Oklahoma ScissorTales: Lighting the way in Bricktown
The canal that runs through Bricktown, lined with shops and restaurants, is a longtime favorite of visitors. New lighting should only augment the experience while improving safety for pedestrians.
The catalyst for new lighting was the electrocution in September of a man who fell into the water when the light post he was leaning against gave way. He touched wires as he tried to climb out of the canal, suffering a severe electrical shock, and died a short time later. A man who jumped into the water to assist was hurt. Claims have been filed against the city on behalf of both parties.
An architectural firm’s report conducted for the city includes four upgrade options to the two-decade-old system, which range in cost from $126,000 to $259,000. The report says light fixtures, many of which are within a few feet of the canal’s edge, should be farther away from the water. The system should include automatic power shutoffs for any that must be near the water.
Doug Kupper, the city’s Parks and Recreation director, says the new fixtures will be “as far away from the water’s edge as we can possibly get.” Meantime, the system is being inspected daily.
Oklahoma City leaders have capably addressed various issues that have surfaced in Bricktown through the years, including panhandling and security. Although the circumstances mandating this latest change are highly unfortunate, the city appears well on its way to doing so again with improved lighting along the district’s signature canal.
Caution advised with request from OMES
It may well be that the state’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services needs every dollar of the $16 million it is requesting from the Legislature. However, recent history mandates a cautious approach by lawmakers. In 2017, the state Health Department said it was $30 million underwater. The Legislature provided an emergency appropriation, then learned the department had the money it needed all along. Officials with OMES, which provides services to many state agencies officials, say the agency is behind on payments to vendors and owes $7 million on some invoices. The head of the Senate appropriations committee says OMES should be able to use revolving funds to cover the $7 million, and wants to dig a little deeper before providing the remaining $9 million. A representative who heard the agency's budget request said there’s been gross mismanagement at OMES. Lawmakers would be wise to tread carefully.
So much for ‘unity’ on marijuana law
It didn’t take long for opposition to mount to the “Unity Bill,” which created a framework for Oklahoma’s medical marijuana rules. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 2612 on March 14. Five days later, on Tuesday of this week, a lawsuit was filed contending the regulations are unconstitutional. Among other things, the lawsuit says the disciplinary powers the bill gives to the state Health Department are too vague and that the Unity Bill violates due process. The plaintiff is a registered nurse who owns a medical marijuana dispensary in Oklahoma City. One of her attorneys is Julie Ezell, who as legal counsel for the Health Department helped draft medical marijuana regulations before resigning in July amid a criminal investigation. This saga, as Alice in Wonderland put it, continues to grow curiouser and curiouser.
Trump won’t let loose of this feud
President Trump’s feelings about former Sen. John McCain were evident during the campaign, when he said McCain wasn’t a war hero “because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Seven months after McCain’s death, the ill will persists. Trump tweeted last weekend that McCain had distributed “the fake and totally discredited” Steele dossier, and quoted former independent counsel Ken Starr, who called McCain’s involvement a “very dark stain” against him. Trump also tweeted that McCain was “last in his class” at the U.S. Naval Academy, and had “far worse” stains than his tie to the dossier, noting the senator’s vote against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The president continued his criticism throughout the week. It was a disappointing display that drew criticism of the president from both sides of the political spectrum, and rightly so.
A salute to women’s basketball teams
On Tuesday night in Billings, Montana, the Oklahoma City University women’s basketball team came up one victory short of winning the NAIA national championship. The Stars were seeking their 10th title and fourth in the past six years — what has been a remarkable run of success. Also this week, in Hays, Kansas, the women of Southwestern Oklahoma State reached the final eight of the NCAA Division II national tournament. The Lady Bulldogs beat Fort Hays State 88-77 on Monday night to win the Central Regional title. The quarterfinals are next week in Columbus, Ohio. No state teams are in the more highly publicized NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament that got underway this weekend. But as OCU and SWOSU have shown, women’s basketball remains strong in Oklahoma.
Looking to provide jolt to campaign
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., has a problem. Gillibrand is among the dozen-plus Democrats who have their sights on the White House, and she’s struggling badly. A recent Des Moines Register/CNN Iowa poll put support for Gillibrand’s candidacy at zero percent. The senator, who has criticized the military for its sexual harassment policies, recently said her office couldn’t find corroboration for reports that an aide had harassed female staffers, then fired the man after Politico found more than 20 former staffers with similar stories. Gillibrand plans a rally Sunday in front of a Trump hotel to jumpstart her campaign. She said in announcing the rally that “we can definitely achieve universal health care … provide paid family leave for all, end gun violence, pass a Green New Deal, get money out of politics and take back our democracy.” But just about every other Democratic candidate has said the same thing.