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On OETA main
Oklahoma Forum Sunday Apr. 20 @ 12:30pm
On OETA okla
Oklahoma Forum Sunday Apr. 20 @ 2:30am
Oklahoma Forum Sunday Apr. 20 @ 3:00pm
Oklahoma Forum Sunday Apr. 20 @ 7:00pm
Oklahoma Forum Monday Apr. 21 @ 4:00am
Oklahoma Forum Monday Apr. 21 @ 9:30am

The Sheet

The Blog for Oklahoma Forum

Oklahoma's weekly, statewide discussion program, Oklahoma Forum, provides civil, meaningful discussion of news and issues that impact citizens statewide. Hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Dick Pryor and produced by Emmy Award-winner Mickie Smith, Oklahoma Forum is more than sound bites and spin. It is purpose-driven television - seeking answers, providing insight – about life in Oklahoma and its people.

Oklahoma Black History

Written by Dick Pryor on Wednesday February 29, 2012

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The Sheet

February 26, 2012

Oklahoma has a rich, but complicated African-American history. History books tell of courageous black leaders such as Roscoe Dunjee, Edward R. McCabe, Ada Lois Sipuel-Fisher, and Clara Luper. Our history also includes other notables like Charlie Christian, Bill Pickett, Ralph Ellison, Charlie Rushing, and countless other contributors to our Oklahoma (and national) culture.

Yet, for all the contributions of Oklahoma's black community, there has always been a struggle. Tulsa is still the site of the deadliest race riot in American history. Jim Crow laws and municipal regulations limited the places were blacks could live, work and congregate. Many blacks lived in "black townships" and were not allowed to live, or purchase homes, in numerous other cities that had "Sundown" laws the prevented black citizens from being inside the city limits after sunset. The KKK was strong in early Oklahoma, and still has a presence here. Segregation required black students to suffer the indignity of sitting behind fences and in "separate, but equal" facilities. The sit-in movement of the late 1950's and early 1960's illustrated the overt discrimination that was common in education, public accommodations and the business community during that time.

This week on Oklahoma Forum we explore Oklahoma's black history and its effects on our culture with our guests: Bruce Fisher, Administrative Program Officer at the Oklahoma History Center and Curator of the African-American Exhibit; Risha Grant, CEO of X-Out Exclusion, Inc.; Rochelle Stephney-Roberson, author of the book, "Blacks in Oklahoma History"; and Julius Pegues, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, located in Tulsa.

Our discussion touched on some of the untold African-American history of Oklahoma and how the black community has influenced our state's policies and culture. And, we discussed how time is changing the role of black Oklahomans.

At the end of the program, a thought came to mind. Who are the black leaders of the last quarter-century that will be featured in the Oklahoma history books of tomorrow? Will black Oklahomans today be judged more for their accomplishments in their professions than for their contributions to the civil rights movement? If so, what does that tell us about the state of human relations, especially race relations, in Oklahoma?

We hope this program encourages further discussion of race relations in our state. While February is Black History Month, our commitment to exploring these important issues stretches beyond that one month on the calendar. So, we invite our viewers to learn more about black history and keep the dialogue going; share this program with your friends and your students; and use this show (and all Oklahoma Forum programs) to promote lifelong, anytime learning.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Risha Grant, Bruce Fisher, Rochelle Stephney-Roberson. Julius Pegues was in our Tulsa studio.)

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Legislative Leadership

Written by Dick Pryor on Wednesday February 29, 2012

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The Sheet

February 19, 2012

Comity is scarce in Washington, D.C., but it's alive and well among the leaders at the top in Oklahoma's legislature. Case in point: this week's Oklahoma Forum program. Where Congressional leaders seemingly cannot miss an opportunity to take a stab at their counterparts across the aisle, Oklahoma's legislative leadership continues to show how to disagree without being disagreeable.

In fact, while our guests Speaker of the House Kris Steele, House Minority Leader Scott Inman, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Clark Jolley, and Senate Minority Leader Sean Burrage are respectful and cordial on the program, they are even more engaging off-air. I have been doing this a long time and I continue to be surprised (perhaps I shouldn't be any longer) at the way Oklahoma's House and Senate leaders interact...respectfully. Call it the new "Oklahoma Standard."

Now, we all realize the caucuses can get rowdy and partisan politics can be very sharp, especially in an election year, but the leadership here appears to maintain an even keel in dealing with those on the other side of the aisle. Among the items to be decided this session are the state budget, corrections reform, water issues, state income tax and credits, supplemental appropriations and some "social issues" such as personhood, abortion, open carry and the like.

So, this discussion sets the tone for the weeks ahead, and while it is turbulent under the surface and will get even bumpier as the days go by, we hope you will get an idea of what Oklahoma's House of Representatives and Senate will be dealing with in 2012. We plan to get a mid-session progress report in a few weeks. Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right:  Host Dick Pryor, Speaker of the House Kris Steele, House Minority Leader Scott Inman, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Clark Jolley, Senate Minority Leader Sean Burrage)

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State Capitol Reporters Roundtable

Written by Dick Pryor on Wednesday February 29, 2012

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The Sheet

February 12, 2012

Now that the 2012 Legislative Session has begun, it's time to once again convene a State Capitol Reporters Roundtable to talk about Governor Mary Fallin's State of the State address and the issues confronting Oklahoma's legislature.

Our guests are: Scott Carter, The Journal Record; Michael Cross, KOSU Radio; Michael McNutt, The Oklahoman and NewsOK; and Shawn Ashley, eCapitol.

The biggest story of the legislature's first week is the governor's proposed cut in the personal income tax rate, from 5.25% to 3.5%. One of the concerns is whether such a move can be "revenue-neutral." That would require major cuts to tax credits and exemptions given out each year to reduce the tax liability of citizens and business entities. Secretary of State Glenn Coffee admitted the cut would create a $300 million hole that would need to be filled, either by cutting government services or generating revenue through revisions in the tax code to eliminate tax spending (i.e. credits, exemptions, deductions, etc.)

The suggestion to cut Oklahoma's top state income tax even further comes even as the state is having to manage a revenue shortfall of about $100 million. The shortfall is mostly caused by lack of federal stimulus dollars that have helped Oklahoma weather the economic storm of recession.

This, even as several agencies are seeking supplemental appropriations and the cost of infrastructure repairs, including bridges and the State Capitol building, are exploding. And, as the governor is launching a push to increase the number of college graduates In what is considered a "flat" budget year, it creates an even greater challenge in preparing a balanced state budget.

This is the first in a series of programs we will be doing with reporters who cover the State Capitol. Keep watching. Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Michael McNutt, Michael Cross, Shawn Ashley, Scott Carter)

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First Amendment and Freedom of Assembly

Written by Dick Pryor on Wednesday February 29, 2012

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The Sheet

February 5, 2012

"Time" magazine raised a few eyebrows with their selection of the "Person of the Year" for 2011: The Protester. Not just one protester, but the thousands of protesters here and around the world who took to the streets in 2011 to protest for fair treatment, union rights, lower taxes, regime change and more.

The events of the Arab Spring undoubtedly was a major influence on that selection, but there were significant protests in the United States, too. While Tea Party protests have waned, new protest groups rose in prominence. The Occupy Wall Street movement grabbed headlines for weeks and spread well beyond Manhattan, even into Oklahoma. In Wisconsin, thousands of people occupied that state's capitol building to protest the rollback of union rights. Yes, it was a year for protesting.

In Oklahoma City, the Occupy OKC group ran afoul of city ordinances regulating overnight camping in city parks. A court ruling led to protesters being forced to leave and ignited debate over the rights of U.S. citizens to peaceably protest, a right guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

The "assembly "clause is the least known of the 5 freedoms established in the First Amendment. Occupy protesters claimed city ordinances enforced by the police infringed on their "freedom of speech," when in fact it might have been more accurately (and persuasively) characterized as limitation on their "freedom of assembly."

Our panel discussed these distinctions and the boundaries of "the right of the people peaceably to assemble." Our guests were: Joseph Thai, Presidential Professor of Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law; former State Representative Ryan Kiesel, who is now Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma; and Marc Blitz, Professor of Law at the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

This is not an easy area of law to understand, with much of the discussion centering on terms of art such as "reasonable time, place and manner restrictions," "content-neutral," "expressive conduct," and "public forum analysis." We discussed some of the key cases in this area of jurisprudence, including a key 1984 case, Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that protesters wanting to camp on the National Mall had other ways to get their message across.

I think it is fair to say that this is a program you won't get anywhere else – providing a thoughtful discussion of the legal issues surrounding this basic, but often misunderstood, right of American citizens.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Joseph Thai, Marc Blitz, Ryan Kiesel)

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Governor Mary Fallin

Written by Dick Pryor on Wednesday February 29, 2012

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The Sheet

January 29, 2012

Just over one year into her term, Governor Mary Fallin returned to Oklahoma Forum to talk about her first year in office and the year ahead. Governor Fallin listed accomplishments from her first year and gave us a hint at what she planned to unveil in her State of the State Address on February 6th.

Governor Fallin admitted that one of her initiatives during the upcoming year will be an effort to improve Oklahoma's health and wellness. She chuckled when I asked whether she was going to "shake some people up" and suggested that we need to shaken up and take this issue seriously. Oklahoma consistently ranks near the bottom of state ranking on health and it's become a big problem for employers.

The main agenda item for the governor this year is going to be further income tax reductions. She plans to ask for cuts in the state income tax rate to be offset, in part, by elimination of tax credits, deductions and exemptions. In her first State of the State Address, the governor staked out her position on such "tax spending," making it clear that those credits and exemptions that don't create jobs should be eliminated.

This is a unique opportunity for Oklahomans to hear from their governor in a one-on-one interview. We hope you enjoy it.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

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