When I first heard rumors that a new arena was in the works, I started telling folks this was the fight OKC needed to have. Each iteration of MAPS has been a tug of war between public projects dedicated to the common good and private interest requests designed to boost revenues for the business elite and OKC Chamber. Finally though, a single private interest project would be pitched to challenge the whole narrative of MAPS.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think the powers that be would go for a deal this bad. I had assumed they’d pull private funds, bond money, a TIF (a scheme to get property taxes) and do a little on sales tax. Instead, Mayor Holt chose the most regressive tax he could and committed to securing 95%+ of the construction costs on the backs of taxpayers. There was immediate and surprising outcry, even from corners that normally wouldn’t say it, like national sports writers.Read more
I’m disheartened and disappointed to see that OPN and myself are facing some varied accusations after last weekend’s election at the 5th Congressional District Democratic Convention. It seems that some in the Democratic party are unhappy about the election results and have chosen to attack me and the work of OPN. As a longstanding member of the Democratic party as well as a candidate for office myself, I’ve always supported a party that is inclusive, welcoming, and conducive to our goals of advancing progressive policy in the state of Oklahoma. You can read more about our goals, which we published on our website, here: https://www.okprogressnow.org/ok_democratic_party
CW: Screen shots of anti-trans statements and disinformation
Meet Chelsea Fowler, farrier, dog mom of Chester the golden retriever, anti-trans bigot and conspiracy theorist.
Chester the dog with anti-trans bigot Chelsea
Chelsea photographs and videos attendees of the 'Bigotry is Bad for Business' Protest on March 27, 2023Read more
The Nazis arrested and labeled LGBTQ+ people during their reign.
The full-scale attack on trans healthcare rights is the continuation of a long history of controlling marginalized groups by a cruel and powerful conservative minority. The recent fight has taken on a far darker tone as it makes clear that its goal is to erase trans people and criminalize those who help and support them. While this may not seem to be an issue to the majority, when unopposed, the steady creep of fascism will only grow hungrier.
We can also see the more immediate direct effects. Businesses are choosing to avoid Oklahoma altogether. People with transgender children or family are planning to leave. Others express how unsafe they feel. While this may not be folks’ day-to-day experiences, passing laws giving bigots cover is always a march in the wrong direction.Read more
Last week, the Oklahoma House Republicans dropped their education package. In entails very modest teacher raises, one of the weirdest voucher schemes we've seen and little tweaks to a bunch of other public school initiatives that don't amount to much in the scheme of things.
Here we're going to focus on vouchers. They have the potential to be the biggest line item in the package, but we need to deliver some facts. Vouchers are a total policy failure that won't create much meaningful change except to give some rich families and a few middle class ones the illusion of school choice and some money off of their tuition. Even the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, one of the primary voucher pushers, admits they are ineffective for 99.9% of families.
Vouchers are a public policy failure. They do not work for the following reasons: 1) They do not change the underlying economic realities of our education system or change behavior of families in any meaningful amount. 2) They are limited by the existing capacity of the private education system. 3) They fund parochial (religious) and other discriminatory and unaccountable education institutions that in their quest for solvency or profits, will exacerbate issues we already see in the existing public education system. 4) Ultimately, their greatest "success" will be providing higher income families with money they very likely do not need thus reducing their overall tax burden and increasing economic inequality.
Traditional media, TV, newspaper, radio, non-profit and online still control much of the narrative landscape in business and politics. Slowly creeping in are advocacy and political groups, especially on the far right, that are able to dominate social media, have huge amounts of funding from right-wing oligarchs and are utterly shameless in their application of PR and marketing for diabolical ends.
The journalism job has always had its challenges but has gotten exponentially harder and more tenuous as advertisers have given all their money to Google and Facebook. This has led to it being one of the fastest shrinking industries in the country. This is bad for keeping the population informed. The non-profit pivot has not really improved things as they range from chronically underfunded start ups to wholly purchased subsidiaries of whatever some wealthy benefactor thinks.
This said, we should and do frequently critique the mainstream media. Not in the lame fake news sense (though some "news" certainly meets a broad definition of that), but in the framing and messaging sense that every media outlet since time eternal has been engaged in. As we come up on what looks to be a horrific legislative session for 2SLGBTQA+, various racial minorities, workers, children, the elderly, the environment and other groups targeted by evangelicals and corporate titans, we need to discuss the role the media plays, how they often fail to live up their charge as a free press and what needs to change if Oklahoma doesn't want to continue its march toward a theocratic, white ethnostate.Read more
No Contract, No Coffee
This is what solidarity looks like
If you drove by Starbucks on Robinson and 23rd last Sunday you might have noticed a caffeinated picket line shouting slogans of “no coffee, no contract” and “this is what solidarity looks like." Joined by members of Oklahoma labor unions, Starbucks workers organized a strike on the chilly December Sunday to protest the following unfair labor conditions.
- Starbucks is continuing to close down union stores
- Starbucks is cutting hours to union staff and creating staffing shortages.
- Starbucks is denying unionized stores credit card tipping.
After the terrible midterm results in Oklahoma in 2022, we need a plan and actionable steps to take to move forward.
We've long since passed the definition of insanity with regard to electoral politics in Oklahoma. For years, Dems in Oklahoma have tried to be Republican lite or pretend like the other side has a point or platform we need to adopt some aspect of to win them back. That is false. It hasn't worked, it will never work, people will always support their team and in the state that is near 50th for voter turnout, we should engage our vast untapped reserve of nonvoters, not keep fighting to convince terrible people to be less terrible.Read more
The Blame Game is annoying. We'll be the first to admit that everyone bears some responsibility in electoral defeats but there is some introspection that badly needs to happen here. Nobody can improve at anything unless they are willing to take stock of the reality of the situation. Check out part 1, What the Heck Happened? here.Read more
The midterm results are in and while the red wave failed to form nationwide, its deep red ocean origins are alive and well in Oklahoma. The wave formed in some of the most frustrating ways.
Oklahoma did what Oklahoma so often does, disappointed people who believe in having a functional government and system that cares for its population. Despite many local polls showing a tight race, Joy Hofmeister lost big against a fairly unpopular Kevin Stitt. All the other state-wide races fared even worse. Down ballot was equally depressing with JJ Dossett, one of the few Dems left in the Senate losing and a lone house pickup in Tulsa. Oklahoma County had a glimmer of hope but how bright remains to be seen.
We'll look from the top on down at what happened, who is to blame and how things went disastrously wrong for Democrats and the progressive left.Read more