In The Know: Confusion, miscommunication in OSU response to serial sexual assaults

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that new records reveal confusion and miscommunication among OSU administration officials regarding their knowledge of and response to a series of reported sexual assaults against male students, both on and off campus, by the same alleged offender.  A federal judge denied a temporary injunction to stop the state from ending Planned Parenthood’s WIC program, which provides nutritional services to low-income mothers, infants, and children.  OK Policy previously fact-checked the reasons for the state’s abrupt termination of WIC at Tulsa’s Planned Parenthood clinics.

State Senator Patrick Anderson plans to propose a bill banning participation in ‘Agenda 21’, a global sustainability project sponsored by the United Nations; grant monies affiliated with the project have made energy efficiency upgrades significantly reducing electricity costs for the city of Tulsa, Tulsa’s airports, and the OSU Medical Center.  Barry Friedman wrote about what the recent violence in Newtown means for dialogue and public policies around guns in America.

Proponents of legalized gambling in Texas are pushing for a statewide referendum.  Incoming House Speaker T.W. Shannon says funding to restore the ME’s Office accreditation is a top priority.  In today’s Policy Note, Pew Research Center provides key demographic information on Latino eligible voters in Oklahoma in 2012.  The Number of the Day is the number of personal bankruptcies in Oklahoma attributable to medical debt.

In The News

Emails reveal desire to distance OSU, Penn State following assault investigation
Amid controversy over how they handled a sexual assault investigation involving a former student, members of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents and other university officials exchanged many emails about the damage that media coverage of the incident was doing to OSU’s image, records show.  On Nov. 30, the OSU Office of Student Conduct found Nathan Michael Cochran, 22, responsible for four sexual misconduct violations of the OSU student code of conduct. Cochran was suspended from the university from Dec. 14 until Jan. 1, 2016 and was ordered to have no contact with any of the students who came forward against him, according to a statement released by the university Dec. 11. In the student conduct investigation, five male students came forward with allegations against him. He was arrested Dec. 12 on three sexual battery charges and posted a $100,000 bond the next day following his initial appearance in Payne County District Court.

Read more from The Daily O’Collegian

Oklahoma Planned Parenthood Deals Can Be Terminated: Judge
A federal judge on Monday denied a request by Planned Parenthood to temporarily block Oklahoma from terminating a contract with the agency to provide nutritional services to low-income mothers. U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot ruled that although the state’s stated reasons don’t seem to be sufficient cause for ending agreements with Planned Parenthood’s three Tulsa-area clinics that have been in place for 18 years, the group’s response to the state’s concerns was insufficient enough to warrant ending the relationship. The decision will likely mean that the group will have to close one of the clinics and eliminate six full-time staff positions when the contracts end on Dec. 31, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s President and CEO Jill June said in a statement.

Read more from the Associated Press at

What really happened with WIC?
The Oklahoma State Health Department (OSDH) recently terminated Planned Parenthood’s contract to administer a federal program called Women, Infants & Children (WIC). The notification letter sent to Planned Parenthood does not provide a reason for ending the contract. Planned Parenthood has been administering WIC for 18 years and operates three Tulsa County clinics serving 3,000 low-income women, children, and babies each month. The abrupt termination comes on the heels of a failed legislative attempt to target Planned Parenthood’s WIC funding.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Oklahoma GOPer introduces bill targeting “Agenda 21″
A Republican legislator in Oklahoma is introducing a bill intended to target Agenda 21, a supposed conspiracy by the United Nations to usurp private property rights in America. From the Tulsa World: Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, said his Senate Bill 23 is based on a bill that was passed by Alabama lawmakers last year and is aimed in part at cutting off state support for the groups pushing limits on property owner rights. As a farmer, Anderson said he is concerned about the federal government — pushed by the U.N.’s agenda of sustainability –forcing rules on a wide variety of things, including the creation of dust and how land can be used.

Read more from at

Oklahoma senator’s bill targets controversial U.N. Agenda 21 plan
Brett Fidler, Tulsa director of sustainability, said the city maintained a membership in the ICLEI in 2009 and 2010, but no local taxes were used to pay the bill. The city paid its $2,750 annual membership dues out of a $3.9 million U.S. Energy Department grant that was part of the Obama administration’s stimulus package. The rest of the grant money was used for energy efficiency projects, including 1,600 new LED traffic signals in downtown Tulsa, new surgical theater lighting for the OSU Medical Center, new taxiway lighting for Tulsa’s airports and lighting for the city’s Performing Arts Center, Fidler said. The lighting changes have saved the city money on its utility bills and have replaced incandescent bulbs that were hotter, were more fragile and produced less light with LED alternatives, he said. Tulsa’s airports have reported 41 percent savings in electricity costs. The OSU Medical Center is saving slightly more than $200,000 a year, he said.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Barry Friedman: The end of the metaphor
“It’s one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I’ve ever seen in my life time,” says former Chief Justice Warren Burger of the 27 words that has turned a nation into constitutional forensic scholars. “The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies–the militias would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.” But I’m sure you’ve got Facebook friends who know better and have posted about how cars cause more death than pistols, how Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer and ammonia to murder, how guns don’t kill people anyway, how it’s America! The logic is lazy; the jingoism is stale.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Unity aids Texas gambling proponents, but improved budget outlook could hurt them
The odds always appear long for passing bills to expand gambling in Texas, but every two years, unrelenting proponents hope for a lucky break. For the legislative session that will begin in a couple of weeks, various gambling pushers will be returning with more unity than they have seen in a long time. But even if the groups – which have been at odds in the past — share a vision for casinos in Texas, they could face a daunting task in 2013, especially since passing a gambling bill would take the support of two-thirds of both chambers and voters’ approval in a statewide referendum.

Read more from the Austin American-Statesman at

Incoming House speaker: ‘All options’ on table for funding ME’s office
The state Legislature is bound again to try settling a core function of public safety in 2013 as funding for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner begins another year looming on the political horizon. Legislators have made budget cuts in recent years while protecting economic development in the state. This includes making tough decisions about infrastructure, said House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon. “I was talking to the D.A.’s council, and they were telling me, ‘Rep. Shannon, this ME’s Office has become such a problem that the first question we get when we’re on the stand trying a murder case from a defense attorney is, ‘Is your ME’s office an accredited medical examiner’s office?’’’ The ME’s office lost its accreditation with the National Association of Medical Examiners in 2009 and has fired two chief medical examiners in two years. The association issued a report noting the deficiencies result from an inadequate staff due to a lack of funding. Also, the agency’s equipment and facilities are obsolete, the association’s report stated. “It’s been tough to even convict people who have committed murder,” Shannon said recently to the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce. Infrastructure repairs have been overlooked at the state capital, Shannon said.

Read more from the Edmond Sun at

Quote of the Day

“I was talking to the D.A.’s council, and they were telling me, ‘Rep. Shannon, this ME’s Office has become such a problem that the first question we get when we’re on the stand trying a murder case from a defense attorney is, ‘Is your ME’s office an accredited medical examiner’s office?’ It’s been tough to even convict people who have committed murder.”

Speaker of the House-Designate Rep. T.W. Shannon, on why funding core functions like the crumbling ME’s Office is a priority for the next Legislature

Number of the Day


Number of personal bankruptcies in Oklahoma attributable to medical debt, 2011

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Latinos in the 2012 Election: Oklahoma
This profile provides key demographic information on Latino eligible voters and other major groups of eligible voters in Oklahoma.2 All demographic data are based on Pew Hispanic Center tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey. The Hispanic population in Oklahoma ranks 25th in the nation.4 About 332,000 Hispanics reside in Oklahoma, 0.7% of all Hispanics in the United States. Oklahoma’s population is 9% Hispanic, ranking 23rd in Hispanic population share nationally.

Read more from the Pew Research Center at

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