POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2009:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
This year's District 4 City Council race is very interesting. We have two candidates from different parties - Rocky Frisco and Maria Barnes - who want nothing more than to serve their constituents in a responsive and responsible way. Then we have two other candidates, also from different parties, who want to serve Tulsa's ruling oligarchy and reap the benefits of doing so. Sadly, the campaign tactics of one of those candidates, Eric Gomez, may just be effective for some voters out there who might not be paying close attention.
Mr. Frisco and Mrs. Barnes both have declined to take illegal actions in their campaigns for Council. Each has conducted a grass-roots campaign based on respect for the city and its individual citizens, refusing to place signs without permission or in prohibited areas. On the other hand, the Gomez campaign has illegally placed dozens and dozens of campaign signs in the rights-of-way all along Yale, 15th, and 21st streets. They appeared overnight on Saturday, just in time for a well attended Drillers game.
Tulsa's municipal code prohibits campaign signs in the rights-of-way along our streets! What a statement this is for Eric Gomez's candidacy!
- Cathy Barnes
Stop Abortion Mandate
Congress will soon return to Washington and consider the lingering issue of health reform. No matter what your position is on the broad issue of reform, it seems obvious that the bill should help protect the innocent and the helpless. And that will require language that forbids the government from covering abortions or paying for them.
Unfortunately several amendments that would accomplish this goal have been defeated, and President Obama has even deceptively said that when it comes to abortion funding, "nothing will change under reform." The truth is much different.
Without specific language in the bill, a government panel could decide that federally approved benefit plans must cover abortion, and that our tax dollars must be used to provide them.
You don't have to be pro-life, as I am, to be aghast at the thought that this bill would make abortions much easier to obtain and pay for them with our tax dollars. Please contact your member of Congress and U.S. Senators and ask them to vote only for a health reform bill that would stop the abortion mandate.
Fix Crack Sentences
Many recent letters on healthcare reform have focused not on the likely quality of government-run healthcare, but on whether taxpayers should foot the bill. We ought to ask this same question about other government policies, including mandatory minimum sentencing laws for crack cocaine.
Mere possession of five grams of crack - the weight of two sugar packets - carries a five-year federal prison sentence. A candy bar-sized amount of crack triggers a ten-year sentence. We would do better to put most of these people in drug treatment, instead of prison. It would be cheaper too.
More than 60 percent of federal crack defendants are addicts or low-level participants in the drug trade, not large-scale cocaine traffickers.
Congress created mandatory minimums for crack cocaine to give serious drug dealers serious sentences, but these policies fail to accomplish that goal.
Instead, Congress makes us pay $25,000 per year to keep low-level drug offenders in federal prison for unconscionably long periods of time, rather than allowing local police, prosecutors and communities to decide how best to deal with them.
Congress has an opportunity to fix crack cocaine sentencing. Surely this is one policy change that people on both sides of the political spectrum can agree on.
I have been reading your weekly advice in U.T.W. and I love it. It takes me back to the 50's and 60's when what you are saying was normal living for most folks. It was a different time, but it seems like the mindset is swinging back around again. It was different then because the economy was cheaper but a weekly paycheck of 50 bucks could stretch beyond imagination. It had to. Life went on as normal because that was normal. Not to live on credit is to live free and do what you want, been there done that, but not for quite a while and never again. Well, just a note, your doing good, keep it up, times won't always be tough. Congrats for the gig.
(In response to "We Have Met the Nazis..." by Ted Rall in the Sept. 10-16 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
I take great offense, as do others, to Ted Rall's comparing the CIA to the Gestapo and calling the CIA interrogators and Americans Nazi's. I think his recent piece greatly exaggerates the "torture" that took place and is unbelievably biased. There is another opinion and facts which point to the CIA interrogators using lesser severe techniques and, in fact, saving many lives by uncovering planned attacks before they were allowed to take place. If the Urban Tulsa Weekly is fair, it will follow up Rall's article with the published counter point case made by Dick Cheney to these types of wild and irresponsible allegations. An article should give both sides of an issue. Even an editorial will at least present at least some of the opposite side of the argument. Mr. Rall is an extreme radical and I'm shocked that Urban Tulsa Weekly would carry his wild eyed, irresponsible writings.
I notice Mr. Rall didn't have any outrage or names for the real Nazis (the terrorists) who have tortured and murdered innocent people in the process of denying them basic freedoms to say nothing of the horrors of 9/11. We are safer due to the CIA and the Obama administration is making our country less safe by undermining the CIA. While Rall is entitled to his opinion, I am disappointed that the UTW owners and editors allow such a biased report to be printed without presenting the opposing view.
- Fred Perry
Choking on Red Meat
Why do faculty members at a Pennsylvania Christian college have a prominent platform in Tulsa's only independent newsweekly'? Is someone on the UTW staff a graduate of or beholden to The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College? I'm confident Oklahomans were already choking on a steady diet of homegrown red meat before your paper began regularly serving up The Center's ultraconservative chaff.
[Editor's Note: They have some great, original, radical, counter-cultural ideas that we love to share with you. Would you like to write a column, Scott?]
Remember The Times
(In response to "Hang Me Out to Dry" by Natasha Ball in the Sept. 10-16 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
Ms. Ball sounds like she invented something new, hanging clothes out to dry.
My goodness, I remember my granny and my mom hanging clothes out to dry. I remember when I was 9 to 10 years old helping to hang the clothes out. I thought it was great fun back then. This was before permanent press clothing so then we laid the clothing on a table, and we sprinkled water from a brush or a sprinkle bottle on the clothing, rolling each garment up and packing into laundry basket, letting the basket of clothing set overnight and then ironing them the next day.
Ms. Ball is correct, clothing hung out on the line have a fresh, clean smell. Back then we didn't have fabric softners, scented detergent, etc., so the clothing smelled naturally clean. Nice memories.
Former CEO under fire
(In response to "Turning the Page" by Mike Easterling in the Sept. 10-16 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
I wish the new interim CEO luck in trying to right this sinking ship. It sounds like she is way, way unestimating exactly how low morale of employees actually is. It's in the sub-basement according to employees I've talked to.
And, I wonder if the interim CEO will explain why the former CEO wasn't at work for several months, while drawing full pay, just before being fired? The interim CEO was there,... so why was the gormer CEO AWOL from work, with no one raising the red flag? Was any pay fraud committed?
Will there be full disclosure, or a cover-up?
Throw Randi Out
Congress Plays Keepaway with the Public
The name of the game is "keepaway." Keep Congress in Washington and away from the folks back home. It's a key strategy for Congress' liberal leadership, which has announced the new fall schedule for meetings and votes on Capitol Hill.
The original official plan was to adjourn by Oct. 30. Now the target is Thanksgiving but the expectation is Christmas, with maybe a one-week break somewhere along the way.
By keeping Congress in session and away from angry voters, leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi hope to plead, pressure and cajole enough votes to enact a massive health care bill. There's less competition and interference from everyday people when elected officials are in Fortress Washington.
President Obama's big speech was targeted more to Democrats in Congress than to the general public. He needed to buy time and probably did so by claiming he has a plan to solve the problems without adding a dime to the deficit. He's still given no specifics on how that might magically be accomplished. But the very claim that a plan is in the works was enough to stall fellow Democrats so they will respectfully wait for details rather than jumping ship.
That provides the time for hardball politics, trading votes for pet projects or legislation, or just plain arm-twisting. A Congress that hears more from party leaders and less from the folks back home is easier to lead down the big government path.
A majority of Americans told pollsters before the speech that they oppose Obama's plan--but so what? It is Representatives and Senators who have direct votes to decide the fate of national health care; the rest of us do not. We will be stuck with whatever Congress passes. A bad bill could not be reversed even if incumbents are voted out next year and the majority changes hands. Because Obama is in office until 2013 he can veto any repeal efforts.
Liberal leaders almost lost it during the August recess, dominated by the enormous turnout of those who oppose the legislation. But the more time elected officials spend in Washington and the less time they spend at home, the more likely it is that Obama and his allies can win.
And if that impacts the 2010 elections? They'll think about that tomorrow. November 2014 is 14 months away--a lifetime in politics.
- Ernest Istook
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