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Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers

April 9, 2019

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

The Oklahoman. April 7, 2019.

— Hateful acts don’t define Oklahoma

The front page of The Oklahoman has carried troubling stories about recent overt acts of bigotry and vandalism in Oklahoma City and Norman. They’re almost enough to make one despair, except that we know the person or persons responsible don’t reflect what Oklahomans are all about.

The first incident occurred March 28 at two sites in Oklahoma City. At a building that houses, among other things, the office of the state Democratic Party, were found spray-painted swastikas and messages such as, “White planet only. Gas the rest.”

The head of the state Democratic Party said the display was an indication of “how divided our country has become under President Trump’s leadership.” The reaction was perhaps to be expected (a note on the building door promoted Trump in 2020) but disappointing nonetheless — Trump’s rhetoric and actions have at times been reprehensible, but to blame him for the work of any buffoon is too easy.

The same day, similar hateful graffiti was found several miles away at a building that houses the local office of the Chickasaw Nation.

On Wednesday of last week, in Norman, racist graffiti was found at three buildings — an elementary school, the Firehouse Art Center and the county’s Democratic Party office. As was the case in Oklahoma City, swastikas and ethnic slurs were spray-painted on the property.

Police say the incidents are believed to be connected. Imad Enchassi, senior imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said after witnessing the vandal’s work that he feels sure the same person is responsible. Norman police arrested a woman Thursday and booked her on complaints of making “terrorist threats.”

In the meantime, let’s not forget the considerable good that’s evident in Oklahoma every day.

For every act of hatred there are countless acts of caring and love. Oklahoma is rich with nonprofit groups that help those in need. Oklahomans carry out the Golden Rule every day — whether it’s donating to, or helping to pack items for, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, or serving meals at a homeless shelter, or churches making mission trips to impoverished parts of the world, or people delivering meals to the homebound.

Just a few months ago, Edmond North High School students collected $786,052 in their annual fundraiser, called BALTO (Bring a Light to Others). The funds — half a million dollars of which came from an anonymous donor — will go toward expansion of The CARE Center, a nonprofit organization that serves abused children.

That is typical Oklahoma. These recent hateful episodes are atypical to the extreme.

Enchassi said it well, after the first incident, as he noted the many people who had turned out to help wash away the graffiti. ”(T)his is what love looks like,” he said. “Despite all the hate, love always wins.”

Amen.

___

Tulsa World. April 9, 2019.

— Ronald Reagan said this was best anti-poverty, pro-family program ever, and the Oklahoma Legislature can make it better

The Oklahoma Legislature has a chance to help thousands of working poor and middle-income people by repairing damage done to the state’s earned income tax credit.

The Oklahoma EITC augments a successful federal credit with a long history of bipartisan support. Ronald Reagan called it “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.”

The federal and state EITCs give tax relief to working families earning up to $55,884 a year. It is progressively graduated so taxpayers at the lowest end of the income range get the most relief and there is no earning cliff at the top to discourage people from working harder and earning more.

The federal EITC can be worth up to $6,431 for the poorest American families if they have three or more qualifying children. For families with no children, the credit tops out at $519. The state version is set at 5 percent of the federal credit.

Amid a financial crisis, the Legislature made the state EITC nonrefundable in 2016 — families could not claim their entire credit unless they had sufficient income tax liabilities.

It was a bad choice that left better options on the table. Several Oklahoma Republican legislators, including current Speaker of the House Charles McCall, voted against what amounted to a tax hike on the poorest people in the state.

In Tulsa County alone, more than 36,000 households were hit, according to figures prepared by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. The average local loss was $119.

Returning refundability to the state EITC would cost about $26 million a year, according to an estimate from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

That’s a small price for legislators to do a lot of good and make up for a mistake of the past.

___

Muskogee Phoenix. April 9, 2019.

— Francine’s Law awaits governor’s signature

House Bill 2640 was passed unanimously in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Senate, and is on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature. We hope the governor will sign the legislation, also known as Francine’s Law, which will help solve missing persons and cold cases.

The law would require law enforcers statewide to enter information on missing persons into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) within 30 days. If the person missing is under age 18 or is missing under suspicious circumstances, it will be mandatory to enter the information immediately.

Francine’s Law is named for a Tulsa woman who was abducted from a grocery store parking lot in February 1981. Even though her body had been found in Muskogee County in 1983, her case remained unsolved until 2014, when Frost’s grandson found a description matching Frost on the NamUs. Through DNA testing in 2014, it was later determined the body found was Frost.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said Francine’s Law is a critical component to solving cases like Frost’s.

“Cases that are cold or involve missing people are some of the most difficult to solve. That is why we must give our law enforcement partners every resource available to assist them,” Hunter said.

We would encourage the governor to sign off on Francine’s Law, which would help law enforcement officers, and it will help families like Frost’s who just want to know what happened to their loved one.