Much like winter or summer can bring on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), re-election season brings on seasonally outraged Democrats (SODs). As three incumbents from the late aughts cling to power during the 2016 campaign period, their rally cries must be heard. All they need is a cause ….

To wit, Rep. Steve Kouplen (D-Beggs) had strong words Tuesday morning for the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. In a release that morning, Kouplen called the quarter-million dollar salary for TSET’s CEO position “outrageous.” Later Tuesday, the appointment of Patrice Douglas as new TSET CEO was made public.

“I don’t think ANY state official is worth a quarter of a million dollars year,” Kouplen said in the release. He’s right, on paper anyway: Even Gov. Mary Fallin gets paid “only” $147,000 annually, according to the release. (Six positions in the Senate and four in the House manage to break six figures.)

A few facts about the TSET salary tempered Kouplen’s outrage, mainly that the TSET CEO’s salary is paid from interest earnings on the TSET itself, not from taxpayers. Further, TSET board chairman Jim Gebhart was quoted in Kouplen’s release as saying the CEO’s salary was recommended by firms that specialize in hiring for such positions and actually registers at the low end on a national basis.



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Still, it “certainly looks bad, from a public relations standpoint,” Kouplen stated in the release.

TSET frustration was not simply partisan, however, as the conservative organization Americans for Prosperity chimed in as well with additional salary outrage.

“It’s no wonder people don’t trust government,” said John Tidwell, AFP’s Oklahoma state director. (Cue the sad trombone.)

On June 10, two other SODs emerged from the left: Rep. Cory Williams (D-Stillwater) slammed the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s use of devices that can be used to seize funds from prepaid credit cards, and Senate Democratic Leader John Sparks (D-Norman) bemoaned cuts to education.

Regarding the card technology, which was temporarily suspended from use, Williams called the practice “deplorable.”

“The State of Oklahoma is allowing the OHP to swipe money from a card even if the trooper has no solid proof that the money in the card holder’s account was acquired illegally,” the release quotes him as saying. “The government is robbing its people.”

Meanwhile, as the state’s Board of Education approved $38 million in cuts to the public schools activities fund and completely eliminated funding for 11 of its programs, Sparks issued tempered yet stern criticism.

“The difficult decisions made today by the State Board of
Education only continue to demonstrate that education is
clearly considered a burden rather than an investment to the
Republican leaders at the Capitol,” Sparks stated in his release. “The convenient political rhetoric that there were ‘no cuts’ made to common education in the FY 2017 budget is, clearly, a farce.”

Of course, in addition to giving candidates causes around which to rally their bases, Democrats rarely miss an opportunity to attack the other side in their releases. For example, Kouplen’s release about the TSET salary intimated that House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview) was up for the position, and even now that we know it actually went to Douglas, her GOP affiliation makes an acceptable target on which Kouplen’s darts can land.

Expect more bluster from SODs as the campaign season wears on.

City of OKC app upgraded for shaming neighbors

Are you a snitch? Rat? Tattle tale? Busybody? Captain Buttinski? Interferer? Interloper? Intermeddler? Kibitzer? Meddler? Or maybe just a nosey parker?

Well, you’re in luck if you answered yes to any of the above because a new City of OKC app to satisfy all your
blabbermouth cravings.

OKC app

The OKC Connect smartphone app works a lot like the old OKC GOV app: City services and information are readily available, and one of the more useful features allows citizens to report problems they see (e.g. graffiti, derelict vehicles, junk piles) in an effort to promote class warfare maintain or raise their property values.

Users of the old OKC app will have to migrate, however, if they want to maintain their mainline into backyard disputes and remediation services.

“The old app will be phased out around the end of the month,” stated public information and marketing director Kristy Yager via email. “When people report[ed] a problem on the old app, the Action Center staff had to manually enter it in our system and manually respond to residents when the issue was rectified. The new app is much more efficient for both residents and staff because it interfaces directly with our work-order system.”

According to Yager, the City’s cost for using the old OKC app ($19,000 annually) was about to increase on the back of the aforementioned interconnectivity upgrade, but the new app offers that enhanced functionality for the same yearly price.



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