Wrong pri­or­i­ties

Tulsa World - - Opinion - Fred Toast, Tulsa Chuck Thread­g­ill, Tulsa Martin Mead­ows, Pawhuska

“It's not the time to talk about guns in the wake of this tragedy. Don't you dare politi­cize it,” say elected of­fi­cials.

The peo­ple say, “But, some­thing should be done. We elected you to do it. Only a mi­nor­ity of us have a gun at home. Three per­cent of Amer­i­cans own half the guns. A ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans think laws should be more strin­gent.”

“As I've said,” elected of­fi­cials say, “it's not a gun is­sue, it's a men­tal health is­sue. Now, ex­cuse me, I've got to go vote to slash the health and hu­man ser­vices bud­get by mil­lions of dol­lars.” City re­gard­ing wa­ter qual­ity stan­dards for the state. Ok­la­homa De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity man­agers at­tend th­ese meet­ings also.

Th­ese agen­cies talked about their con­cerns for wa­ter qual­ity but when pre­sented with an en­vi­ron­men­tal hor­ror story they do noth­ing to resolve it.

At first, they deny this is hap­pen­ing. When pre­sented with the facts, they shrug and say there is noth­ing they can do about that. Ap­par­ently, they are fine with peo­ple spray­ing sewage wa­ter into creeks and creek wa­ter with E. coli counts 200 times what is safe for skin con­tact, ac­cord­ing to Tulsa Health De­part­ment and the EPA.

That would ap­pall any de­cent, think­ing Ok­la­homan.

Be­cause of lack­adaisi­cal en­force­ment of state en­vi­ron­men­tal laws by the DEQ, many creeks, streams, rivers and lakes are se­verely pol­luted with E. coli. It has be­come an an­nual event for some state lakes to be closed due to E. coli con­tam­i­na­tion.

Ok­la­homa ranks as one of the most dan­ger­ous states in which to live. Why?

For a state with many nat­u­ral re­sources, we do a poor job of pro­tect­ing those re­sources and man­ag­ing them ef­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively. This state does lit­tle to pro­tect cit­i­zens and our en­vi­ron­ment.

Th­ese two agen­cies and our leg­is­la­tors have not earned their pay. Let's re­mind them next elec­tion day and save Ok­la­homa. state bud­get bill,” Nov. 10).

Al­though 72 per­cent of the law­mak­ers voted for the bill, it was not enough to pass. The re­quire­ment that 75 per­cent of the law­mak­ers ap­prove a rev­enue in­crease sets a bar that is just about im­pos­si­ble to over­come. I doubt that 75 per­cent of the law­mak­ers could even agree what to have for lunch, let alone com­ing to­gether to raise taxes.

This re­quire­ment cre­ates a dys­func­tional gov­ern­ment un­able to cure ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture prob­lems.

Ed­i­tor's note: Fifty-six per­cent of Ok­la­homa vot­ers ap­proved SQ 640 in 1992. It re­quired a 75 per­cent su­per­ma­jor­ity vote of both houses to pass a rev­enue mea­sure or, if re­ferred by the Leg­is­la­ture, a ma­jor­ity vote of the peo­ple.

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