The Duncan Banner


September 15, 2013

Less scare talk on ACA, more focus on education

DUNCAN — During this endless summer, it seems the sticky notes that serve as my memory are particularly sticky:

The Affordable Care Act is a complex piece of legislation and 99 percent of us will never understand every component of this first attempt at national health care. But it doesn’t help in trying to get a grasp on the ACA when Oklahoma politicians continually play the “scare card.”

Gov. Mary Fallin is a vocal opponent of the act, who thus far refuses to accept federal funds to be used to transition the legislation in Oklahoma. And Insurance Commissioner John Doak has criss-crossed the state telling Oklahomans their insurance premiums will be driven sky high by the act.

Fallin and Doak have continued this mantra despite the findings of the Republican-affiliated Leavitt Partners, who the governor paid a half-million dollars to assess setting up the state’s health insurance exchange. Leavitt’s advice: Accept funds from the Affordable Care Act.

When the Kaiser Commission, a non-partisan commission on Medicaid and the uninsured, said the Affordable Care Act would save the state $205 million, Fallin and Doak apparently turned a deaf ear.

It’s possible the ACA will be the disaster Fallin and Doak suggest. It’s also possible it won’t, but we won’t know until it’s in place and has been fine-tuned over the course of several years.

Hasn’t that been the case with nearly every important piece of legislation passed in American history?

n Gov. Fallin might spend less time demonizing the Affordable Care Act and direct her attention to the teetering condition of Oklahoma’s public education system, which is in danger of retreating from the positive strides taken in the 1990s and first decade of the 21st century.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Oklahoma has slashed per-pupil spending by 22.8 percent since 2008, which is more than in all but two states. The policy research organization says restoring school funding should be an “urgent priority,” but it’s difficult to detect any sense of urgency from Fallin or State Superintendent Janet Barresi.

n That’s enough politics to last me six months. Let’s talk about something really important, like, music. Two intriguing new vocal and song-writing talents I’d recommend: Valerie June, a Memphis girl, and Australian folk-rocker Matt Corby.

On her new album, Pushin’ Against A Stone, multi-instrumentalist Valerie June mixes folk, blues, gospel, soul, country and bluegrass with a voice that grows on you. Corby, who’s fourth EP, Into The Flame, came out in 2012, has one of those multi-octave voices that leaves you thinking, “Man, I wish I could sing like that.”

n “Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits. Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky. “It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.” Mark Twain said it.

n I love chocolate and bacon is high on my like list. But cookies that combine chocolate chips and bacon bits? Eeewww!

n What were the most popular male and female names for newborns in the USofA in 2012? According to the Social Security Administration, most popular boy’s name was Jacob; most popular girl’s name was Sophia. It’s the 14th straight year Jacob has led the boys top 10 and the second year for Sophia. The hottest new names on the list are Liam for boys and Elizabeth for girls.

n “There is world-class journalism in places, but on the whole we are obsessed with polls and, increasingly, with ourselves. That’s particularly true in broadcast journalism.” Bill Moyers said it.

n Every band eventually needs a break. So it is with the red dirt quartet No Justice, which is parting ways — at least, for a while — after 12 years and five progressively interesting albums. Steve Rice, a Duncan-born founding member of the Stillwater group, says the guys want to work on individual projects.

n Maybe I’m just cynical, but someone who continually says “I can’t” probably shouldn’t.

n According to some medical scientists, forgetting why you’ve walked into a room isn’t a sign of Alzheimer’s, it’s a syndrome called age-related memory loss and it may be reversed or prevented. That’s good news, because I was concerned about ... uh, whatever it was I was concerned about.

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  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

    If the Oklahoma State Legislators and our Governor spent less time interfering in women’s rights to manage their bodies, creating ways to lay more taxes and fees on the middle class in order to generate more tax breaks which benefit only the wealthy while also conceiving methods with which to fill Oklahoma’s for-profit prisons, they would be doing all of us a favor. Instead, why not work to enhance funding for our schools and wage increases for all school employees? While reforming the state’s educational budget, why don’t they approve wage increases for our Oklahoma State Troopers and enlarge their Academy to insure qualified individuals are ready to fill the upcoming vacancies as many of the older force retire?

    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
    In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.

    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014