Wel­come news on re­tail front

The Oklahoman - - OPINION -

IN past years, those seek­ing to lib­er­al­ize laws re­gard­ing the sale of wine and strong beer of­ten ar­gued the state’s re­stric­tive laws de­terred sev­eral na­tional re­tail­ers from open­ing Ok­la­homa lo­ca­tions. Costco and Trader Joe’s were the most-com­monly cited ex­am­ples.

That claim may have been over­sold when it came to Trader Joe’s, which opened Ok­la­homa stores be­fore state liquor laws were changed. But those as­ser­tions came to mind again when it was an­nounced this week that Costco Whole­sale Corp. plans to buy 16.49 acres at 13200 N Western to open its first Ok­la­homa City store.

One can’t defini­tively say the Costco an­nounce­ment is tied to changes in state liquor laws. Ok­la­homans voted in 2016 to al­low wine and strong beer to be sold in gro­cery stores, and the change went into ef­fect this month. But there’s no rea­son to think liquor law re­form was a neg­a­tive fac­tor, and good rea­son to think it may have made Ok­la­homa more at­trac­tive to the na­tional chain.

If a com­pany gen­er­ates sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue or foot traf­fic from wine sales in its lo­ca­tions in other states, it stands to rea­son its busi­ness model is based in part on of­fer­ing wine or beer to con­sumers and the loss of that in­come might be a black mark when eval­u­at­ing po­ten­tial new store lo­ca­tions.

Re­gard­less, that Ok­la­homa City con­tin­ues to draw in­ter­est from na­tional chains shows the city con­tin­ues to grow and out­side ex­perts see brighter days ahead for the lo­cal econ­omy. That’s wel­come news and de­serves a toast.

Bal­lot box ‘cheat sheets’

Fol­low­ing Ok­la­homa’s runoff elec­tions in Au­gust, we re­ceived a let­ter from a reader who said he and his wife had brought in­for­ma­tion with them to their vot­ing precinct but were in­formed they couldn’t use “cheat sheets.” That prompted a let­ter from an­other reader who had had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence. “Be­cause there were so many peo­ple run­ning, we knew we could not re­mem­ber all the can­di­dates we wanted to vote for, so we wrote them down … how is that cheat­ing?” she wrote. The an­swer is, it’s not cheat­ing. Bryan Dean, spokesman for the state Elec­tion Board, says vot­ers may bring notes with them “or even a marked sam­ple bal­lot.” In fact, the agency en­cour­ages it and even tweets about it ahead of elec­tions. What’s not al­lowed, Dean says, is to share those notes with oth­ers while at the polling place. Per­haps this will help clear things up, for vot­ers and precinct work­ers alike, dur­ing the Nov. 6 gen­eral elec­tion.

Im­peach­ment?

Al­most as soon as Brett Ka­vanaugh was sworn in as the na­tion’s new­est U.S. Supreme Court jus­tice, some Demo­cratic mem­bers of Congress vowed to pur­sue his re­moval via im­peach­ment if they re­gain con­trol of Congress. The fact that im­peach­ment would be an even big­ger cir­cus than the con­fir­ma­tion process and al­most cer­tainly fail doesn’t seem to mat­ter to those crit­ics. But some Democrats are show­ing greater self­aware­ness. When asked about the topic on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., noted there has “only been one jus­tice that’s been im­peached and I think talk­ing about it at this point isn’t nec­es­sar­ily heal­ing us and mov­ing us for­ward. The Se­nate’s role in our pol­i­tics is not to just re­flect the coun­try, but to help heal and lead the coun­try.” If Democrats do re­gain power, it may prove short-lived if they en­gage in mind­less par­ti­san­ship and ig­nore is­sues of real im­por­tance.

Pri­or­i­ties

Ac­tivists’ zeal to re­move old mon­u­ments has been a source of amuse­ment at best and dis­gust at worst. Re­call that the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter once re­leased a map of 1,500 al­leged Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols, declar­ing, “It’s time to take the mon­u­ments down.” The items the SPLC listed in­cluded en­tire coun­ties, pub­lic schools, mil­i­tary bases and at least one dam. In that vein, the Madi­son City Coun­cil in Wis­con­sin has voted to re­move a large, stone mon­u­ment list­ing the names of about 140 Con­fed­er­ate pris­on­ers-of-war buried in a lo­cal ceme­tery. This isn’t a statue or piece of art­work. Ap­par­ently, it’s now ob­jec­tion­able for a ceme­tery marker sim­ply to list the names of peo­ple buried in the ceme­tery. Moody’s In­vestors Ser­vice re­cently changed the out­look of Madi­son’s gen­eral obli­ga­tion credit rat­ing from sta­ble to neg­a­tive. Dare we sug­gest the city coun­cil may not have its pri­or­i­ties straight?

“Dumb” vot­ers?

In to­day’s hy­per-par­ti­san en­vi­ron­ment, many peo­ple on both sides of the aisle aren’t will­ing to ar­gue that their op­po­nents are wrong, but in­sist they are evil or stupid. Too of­ten, press cov­er­age plays up such at­ti­tudes. Robert VerBruggen, writ­ing at Na­tional Re­view On­line, notes one re­cent case when a head­line writer for Pa­cific Stan­dard magazine fell into this trap. An aca­demic study, which used a vo­cab­u­lary test as a proxy for IQ, ex­am­ined how sup­pos­edly low­erIQ peo­ple voted. Pa­cific Stan­dard used the head­line, “Trump’s ap­peal to the cog­ni­tively chal­lenged.” But VerBruggen notes the study ac­tu­ally showed “a far stronger link be­tween low cog­ni­tive abil­ity and sup­port for (Barack) Obama in 2012” than “there was be­tween low cog­ni­tive abil­ity and sup­port for Trump in 2016.” Put sim­ply, the study pro­vided ammo to both sides yet still gave nei­ther po­lit­i­cal party rea­son to gloat.

Ha­ley will be missed

We have writ­ten that any list of Pres­i­dent Trump’s ac­com­plish­ments should in­clude nam­ing Nikki Ha­ley am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, so it is with some sad­ness we note Ha­ley is leav­ing that job at the end of the year. A two-year stint is typical for many high­pro­file and high-pres­sure jobs in any pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion, and Ha­ley clearly left on good terms. As U.N. am­bas­sador, Ha­ley set a high bar for speak­ing with moral clar­ity. She in­formed the U.N. that the United States “will not be told by any coun­try where we can put our em­bassy” in Is­rael. She said all the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion has done “is have their hand out ask­ing for money, bad­mouth the United States, not come to the ta­ble on the peace deal.” And she crit­i­cized the no­to­ri­ous U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil as lit­tle more than an “Is­rael-bash­ing ses­sion.” Here’s hop­ing Ha­ley’s suc­ces­sor charts a sim­i­lar path.

Vot­ers and IDs

A “mo­tor voter” law in Ge­or­gia has worked quite well since it was en­acted two years ago. Un­der the law, which is sim­i­lar to laws in a dozen other states and the Dis­trict of Columbia, peo­ple who re­new their driver’s li­cense or ap­ply for a new one are reg­is­tered au­to­mat­i­cally to vote un­less they opt out. Since 2016, more than half a mil­lion Peach State vot­ers have been reg­is­tered — a bump of 15 per­cent. The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ports that the num­ber of black reg­is­tered vot­ers has risen by 15 per­cent, His­pan­ics by 40 per­cent and Asian-Pa­cific Is­landers by 36 per­cent. One irony is that these are gen­er­ally left-lean­ing de­mo­graphic groups, and the law was signed by a Repub­li­can gover­nor. But the surge also punc­tures a fa­vorite ar­gu­ment of those who op­pose voter ID laws — that they “dis­en­fran­chise” mi­nori­ties who are less likely to have gov­ern­ment-is­sued iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Nikki Ha­ley

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