Sunday, May 24, 2009

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
By Steve Fair

Next Monday, Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. will announce whether he will seek re-election in 2010. Now more than ever, not just Oklahoma, but America, needs Senator Coburn! Coburn will make the announcement at “The Monday Meeting” in New York City. The monthly meeting has brought together the right wing of the city's financial and intellectual elite-among the regulars are major Republican donors and members of The Wall Street Journal 's editorial board. The meeting's fund-raising clout is informal, but fearsome. The fact that Coburn will make the announcement there gives conservatives hopeful expectations Coburn will run for re-election.

Coburn is not your run of the mill politician. He really doesn’t want to be in Washington. Dr. Tom wants to be an Okie in Muskogee practicing medicine. When the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee (a contradiction in itself) after he was elected to the Senate told Coburn that he would have to quit delivering babies for free, he ignored them. The committee contended that Coburn could be “influenced” by his patients, even though Coburn received no compensation for delivering the babies. In fact, Dr. Tom paid his malpractice insurance premiums out of his own pocket.

Senator Coburn did not go to Washington to go along to get along. He has used the Senate rules to his and the American taxpayer’s advantage. Because traditional Senate rules allow a single Senator to put a “hold” on legislation for any reason, Coburn has been a thorn in the side for all big spenders in DC. A Senator may place a hold simply to review a bill, to negotiate changes to the bill, or to kill the bill. A bill can be held for as long as the Senator who objects to the bill wishes to block its consideration.

Coburn put a “hold” on so many spending bills that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D, Nevada created the “Coburn Omnibus” bill- actually 36 bills in one. The bill was a package-spending bill that according to Coburn contained “tons of waste and tons of new programs that we don’t have the money for.”

And it’s not just the Democrats that have felt heat because Senator Coburn is in the Senate. Everyone is now familiar with the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” championed by then Senator Ted Stevens, but if Coburn is not in the Senate, it’s highly likely the bridge would have funded and built.

In an August 2, 2008 article entitled, Coburn or Stevens, The Wall Street Journal stated, “They (the GOP) may not like it, but Mr. Coburn is showing Republicans how the GOP can return to its small government roots. Consider Ronald Reagan, who in 1987 vetoed a highway bill because it had a mere 121 earmarks in it. Reagan quoted a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison in 1796, warning that allowing Congress to spend federal money for local projects would set off "a scene of scramble among the members (for) who can get the most money wasted in their State, and they will always get most who are meanest." Reagan didn't think that represented good government or good politics. Republicans today should heed his warning.”

Back in December 2007, President Bush proposed lowering down payment requirements to help the FHA to insure bigger mortgages in high-cost states. Bush said, “This bill could allow the FHA to reach an additional 250,000 families who could not otherwise qualify for prime-rate financing.”

Coburn disagreed, saying the bill was not the “proper response to the housing crisis” since it would increase government-backed mortgages and increase the government’s liability by an estimated $1.6 billion. Talk about prophetic!

“I am not a go-along, get along guy if I think it is the wrong way to go,” Coburn says. “I am O.K. taking the consternation of my colleagues. I take my oath seriously.”

Life without Coburn in the Senate would be a step backward. Even the more conservative Republicans don’t have the iron rail up the shirttail to do what Coburn will do. The Senate would go back to business as usual in the most exclusive club in the world. Dr. No is needed more now than ever. Let’s hope and pray Coburn is willing to make the sacrifice for another six years- for Oklahoma and America!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stephens County
Fish Fry
Straw Poll Results
On Saturday May 16th, the Stephens County Republican Party held their 5th annual Fish Fry. Over 400 people were in attendance and a straw poll for Governor and Lt. Governor was conducted. The questions and the responses are below:
If the election were held today, which of the following would you vote for in the Republican primary for Governor?

RECAP OF RESPONSES (total votes)

44- State Senator Randy Brogdon

68- U.S. Congresswoman Mary Fallin

74- Former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts

40- Undecided

If the election were held today, which of the following would you vote for in the Republican primary for Lt. Governor?

RECAP OF RESPONSES (total votes)

44- State Senator Todd Lamb

14- State Representative Colby Schwartz

38- State Representative John Wright

131- Undecided

This poll was not a scientific, but an informal poll conducted at the event. Persons could have voted multiple times and the results are not be viewed as the view of the Stephens County Republican Party Executive Committee.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekly Opinion/Editorial

TAG, you're it!

by Steve Fair

Political patronage is the use of state resources to reward individuals for their electoral support. In some countries, including the US, patronage is legal, as in the British and Canadian tradition of allowing the Prime Minister to appoint the heads of a number of commissions and agencies; in most cases, these appointments go to people who have supported the political party of the Prime Minister. In the United States, when a President is elected, he fills his cabinet with like-minded people. In the early years of our nation’s history, political patronage was standard operating procedure. In fact, political patronage was the motive in the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881 by a disgruntled office seeker who did not receive a political appointment. That spurred Congress to pass the Civil Service Act, or Pendleton Act of 1883. Up until that time, if you worked for the government, it wasn’t what you knew, but who you knew.

In Oklahoma, political patronage has been practiced so well that is almost an art form. It reached its apex in the 1980s, when 240 county commissioners in Oklahoma were indicted by a federal grand jury in the county commissioner scandal. In terms of total number of elected officials indicted, it was the largest political scandal in American history.

Oklahoma has had two Democrat Governors convicted practicing political patronage. Governor David Hall served nineteen months in prison for participating in a political patronage kickback scheme. Governor David Walters pled guilty to a misdemeanor election violation as opposed to felony charges after numerous former campaign aides testified to illegal political patronage activities in his campaign organization. The aides alleged that Walters was promising jobs for campaign donations.

One of the long-term patronage appointments in Oklahoma may be on it’s way out. President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee has gotten bi-partisan approval on a bill to end the Senate’s present tag agency patronage system. Coffee’s bill would prohibit legislators from recommending tag agents to the Tax Commission. Traditionally, the State Senator would “recommend” to the Commission those in his district he thought would be good tag agents. Seldom was a “recommendation” turned down by the agency. Often, elected officials would “recommend” the appointment of their cronies and political donors as the counties’ tag agent.

It should be noted this “bi-partisan” effort happened in the first term after the Republicans took control of the Senate. If Senate Republicans had wanted to play hardball and be “fair,” they could have continued under the same patronage system the tag agencies have operated under for the next century. After all, changing the system during their century long majority rule of the legislature, never occurred to the Democrats.

In the past, when there were less tag agents, getting appointed tag agent in a county was quite a nice political plum. Often large counties had just one agent and all car tags expired the same month, so long lines were the order the day when you had to renew your tag. Today, tag agents don’t rake in the big bucks of agents in the past, but there is still no shortage of people who are willing to be appointed tag agent.

According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission web site, The Oklahoma Tax Commission administers the taxes and fees associated with the registration and tagging of vehicles. Although tag agencies are run by private individuals, the services they provide come from, and monies collected go to, the Oklahoma Tax Commission.”

Finding out specifics on how the Oklahoma Tax Commission compensates tag agents is harder to find than Jimmy Hoffa’s body. Tag agents are independent businesses and the Tax Commission establishes the fees they charge, but as to how much the agent makes is not readily available information. In most states, tags are purchased directly from the state, not through private enterprise. Privatizing or using independent businesses to handle that aspect of the state’s business may be more cost effective and efficient, but until the process is more transparent, John Q Public can’t determine that.

Coffee's bill will close a chapter on Oklahoma history that was not pretty. Appointing qualified ethical, principled people to be tag agents should be the goal of all citizens, not matter what their party affiliation of level of support for a State Senator.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was spotted at the Off the Record bar at the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington on Saturday May 2nd. . Stevens appeared to be interested in the Kentucky Derby festivities on the TV, but he left before race time.But the story doesn’t end there.

Mine That Bird, a 50-1 longshot, was the surprise Derby winner on Saturday. The horse is owned by Mark Allen, who is the son of Bill Allen, former CEO of the oil company Veco. Bill Allen was the lead government witness in the prosecution of Stevens. As part of his plea deal, Bill Allen secured immunity for his son, who Allen says bribed two state lawmakers (including, coincidentally, Stevens’s son Ben Stevens, a state senator.) If Mark Allen had been charged and convicted, he would have lost his license to purchase horses in New Mexico, where he bought Mine That Bird.

And that’s not all, according to the Anchorage Daily News, which noted that Mine That Bird indirectly figured into one of the oddest events in the Stevens trial. After the jurors began deliberating on the fate of Stevens, one of them, Marian Hinnant, skipped town. She initially said her father had died, but then admitted she had a ticket to see the Breeders’ Cup, a major thoroughbred stakes race Santa Anita Park in California. Mine That Bird, which at that time had recently been purchased by Allen and his neighbor Leonard Blach, ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two-year-old. In that contest, Mine That Bird was true to form — he was a 30-to-1 long shot and finished 12th. Hinnant, meanwhile, was subsequently replaced by an alternate juror.
Weekly Opinion/Editorial
By Steve Fair
Last Wednesday, the Senate passed SB #834, the so-called “school deregulation bill,” authored by Representative Tad Jones, R, Claremore, and Senator John Ford, R, Bartlesville. The bill cleared the upper chamber by a vote of 25-23. The House passed the measure by a margin of 60-39, both votes were along party lines. Late Friday evening, Governor Henry vetoed the bill and because it didn’t pass the legislature with a large enough margin, it’s unlikely it will be brought up again this session.

Henry said the bill would have, “turned back the clock on decades of education reforms.” "While local control is an important component of a successful public education system, it is also critical to have rigorous state standards in place to produce the highest quality graduates and ensure achievement and accountability throughout the system," the governor said.

The bill would have allowed public schools to operate as charter schools and free them from many of the state “unfunded” mandates. Some school administrators and schools boards supported the bill because it would have given them more local control. The Oklahoma State School Board Association, the Cooperative Council of School Administrators, the Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition, the suburban and rural school associations, and the OKC, Tulsa, and State Chambers endorsed SB 834.

The Oklahoma Education Association, and State Superintendent for Education Sandy Garrett opposed it. They claimed the bill would have eliminated school librarians and counselors and would have made teachers “at will” employees. In reality, the bill gave local school boards and administrators the power to run their own districts and establish their own academic standards and rules. Henry said that one of his concerns was that local school administrators could ignore rigorous state standards and create their own academic benchmarks and rules under the bill. The exact opposite would have likely happened, because local school boards and administrators are very concerned about educating their children. Henry’s statement that local unpaid elected officials on the school board are not interested in education is elitist and condescending and he owes those people an apology.

Speaker of the House Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, said, "In vetoing SB 834, the governor has denied school districts much-needed freedom to meet our educational goals." "We continue to believe those locally, including parents, teachers and administrators, know what is best when it comes to education in their local communities. We aren't going to give up this fight for the children of our state," Benge pledged.

Senator Ford, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said even though we pump millions of dollars into education each year, schools are still saddled with so many mandates that limit how these funds are used. “Senate Bill 834 is simply an education local empowerment bill that will free-up teachers to teach,” said Ford.

It’s clear something needs to change in Oklahoma public schools. We have more total school districts across the state than Texas. We spend the majority of money allocated for education on non-classroom related activities- i.e. infrastructure and administration. Oklahoma continues to score low in comparative testing vs. other states, yet when someone comes up with an idea to let local districts have more power in how to improve their school system, it’s opposed by educational unions.

According to the National Assessment of Education Programs, Oklahoma fourth graders rank 37th in Reading and 36th in Math, while our eighth graders rank 34th in reading and 40th in Math. Not exactly stellar results from an educational system that gets the majority of the state budget each year.

How do we fix education in Oklahoma? If you listen to most of the establishment educators or the teacher’s union, it’s more money. If the legislature would just tax citizens more and funnel more of our money into education, test scores will improve, the clouds will open and the sun will shine. This has been the cry of education for years, yet Oklahoma student’s test scores continue to lag near the bottom third in the country. Jones and Ford’s bill was a good start. It would have allowed local districts to “think outside the box” and given them flexibility the current system doesn’t allow. It’s too bad that Governor Henry didn’t believe local school boards or administrators were qualified and capable enough to manage their own districts. So we will continue to do what we have been doing, expecting a different result.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Stephens County Republican Party will hold their 5th annual FISH FRY fundraiser on Saturday May 16, 2009. It will be held at the Stephens County Fairgrounds beginning at 6pm. Tickets are just $15 each and are available by calling 405.990.7449 or by emailing

Dr. Gene Howard, a nationally known John Wayne impersonator will entertain. Dr. Howard has appeared on the same program with General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Ambassador Dr. Allan Keyes, and John Wayne’s widow Pillar Wayne. In 1993 Dr. Howard appeared in a command performance at the National Rifle Association meeting in Nashville. Two of his poems and picture was given a full page spread in both their national magazines “The American Rifleman”, and “The Hunter”. Dr. Howard has appeared on many local TV and Radio programs across the USA, and is fast becoming one of America’s most sought after Patriotic speakers.

A silent and entertaining live auction will also be conducted featuring such items as Redhawks tickets and autographed footballs. A number of elected officials from throughout the state are expected. For more information, call Steve Fair at 580.252.6284.

Weekly opinion/editorial
by Steve Fair
The tenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

James Madison, "the father of the U.S. Constitution," said concerning the powers delegated to the federal branch of government: "The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people."

Interpretations of the tenth amendment are divided into two camps. The first camp interprets and believes the Constitution does not grant the United States federal government any power that it does not expressly mention. The opposing view is that the Constitution grants Congress the authority to do more or less anything that is not explicitly prohibited by the first eight amendments. As all aspects of government have grown- but particularly the federal branch- this amendment has gained some attention across the nation. It has resulted in several states passing what is known as “tenth amendment” legislation.

Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key, R-OKC authored HJR 1003 which declared in part, “THAT this serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers. THAT all compulsory federal legislation which directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.” The resolution was sponsored in the State Senate by Senator Randy Brogdon, R, Owasso.

“We, the people in the states, created the federal government,” Key said. “They act like they created us and we’re under their authority, and that’s really not the case.” “It’s to help try to get us back to following the Constitution and try to preserve our constitutional form of government,” Key said. “The federal government continues to violate it more and more. It’s gotten so bad that they pretty much do whatever they want and get away with just about anything they want to get away with.”

On February 18th, the Oklahoma State House passed HJR 1003 by a vote of 83-15 and sent the resolution to the Senate where it passed on April 14th 29-18. All Republicans voted for it and most Democrats against it.

On April 24th, Gov. Henry vetoed the resolution saying, “In short, HJR 1003 could be detrimental to Oklahoma and does not serve the state or its citizens in any positive manner.” Henry went on to say, “Furthermore, HJR 1003 also alleges, without offering any evidence or explanation, that past and current U.S. leaders may have violated the Constitution and committed crimes against the states and the country.” The Governor also said it was a WASTE OF TIME to pass 10th amendment legislation. This coming from a guy who is chronically late for appointments, has avoided pushing any meaningful reform-tort or workers comp- during his term and who just last week honored a rock band that dishonored the "people's house." Henry was surely joking- no one in their right mind would call standing up for the nation's founding document a waste of time. This lame duck Governor will undoubtedly run for another office after he is termed out- Oklahoma voters better REMEMBER when it comes to Blackjack Henry- the Governor who gave us casino gambling and a state rock song that he is a situational ethics kind of guy! To quote Flaming Lips Wayne Coyne, "He's so cool!"

Had Governor Henry signed the resolution, it would have been distributed to President Obama, members of Congress and other federal offices as an official statement from the state of Oklahoma.

In response to the Governor’s veto, Key has reintroduced the resolution as House Concurrent Resolution 1028. If the concurrent resolution passes both the House and Senate, it will not require signature from the governor. It passed the State House on Monday the 4th and now moves to the Senate.

Texas Governor Rick Perry supports tenth amendment legislation. When the Texas legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 50 which is virtually identical to Key’s bill, Perry said, “I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,' he continued. 'That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm states' rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ”

How can Governors of two states with citizens that have similar values see things so differently? Of course, one is a Republican and the other a Democrat, but the founders were non-partisan on the issue of the power of the federal government.

Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the Democrat Party said; "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." It is abundantly clear the founding fathers- even the Democrats- believed in limited government. If limited government was their goal, then why is it wrong to remind our current federal leaders to follow the Constitution and not exceed their Constitutional authority? The foundation of our Republic and its democratic system of government is rooted in the principles of the U.S. Constitution and it’s time our leaders in Washington started following it.

A recent poll commissioned by The Tulsa World has Henry with a higher approval rating than either of our US Senators Inhofe and Coburn. That's because no one is paying attention to what Blackjack is doing. He has vetoed a popular Voter ID bill and a bill that would have made English the official language of Oklahoma, yet two thirds of Oklahomans think he is doing a good job. So long as so many Oklahoman citizens fail to pay attention, we will have Blackjack vetoing good legislation and failing to deal with hard issues.