When to Watch

On OETA main
Oklahoma Forum Sunday Apr. 27 @ 12:30pm
On OETA okla
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
Oklahoma Forum Monday Apr. 28 @ 4:00am

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.

2010 Oklahoma Election Preview

Written by Dick Pryor on Friday June 18, 2010


Almost 600 candidates have filed for election this year in Oklahoma, and this week on Oklahoma Forum we discuss what to expect during the campaign and when the votes are finally counted.  Our guests are Randy Krehbiel of The Tulsa World, Erin Boeckman of eCapitol and iVOTE, OU Political Science Professor Keith Gaddie and Sheryl Lovelady of the Women's Leadership Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

It's expected to be a big year for Republicans in Oklahoma, as GOP continues to build in the reddest of the red states from 2008.  Five of the nine statewide offices will see turnover, as Oklahoma voters will elect a new Governor, Lt. Governor, State Superintendent, Treasurer and Attorney General.  Incumbents in the race for Insurance Commissioner, Labor Commissioner, Auditor and Inspector and one Corporation Commission seat (Dana Murphy) are facing challengers.

We discussed the various statewide races, the election climate in Oklahoma, political strategy, and the federal races for U.S. House and Senate.  The State Election Board ruled on several challenges on Friday.  Our guest, Erin Boeckman, has the complete rundown on iVOTE, one of our election partners.  Here is her original filing story from the final day of filing, June 9, 2010.

(POL) After the close of filing with the Oklahoma State Election Board Wednesday, 586 candidates had filed to compete for 319 available seats. On Wednesday, the last day of the three-day filing period, 120 candidates had filed, said Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax. Seventy-five candidates filed on Tuesday, and 391 filed on Monday. The total count of 586 candidates is just shy of the 600 Ziriax projected before filing began.

In the last comparable year, 2006, 594 candidates filed for office. In 2002, 574 candidates filed, Ziriax said.

The positions up for election in 2010 include six federal posts, nine statewide, 152 district and associate district judgeships, 27 district attorney seats and 125 state legislative seats.

While there are officially 586 candidates, the State Election Board actually accepted 587 declarations of candidacy. On Monday, Hoppy Heidelberg filed for Senate District 15, but that seat is not on the 2010 ballot. It is currently held by Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, who himself filed for district judge in District 21, office 1, on Monday, according to Election Board records. Ziriax said Heidelberg's declaration of candidacy was declared invalid.

Candidates wishing to withdraw from the primary election must do so by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 11. The deadline for withdrawing from a runoff primary is 5 p.m. July 30, and the deadline for withdrawing from the general election is 5 p.m. Aug. 27. Candidates' filing fees will not be reimbursed after withdrawing, Ziriax said.

June 11 is also the deadline for filing a contest of candidacy, Ziriax said. Such challenges can be filed by another candidate for the same office or any registered voter in a race involving only one candidate. A $250 filing fee accompanies each contest of candidacy, he said.

Contest hearings are scheduled to occur in Rooms 419A, 419B and 419C of the state Capitol on June 18. Ziriax said the relocation from Room 534A should allow the hearings to be broadcast online, and the additional room can be used for audience overflow.

[Editor's Note: For information about the 2010 election and the candidates who filed for office, visit]

Be watching for more information coming as OETA launches our Oklahoma Votes 2010 coverage on-line and on-air.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right:  Host Dick Pryor, Sheryl Lovelady, Keith Gaddie, Erin Boeckman.  Not pictured:  Randy Krehbiel.)

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Poverty in Oklahoma

Written by Dick Pryor on Friday June 11, 2010

PovertyOklahoma is one of the poorest states in the nation.  Forty of the state's 77 counties have average income at or below the federal poverty level.  Poverty is a contributing factor to a host of social ills, including high incarceration rates, high teen pregnancy rates, lower education levels and high divorce rates.  The problems tend to be more acute in rural areas, and much of Oklahoma is rural.  Only two of Oklahoma's counties have less than 10% of its citizens living in poverty; the percentage goes up in the other 75 counties.

This week on Oklahoma Forum we talk about the reasons for poverty in Oklahoma, the effects and we begin the discussion of what can be done to change the poverty spiral.  Our guests are:  Dr. Susan Sharp, Professor of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma; Dr. Deana Hildebrand, Assistant Professor and Extension Nutrition Specialist for the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Oklahoma State University; and J Hall, Research Fellow at the Oklahoma Population Institute at the University of Oklahoma.

About 700,000 Oklahomans are on Medicaid, which is approximately 20% of the state's population.  Many of those are considered poor, and poor people are more susceptible to health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.   They are more likely to have issues with nutrition and general wellness, and that has an impact on each of us, as it increases the cost of healthcare and certain goods and services for everyone.  And, poor people tend to be politically powerless. 

On the Oklahoma Forum web site we have provided several locations where you can find more information about poverty and its effects.  We hope you take a serious look at the program and discuss how you and your community can address some of the causes of poverty and how to mitigate its damaging impact.   Thanks for reading, and watching Oklahoma Forum.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor 


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State Capitol Reporters Roundtable

Written by Dick Pryor on Friday June 11, 2010


The 2010 Oklahoma legislative session ended at 5:00 p.m. on May 28, with lawmakers putting the finishing touches on the state budget. It was a session marked by several new abortion laws, workers comp reform, the veto of an open carry law, and legislation regulating puppy mills. Our guests were reporters who regularly cover the state capitol: Shawn Ashley of eCapitol, Scott Carter of The Journal Record and Michael Cross of KOSU Radio.

We'll discuss the budget for the 2011 fiscal year and its impact on state services along with the political implications of several state questions on the November general election ballot. Do you have a question about state government? Do you have an issue you would like to see covered on Oklahoma Forum? Let us know.

Until next time,
Dick Pryor

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The Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

Written by Dick Pryor on Monday May 24, 2010


The eyes of the nation have been focused on the Gulf of Mexico for the past month, following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig fifty miles off the gulf coast. The April 20 explosion killed eleven workers and caused three leaks at the bottom of the Gulf floor, about 5,000 feet below the surface. These leaks are gushing oil into the water at the rate of anywhere from 5,000 to 75,000 barrels per day, according to estimates. The actual amount of oil that has flown into the Gulf has not been determined.

While much of the oil is floating on top of the water, there is concern that huge “plumes” of oil are lurking under the surface, killing marine life as it spreads. Late Friday, heavy oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster began hitting the beaches and wetlands areas in south Louisiana. The oil is killing wildlife and vegetation as it moves inland. There is also concern that the oil will find its way into the “loop current” that flows around Florida and up the eastern seaboard. If the oil takes that path it could not only devastate the sensitive eco-system of the Mississippi Delta, but could ravage Atlantic coasts and their fishing and tourism industries.

Meantime, more than a month after the explosion, British Petroleum is still seeking effective ways to shut down the flow of oil from the leaking pipelines. Efforts to cap the well have not proven successful and the oil keeps pouring into the water. With each passing day, the chance increases that this may become the worst environmental disaster in American history - damaging wetlands wildlife and eco-systems and the industries that depend on the coastal regions in the Gulf of Mexico.

Congress and the Obama Administration are involved in pressuring BP to shut down the flow of oil, to clean up the mess and pay for the economic damage caused by the disaster. The actual economic, environmental and political costs are indeterminable, and there is talk in Congress of increasing the liability cap for offshore oil drilling operators from $75 million to $10 billion. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says 75 miles of the Louisiana coastline has been affected by the spill, reaching about 12 miles into the state’s marshes. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar says he is “not completely confident” that BP knows what it’s doing, while at the same time acknowledging that the Administration does not have the expertise to direct the capping and cleanup operations.

There is even talk now that the gulf coast region may never be cleaned of the oil that is pouring into the water and floating onto the shoreline. More than twenty years after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, that region still suffers from oily residue in the water and on the beaches, and that area is thought to be easier to clean (due to its rocky terrain) than the gulf coast. The Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million barrels of oil into Alaskan waters. Estimates are that at least 6 million barrels has have poured into the Gulf, but nobody knows for sure.

This week’s Oklahoma Forum program examined the disaster from the standpoint of its impact on Oklahoma. Clearly, any moratorium on offshore drilling will affect those Oklahoma companies that have operations in the gulf, and any reduction in oil from offshore drilling will affect the price of oil and gasoline. As our guests pointed out, Oklahoma’s oil and gas production is likely to increase soon, due to rising prices, and the oil spill disaster may further escalate the need (and profitability) of drilling more in Oklahoma. Ironically, the state of Oklahoma, which derives much of its tax revenue from gross production taxes, could benefit if the amount of drilling increases here.

Our guests also discussed Oklahoma’s commendable efforts to clean up oil field areas in the last few years and to encourage safety at well sites. Lori Wrotenbery, Director of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Division; Pete Brown, Past-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB); and Bud Scott, Chapter Director of the Oklahoma Sierra Club discussed the business and ecological aspects of the oil spill and the lessons learned in Oklahoma from decades of oil and gas production. They agreed that overall Oklahoma’s energy industry has an exemplary safety and environmental record, especially in the last 15 years since OERB has cleaned up dozens of abandoned well sites at no taxpayer expense.

Thanks for reading, and watching Oklahoma Forum.

Until next time,
Dick Pryor

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Public Service Media

Written by Dick Pryor on Thursday May 13, 2010


This week on Oklahoma Forum we discussed public broadcasting - the role, funding and future - with our guests John McCarroll, Executive Director of OETA-The Oklahoma Network; Ted Riley, General Manager of KCCU Radio in Lawton; and Karen Holp, General Manager of KGOU Radio in Norman.

With public broadcasting on television and radio on the rise, we talked about how these Oklahoma public service media outlets are funded, and how further state budget cuts would impact the news, information and entertainment programming they provide.

(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, John McCarroll, Ted Riley and Karen Holp.)

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