond election to fix the problem.
   The Mental Health Association in Tulsa supports the sheriff’s desperate appeal to support the tax extension vote. At the same time, we call on the sheriff, the Tulsa County commissioners, Mayor Dewey Bartlett, the Tulsa City Council members, and the whole of the community, to join forces, regardless of party affiliation, and insist together that Oklahoma lawmakers, and Governor Mary Fallin, invest in Northeast Oklahoma with the community-based treatment and beds we so desperately need. This isn’t about raising taxes. This is about investing in our people. Sadly, sometimes you have to swim upstream.  
   Some folks don't care about treating mental illness, until their loved one becomes stricken within it's hideous grasp. I, and many other mental health advocates urge every Oklahoman to look beyond the jail bond elections and help fix the statewide failure at the state capitol.  There are some who are using my arguments only to defeat a county tax increase. I am aware of that.
   If we don't fix this problem right, we will see endless ballooning county bond issues and ever higher expenses in criminal justice funding, at a very wasteful misappropriation of effective treatment and a much worse record of successful recovery.

By Mental Health Association In Tulsa On March 27, 2014
By Michael W. Brose, MSW
Executive Director
Mental Health Association in Tulsa
Michael Broce and MHAT's full messages are available at: 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Preventative Mental Health Successes Are Ignored By Lawmakers

   The Oklahoma Mental Health Department has released the following statistical evidence for money saved and lives restored through pro-active solutions to mental health crisis. Each of these programs is currently under-funded and under-utilized.
   Only 15 of Oklahoma's 77 counties have a mental health court. Most of the treatment programs are full and not able to receive new clients. Yet many of those turned away are forced into county jails and prisons, because of the imapct their untreated illness poses to the community.

Proven Mental Health Programs Making a Difference in Oklahoma
  Mental health and substance abuse services have traditionally been the most under-funded of government programs.  Yet, our state leaders demonstrated during recent years that they now recognize the benefits of increasing access to treatment. While Oklahoma has not progressed to the point at which we need to be, many accomplishments deserve attention. Examples of programs and services that will hasten progress include:
Mental Health Courts
  Mental health court is a highly structured, court-based program providing a treatment alternative for non-violent offenders diagnosed with a mental illness. Court structure and processes are designed to identify and address the unique needs of a non-violent person who has come in contact with the criminal justice system because of his or her mental illness. A review of data from the state’s first Mental Health Court program indicates notable improvements in the lives of participants. Several factors were measured and compared against pre-court measurements, resulting in significant findings regarding program graduates. Some key points are as follows: 

Percent Reduction
Hospital Days

Programs for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT)
  The Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) is an effective, evidence-based service delivery model providing intensive, outreach-oriented mental health services to people with schizophrenia, bi-polar disease and other serious and persistent mental illnesses.  Using a 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week team approach, PACT delivers comprehensive community treatment, rehabilitation and support services to consumers in their homes, at work and in community settings. 

  Building community supports such as PACT and other non-traditional programs of care allows an individual, who otherwise may be subjected to multiple hospital visits, or jail, the ability to address the demands of their illness while remaining in the community.  The program is intended to assist clients with basic needs, increase compliance with medication regimens, address any co-occurring substance abuse, help clients train for and find employment, and improve their ability to live with independence and dignity. PACT was implemented in Tulsaand Oklahoma City in May of 2001 with $2 million provided by the state legislature.  The program now has an annual appropriation of $5.3 million, much of which is used to draw down additional Medicaid funds, and has expanded to include 14 PACT teams serving 19 counties statewide.
Oklahoma is considered a national leader in this area.  The following measures show a pre/post hospital and jail comparison for consumers: 
Percent Reduction
Hospital Days
Jail Days

Systems of Care (SOC)
  In the fall of 2002, Oklahoma received a six-year, $9.4 million “Systems of Care” grant to establish children’s behavioral health service “hubs” throughout Oklahoma.  The program has since expanded to serve children in 54 counties throughout the state.

  There is a tremendous need to expand children’s services throughout the state and programs such as Systems of Care, which cut through red tape and focus attention on the needs of the children and their families to provide the appropriate level of services.  It is targeted to impact children, birth through age 21, with serious emotional and behavioral problems at home, school and in the community; and, it has been proven as a model system. 
  Evaluation demonstrates significant achievements in a child’s behavior when measuring outcomes following six-month client participation. Examples include: 
  Percent Reduction
Out of Home Placements
School Detentions
Self Harm Attempts

Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC)
  One of the major challenges currently facing the department is that of equitable funding for community mental health centers.  Despite this struggle, the CMHCs continue to provide core services such as medications, counseling, and case management that help many people with mental illness live a life in the community.  In addition to core services, most CMHCs are able to offer best practice, evidence-based services, albeit on a limited basis. 

Medicaid for Mental Health Providers
  In recent years the Medicaid program has become a significant revenue source for mental health providers.  Much of this increase has come about because CMHCs are assuming more responsibility for persons needing treatment as opposed to state hospitals.  Many CMHC services are Medicaid reimbursable, while state psychiatric hospitals are considered institutions and are, therefore, ineligible for Medicaid.

  The advent of more effective psychotropic medications for people suffering from schizophrenia, severe depression, and bipolar disorder has enabled many more clients to lead normal, healthy lives in their communities.  These “new generation” medications have improved quality of life for many people and have the potential to decrease hospitalization costs for states.  It is important to provide appropriate medications on a consistent basis for all clients.  Otherwise, persons with mental illness are stabilized in hospitals with medications, discharged, then either cannot or do not continue to take prescribed medications.  Their condition deteriorates until law enforcement or loved-ones intervene, then they are re-admitted to a hospital.

Forensic Services
DMHSAS is responsible for providing several forensic services: evaluating all people charged with a crime that are believed to suffer from mental illness, treating defendants with mental illness who are waiting for trial, but are not competent to proceed because of their mental illness, and hospital based treatment for  persons adjudicated as Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI). The forensic population, served at the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita, is on the increase.  In July 2000, there were 132 forensic patients at OFC.  Census now averages approximately 160.  Occasionally, there is a waiting list of individuals being held in local jails awaiting the availability of a bed at OFC.  In addition many of the buildings are over 70 years old with numerous maintenance needs.  In the 2004 Legislative Session, DMHSAS received approval for up to $18.9 million in capital bond funds to build a new, 200-bed forensic unit.  Ground breaking on the new construction occurred in July 2006. 

The Best Help For Mental Illness Is Not A Jail

County Budgets Pay the Price For State Govt. Failure

Jails are trying to become mental hospitals
  Perhaps the most glaring example of legislative failure, in Oklahoma, is illustrated by the terrible abuse of the county jail. Tulsa's jail is taking on a role that is was never designed for - nor should it be!  County jails are supposed to serve to protect society from criminals. But they are now the #1 & #2 mental health treatment centers in Oklahoma.
  Because the state has failed terribly, to replace the now-closed Eastern State Mental Hospital, in Vinita, OK.; law enforcement cannot exercise the prudent discretion to bring a mentally unstable individual to a psychiatric facility for a court-ordered assessment and follow-up treatment.  Because these individuals are perceived a danger to themselves and/or others, the officers have created a make-shift class of criminals out of them.
Perhaps if the County Commissioners spent as much effort
in lobbying the legislature as the teachers and tea party are,

we'd not need to burden the county taxpayers with more
wasteful funding of mental health jails.
  Over 15 years ago, the Oklahoma legislative leaders determined that the 2600-bed mental hospital in Vinita needed to be replaced with a network of community mental health centers. This required a multi-year plan and discipline to avoid "raiding" these funds for other pet projects like Indian Museums and Passenger Rail service. Some in the senate warned us that Oklahoma would fall into this terrible situation by not building the new network ahead of Vinita's final closure.
  To the discredit of all the state's leadership, only one new community mental health facility was added, and it was done "on the cheap" by acquiring the outdated and unsafe Doctors Hospital of Tulsa. The facility was faulty in design and short-sighted in oversight, but it was thrown together quickly.  Even if the legislature authorizes five more community mental health in the next 3 years, Oklahoma will still operate at well below the capacity which the Vinita facility had.

As bad as Vinita had become, it was more
humane than the county jails of Oklahoma
Perhaps the biggest medical expenditure at county jails have to do with the dozens or perhaps hundreds of mentally ill inmates. Tulsa County is constantly seeking to squeeze this ballooning expense. This has led to even more expenses, due to lawsuits because mentally ill people are dying from the terrible failures of inept medical staff and poorly-trained wardens. Some are characterizing Tulsa's medical contractor, Correctional Treatment Companies, of what amounts to assisted suicide of the mentally ill. KJRH TV posted  an article about this problem.
The Tulsa jail
medical service
is so bad, 
it looks
like they are assisting suicide for the mentally ill

  But Tulsa County's commissioners are silent about the state failures which have led to massive new expenses to the counties. Instead, they are eagerly pushing to expand county government and even more massive jail compounds with expanded roles in public mental health.

  The costs are much greater than just higher taxes. The more we incarcerate folks with mental breakdowns, the  expense to provide foster care for children blows up as a result. Folks who could have responded well to medication and resumed their roles at home and work within a couple weeks, usually face a much longer sentence as an inmate. A person who could have taken a medical leave-of-absence and kept their job; probably lost it because he's now an inmate with a police record.

This Tulsa County citizen died of starvation & dehydration over 3 days, while Tulsa County jail staff watched and did nothing!

  Perhaps the best thing voters can do for their community is to force the county commissioners to lobby the state legislature and governor for a real solution and a fresh commitment to the Vinita transition they promised us many years ago.

  If even half of the mentally ill inmates would have had an option of court-ordered mental healthcare, there would be no new jail bond elections, far less lawsuits from gross mistreatment of ill people, more families intact, less unemployment, far lower county criminal justice expenses (jail, court costs, & prosecutor), and our society would reflect a more humane compassion for those victimized by the cruel scourge of a mental illness. Our "crime rate" statistics would diminish and our state will be far more attractive to new industry. Then maybe we can talk about funding more Indian museums and passenger rail service.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

State Attempts Ownership Of All Kids

Even a flawed family may hold more promise than state custody.
Family Love is something the state cannot replicate

   That's the subtitle of the public policy news about the states' Department of Child Welfare and their over-reach into families with disabilities.
   State regulators are establishing ever-higher standards of perfection in child-rearing and using police powers to bring trauma and destabilization to children, and doing so with a self-justifying mantra of protecting that child from an unknown & unregulated home life.  Even a malicious & anonymous phone tip will set off a home invasion and state sanctioned kidnapping. The parent has to wait weeks of isolation before an opportunity to prove the absence of any justification, before they get their child back. And even then, a judge may mandate endless "probationary" oversight by the state agencies. 

Fabio was initially denied recognition
on his daughter's birth certificate,
because the state said he's
"not smart enough to be a dad"
   Some times the state even denies the very claim of parenthood at birth! A couple from Brazil had to fight a legal battle just to have the father's name on his daughter's birth certificate. His "crime" was being slightly below the state's definition of acceptable mental intelligence. That judge was being petitioned by the state to "protect" the child from a less than ideal home environment.  In this age of massive family disintegration and child abandonment; I'm thrilled that this extended family is so dedicated to each other.
   The courts and govt. policy just assumes that this family will fail. They even denied this father the very right to have his name on his daughter's birth certificate!  I'm so impressed by the character and dedication of this man to fight for his family and discredit the patronizing condescension of the state.  His wife is living the ideal of motherhood and the baby has a big family looking after the needs of each other.     Parents are increasingly threatened with claims of child abuse because they expect their child to help supply an accommodation for their disabled parent. Read more:
Are family chores a form of abuse and endangerment?
   And Today's family farms are also under a constant risk of such charges and legislators have had to expressly "carve out" an exception for families who's kids help run the agri-business. But city-dwelling families are left without such protections and "taking a child to work" is often seen as endangering.
   The sad truth is; the state's foster care programs have a horrible legacy of preparing a child for life, and the young adult is abandoned when they become 'of age'. The state simply cannot provide a real family bond which is lasting and anchoring the next generation in a way which truly prepares them for parenthood.
Monica & David

   Medical science is developing incredible break-throughs which lead to longer life expextancies and higher levels of functional independence.  When Monica and David were born in the 1970s, children with Down syndrome had a life expectancy of under 25. Many parents were told by well-meaning doctors that their children would never walk, talk or lead meaningful lives.

Their generation defied those predictions, and now this Miami couple, both in their 30s and expected to live well beyond their 60s, has shattered misconceptions about the lives of those who have intellectual disabilities.

Monica and David are married and share all its love and intimacies.

'Monica & David' Looks at Married Couple With Down Syndrome
Their journey to independence with parental support is chronicled in "Monica & David," which won Best Documentary Feature at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

School Districts were meant to be Independent

Independence In education

    I avoid engaging in debates on Common core based on "which curriculum is better or more effective".  The basis for my opposition is that the founders of Oklahoma set up a constitution which empowers independent school districts to oversee public instruction.

This is not what a school board looks like

   It is a perversion of our government, for interstate compacts, federal laws, or even state laws; to take over the role of educating.

   Oklahoma, like most other states, saw education as too vulnerable to corruption, if political factions sought to successfully co-opt education for their political ends.

Just as we deny the mayors, county commissioners, or city councils any operational role in public schools, we also need to deny the governor or legislature any operational role.
   We need to resist the effort to switch the argument to one of content. The real issue is control. Once we lose control, the content will naturally disintegrate.  20 years ago, state legislators took the heady attitude that local schools are inept and needed mandates.
Now we see that state mandates often result in no better outcomes.
   I want to see a future where local education professionals are given the power to produce results in their classrooms and apply techniques which work in their communities.
It's not a conspiracy Theory
Q: Some of the Senators want to know specifically what is wrong with the standards because they believe everything else is "conspiracy"
A: The model set forth in the Oklahoma Constitution is a legislator's mandate. Other than funding, the legislatures need to quit meddling.
   That's not "conspiracy stuff", it's as simple as reading the darn document and following it.  The Oklahoma legislature is currently passing a simple reform which says "We were wrong to mandate the outcome of a 3rd grader's course, if they have a reading disability." Rep. Katie Huffman Henke is carrying that bill and it deserves to be signed into law.
There are dozens of other state mandates which also need to be returned back to school districts.  We need to reset the "vision" for what education is supposed to be structured like.
   But many Republican politicians are racing headlong into this national initiative, while democrats are finding a powerful issue for  the upcoming midterm and state elections. It is local teachers unions, PTA groups, and concerned parents who are set to make Common Core as big of an issue as ObamaCare is expected to be.

Monday, March 17, 2014

County Term Limits: A Legislator's Observation

Representative, Jason Murphey publicly  advocates for extending Oklahoma elective term limits to county governments. See Okscam history at bottom of the post.
Here is his facebook post:

  A legislative committee recently approved an initiative to place a term limit of 12 years upon county commissioners.

  There is little doubt that term limits on Oklahoma legislators was a key factor in breaking up the old guard, evil empires, and political machines -- a time when lifetime politicians adversely dominated Oklahoma politics.
  The people of Oklahoma made our state the first to pass term limits and did so based on their frustration with the fact that very bad politicians could stay in power by attempting to direct largess to their constituencies who were then less likely to vote them out of office.
  As a member of the House of Representative, I have had a front row seat to see wave after wave of politicians hit the term limit wall of 12 years. It's very difficult for these individuals to reach that wall without having been co-opted in some way. I have concluded that 12 years in office provides an excellent stopping point for keeping citizen legislators from transitioning into co-opted career politicians.
  I enjoyed the opportunity to be the House author of the bill which successfully sought to apply the term limits concept to statewide elected officials and have thus cared greatly about this topic.
  It's time for term limits to take the next step. So far county government hasn't experienced the benefits of term limits reform. Several days ago, the Government Modernization Committee approve the plan to apply the 12 year term limit to county officials as well.
  Notably, commissioners are much better positioned than their legislative counterparts to use their power to stay in office.
  Commissioners have direct access to the resources of the county, with few checks and balances to stop them from rewarding supporters and punishing enemies. This puts each commissioner's constituency in a very precarious position. They may be afraid to publicly oppose a co-opted commissioner who could withhold much needed resources from their area. Those trapped under the tyranny of a co-opted commissioner may realize he has locked down a strong support base by providing favors and special treatment to a majority at the expense of the minority. For these individuals, the application of term limits would provide a welcome relief.
  That's just part of what makes this proposal so very important.
  You may recall the famous quote, “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” People are not naturally equipped to be career politicians. Constantly being treated like a VIP and feeling important ruins many good people. It's almost impossible to withstand the tremendous pressure of the constant limelight to which many politicians become addicted. To feed this addiction, they become co-opted by, and hostages to, their own pride, selfish ambition, situational ethics, cynicism, greed, special interests and narcissism. Their previously held values and principles become secondary to this array of highly corrupting factors.
  Many elected officials succumb to these temptations, whether it is at the state or county level.
It may take a while to win final approval for the term limits proposal but until that time voters are well advised to provide extremely intensive scrutiny to any official who attempts to stay in office beyond a 12-year time period. 

"I'm worried that several years
from now, after the fear factor dies
down, that the fundamental
reforms will have never been done"
U.S. Attorney, Bill Price - 1984

The FBI's largest local government scandal ever, was the shameful Oklahoma County Commissioner Scandal. It was uncovered by IRS agents in 1980. By the end of 1984, over 250 people were sentenced for kickbacks and money laundering. Almost every Oklahoma county was harmed by the corruption. Mostly, it was disguised as infrastructure spending. Taxpayers saw a drop of about 40% in county costs when the initial federal action was completed.
U.S. Attorney, Bill Price, was a lead prosecutor in the crackdown. He later ran for governor, but was defeated by David Walters, who later confessed to kickback corruption in his campaign financing.
  At the summation of the case, he said "many, many" other suspects were given the same offer to cooperate "but they chose to protect their friends."

Price said; "laws allowing for a statewide grand jury or a multi-district investigation overlapping the jurisdictions of several district attorneys are necessary if Oklahoma is to be able to keep its own house clean."
"Some of our best cases would have been totally unprosecutable by the state because they involved kickbacks in, say, 10 or more counties," Price said.
"There have been some reforms, but I'm worried that several years from now, after the fear factor dies down, that the fundamental reforms will have never been done," Price said.
"If there is corruption in the future, no doubt we'd be willing and able to go back in again," Price said, adding that with the reforms he's calling for, the next prosecutions "could be handled successfully by the state."
Further reading:
Newspaper article of unfolding scandal
History of Oklahoma Scandals 

St. Patrick Preaches Liberty, Contests With Druids

An oral history from the Irish church:


  At the moment when the high pile of brushwood, crowned with flowers, was about to be lighted up by the hands of the Chief Druid, the King's eyes sparkled with rage, for eastward a weak but steady light was beheld glimmering. "Who," said he, "has dared to commit this sacrilege? " "We know not," was the answer from many voices in the assembly. "O King," said the Chief Druid, "if this fire be not extinguished at once, it will never be quenched. It will put out our sacred fires, and the man who has enkindled it will overcome thee, and he and his successors rule Erinn to the end of time." "Go, then," said Leoghairé, "quench his light, and bring him hither." "We go," was the answer; "but let all in the assembly turn their backs toward the magic blaze. Meanwhile let our own sacred fires be kindled, and all the dwellers in Erinn rejoice in its light. When we have brought this stranger into the presence, let no one rise to do him homage."
  So saying, the Chief Druid set fire to the pile, and, accompanied by two other Druids and some guards, proceeded till he came to where the saint and his assistants, in their white robes, were chanting their psalms. "What mean these incantations?" tried the Druid, curiously glancing at the hooks so unlike their own wooden staves and tablets; "or why this flame on the eve of Bealteiné, contrary to the orders of the Ard Righ and the Ard Druid? Accompany us to the assembly at Tara, and account for your disobedience; but first extinguish that ill-boding light."
  Of all that sat or stood in the presence of the King, no one arose to show respect to the newly-arrived but Dubhthach, an aged Druid, and the young poet, Fiech, who thus braved the King's displeasure. He, fixing his eyes sternly on the saint and his followers, sharply addressed them. "Know ye not the law of this land, that whoever on the eve of Bealteiné kindles a fire before the blaze is seen from Tara, is devoted to death?"
  Patrick then commenced, by declaring the Unity of the Godhead in a Trinity of Persons, the creation and fall of man, the necessity of a Mediator, the Incarnation of the Son of God, and our redemption thereby; the necessity of true Christian belief, and the rejection of all creature worship, not excepting that of the genial lifecherishing Beal. He then alluded to his former captivity and the object of his present mission, and besought king and people not to resist the good impulses which would be vouchsafed by God's goodness to every one who did not wilfully offer opposition to them.
  The hearts of the King and the greater part of the Druids remained obdurate; but such persuasive strength was vouchsafed to the words of the saint, that very many hung on his lips with veneration and enthusiasm. The Ard Righ observed this with regret; but his power was much restricted, and he did not venture to express open dissatisfaction. He ordered apartments to be assigned to Patrick and his companions, and appointed him to argue with his Druids on the morrow.
  Thousands were assembled next day on the wide plain, and the stern-looking Druids filled the greater part of the space enclosed for the disputants. After some explanations and arguments were adduced by the missionary which told heavily on the priests, the Chief cried out in an arrogant tone, "if the Son of God has redeemed the human race, and if you were sent by Him, work a miracle to prove your mission." "I will not seek to disturb the order of Providence to gratify mere curiosity," modestly answered the saint. "Then will I approve the truth of druidic worship by effecting what you fear to attempt," cried the infuriated pagan; and beginning to describe lines in the air with his wand, and to chant spells, a thick veil of snow shut out the light and heat of the sun, and covering the ground several feet, an intense cold was felt, and the teeth of every one in the assembly chattered. Cries of discontent arose, and the saint addressed the Druid: "You see how the assembly suffer; banish this snow and cold, and admit the warm sun-shine." "I cannot do so till this hour on to-morrow."
  "Ah! you are powerful for evil, not for good. Very different is the gift bestowed on the messenger of the Giver of all good." He made the sign of the cross, invoked the aid of the Holy Trinity, and the snow sunk in the soil, the grass again emerged green and dry, and the blue air again appeared, warmed by the bright and comforting sunbeams. All the people invoked blessings on the head of the beneficent Apostle.
  "To convince you all," cried the Druid, "of our power and that of our gods, behold what I am empowered to do!" In a few seconds darkness such as seldom shrouds the earth fell on the assembly, and they groped about and murmured. Again was the thick black cloud dispersed at the prayer of the Apostle, and thousands of tongues blessed him.
  The King, wishing other proofs, cried, "Each throw his book into the water, and let him in whose book the letters remain uninjured be declared the minister of truth!" "I will not consent," said the Druid; "he has a magic power over water of which I know not the extent." "Well, then," said the King, "let the ordeal be by fire." "Nay, his magic also embraces the fire." "Well," cried the King, "we are tired; let this last trial be made. Each priest enter a tent filled with dry boughs; which shall then be set on fire." "Nay," said the Saint, "let one be filled with the branches still green, and this I resign to the opponent of my sacred mission."
  Young Saint Benin, who attended night and day on St. Patrick, besought his leave to enter the hut of dry boughs, and his request was granted, he bearing the Druid's mantle, and the Druid bearing his. Both huts were fired at the same moment, and in the twinkling of an eye the Druid and the green twigs full of sap were reduced to ashes by the devouring flames, nothing being spared but the cloak of the young saint, in whose hut nought was consumed but the Druid's garment. This was the last trial which the assembly would suffer, thousands, including the queen and her daughters, openly professing their belief in the God of Patrick.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Press Release: Common Core Demonstrations Planned At The Capitol

The Tulsa 912 Project passed along the following press release:
Day of Activism 
Against Common Core         
Monday, March 17 
Note to Tulsa and Northeast Oklahoma participants:
  • Road Trip Time!!  If you are interested in carpooling and caravaning to the state capitol meet at Reasor's in Jenks at 8:45 am for prompt departure at 9:00 am.  
  • The day's event will begin promptly at 11 and we have a very full schedule.  
  •  Have questions about carpool contact Peggy  918-760-3828

Remember to wear comfy shoes and bring a sack lunch or snacks.  Children are welcome. 
 FREE t-shirts to the first 300 people.  

We will stand united with concerned parents, grandparents, teachers, educators and citizens from across the state of Oklahoma.  Let's have fun, make new friends and take care of business!  It's up to you and me to stand up for Oklahoma's greatest asset ... our children!!

See you at the capitol!! 
Tomorrow (Monday, March 17) is the GRASSROOTS DAY OF ACTIVISM to STOP Common Core from 11am - 3pm

Thanks to 78 members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Oklahoma has a bill to STOP COMMON CORE (See below for the 'no' and 'excused' votes).  Though the senate stopped the hearing of SB1764 earlier in the week that also would have stopped Common Core, a press release from the senate last Wednesday reported Senator John Ford would allow a hearing of HB3399 now that it has passed the House.  

FOR TOMORROW:  We need to visit our senators and ask them to please pass this bill through the Senate Education Committee and on the Floor of the Senate WITHOUT alteration that would gut the bill as proposed in the House.

Just like before, we will have EVERYTHING you need in room 412a, so be sure to get there before 10:45 or earlier if possible. PLEASE have comfortable shoes as we will be doing a LOT of walking -  KNOW WHO YOUR SENATOR IS (you can find this in the bottom right hand corner of the page) - there will be snacks and water, but you may bring those as well and put them in 412a if you need.  

Many Stop Common Core groups (and individuals) from across the state are involved in this effort and working hard to make this an exciting and fruitful event!   Please go sign up here if you are on Facebook!  The schedule is below so you'll have an idea of what we will be doing.  You will be provided a T-shirt - we have them in Lg and Extra Lg!

This will probably not be the only visit to the Capitol we'll need to make.  According to a article this morning,  

"Governor Fallin supports the ongoing implementation of the Oklahoma Academic Standards (OAS are Common Core in Math/English/LA) in K-12 schools that are designed to improve student performance by increasing classroom rigor," said Alex Weintz, the governor's spokesman. "Higher expectations have been proven to lead to higher outcomes, and are essential to ensuring that students are college-, career- and citizen-ready when graduating high school."

Ronda Vuillemont-Smith