Thursday 31 Jul
 
 
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OKG Newsletter


Topic: Scoop

A failed report card

State officials have boasted over the past year how things are improving in Oklahoma when it comes to smoking. But the American Lung Association has a different view of improvement.

In its newest report "State of Tobacco: 2008," ALA gives Oklahoma grades of F and D in four smoking categories. For the state's efforts on for anti-tobacco spending and cessation coverage, the report gave the Sooner State a big fat F in both categories. On smoking restriction policies and tobacco taxes, Oklahoma received a D.

Back in the fall, Oklahoma Gazette profiled the state's smoking problem and how after a decade of the major tobacco companies' settlement with dozens of states over health costs, Oklahoma was one of the highest ranking states for cigarette use. State officials cautioned labeled Oklahoma a failure since the money received from the tobacco companies was placed into a trust fund that only now has started to pay off.

That fact was mentioned by the ALA report.

"The American Lung Association recognizes Oklahoma for continuing to gradually increase funding for its state tobacco control program," the report stated.

While officials are working harder than ever to gain ground on the massive smoking problem in the state, the report doesn't provide much encouragement. Until the state places more restrictions on public smoking, increases the tobacco tax and pumps more funding into anti-tobacco programs, officials better get use to failing report cards.

by Scott Cooper 01.15.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

The Askins effect

It has been only a week since Lt. Gov. Jari Askins announced her intention to run for governor in 2010, but the chess board is already moving. State Sen. Kenneth Corn has announced he is running for the job Askins plans to vacate next year, if she vacates.

I asked Corn should Askins change her mind and decide not to run for governor but go after a second term in the No. 2 state government job, would he stay in the race. It took a while for Corn to get to his answer, but he came through clear.

"I don't think Jari will change her mind," Corn assuredly replied. "But if she does, I will not run against her."

Corn's attempt at higher office makes sense. He's a young Democrat from southeastern Oklahoma who could become the main cog for the Oklahoma Democratic Party in future years. Corn is smart, considered one of the more dedicated and hard working legislators and his politics fit conservative Democrat winning strategies - supports education, gun rights, the death penalty and is pro-life. Corn also has advocated convening a convention to explore revamping the state constitution.

The lite-gov spot has been a tricky one to figure out for 2010. Everything hinged on Askins. If she decided to run for re-election, the race would hardly make any news. But now it becomes the second high profile seat to open up. There are plenty of names which may be tossed into this race including Senate President Pro Tem Glen Coffee and former state Sen. Scott Pruitt who ran for the office in 2006. Coffee is also a harbinger. He could also run for attorney general or even governor. Coffee will be the most watched legislator this session. Where he places his name in the 2010 election season will shift things for Republicans. If he runs, I should add.

A Corn vs. Coffee match up would be exciting. They have traded barbs on the Senate floor and will not hesitate to spar on the campaign trail.

by Scott Cooper 01.23.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Lead by example

Oklahoma Legislative leaders are presenting a peculiar example of their call for lawsuit reform. Senate President Pro Tem Glen Coffee and Speaker of the House Chris Benge are using the court system to try and stop the governor from certain vetoes.

Coffee and Benge, both Republicans, announced they plan to file a petition with the Oklahoma Supreme Court asking the court to prevent the governor from vetoing bills that are not appropriating funds. The state Constitution gives the governor the power to line-item veto parts of an appropriation bill.

Last year, Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, struck down portions of a bill which set budget limitations on certain state agencies. Coffee and Benge argue Henry overstepped his veto authority. They contend the governor can only veto portions of appropriation bills.

What's interesting to note is both Coffee and Benge are ardent supporters of tort reform. Coffee has been very vocal about the need to curtail frivolous lawsuits. What better way to set an example of this need than by suing the governor?

 

by Scott Cooper 01.28.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Bipartisan food

Already there are accusations of a breakdown of bipartisan, and it's just the first week of the Legislative session. But Tuesday night, the bickering political parties got along for a few hours.

Dozens of legislators, state office holders, agency heads and staffers attended the annual "A Tasteful Affair" Legislative Reception, sponsored by the Oklahoma Restaurant Association. The event, which has been conducted for several years, took place at the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City.

It is a hugely attended reception, if for no other reason, than the free food and alcohol, which was plenty to be had. I will not engage into naming which lawmakers downed a few Buds, but let's just say it was bipartisan.

The event features restaurants from across the state, but mainly in Oklahoma City, letting attendees partake of their best cuisine. Again, for free. Terrific samples of steak from Cattlemen's and Mickey Mantle were plenty to taste, as was sausage from Pete's Place out of the little town of Krebs. Any journalist who has covered an execution in McAlester always makes the short trek over to Krebs for dinner.

The Pete's Place table was also busy handing out their own Choc beer brew.

It was a nice evening and every Republican and Democrat put down their partisan knives and opted for the eating forks. But as legislators get back to the work the next day, indigestion is bound to set in and the camaraderie will probably end up in the same place as the eaten food.

by Scott Cooper 02.05.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Bipartisan food

Already there are accusations of a breakdown of bipartisan, and it's just the first week of the Legislative session. But Tuesday night, the bickering political parties got along for a few hours.

Dozens of legislators, state office holders, agency heads and staffers attended the annual "A Tasteful Affair" Legislative Reception, sponsored by the Oklahoma Restaurant Association. The event, which has been conducted for several years, took place at the Civic Center Music Hall in downtown Oklahoma City.

It is a hugely attended reception, if for no other reason, than the free food and alcohol, which was plenty to be had. I will not engage into naming which lawmakers downed a few Buds, but let's just say it was bipartisan.

The event features restaurants from across the state, but mainly in Oklahoma City, letting attendees partake of their best cuisine. Again, for free. Terrific samples of steak from Cattlemen's and Mickey Mantle were plenty to taste, as was sausage from Pete's Place out of the little town of Krebs. Any journalist who has covered an execution in McAlester always makes the short trek over to Krebs for dinner.

The Pete's Place table was also busy handing out their own Choc beer brew.

It was a nice evening and every Republican and Democrat put down their partisan knives and opted for the eating forks. But as legislators get back to the work the next day, indigestion is bound to set in and the camaraderie will probably end up in the same place as the eaten food.

by Scott Cooper 02.05.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

God willing

As Oklahoma Gazette's Ben Fenwick first reported, state Sen. Randy Brogdon is considering a run for governor in 2010. The Tulsa World confirmed for themselves this week. (Glad we could help.)

Brogdon, a Republican, made the announcement while speaking at the Clouds Over America conference held in Oklahoma City a few weeks ago. The conference was sponsored by the John Birch Society. To call that group conservative is like calling a whale big.

As Fenwick reported, Brogdon told the crowd he is praying to God for guidance on whether to run for the state's highest office. If God tells him to go for it, Brogdon said he will then consult with his wife, who apparently has veto power over the Almightly.

Brogdon is just in his first term as a state senator from Owasso, but he has established himself as a pure conservative, even causing headaches for his own party at times over ethics rules, open government and tax credits. He was one of the few Republicans who opposed the $60 million tax credit given by the Legislature to the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team. The credit went to help the team move from Seattle.

Also considering a run for governor are two members of Oklahoma's Congressional delegation Mary Fallin and Tom Cole. Both mentioned they are looking into the 2010 race at the Oklahoma Press Association annual convention.

Should all three make a run, Brogdon may have a difficult time raising funds and getting heard above Fallin and Cole. But Brad Henry had the same problem and it turned out just fine for him.
by Scott Cooper 02.12.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Old reporters never die

The state Senate honored one of the greats of government and political reporting. Former Oklahoman reporter John Greiner was bestowed the full appreciation of the Oklahoma Senate as well as the press gallery Monday afternoon.

Senate Resolution 9 commends Greiner for his nearly four decades of covering the state capitol. The resolution was sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Glen Coffee.

"John was somebody who was a champion for news, free speech and transparency," Coffee said on the Senate floor with Greiner standing beside.

A 1964 graduate of OU, Griener served in the Army and retired at the rank of colonel. He covered seven governors at The Oklahoman's capitol bureau and was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1993. His last day at the capitol was back in October.

"I am truly humbled by this," Griener told the Senate. "Covering the Legislature and politics is fun and exciting."

He received more than one round of applause from the Senate, as well as the pool of reporters sitting up in the press gallery. Afterwards, every senator came up and shook Griener's hand.

John's departure is a great loss, not just for the newspaper industry but for the public as well. Oklahoma citizens need government watchdogs like John Griener.

by Scott Cooper 03.17.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Pooped out

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is sitting on the edge of being a great crusader or poultry terrorist. And it's uncertain which way the egg is going to crack.

Since he was first elected in 1994, amid a Republican tidal wave that year, Democrat Edmondson has been one of the state's most popular elected officials. He routinely wins re-election by double digits, including 2002 when he trounced well-known and well-financed GOP challenger Denise Bode who hit Edmondson hard over the gays and boy scouts issue.

Edmondson has earned his reputation through his lineage, experience and toughness. It's hard to pin the liberal label on Edmondson since he is a staunch supporter of the death penalty and has spearheaded efforts for more and faster executions.

Edmondson also gained recognition for his efforts in the fight against big tobacco and the millions of dollars the settlement has brought to the state. His office threw away partisan stickers after the prosecution and conviction of former Democrat state Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher.

But Edmondson's latest crusade might be his toughest and could cost him an election and legacy if the case goes against him. The state AG is suing poultry companies to get them to stop dumping chicken litter in Oklahoma streams, lakes and rivers. The battle has brewed for a few years now with a trial set later this year. If everything goes Edmondson's way, his plan to run for governor next year will be set in motion.

The poultry companies are not sitting on their eggs and have put up a stern fight. However, the latest episode finds Edmondson skating out in the middle of the ice pond.

An E. coli outbreak in the Oklahoma northeastern town of Locust Grove is not only pitting Edmondson against the chicken companies, but the state Health Department and the federal government. Edmondson claims the water in the area was "very likely" contaminated by the chicken farms litter runoff into the Illinois River and caused the illness which has led to one death. The state Health Department said they couldn't find any evidence of Edmondson's claims, which caused the AG to fire back the Health Department "botched" their testing. Findings from the Centers for Disease Control also fail to back up Edmondson's chicken litter claim.

This is a dicey role for Edmondson to throw. If he wins, he may go down as Oklahoma's best AG. But if he loses, a legacy and governor's office probably fades away.

by Scott Cooper 03.13.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

The horse race begins

The 2008 election is only a few months old, but already a poll is out showing the top contenders for the 2010 governor's race.

Conducted by SoonerPoll, the survey asked Oklahoma voters their choices for the gov spot.

On the Republican side, several names have been mentioned as possible candidates including Congress members Mary Fallin and Tom Cole along with state Sen. Randy Brogdon and former Congressman J.C. Watts. In the SoonerPoll, Fallin has a comfortable lead over Cole 53 percent to 31 percent. Brogdon comes in with barely 1 percent.

On the Democrat side, two names have emerged - Lt. Gov. Jari Askins and attorney general Drew Edmondson. In a head-to-head matchup, Edmondson has a sizeable lead over Askins, 42 percent to 28 percent.

This stuff is already getting good.

by Scott Cooper 03.07.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

TC givin' some love

Did anyone else see our own ultra-conservative senator Tom Coburn give a big man hug to Pres. Barack Obama after the state of the union speech? Holy cow! Tommy C giving the big ups to the prez who he will probably oppose on most issues. Talk about bipartisanship.

Of course, the two did work closely together while both were in the Senate on transparent government. And Coburn has talked in friendly terms about Obama while the Democrat was running for president.

But still, to give the big H on national television, knowing his state voted against Obama more than any other state. Wow! That's courage.

by Scott Cooper 02.26.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 
 
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