Podcast Ep. 53 | Someone should poll our dogs

News RoundUp

Take-aways

  • Everyone is campaigning, so most of the updates are in the form of articles this week.

  • Voter turnout is key to making change in our state.

  • All politics is local. The more local the race, the more of a direct impact it has on your day-to-day life.

  • There’s going to be a ton of new legislators going into next year, so it is imperative that we as voters & advocates begin getting to know them soon. They’re going to have a lot to learn about how things work at the Capitol…and we need to ensure they learn the right things.

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Podcast Ep. 52 | Capitol Reporters, Vol. 1 (with Grant Hermes and Sean Murphy)

In this episode we visit with two of Oklahoma's intrepid journalists, Grant Hermes (News9) and Sean Murphy (Associated Press) to get an inside look into what it's like to cover the State Capitol and politics in general in today's political climate.

NOTE: As you’ll hear at the beginning of the episode, we had an issue with the initial audio export and thus had to cut out the first five minutes of the original recording. So, we jump in near the beginning of our discussion of the second news article listed below.

News Round-up

Take-Aways

For all of us who have jobs and cannot be at the Capitol all day, every day, the journalists that comprise the Capitol press corp are our eyes and ears inside the building. However, they are merely observers of the process, not active participants. Because of that, they have a unique insight and perspective into what goes on there, and we thought it would be interesting to hear from them directly.

Journalists have come under fire during the last couple years, largely without warrant. Both Grant and Sean do a great job explaining how the see their role in politics today and the process that goes into investigating, researching, vetting, and writing the news. These are not cable news talking heads - these are local people reporting on local things, working their tails off to ensure that they get it right. They also share the most challenging aspects of their jobs as well as their favorite Oklahoma political stories from the past couple of years.

We included “Vol. 1” in the title because we will be doing additional interviews with other reporters at the State Capitol for future episodes down the line. Stay tuned!

Podcast Ep. 51 | Too Close for Missiles

In this episode, Andy & Scott are joined by Commander Scott Downey, USN, Retired, for what starts out as a discussion of current events and the run-off election but what ends up being a rather vulnerable conversation between a liberal and a conservative.

Articles Discussed

hat Oklahomans Are Telling Their Legislators

State office independents running as a team on open government

Oklahoma’s plan for Medicaid work requirements is a dangerous experiment that will put the health of thousands of Oklahomans at risk

Education funding remains a contentious debate

Oklahoma gave Boeing $90 million in incentive money, along with a few other breaks

Pruitt Watch

EPA watchdog faults Scott Pruitt's $3.5 million security costs

 

Take-aways

Honestly, the main takeaway from this episode is that most Oklahomans probably agree on a surprising number of political policies.

A point of personal privilege, from Andy: Over the past couple of years, I've grown to respect Scott Downey an awful lot. He's about twenty years older than I am, so his perspective on marriage, parenting, and navigating the workplace are personally valuable to me. Additionally, he is a former Navy fighter pilot with combat experience and, at one time, held the record for the most landings on an aircraft carrier. Those stories are very different...many funny, many inspiring, and many others just incredibly painful. General Sherman famously said "War is hell," and based on some of the stories I've heard from Commander Downey, that quote is completely true.

Scott and I would often discuss the current political climate in Oklahoma before class, and while we certainly butted heads on a few issues, we found that we agreed on policy just as often as we disagreed. Perhaps more importantly, we both made a point to listen to the other person's perspective and work to find common ground. I think we both hoped to change the other person's mind on certain issues, so we started with what we had in common first and then worked on the peripheral stuff. Did it always work? Certainly not! But we both have a better understanding of the other side, we're still friends, and our friendship is stronger because of it. 

Update 9/8/18 @ 10:00am - I just received the following text message from Scott Downey, and am sharing it here with his permission: 

I read your take aways at 12:41 AM, almost texted you then. That's some of the nicest things anyone's ever said about me although you give me l more credit than I'm due. And your readers, donors, board members, listeners should know that my reasonable, courteous discussions with you have altered my positions on many things, some large some small - I would say this shows that Lets Fix This is effective.

 

Podcast Ep. 50 | Sit-down with the Solicitor General

Summary

Did you know Oklahoma has a Solicitor General? (We didn't.) Do you have any idea what they do? (We definitely didn't.) Join us for an insightful conversation with Oklahoma's Solicitor General, Mithun Mansinghani.

Takeaways

  • The Solicitor General works for the Attorney General, and is basically responsible for representing the State in cases that are appeals or those concerning matters of constitutionality. 
     
  • This means that, when necessary, the SG argues for the State before the Oklahoma Supreme Court and possibly even before the U.S. Supreme Court. 
    • The SG can also decide that the State would be better off to hire another attorney to do the courtroom stuff. For example, in a few months the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case from Oklahoma, but because of the importance and far-reaching implications of the case, SG Mansinghani recommended that the State hire someone that has more experience arguing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. 
       
  • There's a lot of interesting legal stuff in this episode, but I'll be honest - you're probably better off just listening to it rather than me reading it. 

Links & Articles We Mentioned

Boom Town by Sam Anderson

538 Politics Election forecast model  

Stitt’s Mortgage Firm Failed to Tell Regulators of Past Problems

Many Oklahoma Congressional candidates worth millions, financial disclosures show

Podcast Ep. 49 | Labor Commissioner 101 with Leslie Osborn

Summary

We discuss the Oklahoma Capitol Restoration Project and sit down with Oklahoma Representative and GOP candidate for Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn to find out what, exactly, the position does in our state. 

Takeaways

  • The restoration project is an enormous undertaking and the craftsmanship of the work is impressive. (See pics below!)
  • The Oklahoma Labor Commissioner is responsible for workplace safety and development, which includes working with education & training organizations to educate the next generation of Oklahoma workers.
  • Osborn's 
  • Remember to vote in the primary run-off election on Tuesday, August 28th!

Podcast Ep. 48 | Words Have Meaning (with Daniela Busciglio)

Summary

We're joined by academic linguist and political consultant Daniela Busciglio with DFB Consulting to discuss why words matter and how advocates can use science to help us get our point across more effectively. 

Links 

During the episode we discussed author George Lakoff, the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), and Daniela mentioned her upcoming training event, which is linked below.

Take-Aways

Daniela explained that messaging has less to do with what you're saying and more to do with how you say it. Facts and figures are helpful for shaping actual policy, but in order to win over the person to whom you're speaking, emotion - especially authentic emotion - is more important. Choose your words carefully, consider how they will be received by the listener, and make sure that you're connecting with them on a human level. 

This makes sense with what we've already learned (and shared with you) about how to talk to legislators. Remember that they're just regular people, too, and as such, they are just as easily impacted by genuine, emotional stories that help them connect policy with people. As Daniela said during this interview, it's not enough to just say you support an issue in the abstract. You need to be very specific in what you support and why you support it.

So, rather than saying to your legislators "I care about education and want it to be fully funded," you could say "I'm a mother of two kids in public school, and I'm worried about the quality of the education they're getting. Because of years of cuts to their school's budget, my son has 28 kids in his kindergarten class, and my daughter has 33 in her second grade class. They tell me stories about how loud it is and how they don't have enough books for everyone."


 

Details about the event are available on Facebook.

Purchase tickets here and use discount code LETSPODTHIS to get $10 off!

Podcast Ep. 46 | You're in charge while I'm gone (feat. Dana Murphy & Matt Pinnell)

Summary

As the primary run-off nears, we're joined by Republican candidates for Lt. Governor, Dana Murphy and Matt Pinnell, to discuss their perspectives on what that position actually does and their plan for it, should they be elected. Listen below:

Articles Discussed

Event Reminders

Question of the Week

It was announced this week that SQ798, which would amend the state constitution to allow the Governor and Lt. Governor to run as a single ticket (like the President/Vice President) beginning in 2026. Do you feel this is a good, bad, or something else? Let us know via email or Twitter!

Take-aways

  • These candidates bring very different skill sets and experiences to the race:
    • Dana Murphy is from a rural area and has been a Corporation Commissioner for 10 years, working directly with the legislature and other state leaders.
    • Matt Pinnell is from the Tulsa area and is a small business owner, but has worked for the Republican party at both the state and national level. 
  • We'll let you listen to both interviews and form your own opinions on the candidates' positions. 
  • Reminder that these are just the candidates in the Republican primary run-off for this position. We hope to have the Democratic nominee, Anastasia Pittman, join us on the podcast soon so that you can hear her thoughts on these same questions.

 

Podcast Ep. 45 | Carpathians, Kardashians, and Cardassians

News Round-Up

Take-Aways

  • First of all, you probably should know the difference between CarpathiansKardashians, and Cardassians.

    • And here's the article we discussed about the actor who played Vigo the Carpathian in Ghostbusters 2.

  • Despite the behavior of some of the folks at the top, most rank-and-file employees at the Oklahoma State Department of Health do really great (and important) work. During this episode we mentioned that Oklahoma has a high teen birth rate as well as high rates of STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. To help reduce all those things, OSDH is now able to distribute free condoms to organizations who request them, and all you have to do to request them is send them an email.

  • Beyond that, this week was primarily a discussion of the articles listed above. 

  • Oh, and we announced our Let's Fix This Election Watch Party on November 6th! Details are on our website and our Facebook page

 

Podcast Ep. 44 | Reefer Madness Continues, plus an interview with state auditor Gary Jones

Summary

We discuss the bizarre things that happened this week in Oklahoma's medical marijuana saga, and then we speak with State Auditor Gary Jones to learn about the role of that position in our state government. At the end, a surprise edition of Pruitt Watch!

News Round-Up

Take-Aways

  • Let's start with our ongoing timeline of events related to SQ788, as we now know them:
    • June 26: The measure passed with 57% of the vote. Subsequently, the State Board of Health published and began accepting public comments on a set of proposed rules to guide the medical marijuana industry.
    • July 7: Julie Ezell, general counsel for the State Department of Health, has a text message conversation with Chelsea Church, who is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy, in which it appears that Church offered Ezell a higher-paying job at the Board of Pharmacy if Ezell would recommend a rule that all medical marijuana dispensaries must be managed by an in-house pharmacist. (The public would not learn of these messages until July 19th.)
    • July 8: Julie Ezell creates an email account made to look like a pro-medical marijuana activist and begins emailing fake threats to herself. 
    • July 10: Board of Health meeting, passes previously-discussed rules along with two additional, previously unannounced rules: (1) ban smokable marijuana and (2) require a pharmacist to be on-site at every dispensary. Both of these motions passed on a 5-4 vote. During the meeting, Ezell told the board that she did not believe those rules were legal and advised against passage.
    • July 11: Governor Fallin approved the rules as they were passed.
    • July 12: Speaker McCall and Pro Tem Treat issued joint statement saying they would establish a "working group" of legislators next month to look at the issues. House Democrats call for special session to address the issues.
    • July 13: Two lawsuits filed against the Governor, legislature, and Board of Health, alleging that the five members of the BoH had a secret meeting prior to the full board meeting, which was in violation of the Open Meeting Act. Julie Ezell resigns as general counsel for OSDH, but that is not made public until July 17th.
    • July 16: Attorney General Mike Hunter announces his office will review the rules passed by the Board of Health.  
    • July 17: It is publicly announced that Julie Ezell resigned. It is also made publicly known that she is charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor related to her fake emails and reporting false threats. 
    • July 18: Attorney General Mike Hunter advises the Board of Health to amend the rules they passed on July 10th. 
    • July 19: NonDoc publishes texts messages between Ezell and Church. Senate Democrats call for a special session to address the medical marijuana issue.
       
  • Interview with State Auditor & Inspector Gary Jones:
    • Jones shared lots of insights into what the State Auditor does, how his office responds to requests for audits, the state of the state economy, and, of course, the ongoing debacle at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. 
 

 

  • Pruitt Watch - A court has blocked Scott Pruitt's final act as head of the EPA. Still making news, even though after he resigned. 

Closing

Join the LFT Board of Directors

This past Saturday was our annual board retreat, and it was fantastic. Staged in Verbode's beautiful downtown office space, we began the day with a recap of the past year and then moved into our strategy session. Tons of great ideas about how we act our our mission - educating and equipping Oklahomans to engage with their government. 

As we worked to identify our target audience, someone used the term "politically curious," and it was like mental lightbulbs went on throughout the room. That term describes most of our board when we started this organization - people who were not particularly involved in politics, but who were curious about it. We saw that things were a mess, and at a time when some people were tuning out from the news at the State Capitol, we couldn't help but tune in. 

As we move into our second full year as a "real" nonprofit organization, we are seeking to fill a few spots on our board. If you're interested in joining, submit your application between now and 7/31. The board plans to review the applications and make decisions at our August meeting. 

 

Podcast: A Doctor, a Lawyer, and a Therapist Walk Into a Bar

Summary

In this episode, Scott (a doctor) and Andy (a therapist) have an unusually candid discussion about SQ788 (medical marijuana), ridiculous voter outrage, and how the issue is playing out in Oklahoma. (The lawyer couldn't make it.) Also, a brief "Pruitt Watch" segment.

News Round-Up

Take-aways

  • Quick recap of SQ788:
    • On June 26th, the measure passed with 57% of the vote.
    • Governor Fallin initially said she'd likely call a special session to deal with the issue, but then backed off and said she would not call it, leaving it up to the State Board of Health.
    • The State Board of Health published a set of proposed rules to guide the medical marijuana industry and accepted public comment on those rules. 
    • Then, during the BoH meeting, there were motions to recommend two additional, previously unannounced rules: (1) ban smokable marijuana and (2) require a pharmacist to be on-site at every dispensary. Both motions passed on a 5-4 vote, and Governor Fallin approved the rules the very next day.
    • Big public outcry, as you might expect.
    • Speaker McCall and Pro Tem Treat issued joint statement saying they would establish a "working group" of legislators next month to look at the issues. 
    • On 7/13, two lawsuits were filed against the Governor, legislature, and Board of Health, alleging that the five members of the BoH had a secret meeting prior to the full board meeting, which was in violation of the Open Meetings Act.
       
  • During the episode, Scott speaks from his personal perspective and that of a medical doctor; Andy speaks from his personal perspective. Andy argues that the some of the issues that upset supporters are misguided and distract from the larger, more pressing legal issues. Scott argues that the rules attempt to treat medical marijuana like an actual medication and people don't like that. Both Andy & Scott agree that the real issue is that SQ788 supporters actually want full recreational marijuana and therein lies the rub. 
     
  • Pruitt Watch - Have we seen the last of Scott Pruitt in politics? (Spoiler: probably not.)

Closing

2018 Session: Week 3 Recap

Hey guys! Welcome back - this will be a short post as the weather made for a short legislative week. The House met only on Monday and Tuesday while the Senate met briefly on Wednesday.  All legislative offices were closed on Thursday with no floor or committee activity. That also meant our first Capitol Day of the year was canceled.  Don’t worry though, we have several more coming upand we’d love to see you there.  Also, be sure to catch up with us on Let’s Pod This - next week should be a busy one!

2018 Session: Week 1 Recap

Hey guys! Since we recorded our weekly episode of #LetsPodThis early this week for Governor Fallin’s State of the State Address, we put together a quick blog post to make sure you’re up-to-date with what has been a pretty busy first week of session.

Currently the Legislature in concurrent session, trying to wrap up the 2nd Extraordinary Session of 2017 and beginning the First Regular Session of 2018. Most of the action this week has been taken on bills filed as part of special session and most of that has been in the House.We’ve got all the details for you down below.

Pulling Back from Partisanship

School has started, 2018 campaigns are kicking off, and interim studies are being conducted - it's a typical fall at the Oklahoma State Capitol. This is the time of year is typically when the thrashing tide of partisan pressure recedes and we begin to see calmer heads prevail as the rhetoric on both sides of the aisle attempt to take on a more collaborative, almost hopeful tone through the winter. But this year is different. 

Capitol Restoration Project, vol 1.

If you've driven by or seen photos of the Oklahoma State Capitol recently, you probably noticed that about half of the building is surrounded by scaffolding and shrouded in white tarps. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go behind the curtain with the project manager, Trait Thompson, to tour the capitol restoration efforts. It was an impressive, down-right fascinating look at how we maintain one of Oklahoma's top tourist destinations. It's a lot of work and a lot of attention to detail. Mike Holmes would be proud.