Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Restructuring School Districts: Before and After

A Tale Of Two Counties

It is often somewhat hard to conceptualize the effect of restructuring Oklahoma's 531 public school districts. to that end, Sooner Politics' researchers  sampled two very stark contrasts in educational administration.
Owasso is a growing city in the far outreaches of Tulsa County. Their 11 schools are a part of one district with 9600 students and a very good superintendent who makes a very good salary. His teachers perform well in the classroom and state testing demonstrates  it through standardized testing.
Carter County, on the other hand; has 9 school districts ranging from the 3000+ in Ardmore Public Schools, to districts as small as 200 students total. The 9300 students are spread throughout the county. Nine superintendents share the load and earn a combined $730K per year. The students score a very average result in standardized tests.
  This is just one comparison of Oklahoma's various schools. Other rural counties, like Choctaw & Pittsburgh Counties are even less efficient.
David Van Risseghem

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Restructuring Oklahoma's School Districts

Preparing For Great Schools

  Various interests and advocates have appealed for several ways of reforming public schools in Oklahoma. And all of them have some merit, especially in light of specific local scenarios that impact their own community, in particular.
School District
TULSA (2nd)
MOORE (3rd)
EDMOND (4th)
UNION (7th)
NORMAN (8th)
LAWTON (9th)
JENKS (11th)
MUSTANG (12th)
OWASSO (13th)


VERDIGRIS (average, 112th)

WOODLAND (median, 264th)

BYARS (529th)
  Some have called for massive consolidation. And that is perhaps the biggest fix which can provide the biggest relief to strapped education financing. But small schools, particularly in rural parts of the state will quickly point to their academic performance, especially when compared to Oklahoma's largest school districts. That is their strongest argument; and it is a good one.
  Some have called for breaking up the largest school districts so that no district exceeds 8000 students in K-12 grades. This will impact 13 school districts out of the 531 in Oklahoma. 

  Only 6 school districts would require more than a simple split into 2. But only 2 districts (OKC & Tulsa) would require a split into 5 or more districts.
  Some of the biggest advocates for public education include the folks at the national thinktank called American Progress. And when seeking a major reform of something so massive, it is important to first find the areas where consensus is broad and change is the least threatening. has compiled several studies which all point to a "sweet spot" range of enrollment that makes for the most efficient and most productive institution. They determine that an administration works best when the school district handles between 2000 to 4000 students. See the report, here:

From 529 Districts, Down to 149

  But Oklahoma's School Districts have a median enrollment of just 423 students. So every district smaller than Newcastle (60th largest district) would need to be seriously looked at for likely administrative consolidation. But not necessarily. Over 400 of the 531 districts have a very compelling pressure telling lawmakers and state administrators to begin a process of restructuring. Some say there should not be more school districts that state legislatures; and that would be a good guide to get us where we need to be; because it would lead to an average school district of a little over 4000 enrollment.
  Harmon County has just one school district (Hollis Public Schools). It is unthinkable that the legislature would force the administrating of those schools to a neighboring county. But Harmon is currently the only county with just one school district. Several rural counties commonly have 10-15 school districts and rarely does even one of them approach an enrollment of 2000 students. It is very probable that 5 or more school districts of say 300 enrolled students each; will be administrated by a new school board & administrative team. That is what consolidation will look like.
  Would this lead to closing schools? Not necessarily, but that is up to the new districts to decide. The first order of business would be to create newly combined districts into one new entity and call for school board elections. Then the new school boards would go through the deliberative task of assessing their new assets and responsibilities. Only when those "moving in" tasks are completed and the new administrations have completed their strategic planning, can the state move to the next set of goals.
  The ultimate task is to guide each new district to the point of preparing for a review from the Oklahoma Department of Education where administrative audits are compared to statewide norms. If the new district is expending too high of a percent of their funds on administrative overhead, the state may need to take further action, to insure that a quality share of the state funding makes it into the classrooms.
  The loud screams of resistance will come from 2 camps:
  1. Insecure school superintendents who may have to settle for being a lower-level job as an administrative assistant in a district restructuring.
  2. Small towns who's identity is tied to the local school. 

  The local school system is a source of great civic pride and the primary way that a community gathers together to celebrate the great promise of the new generation. That intrinsic quality is a great part of the fabric of Oklahoma's quality of life. This may be why the legislature seems to always cower in retreat at the thought of consolidation.
  But the reality is that each of these towns is expecting the state government to heavily subsidize their source of civic identity. And that is what's wrong with state government taking over the funding of a community institution. If a community really wants to insure the livelihood and future of their public school, they need to be willing to pay for that autonomy with independent funding. Otherwise the state has serious budgetary pressures that will outweigh the local status quo. 

David Van Risseghem

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Tulsa GOP Precinct Confusion

Chairman McCutchin Relents

Chairman McCutchin is not
seeking re-election to his post
  Broken Arrow's Republican Precinct 456 just received Chairman Mike McCutchin's personal approval to meet back at their traditional precinct location on next Saturday afternoon.
  The Tulsa County Republican Chairman has reportedly at least partially changed his position on local precinct meetings (scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 31st, at 10am), according to Jerry Weller.
  Jerry Weller is the Vice Chairman of Precinct 456. He informed McCutchin of his precinct's plan to maintain their long tradition of meeting in their precinct. Some of the leadership plan to attend the House District event in the morning and hear the speeches and many announcements, instructions, and other details. But they plan to convene their business in the  precinct. Signs have been posted for weeks. Calls & emails have reached out to every known Republican. The precinct typically plans to prepare and discuss several platform proposals, party rules, and other issues of party leadership at all levels. 
Precinct locations like this neighborhood cafe,
are the tradition in Tulsa County's GOP
  Precinct 456 Chairman, Larry Williamson, said he does not want time constraints to limit grassroots involvement on these key issues. Rather than scurrying for a venue change halfway through business when a host church orders the visiting precincts to leave; precinct 456 said they are making the most of both opportunities. "Folks can go in the morning to hear the speeches and talk to the politicians, but in the afternoon we will convene for the business of our own precinct, including the election of officers, naming a delegation, and establishing a platform. The Republicans of the precinct are not required to attend the speeches in order to attend the afternoon business meeting.
  Chairman Michael McCutchin had previously threatened that;
"Any business conducted at a biennial precinct meeting not held at the day, hour and place set by the Tulsa County Executive Committee will be deemed invalid - with no means of appeal to either the County Chairman or the Chairman of the Credentials Committee of the Tulsa County Convention."
  But the grand plan to overhaul the grassroots structure of meeting in the neighborhoods, was  not effectively structured or promoted.
  The County Executive Committee (who has the authority to approve specific locations outside the precinct) never met in an appropriate meeting (proper meeting notices were never sent to precincts, as the state rules require, & the Chairman was advised of that requirement ahead of that meeting).
  The Tulsa GOP Executive Committee voted to authorize a locations committee, to find the best locations to meet the goal of the plan. This move fell short of the requirements for the Executive Committee to approve the specific locations and the locations to be central so as to not put a burden of significant to travel outside the precinct. A report of the committee should have been presented to the Executive committee for a specific authorization of named locations. And prior notice of the meeting needed to go to all the precinct Chairmen & Vice Chairmen of Tulsa County.
  As a result, Chairman McCutchin selected some locations which put undue burdens on local precinct members. His official email notices had contradictions, in that some precincts were first told to meet at Tulsa's Nathan Hale Library; and later, some emails said to instead travel several miles north to a location north of Owasso. The Executive Committee's resolution was to move to central locations, but that standard of "central was not always met. Too many house districts were combined into far off corners of the county.
  The result is that voters who live in the Downtown Tulsa Condominiums and apartments, as well as Brady Heights; are being told to travel out of the city to the northeast, to attend their "neighborhood" precinct meeting... southeast of Collinsville, OK.
  More importantly, this house district meeting concept was not effectively presented to the whole grassroots foundation of the Tulsa GOP.
To be fair, the central meeting idea has worked rather well in several other counties and certainly has merit. But the Tulsa County precincts were not properly consulted and partnered with.

David Van Risseghem

Friday, January 23, 2015

Let's Go Out To The Precinct Meeting!

Tulsa County; your precinct meeting starts Saturday morning, January 31st, at 10am. Meet at your appointed rendezvous location by finding your zone on the 'clickable' map linked here.
Tulsa County is testing out a new format of biennial meetings by gathering at the central house district location (okay, some of you will have to travel further than we wished).  But your neighbors and fellow patriots will be there along with several legislators and party officials.
You will be eligible to run for office as a part of your precinct leadership. you will also be eligible to serve as a delegate to represent your precinct at the upcoming Tulsa County GOP Convention (it's more than a month away).
But talk with neighbors & friends; as well as that  fella who's always got an opinion on how the 'guv-ment oughta be run'. There's room for all of us to be a part of making a better community and state though the process of grassroots initiatives.
We'll see ya there, and then we'l talk about it afterwards!
David Van Risseghem

Marriage Certificates May Replace Licenses

  If there's anything Oklahomans have agreed upon, in the federal marriage controversy, it's that the state really isn't good at trying to be the church.
  When the state travels down the road of social engineering to the point where the role of the church is co-opted, We end up with a government that tries to establish a consensus version of godliness.
  But a more limited role would be to protect individuals from being harmed by others. So the more sensible public policy is to call the filing process what it really is, and is meant to be. It is good to have a public registry of marriage partnerships, just like it is good to have a filing of business partnerships. It's a government service to provide a public record and make safeguards readily available  so as to substantiate claims. 
  But the term "license" was the wrong classification for this government service. "Certificate" conveys a certainty that the public record is verified, just like a birth certificate states that the details of a human birth have been verified.
  More importantly (to many Oklahomans) , the new policy sidesteps a sticky issue. When the state licenses an activity or association, there is an inferred endorsement (or at least an acceptance). But with marriage, it really doesn't matter if the community accepts a union. For that matter, it doesn't negate the union if one's in-laws are un-accepting of a covenant.
  A marriage certificate will provide the legal safeguards while returning honor and independence to the parties joining the domestic union
For many of us, the sacrament of marriage is defined by our faith; and we won't call a sin "a sacrament". But we must none-the-less recognize the business part of every partnership and accord each other the legal rights of a civil society.
And beyond the spiritual/moral issues of folks with religious convictions, there are also people whose view of marriage has no religious component at all. They are able to solemnize their life covenant without a ceremony of any kind.
Society isn't so much interested in your theology about marriage as how well you utilize your conveyed status for the stability and betterment of society.

Read: HB1125 text

David Van Risseghem

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Faught Moves To Throw Out Or Reform Several Laws & Agencies

Oklahoma's Top Repealer Of Laws

  Rep. George Faught is the most prolific writer of legislation in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. With one noted exception; Mr. Faught's primary efforts this year have been to seek a "sun set" to several instances of state bureaucracy and restrictions. 20 of 21 bills filed by Faught seem to be primarily focused on ending bureaucracy and portions of statutes.
  However; with reference to HB1004, we are not at all convinced that drivers should face prosecution while there is still a half hour before dusk, for not having their headlights on. In fact, the slight added glare to oncoming westbound traffic count actually create a slightly more dangerous driving condition. Currently, a driver faces prosecution at 1/2 hour after dusk.
  But we are listing, below; the  newly introduced bills for your further research.
  George is returning to the legislature after a 2-year hiatus following an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Congress. He is a small businessman from Muskogee. His legislative updates are a part of the new Sooner Politics Lawmakers Journal (
  Several lawmakers are providing regular updates via their blogs and Facebook Public Figure pages.

02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; State Capitol Preservation Commission; re-creating the Commission; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence; recreating the Board; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; Oklahoma Liquefied Petroleum Gas Research, Marketing and Safety Commission; re-creating the Commission; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; State Board of Examiners of Perfusionists; recreating the Board; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Motor vehicles; modifying certain time requirement for displaying lamps and illuminating devices; effective date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; creating the Sunset Act of 2015; effective date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; Oklahoma State Athletic Commission; recreating the Commission; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; P-20 Data Coordinating Council; re-creating the Council; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; re-creating the Board; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Oklahoma Open Records Act; providing additional exemption under Oklahoma Open Records Act; effective date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; re-creating Oklahoma American Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission; re-creating advisory council to Commission; modifying termination dates.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Public health and safety; requiring Emergency Medical Services to conduct certain reviews; effective date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; State Board of Osteopathic Examiners; re-creating the Board; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Purple Heart Day; changing Purple Heart Week to Purple Heart Day; effective date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners; re-creating the Board; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; enacting the Oklahoma Sunset Act of 2015; effective date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; creating the Sunset Act of 2015; effective date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; Educational Quality and Accountability Board; re-creating the Board; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; enacting the Oklahoma Sunset Act of 2015; effective date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; Commission on County Government Personnel Education and Training; recreating the Commission; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught
02/01/15 11:00 pm
Sunset; Polygraph Examiners Board; re-creating the Board; modifying termination date.

2015/02/02 Authored by Representative Faught

David Van Risseghem

Friday, January 16, 2015

The State Legal Battle of Marriage Is Over

It's over.

  The US Supreme Court is set to clean up the few remaining marriage law cases which don't yet solemnize homosexual "marriage".  Oklahoma's constitutional amendment was struck down by a lower court last year, and the SCOTUS is fine to let that stand without so much as a courtesy hearing.
  The reason for this final act is that a Court Of Appeals didn't rule the way SCOTUS expected, so they are in all likelihood, going to put a stop to those prohibitions, directly.

A New State Strategy - Get Rid Of The Word

For folks of faith who believe that marriage is a sacrament, the best workable public policy may be a complete rescinding of the marriage license.
Folks could simply file a notice of covenant at their county clerks office (as common-law filings have been handled).
  The word "marriage" would be removed from state statutes, and replaced with something like "domestic partnership".

  Libertarians have long argued that marriage is a basic right of man and no government has a moral right to grant permission (a license is de-facto permission). Filing a domestic partnership would still carry all the state sanctioning and safeguards. Dissolving the domestic partnership would still require family court oversight.

  But it would leave the term "marriage" as a religious rite. Folks would still follow their convictions and church teachings. Ceremonies would still be unchanged. But the state would only need a notarized signature to the form, and not a licensed judge or clergy. The "oaths" are in the document. But instead of 2 trips to the courthouse, one stop after the ceremony would suffice. All other business partnerships are handled this way. The state is no longer granting a permission (license) but acknowledging that they have been informed of the partnership.
David Van Risseghem
  All federal & state recognitions would attach to the new state classification. Federal law leaves all marriage certifications up to the states.
 This might be the best solution to respect everyone's personal convictions and yet grant a consistent process for personal covenant agreements. We will all let the state know we entered a partnership, but we will respect each person's convictions on what constitutes the definition of marriage.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The "Conservatives" Who Are Bankrupting Our State

Governor's Justice Reform Panel

  Oklahomans are praising the news of Governor Fallin's newly impaneled committee on justice reform. The blue-ribbon panel includes the top lawmakers, director of our prisons & the director of the Department Of Mental Health & Substance Abuse.
Oklahoma's Incarceration
Rate Is 67% Higher 
than The U.S. Average
  While the progress may go slow, it is hopeful that our laws will be reformed in a way that brings relief to suffering individuals as well as out-of-control prison budgets.

If There Is No Victim, There Is No Criminal

  Some will only see this as a 'dangerous' possibility of decriminalizing some nonviolent & victimless transgression. They will demagogue the issue in order to protect special interests and religious sects.
Oklahomans are not "Bad People". So why are we sending so many to prison?
The U.S. leads the world in incarceration.
  It is an irrational effort to discredit an issue by subjectively discrediting the personal lives of anyone who holds to the 1935 public policy of the United States. It is only the more contemporary condescension of our nanny state that sees a government role of protecting the citizen from himself.
  While there is a legitimate role for government to keep our roads safe and exploiters away from our children; those 2 directives do not justify the far-reaching inconsistencies in our severe penal code for folks who never violated either of the 2 directives.
  And no one can honestly call himself a fiscal conservative when he has bankrupted our state in order to bankroll the highest incarceration rate in the modern world.
  No one can call himself "tough on crime" when his policies have become a breeding ground for organized crime by creating the modern day equivalent of the "speak-easy" black market pot dealerships saturating our communities.  We're throwing money at a failed policy like a rabid herd of liberals trying to spend our way to good public schools!
  Reset the drug policy and quit spending our children's wealth on incarcerating folks whose back yard personal hemp plant doesn't violate anyone.

Prison Is Not A Substitute Hospital

  Another reform that will save taxpayers vast expenses is the medical intervention network for serious mental health crises. While the legislature touts the pennies saved by cutting mental health resources (They closed a 2600-bed facility in Vinita, but never replaced the resource as promised.), Jails and courts are now the # 1 medical treatment facilities for folks with nervous breakdowns.
David Van Risseghem
  Every major city and county has raised taxes drastically, to manage the new inmates who were booked on disorderly misconduct, but should have been offered a mental hospital, as a preferred alternative. The short-term treatment centers usually stabilize and release a suffering soul within days.   A medical leave usually last a couple weeks, before a person returns to work. But a disturbed person who is jailed, has no medical leave, loses his job (or disability). His kids are probably in DHS custody, and he has a far higher hill to climb in restoring his life. In all likelihood he never will.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The State of "Red People" and Team Mascots

Oklahoma Territory, prior to full statehood
  The first sanctioned inhabitants of the Oklahoma Territory were the Civilized tribes who were forcibly migrated from the east. They shared the partitioned land and collectively made the best of a demeaning status.
  Among the most adaptive tribes was the Chocktaw Nation. Their tribal history had previously been very friendly with the French inhabitants who preceded the east coast expansionists. Chief Greenwood LaFlore was, himself, half French.
  The Chocktaw language is used when we speak the official name of our state. Oklahoma is literally defined as "Red People". It was meant to unite not only the 5 civilized tribes of the eastern side of the state, but also their common citizenship with the western tribes who had a much different lifestyle & heritage.

 Is a mascot representing the American tribes a slur? No, it is as proud a statement as "Yankee" is to the folks of New England. So where does the victim class come into the public debate? And how can a self-sufficient and prosperous tribe be silenced by the contemporary activist class who claims to represent the prosperous and educated legacy of Oklahoma Indians? Native to the land and so essential to the heritage of Oklahoma?

  No, the victim-class and those making a handsome living off a claim to represent oppressed people, do not have a foothold in Oklahoma... the land of the Red People.
David Van Risseghem

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sooner Politics Unveils the 'Lawmakers Journal' Goes Online

  As Oklahoma prepares for a very active legislative season, Sooner Politics is helping to connect lawmakers directly with the voters of their districts and the entire Sooner State.

  Page A3 of our online daily newspaper is now filled with legislative correspondents who will be updating the  latest events at the capitol and news of the legislation which is working it's way through committees and floor votes.

Patrick McGuigan's Capitol Beat
 The page includes the most sought after columnists covering the legislature. Patrick McGuigan's Capitol Beat is joined by Watchdog-OK and Grace McMillan's "The House and Senate".

Lawmaker's Journal;
the new Section B of
Sooner Politics Daily News

  Along with the press office briefings of each house, a growing list of current lawmakers are posting their own raw legislative journals and blogs. They will discuss he rationale governing their recent votes, challenges remaining in the effort to reach a key compromise in solving a state problem, and even a few lighthearted stories of the less flattering side of being a citizen lawmaker.

Here are 6 recent posts from the diverse group
of lawmakers, whose posts are carried in Lawmakers Journal
A published registry of the daily progress of bills
  Finally, the Open-States section tracks all the bills from their filings, right up though their landing on the governor's desk. Each morning readers can see what has transpired on the floor of each house in the previous day's business.
David Van Risseghem

Monday, January 12, 2015

Influence Peddlers And Taskmasters

Oklahoma Chamber President, Fred Morgan with
 new Senator Jack Fry, at the Governor's Mansion

When Do Lobbyists Go Too Far?

  The Ruling Class has once again set up their figurative trade show booths in the halls and conference rooms of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Nothing new here, nothing to see. Move along... No Loitering!
  The average Oklahoman will rarely ever get a small sense of how the organized lobbying class has declared ownership of some lawmakers. Some are so fully "whipped" that they don't ever know what their position on a bill is, until they're gotten the memo from the lobbyists who've bought them and their office.

Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce uses
Governor's Mansion & Staff for part of their
Lobbying event, to peddle influence upon the new
legislators of the 2015 session.
   So where are the boundaries? When does a lawmaker draw a line? And where do the ethics rules and state laws come into play?

  What are the reporting rules when a politician is sent on an all-expense-paid trip to a "conference in the Caribbean (2014 National Popular Vote lobby)?
  What happens when a lawmaker lets a lobbyist use government facilities for coordinated events like the recent Oklahoma Chamber's "Evening at the Governor's Mansion"?
  As with most issues, there is the legal code of state statutes regarding criminal behavior. This would be the most egregious scenario where abuse of office and misuse of state assets is used for lobbying interests.
  Beyond that, there are ethics rules for members of the legislature. While this would not pertain to criminal offenses, it would still potentially lead to a member of the legislature being removed from office.
  And lastly, there's the "Smell Test".  While not all bad behavior is a violation of a written rule; some things are just abhorrent to the Oklahoma standards of decency for the comportment of a civic leader. The manner of rectifying these instances of misconduct is through the ballot box, protest, or a personal appeal for a leader to "get help".

  I'm proud to be an Okie, but I'm not blind to the reality that our state has a rather embarrassing history of corruption in our elected officials. While I don't blame the current crop of leaders for the past decades, I do sometimes wonder if a systemic disorder may be lingering in our state whereby we don't have sufficient safeguards in our system. Or maybe we just don't exercise the discipline to follow the safeguard rules we made after the last big corruption case.
  In any case, we somehow think that since our intentions are good, therefore our actions cannot be assailable.  I used to manage a chain of retail outlets and I knew that our staff was our most essential asset. But I always let our good people know that any of us is capable of falling, provided we are left to a sufficient enough amount of temptation. And being lax in our inspections & audits, might just provide the catalyst for corruption to take hold.
David Van Risseghem

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Revenge of the Cartoonist

  The world's editorial cartoonists came out in a show of worldwide force, today.

Daryl Cagle runs a syndicate service for several good illustrators. He writes about his personal connections with the French cartoonist fraternity...

"There are cartoon festivals all over France – the best one for political cartoonists is in the small town of St Just le Martel; I’ve been attending for years, along with other cartoonists I syndicate. The townspeople pitch in to throw a festival for the editorial cartoonists every year; villagers put cartoonists up in their homes, and they award a live cow to the “Humor Vache” cartoonist of the year. One greatly respected winner of the cow was Georges Wolinski, a brilliant cartoonist with a masterful loose, swishy, wordy style, highly respected by the French. We were fellow cow winners, having a beer together last October; it is hard to imagine that he is gone.  The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are a diverse group of charming characters; they are the heart of the French cartooning community. There are not a lot of editorial cartoonists. We get to know each other; the murders are a blow that strikes close to all of us."

Here's a taste of today's work.

David Van Risseghem