Oklahoma ScissorTales: Holtzclaw continues to cost city
Daniel Holtzclaw’s time as an Oklahoma City police officer continues to take a toll.
The city council this week approved a $25,000 settlement to resolve a lawsuit filed against Holtzclaw by a woman who alleged he used excessive force against her in 2013. Demetria Campbell said Holtzclaw slammed her against a brick wall without justification.
Campbell sued Holtzclaw and the city; the city accepts no liability.
Holtzclaw is in prison after being convicted in 2015 of rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure and other sex offenses against 13 black women. All the victims have sued him and the city.
Four other lawsuits against Holtzclaw, from 11 sexual assault victims, are pending in federal court. They ensure that this sordid chapter will continue to unfold, likely for years to come
Polling reflects favorably on new governor
A change in the Oklahoma governor’s office has voters feeling better about the state’s prospects. According to a poll by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates, 48 percent of voters say the state is headed in the right direction. That’s the highest number the polling firm has seen since the last quarter of 2014, and compares with 70 percent who said last fall that Oklahoma was headed in the wrong direction. That optimism “is clearly tied to the new governor,” says CHS president Pat McFerron. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans have a favorable view of Gov. Kevin Stitt, compared with 34 percent of Democrats. The poll found Stitt’s favorable rating comparable among urban and rural voters, and he’s viewed especially well by the 14 percent of Oklahomans who say party affiliation doesn’t matter when they vote. McFerron says there "is little doubt that leading and governing has the possibility to damage Stitt's numbers." For now, though, he's playing with house money.
Trying to bring physicians to rural Oklahoma
A bill at the Legislature is the latest effort to draw physicians to rural Oklahoma. Seven years ago, lawmakers passed a bill that established a fund to create residency programs in rural areas, where the state has a shortage of primary care physicians. Now under consideration is House Bill 2511 by Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, which would begin a pilot program to let doctors who graduate from a medical school in Oklahoma and practice in small towns forgo paying state income tax on up to $25,000 per year for up to five years. McCall says doctors could take the money they save and use it to help pay student loans, set up a practice or invest in the local community. The bill is in the Senate after winning overwhelming approval in the House. It’s an idea worth trying — the federal Health Resources and Services Administration says the only places in Oklahoma not designated as shortage areas are Kingfisher County and parts of Oklahoma, Rogers and Carter counties.
Director of OK Policy will be missed
When he helped found the Oklahoma Policy Institute in 2008, David Blatt was part of a three-person team. Eleven years later, Tulsa-based OK Policy has 16 full-time employees and seven interns and provides an important voice at the Capitol. The left-leaning organization does excellent work providing lawmakers with data and sound arguments that support their policy proposals. With Blatt leading the way as executive director, OK Policy fought successfully against Republican-led efforts to continue driving down the state's income tax rate. Blatt says he considers that among his greatest contributions. Now 55, he is leaving OK Policy to pursue other opportunities. This page has disagreed often with Blatt, but we've always appreciated his professionalism, civility and good humor. He leaves very large shoes to fill, indeed.
Odd choice by school board candidate
Josh Means is taking an unusual approach in seeking to represent District 6 on the Oklahoma City School Board. Means, 20, whose father Jay held the seat from 2011 until 2014, has opted not to grant interviews to The Oklahoman or answer emailed questions from reporter Tim Willert. A news release from Means' campaign describes him as "a 20-year-old African-American, conservative Republican." It also says Means, a college student, "brings a multicultural approach that can bring people together and will no doubt serve him well on the OKCPS board." A campaign flyer includes a salute to veterans and says "we need to support our students and teachers without raising taxes." Neither of those topics has any relation to the school board. One email from Willert requesting answers to various questions drew a response accusing the reporter of being "hostile." District 6 patrons should know that the other candidate in the race is incumbent Gloria Torres. The election is Tuesday.
An example of why vaccinations are important
What happens when more and more people choose not to get their children vaccinated? Rockland County, New York, provides an answer. This week officials in Rockland County declared a state of emergency over an outbreak of measles — a disease declared eliminated in this country in 2000. Included in the state of emergency is a ban on unvaccinated youths being in public places. Since last fall, more than 150 cases of measles had been confirmed in Rockland County. Of those cases, 82 percent hadn’t gotten the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Officials know there is no practical way to enforce the ban, but instead are trying to make sure parents understand the severity of the problem. “It’s an attention-grabber, there’s no question about it,” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day. Maybe the attention will produce positive results.