Oklahoma ScissorTales: A monument to support
If all goes as planned, the Oklahoma Capitol will be the site of a Bill of Rights monument sometime in 2022 — and its installation will be devoid of controversy.
That most certainly was not the case with a Ten Commandments monument that sat on the Capitol grounds for about three years before being ordered removed by the state Supreme Court in 2015. Debates about a clash between church and state were similar here to those in other states.
Such arguments are unlikely with a Bill of Rights monument, which is being pushed by Texas-based comedian Chris Bliss. He and his nonprofit, called My Bill of Rights, want to place a tribute in the capitals of all 50 states. They did so in Arizona in 2012; Oklahoma is next on the list.
As Bliss told our reporter Carmen Forman, “These are the seeds of our prosperity, the seeds of our greatness, the seeds of inspiration to the rest of the world yet they barely exist in the public square.”
The Legislature in 2016 gave unanimous approval to the Bill of Rights Monument Display Act, and the Capital Preservation Commission has approved the project.
The monument, expected to cost about $580,000, will be privately funded.
Former state Rep. Gary Banz, who carried the House version of the 2016 bill, noted the overwhelming support. “I mean really, who could be opposed to our founding document?” he said. Indeed.
One catchphrase that is worth remembering
Law enforcement and local weather forecasters use the phrase repeatedly when flash flooding is underway or is imminent — turn around, don’t drown. Unfortunately, not everyone heeds that advice. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports that a woman drowned Tuesday afternoon when her vehicle was swept off a road in Payne County and went into 10 feet of water. According to the OHP, a high-water warning sign was posted on the roadway but the woman ignored it. The same day, firefighters and emergency workers across the state rescued several people whose vehicles had become stranded due to floodwaters. “Turn around, don’t drown” is more than a catchy phrase — it really is a potential life-saver.
Big dreams for new Chicago mayor
Chicago has long been noted as one of the most crooked political cities in America. Its new mayor is intent on changing that. In remarks after being sworn in Monday, Lori Lightfoot promised to follow through on her campaign pledge to reform government. “When public officials cut shady backroom deals, they get rich … and the rest of us get the bill,” Lightfoot said. “These practices have gone on here for decades.” She said no elected or appointed officials should ever profit from their office. “This requirement that people must give more to get access to basic city services must end,” Lightfoot said. “And it will end, starting today.” Lightfoot is Chicago’s first openly gay mayor and its first black female mayor. If she’s able to root out and end longstanding corruption, however, that will truly be one for the history books.
Teaching financial life skills to Ivy Leaguers
Those who attend Ivy League schools are highly intelligent, of course, but that doesn’t mean they can’t use some schooling on financial literacy. The Wall Street Journal reports that for the first time, Harvard University’s economics department in April led a personal finance workshop for undergrads. This month, students at Princeton University attended the school’s inaugural “Financial Literacy Day.” The Harvard workshops included lectures on retirement planning, debt, credit and other topics. These courses are important, and topical — growing student loan debt is regularly in the headlines. And, not all Ivy Leaguers are super wealthy. The Journal noted that nearly half of first-generation college students at Harvard told the school newspaper that their parents make less than $40,000 per year.
Sanders’ puzzling attack on charter schools
In a recent poll, the group Democrats for Education Reform found that “there is strong public support for public charter schools among key Democratic constituencies, particularly Black and Hispanic voters.” Perhaps someone should inform Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. As part of his education agenda, Sanders wants to place a moratorium on federal funding for new charter schools and add regulations to those now on the books. “The proliferation of charter schools has disproportionately affected communities of color,” Sanders says. He’s correct — they have helped parents in those communities to find better options for their children. This explains why, according to the DFER poll, 58 percent of black Democratic primary voters and 52 percent of Hispanics looked favorably on charter schools.
Taking dislike of Trump to a new level
A Democratic U.S. House member took “Trump derangement syndrome” to new heights this week when she alleged that deaths of migrant children being held at the border are intentional. “With five kids that have died … the evidence is really clear that this is intentional,” said Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois. “It’s a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration and it’s cruel and inhumane.” Underwood spoke one day after the news that a Guatemalan teen had died from the flu. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who was testifying before a House committee, called the remarks “appalling.” He was right. The committee later voted 9-7 to strike Underwood’s comments from the record. That move likely would have failed if 10 Democrats hadn’t been absent from the hearing, but it was the right result.