Oklahoma County sheriff candidates debate

by Jordann Lucero

Wednesday, August 23rd 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — Wednesday, the men hoping to be elected the Oklahoma County Sheriff, faced each other for a debate.

The "Tussle at the Tower," held at the Tower Theater in Okahoma City was organized in part by Let's Fix This. The non-profit organization helps regular people get involved in politics.

"So often we show up at the ballot booth and we have no idea who these candidates are for positions like sheriffs and judges so we really wanted to give an opportunity for regular folks to show up and hear directly from the candidates for a very important position," said Let's Fix This executive director Andy Moore.

There are three candidates for the sheriff position. Republican P.D. Taylor is the current interim sheriff. Democrat Mike Hanson is a sergeant in the sheriff's office. Ed Grimes, the independent, is the only candidate who has not worked for Oklahoma County, but he has experience with the Canadian County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement.

The candidates talked mostly about the jail, which has several issues.

"Proper funding, I think we need to spend it on having more detention staff, well-trained detention staff at the jail... Whenever there is a situation we can overwhelm the inmates with people, staffing. I think that spending money anywhere else, at first, is just wrong," Hanson said.

"First thing I'd like to see, in Oklahoma County, especially the jail is to treat people like human beings. They're not animals, they're people," Grimes said.

"Funding is an issue, but I've taken the stand that I'm going to do the best job with what I've got.," Taylor said.

The election is September 12.

Source: http://okcfox.com/news/local/oklahoma-county-sheriff-candidates-debate

A local West Wing watch party and discussion hopes to spark political interest (OK Gazette)

By Ben Luschen

June 23, 2017

When Andy Moore met with Wheeler District director Ashley Terry about possibly screening an episode of The West Wing in her district as a way to promote civil engagement, he said the director was very receptive.

Some events just sound like they were meant to be.

“I had joked with her before about how I would love to do a watch party at the district,” Moore said, “because the alliteration in the name is great: West Wing watch party at the Wheeler Wheel.”

The phrasing, combined with a chance to use the popular late-1990s-to-early-2000s political television drama as a way to get people thinking about government, was enough to sell all parties on the special presentation.

The event, hosted by locally based nonpartisan nonprofit Let’s Fix This, runs 8-10:30 p.m. June 29 near Wheeler Ferris Wheel, 1701 S. Western Ave.

Inside look

Moore, executive director of Let’s Fix This, said he plans to project The West Wing season one episode “The Crackpots and These Women” on the side of the dining-area pavilion.

After the screening, a panel of former White House staffers, including current state senator and Oklahoma City mayoral candidate David Holt, will speak about how the show relates and differs to reality in Washington, D.C.

At press time, Moore was still finalizing panel participants, but he said he has contacted former staffers from administrations as far back as Ronald Reagan and wants representation from Democrats and Republicans.

“It’s just to give people some insight into what life is like in Washington,” Moore said.

The hope is that the show’s appeal — which has held up over time, if not expanded in the era of streaming and binge-watching — will be a fun way to engage the public and get them thinking about political policy.

“The big purpose of Let’s Fix This is just to get regular folks involved in government, specifically in our state government and even at the city level,” Moore said.

Long-term appeal

The West Wing’s final episode aired May 2006 on NBC, but the series outlives its initial run due to award-winning storytelling and its still-relevant themes.

For the uninitiated, The West Wing is a drama that follows the fictional presidential administrations of Josiah “Jed” Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and later Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits).

While the show’s events and characters are fictitious, they often bear some similarity to real-world issues and figures.

The show focuses on the White House’s inner workings through the actions of chief of staff Leo McGarry (John Spencer), deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), communications director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) and his deputy Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe).

Moore is a big fan of the show. He wears West Wing T-shirts and regularly listens to the popular West Wing Weekly podcast co-hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway and Joshua Malina.

Malina portrayed speechwriter and communications staff member Will Bailey in the series.

Despite his current zeal for the show, Moore said he began watching the TV drama in early 2016 after several of his friends continually suggested it.

“I binged for as much as I could with seven seasons of hourlong episodes,” he said. “I watched it all and really fell in love with it.”

Moore said part of what draws him into the show is that some of its themes are still pertinent years later. He mentioned topics like North Korea and dilemmas about what is proportionate international recourse.

To Moore, it is a sign that more creative approaches to some of these issues are needed.

“It’s interesting to think the show aired almost 20 years ago and there’s stuff that’s still relevant to today,” he said.

Everyday voices

Moore said he would like the West Wing watch party to become a regular, recurring event but will gauge the success of the first one before making any long-term plans.

Let’s Fix This leadership is formulating its programming for the next year and hopes to blend some of its older, proven events with newer ideas. The group hosts regular events at the state capitol so concerned citizens can meet with lawmakers.

Moore hopes to use the West Wing watch party as a lever to inspire the community to get involved and stimulate conversations about politics — not about any one issue, but just talking about how one even goes about talking about politics.

These conversations should not be partisan or fueled by animosity.

“That’s what Let’s Fix This is all about: helping everyday people get their voices and concerns heard and yet create opportunities for them to engage in their government in a meaningful way,” he said.

Moore hopes this event and others will help people walk away thinking their voice can really make a difference.

“The voices of everyday people do have an impact on those who make decisions on all levels of government,” he said. “We encourage everyone to speak up and reach out to form a relationship with their elected officials so that they can have their voice heard.”

Visit letsfixthisok.org.

Original story: http://okgazette.com/2017/06/23/a-local-west-wing-watch-party-and-discussion-hopes-to-spark-political-interest/

Save Our State Coalition announces Oklahoma budget wish list (NewsOK)

April 18, 2017

by Dale Denwalt

A coalition of 20 organizations on Tuesday presented its Oklahoma budget wish list, which includes familiar ideas to raise revenue.

The Save Our State Coalition proposed raising the tax rate on oil and gas production to 7 percent, up from the current 2 percent rate that lasts for the first three years. The group's “Blueprint for a Better Budget” also would create a new income tax rate of 6 percent for income above $200,000.

The group's first news conference was Tuesday, where several high-profile state Capitol advocates and other groups presented the plan. Leaders of the Save Our State Coalition include policy groups, grassroots organizations and groups representing teachers and state employees.

The plan resembles House Democrats' “Restoring Oklahoma” offering, but the two aren't identical. The Democrats are asking for a gross production tax rate of 5 percent and would implement a steeper tax curve, raising the top income tax rate to 7 percent.

Both plans would enact taxes on some services. Save Our State calculates that Oklahoma could net more than $90 million by adding a tax on repairs, digital downloads, landscaping, surveying and seven other services.

The Democrats want to raise more than $290 million by taxing services.

The coalition members worry that without clear ways to fill an $878 million shortfall in the budget starting July 1, important social services could be affected. Sterling Zearley, executive director for the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, said the state has lost more than 4,000 employees since 2008.

“We simply cannot afford any more agency reductions,” Zearley said. “A majority of those cuts come from agencies where we desperately need more workers, not fewer.”

Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt noted that several of the ideas have been supported by Democrats and GOP leadership.

The coalition's plan includes both revenue and expenditures. There is $300,000 for a teacher pay raise and millions more for public education. It includes enough money to cover rising costs of Medicaid.

Blatt said, however, that some details were left out.

“We didn't feel like it was our responsibility or our role to say, ‘This is exactly how many dollars needs to go to each priority,'” Blatt said.

It's uncommon for third-party groups to present their own detailed, comprehensive budget suggestions. State Rep. John Montgomery, R-Lawton, said he's never seen an outside group do that during his time at the Capitol.

“Honestly, I think as lawmakers we owe it to our constituents to listen to them,” Montgomery said.

Original story: http://newsok.com/save-our-state-coalition-announces-oklahoma-budget-wish-list/article/5545996

Press Release: Arts and Advocacy: Let’s Fix This Joins Oklahomans for the Arts to Train Advocates, Support Arts at Capitol

Arts and Advocacy: Let’s Fix This Joins Oklahomans for the Arts to Train Advocates, Support Arts at Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 11, 2017) — Two Oklahoma organizations will help Oklahoma leaders, artists, and arts advocates from across the state share stories of how art has impacted their lives with their legislators during Oklahoma Arts Day at the State Capitol.  

Let’s Fix This and Oklahomans for the Arts will offer ways that citizens can engage their statewide representatives to help raise awareness of the importance of investment in the arts in Oklahoma. Attendees will also hear from other local organizations as they demonstrate the impact of arts and humanities in their communities.

Andy Moore, executive director of Let’s Fix This, said the partnership between the two organizations just made sense.

“Our organization exists to help everyday citizens learn how to speak to their legislators so hosting a joint advocacy training with Oklahomans for the Arts benefits everyone,” Moore said. “Voters need to make our culture a driving issue, but many Oklahomans don’t equate neighborhood events or visual art to economic impact in our state. We’re here today to help change that.”

Oklahoma Arts Day begins with at 9 a.m. with advocacy training in the Blue Room, then continues with a Kickoff Rally at 10:30 a.m. on the second-floor rotunda.

You almost never hear the arts discussed at town halls or community meetings, where elected officials would realize how important it is to their constituents,’ said Julia Kirt, executive director, Oklahomans for the Arts. “Yet we forget that often what sets one day apart from another is some unique experience — how we felt after a play, a concert, a festival, a painting we saw or something we read. We’re here today to make sure our representatives understand that our arts and culture are a core voting issue.”

Following the 10:30 a.m. rally, advocates will meet with their legislators to share their personal stories of how arts and culture impacts them and their local communities.

Live music and interactive art displays will be part of the Capitol throughout the day. There will also be guided tours of the state art collection each hour.

The event is free and open to the public. More than 1,000 arts supporters participated last year.


Click for complete schedule of the day’s events.