When to Watch

On OETA main
Oklahoma Forum Sunday Apr. 27 @ 12:30pm
On OETA okla
Oklahoma Forum Wednesday Apr. 23 @ 8:30am
Oklahoma Forum Thursday Apr. 24 @ 2:30pm
Oklahoma Forum Sunday Apr. 27 @ 2:30am
Oklahoma Forum Sunday Apr. 27 @ 3:00pm
Oklahoma Forum Sunday Apr. 27 @ 7:00pm

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.

Women in Leadership

Written by Dick Pryor on Friday October 21, 2011


The Sheet

October 16, 2011

In 2010, Oklahoma was one of two states that had two women running against each other as major party nominees for governor (New Mexico was the other). That's a rare, and relatively new occurrence in American politics. It is no longer unusual for a woman to sit in a state's governor's office. However, representation in the legislature is a different story.

Currently, only 19 women hold seats in the Oklahoma legislature. That's out of a total of 149 offices, which makes the percentage of women in the legislature a paltry 13%. Women do a little better in the business world, with 25% of Oklahoma businesses owned by women.

Women make up 50.7% of the state's population, so why are there not more women involved in high levels of the public and private sectors? What skills do women bring to the workplace? What holds women back? What does the future hold for women hoping to break the "glass ceiling"?

Those are some of the questions we discussed this week on Oklahoma Forum with Major General Rita Aragon, Oklahoma Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs; Dr. Laura Boyd, former State Representative and Democratic gubernatorial nominee; Sheryl Lovelady, Director of the Women's Leadership Initiative at the University of Oklahoma Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center; and Charifa Smith, owner of Sage Restaurant in Oklahoma City.

The Carl Albert Center is holding its "Pipeline to Politics" event on October 29, 2011 at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in Norman. It is one of the programs encouraging more women to get involved in politics and government service.

For information about women in politics, we recommend visiting the site for the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

Thanks for watching.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Gen. Rita Aragon, Sheryl Lovelady, Dr. Laura Boyd, Charifa Smith)

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Rural Mayors

Written by Dick Pryor on Friday October 7, 2011


This week we discuss issues confronting mayors in four of Oklahoma's smaller cities, as a follow-up to a program we did earlier this year with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

Our guests came from the four quadrants of Oklahoma: Stan Sallee of Collinsville, Stephen Brinlee of Wilburton, Alex Damon of Cordell and Garen Martens from Fairview.

We discussed many of the issues confronting mayors in rural Oklahoma including sales taxes, water and sewage, infrastructure, online sales, population decline and business development.

Of particular interest is the migration away from small cities and towns to the suburbs and larger metro areas. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 23 of Oklahoma's 77 counties are in population decline as more and more people are moving to the more highly-populated areas and out-of-state.

While increasing numbers of recent Oklahoma college graduates are staying in-state, the problem for them is finding work. Home is a strong lure, but without good jobs young grads will not stay long. So, business development is a big issue for these mayors. The problem is exacerbated with the desire of many young people not to follow in their parents' footsteps, especially in farming.

And, while salaries are important and one in six Oklahomans lives below the federal poverty line, our guests admit that quality of life is a strong attraction. In fact, it's what keeps a lot of young people closer to home rather than moving to the big city.

Small cities provide the bulk of Oklahoma's population and this program provides a good look at life in rural Oklahoma.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Stan Sallee, Garen Martens, Stephen Brinlee, and Alex Damon)

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Future of Water

Written by Dick Pryor on Wednesday October 5, 2011


October 2, 2011

Water. We cannot live without it. And, it's the lifeblood of many communities in Oklahoma for recreation, tourism and economic development. So, there has been significant interest in the work being done to develop the 2012 Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan across the state and here at Oklahoma Forum.

The plan is complicated, and reads like a research paper, but we tried to present major portions of it in understandable form with our guests: State Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, who is a member of the Appropriations Sub-Committee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services and Co-Chair of the Joint Legislative Water Committee; Pennie Embry, freelance journalist and media coordinator for the advocacy group, Oklahomans for Responsible Water Policy; and M. Scott Carter, reporter for The Journal Record, who has written extensively on water policy and water-related issues in Oklahoma.

Sen. Crain's committee is continuing work on evaluation of the plan to prepare for the next legislative session. The committee will meet next on October 5th. The plan is to be presented on October 18th at the Annual Governor's Water Conference.

Among the items we discussed are consumptive and non-consumptive use (including in-stream flow and recreational usage), the need to conduct additional monitoring of the state's water supply, surface and groundwater needs, Sardis Lake, water conservation, and proposals to sell "excess" water to out-of-state interests such as the Tarrant Regional Water District in north Texas.

To read the plan and related materials, we suggest going to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board website:

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right: Sen. Brian Crain, Scott Carter, Pennie Embry)


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Tax Spending

Written by Dick Pryor on Tuesday October 4, 2011


September 25, 2011

As lawmakers are looking at new ways to fund state government, tax credits and incentives have drawn increased attention. By most accounts, the state gives away more than $5 billion in various tax breaks each year, and nobody knows whether the tax spending is doing what it was intended to do.

Oklahoma Watch reporter Warren Vieth and StateImpact Oklahoma online reporter Joe Wertz joined us for the discussion with State Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, who is co-chair of the Legislative Task Force for the Study of State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives.

Rep. Dank's committee has held several hearings on tax breaks to determine their effectiveness and make recommendations for the 2012 legislative session. One of the biggest problems identified so far is transferable credits, that is, tax credits that can be sold to a third party for which there is little or no accountability. As Warren Vieth pointed out, one of these transferable credits is one designed to help a few eastern Oklahoma coal mines. The coal credits were suspended in 2010, but will be available for new coal production in 2012. Dank calls them "handouts" and believes the credits are not producing any new jobs. Clearly, that is one tax credit that is in question.

Another concern about transferable tax credits is that they are often sold to out-of-state interests who don't bring jobs to Oklahoma or stimulate the economy. While intended to create private sector investment, such tax spending may not be having the desired effect in-state. The fact that there is no enforcement or monitoring system in place to ensure that the credits are used to the state's benefit is problematic. Rep. Dank has also determined that many tax credits have no caps, which can create uncertainty in the state budgeting process.

One tax credit that has received favorable reviews is the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act. Its tax rebate program has controls and transparency, according to Dank, and has benefitted more than 600 companies that have invested heavily in Oklahoma since 1993.

The work of Rep. Dank's committee is continuing and its final report will be a must-read for lawmakers and those interested in state policy. Likewise, this program is a must-see.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Rep. David Dank, Joe Wertz, Warren Vieth)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Written by Dick Pryor on Tuesday October 4, 2011


September 18, 2011

Following the Red Mass the Sunday before, the United States Supreme Court opens its new term each year on the first Monday in October. Every term is eventful, but in the last few years the nine justices who serve on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) have issued opinions making significant changes in American jurisprudence and our very way of life.

The case of Bush v. Gore in 2000 determined the outcome of the 2000 presidential election and, it turns out, the course of the nation for the next eight years. That case elevated awareness of the importance of the Supreme Court and illustrated some of the deep divisions among its members.

Every year, we like to bring legal experts together to discuss the recent Supreme Court term and gaze forward into the year ahead. This year, our guests were Joseph Thai, Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law; Lyn Entzeroth, Professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law; and Marc Blitz, Professor at the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

We focused on several key cases from the 2010-11 term, including Connick v. Thompson, in which the court overturned a multi-million dollar damage award given to a man who spent 18 years on death row after prosecutors failed to turn over evidence that would have exonerated him. Also, Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, involving a taxpayer suit challenging an Arizona law that established a tax credit to tuition organizations that provide scholarships for students to attend private schools. It was a case that addressed taxpayer standing and the future of taxpayer lawsuits.

In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the court addressed the validity of a major class action discrimination case and Snyder v. Phelps held (in an 8-1 decision with Justice Joseph Alito dissenting) that the Westboro Baptist Church is entitled to full First Amendment protection for its protests at military funerals. Similarly, the court held in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association that video games should be accorded First Amendment protection. That case evaluated a California law that restricted sale of violent video games to children. And, coming soon after the controversial decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the court took on another campaign finance case, Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett. That case addressed the so-called "independent" political expenditures.

As for key cases in the upcoming term beginning October 3...well, you will just have to watch the program. It is available on-air and on-line.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

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

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