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I would like to thank Urban Tulsa Weekly (especially Holly Wall) for its wonderful Cover Story last week (17-23 May) on the annual Blue Dome Arts Festival. Again this year it was a great tribute to area artists and performers. I would also like to thank Michael Sager, the Blue Dome, their sponsors and advertisers, the participating artists and performers as well as the many spectators and fans who came out to enjoy the perfect weather and the art displayed by so many talented Oklahomans.
Although I had some bad luck having four of my art prints stolen by thieves Friday night, even that did not deter me from having the best time ever at Blue Dome. The performers were great, the arts and crafts were the best yet and the crowds were, as always, supportive throughout the festival.
The highlight of the event for me, however, occurred at closing Sunday evening as a mother approached my tent with her young son and daughter. She asked me if I would give some encouragement and advise to her son whom, she said, had an interest and talent in art. I hope that something I said will keep her son interested in art.
Her daughter, too, was an artist and a writer. Her mother said she had won an award at her school for a book she wrote and illustrated herself. Her mother showed me the book. I was fortunate to have the chance and the time to read the story and see how she had illustrated her words so well. Her teacher here in Tulsa is to be commended for inspiring her students to do such great work.
On my way home I thought to myself that the sweet and polite mother of those two artists should also be recognized for her support of her children's interest in art. She is exemplifying exactly what the Blue Dome and its festival are all about...supporting art and artists here in Tulsa and Oklahoma. Some parents might not have thought to introduce their kids to an artist but what this mother was doing was underscoring the importance of art in our kids lives and the importance of art in our schools.
As the mother and two children left, the kids returned and asked me for my autograph. They were serious and I was shocked and proud. That just made the whole experience at Blue Dome this year worth everything. I do not remember her name but I thank the mother for making my day that much better.
Dennis R. Scott
Peeved Over Policies
Open Letter to Governor Henry:
Sometimes we make horrible mistakes in our daily lives and your action to sign HB 1804 is one of those times in your life. You have just turned a large segment of the population into criminals. By one stoke of your pen you have turned citizen against citizen and raised the specter of possible violence, something that you could have avoided by a simple veto of a terribly racist bill.
Our Immigration system is antiquated and racist at its very foundation. The argument against Affirmative Action is that that it is a quota system so it must be bad even though this is far from being factual. Our Immigration system IS a quota system. There are quotas given to all countries with the majority Caucasian countries having the larger quotas. I dare you to prove otherwise.
It is with great tepidity that I mention this example. Almost ten years ago my aging mother, a US citizen, requested permanent residency for my brother, a Jamaican. To date he has not been called by the embassy in Kingston. Had he been a citizen of England or Germany or France or Canada he would have been here many years ago. A system that keeps families apart that long is indeed depraved.
In a meeting last week, Curtis Zuniga, former chief of the Delaware Tribe reminded the audience of President Reagan's visit to West Germany when he called for Mr. Gorbachev to "tear down that wall!" How things have changed; we are now getting ready to build one of our own to keep out the Mexicans.
As governor, one of your responsibilities should have been to prevent this debate from becoming so racially cloaked. So what are we to do whenever we are confronted with a Latino-looking person? Do we arrest them and bring them to you? Do we refuse to rent our property to them or to do business with them if we just have some feeling that they might be illegal? And just what does an illegal person look like? And how do we tell a Mexican from a Native American? Do you understand what I mean, Governor?
HB 1804 is not a just bill, it is not even a smart bill. It will make problems for citizens who do not happen to have a Caucasian look and this will cause havoc in our communities. This is not good governing and it is not why you were elected to the highest office in this state. This is weak minded governance one built on abject fear. Your action has provided the bigots among us with fodder for violence for which you will be held responsible and may God help you.
Colin T. Bent
When the cuts come, it's always among the less fortunate neighborhoods
The Usual Victims
Mayor Taylor has proposed closing 27 holes at the two city golf courses, Page Belcher and Mohawk as a budget savings necessity. It is true that the revenue generated by the course are not enough to fully maintain the courses and the city must subsidize the budget of the courses.
Is there another part of the city that is fully paid for by revenue? Has the mayor forgotten that the city is not a business, but publicly funded by taxes, and any revenue generated is a bonus. Has the mayor also forgotten that the city made a determination to build the courses and never were intended to be self sufficient, but as a service
to the public, just like the parks and swimming pools etc.
When the Stone Creek course at Page Belcher was built in 1981, it gained national attention as "The Best New Municipal Course" in the country. It has always been rated high as one of the best courses to play in Oklahoma. And now the Mayor cannot find the funds to keep it maintained.
It's a sad state when the city commits to build, but then does not commit to maintain. Will this be the same situation as the Fairgrounds take over? Scrambling to find money to properly maintain. The City should not abandon the golf courses as they have, encouraging the intense maintenance slide into the realm of just the basics.
Just a year ago, the city determined, rightly so, that the Olde Page course at Belcher needed the greens rebuilt and a new irrigation system, authorized the funds and proceeded to upgrade this course, which was constructed in the late 70's.
And now the mayor thinks it could be closed. When will the unintended consequences of actions be considered by the mayor. Ask the homeowners that share a fence with the courses at Page Belcher what the unintended consequences will be to them if the course is closed.
There are only two courses of action on this matter, and closing a course should not be one of them. First, fully fund the maintenance at the courses and even increase the budget so the intense maintenance can be achieved that will bring the facility at Page Belcher back up to the level of esteem it held in the mid 80's to mid 90's. Increase the budget. More monies for chemicals and fertilizers.
Second, if the situation is that dire with the city budget, then give the facility to the county so that they can properly maintain it. It's always been amazing to golfers in the area, that the two county courses, La Fortune and South Lakes are better maintained than the two city courses. Why is that Ms. Taylor?
Oil Fuels Human Progress
In ancient times, the rate of human progress was so slow as to be indiscernible. People lived and died as their ancestors had done. Their outlook was pessimistic. In the second century AD, Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote that anyone who had lived for 40 years had seen "all that is past and future."
Human beings did not begin to develop a more optimistic outlook until the sixteenth century when Francis Bacon recognized that "by far the greatest obstacle to the progress of science is that men despair and think things impossible." The principle of progress was developed and embraced by eighteenth-century Enlightenment philosophers. In 1768, the chemist Joseph Priestly predicted "whatever was the beginning of this world, the end will be glorious and paradisaical."
Priestly's prediction was fully realized in the Industrial Revolution, a transformation that continues to sweep through the world today. In the last 200 years, the productive capacity of the American worker has increased by a factor of 36. By 1970, the diseases of diphtheria, polio, malaria, smallpox, typhoid fever, and whooping cough had virtually disappeared from the U.S., and life expectancies doubled. Since 1850, the length of the average work week in America has decreased from 66 to 35 hours. In 1997, the United Nations noted that world poverty had fallen more in the last 50 years than in the previous 500.
As our prosperity is increasing, the quality of our environment is improving. Since 1970, air pollution in the U.S. has declined by 53 percent, even while our energy use increased by 48 percent. Over the same period of time, the concentration of water pollutants in the US declined by 80 to 90 percent.
Human progress depends on abundant and inexpensive energy from fossil fuels, including petroleum. Fossil fuels provide 85 percent of the world's energy, and oil is the largest single source. Since the large-scale exploitation of petroleum resources began in the nineteenth century, the world has consumed a trillion barrels of oil. But the resource is far from exhausted. In the last 10 years, geological estimates of the size of the ultimate petroleum resource have grown from about 2.5 trillion barrels to 5.5 trillion barrels. Human beings are discovering new oil resources at a rate 10 times faster than we are consuming the resource.
There is at least enough oil to provide for the world's energy needs to the end of this century. Ultimately, however, petroleum is a finite resource that will be unable to power human civilization indefinitely. No technology is sustainable; all are bridges to greater human achievement. But at the present time all alternatives to fossil fuels have severe deficiencies. These limitations are not due to a lack of political will, but to the laws of chemistry and physics.
Finding new energy sources will require decades of research and development. The technologies of the future are being developed today at the University of Oklahoma, where visionary president David Boren has fostered an intellectual renaissance. But impoverished societies cannot fund scientific research or afford clean environments. To create the future, we need to continue the development and utilization of fossil fuels. Indeed, much of the funding for education and research at OU comes directly from the energy industry.
Human progress is sustainable only if we maintain an optimistic attitude, continue to increase our prosperity and energy utilization, and invest in education and research. The greatest danger to human civilization today is not environmental degradation, but a return to the ancient plague of pessimism.
The Beauty of Tax Cuts
In a recent "Wizard of Id" comic strip, the king informs his subjects, "I'm pleased to announce that I've balanced the budget." One subject then asks another, "What does that mean?" The all-too-true (and thus only mildly funny) response is: "He spent every dime we gave him."
This is a dead-on accurate description of how the Oklahoma budget process works. The state agencies, teachers, state universities, and all the other tax consumers first spend weeks holding teary press conferences describing the millions of dollars worth of unmet needs. These figures, when you add them all up, far outstrip any estimate of the money available for that year. When the money comes in, it surely all must be spent -- and generally is -- because no matter what we have we will never meet the needs of those dependent on government.
Well, the horrible cries you have been hearing from the vicinity of 23rd and Lincoln these last few months are coming from these tax consumers and their political patrons. They have discovered that we have less money to spend than they had hoped for. It turns out that, strangely enough, recent tax cuts may have played some role in the reduction of the pie. The Tax Commission estimates that the tax cuts passed the last two years may have reduced the spending pie by as much as $300 million -- and these permanent spending cuts will increase each and every year.
These developments should go a long way to settle an intramural debate among Oklahoma conservatives. Some conservatives have been arguing that reducing spending is more pressing than cutting taxes -- or at least one should invest as much political capital in trying to cut government programs as in cutting taxes.
Others of us have argued that the only way to cut government spending is to cut taxes. Unlike with the federal government, the state requires a balanced budget -- if you cut the revenues, you have to cut the spending. Now if you had tried to cut government programs directly, the tax consumers would have trotted out the poor child, the teacher, the rural firefighter, or the correctional officer who would be hurt by the cruel cuts, and you would find yourself on the losing end of the political stick.
If, however, you cut spending by reducing taxes, all that will appear in the press is an announcement that revenue has dropped -- or, as is the case this year, that it hasn't gone up as much as projected. The whining and wailing of the tax consumers that their money has been stolen by the greedy taxpayer causes no stir at all.
So if you a hear a House or Senate leader tell you we have to cut spending before we can cut taxes, keep in mind that failing to cut taxes guarantees that we do neither.
I find it a bit interesting how I have watched J. Inhofe be so rude all the time. By all the time I mean when I see him on CSPAN channels. Since 2000, I have seen his pattern, so I know that this specific example is not a one time "bad moment" (see attachment)
Open Letter to Sen. Inhofe
23 March 2007
Senator J.M. Inhofe,
I am extremely displeased with your mode of questioning when Mr. Gore was before the Senate this week.
It IS irregardless as to whether you agree with climate change and the role humans play in it. The very foundation of "public" hearings - and any hearings is to "fact find". Note this is different from tailoring questions to manipulate the answers given. Any federal representative should avail themselves of all the info. and then evaluate appropriate actions. Furthermore, I expect as a citizen in this country, that Senators and Congresspersons will always conduct themselves with grace, modesty, courtesy and openess. This was a poor display entirely unbecoming of you, and the American identity.
We have many serious and compelling problems and issues to contend with, and none of us ever will place ourselves in an ideal position to address any of it, if the only way we probe an issue is with a "yes-or-no-answers" mindset. It is only a disservice to us all.
Understand, this is not about Gore, Democrat, Republican or conservative. I am speaking of conduct and honest intentions to problem-solve. Regarding party "b.s." I'll only say the Republicans can ill afford to have snippy and combative people leading them at this juncture (not that it is EVER appropriate anyway).
Thank you for your attention. Let me close by asking two things: 1) did YOU take the eco-pledge? If you didn't, then your attempted point, to Gore, is voided; 2) Help me understand how you have shown role-model leadership by being a part of a Congressional body which only met a mere some 105 days for 2006...was the state of our union so blissful to only require such little time devoted to working for the public?
Scott T. Shier,
College student &
Flying Under Radar--Until Now
I am writing to introduce your readers to the Fraternal Order of Eagles, I have been involved with the Fraternal Order of Eagles for more than 14 years and beginning in July of this year; I will be serving as the Membership Chairman for the state of Oklahoma. I am writing today to raise awareness of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and all the great things we are doing for our local communities, our state, and our country.
The Fraternal order of Eagles is an international non-profit organization with more than 1.1 million members worldwide. We are known throughout the United States & Canada as "People Helping People." Together, we donated more than $100 million to our local communities, charities, medical research, families in need and many more.
Oklahoma is the home to six aerie and auxiliaries, 1989-2007 we have raised over $400,000.00 for charities such as, diabetes, heart, cancer, spinal cord, child abuse, etc. 1989-2007 we have given over $460,000.00 in grants for medical research across the state including, The LaFortune Cancer Center, St. John's Health Systems, Oklahoma Health Science Center, funding research for kidney, diabetes, spinal cord, and Alzheimer's.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles, founded in 1898, has had seven United States Presidents as members, it was through the Eagles that the concept of Mothers Day was started, we sponsored America's first Workman Compensation Law, and played a major role in the fight for Social Security.
I encourage community members to reach out to your local Fraternal Order of Eagles aeries & auxiliaries. Together, we can work as one to continue being "People Helping People."
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