Oklahoma Sen. Paul Scott (R-Duncan) told his hometown paper Monday that he likes “free press.” He had received some last week in a column published in his district‘s newspapers, and he got some more Monday when The Lost Ogle noted his insinuation that lawmakers might eliminate state incentives for the OKC Thunder if players kneel during the national anthem.
Katherine Farrow, editor of the Banner, published almost 1,000 words of a Scott interview about The Lost Ogle’s piece. In it, Scott weaves a staggering basket of hypothetical scenarios:
I mean, you can’t go out and paint a mustache on Abraham Lincoln. You know, or the Washington Monument? You can’t go paint, “Go Mexico,” on the Washington Monument and get away with it. So, I’m the same way with my flag. That’s a symbol of freedom. Go over to Iraq and burn their flag and see what happens to [you.] Just like my article stated, I’m not against freedom of speech, all of these things, but whenever you go to basically that level of dishonoring your country and I mean, I just do not believe in it. I just totally do not believe in it.
What Scott does believe is as fascinating as what he doesn’t:
I know that they feel — I mean, I’m not a black man so I cannot sit here and say, ‘I know how you feel, brother,’ because I don’t. I grew up as a white man,” Scott said. “— I agree that if they feel there’s police brutality or whatever toward a black man — well there’s statistics out there that far more white guys get shot and killed than the black person. Far more. And the thing is — but nobody hollers about that, you know what I’m saying? Nobody — is yelling about, ‘Oh, they shot my nephew— he got out of the truck and didn’t have a gun and was running and turned around and held his hands up and they shot him!’ — You don’t hear those stories, you know? But, if it’s a black, young man — it’s just like the story’s on steroids or something.
Professional sports provide ‘quality jobs’
At the risk of jabbing this post in the rear with 250 mg of ‘roids, Scott’s assertion that lawmakers might consider changing an incentive benefiting the Thunder is interesting (albeit unlikely, since even a bill to remove the sales tax exemption on sports tickets did not succeed in this year’s regular session).
The largest “tax subsidy” Oklahoma provides to the Oklahoma City Thunder comes in the form of the Quality Jobs Act, an incentive program that offers payments to “basic industries” that bring in new jobs plus additional benefits to the state. (For specific language, examine Article 36 of Title 68 in Oklahoma statutes.)
Just how much taxpayer money is reimbursed to the Thunder ownership group each year? The Oklahoma Tax Commission’s data site features a link to “public reports,” which includes annual reports titled Quality Jobs Incentive Payments.
The 2017 report shows that The Professional Basketball Club received $5.7 million in payments from August 2016 to May 2017, which is about $1 million more than the team is paying reserve forward Kyle Singler this year.
But this post isn’t exactly about the tax code.
How current #okleg members voted on Thunder rebate
I knew about the Thunder’s qualification for the Quality Jobs Act because I covered the Oklahoma Legislature in 2008 for eCapitol.net when SB 1819 passed by votes of 67-32 in the House and 27-21 in the Senate. The bill added sports teams and clubs as a qualifying basic industry, and it featured a classic bipartisan split.
In the House, 13 Democrats and 19 Republicans opposed it. In the Senate, 12 Democrats and nine Republicans voted “nay.” Owing to term limits, only a handful of 2008 legislators remain in office today, and their votes were divergent.
House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City) voted in favor, while Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz (R-Altus) voted against. Republican gubernatorial hopeful and current Lt. Gov Todd Lamb voted for the tax subsidy expansion. So did NonDoc founder and former OKC-based Sen. Andrew Rice. Current Senate Minority Leader John Sparks (D-Norman) voted no.
Current staff members to Gov. Mary Fallin — then-House Speaker Chris Benge and then-Sen. James Williamson — voted yes. Still-elected Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville) voted in favor, as did Rep. Todd Thomsen (R-Ada), Rep. John Enns (R-Enid) and Rep. Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa).
Starting five: Ibaka, Sefolosha, Kristic, Benge and Morgan
More than a year later, fellow eCapitol reporter Bryan Smith invited me to a meet-and-greet signature session for season ticket holders at the Oklahoma History Center. Fresh off a 23-59 inaugural season, the Thunder still featured that new-team smell, and I thought to myself how the Quality Jobs Act might ultimately be of great importance if this fledgling franchise piled up the losing seasons.
In a moment of creativity, Bryan and I decided to print out the first few pages of the 20-plus page SB 1819 as our sheet for player signatures. After assuring and reassuring Thunder staff that we were not, in fact, asking NBA players to sign a legal document, we got a handful of amusing signatures from befuddled athletes. (Before you ask, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were not in attendance.)
On the pages below, you can see the signatures, though a couple remain mysteries. Page one appears to feature Scott Brooks, who would finish the 2009-2010 season as NBA Coach of the Year. Thunder veteran Nick Collison’s signature is above his, and a look at the 2009-2010 roster would imply that #8 on the right is Antonio Anderson, who played one career game in the NBA. I fundamentally have no clue who the heck signed in blue on the left.
On page two, the star power increases a little. Not only do the signatures of Benge and future federal inmate Mike Morgan (D-Stillwater) appear, but NBA All-Star Serge Ibaka and stalwart defensive technician Thabo Sefolosha offered their John Hancocks. Between them lies what I believe is former center Nenad Kristic’s name.
What good is all of this? Beats the hell out of me. With Sen. Paul Scott starting the conversation about OKC Thunder tax rebates, I simply recognized today to be as good a time as any to post this ridiculous Thunder/#okleg memorabilia.
I mean, what else was I going to do? It’s not like I can write “Go Mexico” on the Washington Monument.
(Update: This post was updated at 12:26 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, to include statistics about Quality Jobs Act payments.)