Blog

20 Mar
0

Mary Fallin Put Lives in Danger!

March 20, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Trav Robertson
P: 405.427.3366

MARY FALLIN PUT LIVES IN DANGER!!

Governor Goes Out of Way to Stop Justice Reinvestment Initiative from Working

Oklahoma City – Gov. Mary Fallin actively worked to inhibit those in charge of the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) in order to help private prison contractors that have contributed money to her campaign, and then covered it up until the gutting of JRI was complete. She is starving DOC of funds, staffing is down sixty percent, putting the lives of guards, staff and inmates at risk”, said Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair Wallace Collins.

“Over the course of a year the Governor went out of her way to destroy this cost-saving and smart reform initiative. With Oklahoma having some of the most overcrowded prisons in the country, this is not just outrageous, it borders on being criminal,” said Collins.

JRI, which was enacted in 2012, is a program that was designed to decrease the number of non-violent offenders in prison. Money saved from not incarcerating these people would have been used to create public-safety programs, such as law enforcement grants. However, reports from The Oklahoman and Oklahoma Watch have shown that Fallin refused to support the working group in charge of JRI, and decided to not pursue a federal grant that was crucial to the program.

Continued Collins, “While Fallin was sabotaging JRI, reporters asked the Governor for records relating to the program. Her response was predictable: she claimed the non-existent legal power of ‘executive privilege,’ just like she did with the health care records. She really just does not want anyone to see anything she does, does she?

Meanwhile, while this was happening, her office was meeting with private prison contractors, and after the bi-partisan officials heading the JRI working group, former House Republican Speaker Kris Steele and Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, resigned in disgust over Fallin’s clear disregard for JRI, multiple private prisons gave her campaign thousands of dollars. She is using DC politics and rewarding her donors.

Concluded Collins, “It’s obvious from all this that she cared more about protecting private prison contracts than in implementing good policy beneficial to Oklahomans and our state’s economy. It’s incredible that she actually refused to enforce a law she signed. No wonder she withheld these documents until well after JRI was trashed. This is why we need a change in the Governor’s Office — someone who won’t place politics over people.”

In its final installment of how Fallin has made a mess of Oklahoma’s Open Records Act, the Oklahoma Democratic Party will look at how Fallin’s administration refuses to show records relating to nursing homes and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

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19 Mar
0

Mary Fallin’s Failure on Storm Shelter Records

March 19, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Trav Robertson
P: 405.427.3366

MARY FALLIN’S FAILURE ON STORM SHELTER RECORDS

Governor Stonewalls Storm Shelter Records Request by Parents

Oklahoma City – Gov. Mary Fallin continues to block access to files relating to an initiative petition to fund putting storm shelters in every school and is actively fighting against the parents of Moore who lost their children last year when an EF5 tornado ripped through Plaza Towers Elementary School, according to Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair Wallace Collins.

“She has shown callous behavior toward the victims of Moore through her actions,” said Collins.

Last November Take Shelter Oklahoma (TSO) requested to see records from Fallin’s office regarding school safety and TSO’s plan for installing storm shelters. Not only did it take nearly two months for a response, but the response was intentionally sent to a non-existent address in Tulsa. Once it was returned to the Governor’s Office, it was not sent out for an additional two weeks. The group has now filed a lawsuit after Fallin’s continued failure to comply with the request and provide the records in a prompt manner as required under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act.

Once the two Moore mothers who serve as vice chairs of TSO filed the lawsuit, Fallin decided to waste taxpayers’ money by hiring outside counsel to help hide the records. “Instead of acting in a prudent manner and providing the records, she started playing legal games and moved to dismiss the lawsuit by claiming that the mothers didn’t have standing to sue since Take Shelter had made the initial open records request,” Collins continued. In response to Fallin’s legal maneuvering, the mothers have since dismissed their lawsuit and filed a different complaint as Take Shelter Oklahoma.

Said Collins, “The idea that these two parents, who co-chair Take Shelter Oklahoma, don’t have standing is ludicrous. Frankly, not only does Fallin owe the parents of Moore these records, she owes them an apology Mary Fallin should quit playing politics with the lives of children.”

Under the initiative petition supported by TSO and the parents impacted by last year’s storms, voters would decide on a $500 million bond to fund shelters in schools throughout the state. It would be funded by the current franchise tax, thus not raising any taxes, not creating any new taxes, or reducing any spending. Fallin has instead proposed the biggest property tax increase in state history that does not guarantee that a single quality storm shelter will be built.

Concluded Collins, “Fallin has opposed TSO’s initiative from the very start, and by delaying and obstructing this records request she has shown she has something to hide. What is it? Is it that these records will show the ties between her and the State Chamber? Will the records show her insensitive attitude toward the parents of Moore? Or will it even show that she called for a special legislative session on tort reform last year in order to take away remedies from the parents of Moore? In any case, she will clearly do anything to make sure citizens don’t see these records. We need someone in the Governor’s Office who won’t play these political games.”

The Oklahoma Democratic Party has been focusing this week on Fallin’s lack of transparency, and in the next installment it will look at how behind the scenes she gutted the Justice Reinvestment Initiative program that would have saved taxpayers millions.

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18 Mar
0

Mary Fallin’s Non-Transparency on Health Care

March 18, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Trav Robertson
P: 405.427.3366

MARY FALLIN’S NON-TRANSPARENCY ON HEALTH CARE
Fallin Claims Illegal Executive Privilege to Block Release of Health Care Records

Oklahoma City – Gov. Mary Fallin is using illegal and unheard-of tactics to cover up the release of 31 records related to her decision to reject Medicaid expansion and not create a state health-care exchange under the Affordable Care Act, according to Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair Wallace Collins.

 

“The public has a right to know why this Governor chose to not help those who need health insurance and accept Oklahomans’ money back from the federal government. Fallin claims to be open and transparent but she hides from and denies Freedom of Information requests,” said Collins.

 

Fallin has claimed executive privilege to stop the records from being released, resulting in a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Associated Press, and the website The Lost Ogle. Legal experts have pointed out that executive privilege is not anywhere in the state’s Open Records Act, the state constitution, or in Oklahoma case law. She is now claiming that she will release the records only after she leaves office, which no previous Governor has ever done.

 

Said Collins, “It’s unfortunate enough that reporters and the ACLU have to go to court to force what Fallin should be doing anyways. What’s even worse is that she is using a legal assertion that doesn’t exist and an unprecedented maneuver to cover up the records. Again, what is she hiding? Is it that she does not want us to see how she cares more about pleasing partisans from her own party than the best interests of Oklahomans?”

 

A recent study by the American Mental Health Counselors Association revealed that more than 113,000 Oklahomans with serious mental health and substance use conditions are left without health care coverage because of Fallin’s rejection of the Medicaid dollars. “These people certainly have a right to see her records explaining why she failed them and continues to place politics over people,” Collins said.

 

Concluded Collins, “These health care records are just another case of how far this Governor will go to keep Oklahomans in the dark, and why we need someone in the Governor’s Office who will bring openness back to state government.”

 

Continuing its week-long look into Fallin’s two-time Black Hole “Award”-winning record on her failure to allow access to records, the Oklahoma Democratic Party will look at how Fallin has obstructed the documents request by Take Shelter Oklahoma regarding school storm shelters.
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27 Feb
0

Clara Luper Civil Rights Leader

During the month of February we honor Black History and we want to highlight one important member of the civil rights movement from Oklahoma, Clara Luper. She was one of the first people to conduct sit-ins in order to receive fair service and equal treatment from a business. We continue to recognize that all people must be treated equal in our society. As the national media looks at Arizona where a bill has been passed allowing businesses to deny services to any person based on the religious beliefs of the business owner. History shows us what happens when we refuse to treat all humans as being created equal.

Today we honor Clara Luper who in a 1998 interview discussing the Katz Drug Store sit-ins: “I knew I was right, because somewhere I read in the 14th Amendment, that I was a citizen and I had rights, and I had the right to eat. Within that hamburger was the whole essence of democracy. If you could deny me the right to eat, you could deny me the right to live or work where I want.”

Clara Luper

26 Feb
0

Rep. Joe Dorman Speaks Out Against Common Core

 

February 26, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Nestlen, Joe Dorman for Oklahoma
press@joedorman.com | 405.850.9571

 

Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Rep. Dorman Calls Common Core “An Unfunded Nightmare” Forced on OK Schools

Rep. Joe Dorman Speaks Out Against Common Core; Draws Clear Line of Policy Distinction on Issue with Mary Fallin

Oklahoma City, OK –Today, Democratic candidate for Governor, Rep. Joe Dorman, spoke out against the national Common Core education standards created by outside consultants for the National Governors Association (NGA), headed and supported by NGA Chair, Mary Fallin.  Dorman, who voted against the legislation in the Oklahoma legislature when the Common Core standards were adopted for the state’s schools, today called the standards, “an unfunded nightmare which has been thrust upon our students and teachers across the state with no input from them.”

“This initiative is bad for Oklahoma and bad for Oklahoma students. It is being driven by outside interests in our state with no background in the field of education,” said Democratic candidate for Governor, Rep. Joe Dorman“We’ve seen this show before.  The entire country just finished a decade-long experiment in standards-based, test-driven school reform called No Child Left Behind. By any measure, No Child Left Behind was a dismal failure in both raising academic performance and narrowing gaps in opportunity and outcomes. The last thing Oklahoma schools need is another unfunded, national mandate placed on them.”

Dorman argues that as schools struggle with these new mandates, we should defend our students, our schools, and our communities by telling the truth about Common Core.

“This means pushing back against implementation timelines and plans that set schools up to fail, resisting the stakes and priority attached to the tests, and exposing the truth about the commercial and political interests shaping and benefiting from this false panacea for the problems our schools face,” Dorman continued.  “The overall ‘reform package’ pushed by state and national leaders is driven by corporations and special interests with no concern about the individuals students, simply the broad picture of testing results.”

The costs of the tests, which have multiple pieces throughout the year plus the computer platforms needed to administer and score them, will be enormous and will come at the expense of more important things, Dorman charged.

“The plunging scores will be used as an excuse to close more public schools and open more privatized charters and voucher schools, especially in poor communities,” Dorman continued.  “The same heavy-handed, top-down policies that forced adoption of the standards require use of the Common Core tests to evaluate educators. This inaccurate and unreliable practice will distort the assessments before they’re even in place and make Common Core implementation part of the assault on the teaching profession instead of a renewal of it.”

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