In The Know: ‘Eyes of the world’ on Tulsa as Trump rally approaches and virus cases continue to climb

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Accurate census count vital to business, industry: As Oklahoma has moved forward with reopening efforts, the Census Bureau has relaunched efforts to ensure that Oklahoma and all other states get the most complete count possible. The census timeline now expects to be wrapped up by late fall – provided there are no other significant public health setbacks. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Oklahoma News

Amid coronavirus record highs, Tulsa braces for thousands to gather for Trump rally, protests: As Tulsa braces for thousands of people to flood downtown on Saturday for President Donald Trump’s campaign rally, counter protests and Juneteenth celebrations, some Oklahomans, including health professionals, activists, and business owners, are anxiously awaiting the weekend. [The Frontier] Oklahoma has hit another high in new COVID-19 cases, with 259 more confirmed infections, the state reported Wednesday. Likewise, Tulsa County also hit a new high. County health officials reported 96 new confirmed cases. [Tulsa World]

  • Oklahoma among the states with highest coronavirus case growth [Axios]
  • Tulsa mayor ‘not positive’ the community will be safe from COVID-19 at Trump rally, calls for people to take personal responsibility [Tulsa World]
  • Mayor Bynum calls Trump visit an honor but urges safety measures for people in crowds this weekend [Tulsa World]
  • Bynum ‘not positive that everything is safe,’ but won’t stop Trump rally [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Tulsa braces for Trump rally’s health threat as virus cases rise [The New York Times]
  • Tulsa officials warn vulnerable people to stay home from Trump rally [The Hill]
  • Many fear Trump’s visit to Tulsa could spark violence [AP News]
  • National Guard soldiers activated for Trump rally in Tulsa [AP News]
  • With ‘eyes of the world’ on Tulsa, police chief discusses plans to keep everyone safe [Tulsa World]
  • Stitt now recommends Trump not visit Greenwood District [The Oklahoman]
  • Gov. Stitt says he, Sen. Lankford now recommending Trump not visit Greenwood District [Tulsa World]
  • Leaders: Trump should stay away from Greenwood District [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]
  • Judge rejects motion to halt Trump rally [The Journal Record]
  • White House: Masks optional at Trump’s Oklahoma rally (video) [Reuters]
  • Legal challenge seeking to enforce CDC guidelines at Trump rally sent to state Supreme Court [Tulsa World]
  • QuikTrip closing some downtown-area stores temporarily ahead of Trump rally out of concern for employees [Tulsa World]
  • Stitt: People concerned about COVID-19 at Trump rally should stay home [The Oklahoman]
  • Stitt, state’s Republican Congressional delegation head Trump surrogates at Saturday rally [Tulsa World]
  • Dr. Fauci says he personally wouldn’t attend Trump’s Tulsa rally, citing coronavirus [Daily Beast]
  • Trump plans an indoor rally in Tulsa. That has public health officials worried [NPR Morning Edition]
  • Early bird Trump supporters want to be among first at rally [The Oklahoman]
  • How the Trump campaign’s plans for a triumphant rally went awry [The New York Times]
  • Trump rally in Tulsa spurs renewed call for 1921 racial massacre reparations [The Guardian]
  • Op-Ed: I’m a Tulsa emergency physician and conservative, and the Trump rally is a terrible idea [Op-Ed / Tulsa World]
  • Point of View, Sen. George Young: Visit to Tulsa is another distraction by this president [Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]
  • Opinion: The president’s badly timed visit to Tulsa [The Oklahoman Editorial Board]  

COVID-19 spending website lacking despite state law: Gov. Kevin Stitt assured lawmakers that his administration would be transparent about how federal funds for COVID-19 are being spent. But a website to check those expenditures has yet to make them easily available, despite a bill passed by lawmakers. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Norman council reduces police budget as cities confront calls to cut PD spending: Norman’s city council cut its police budget by $865,000, responding to pleas from residents who have urged a reduction in police spending, pressure elected officials in Oklahoma’s largest cities have felt for weeks. [The Frontier] Calling it a “very small gesture” and “an important time in Norman’s history,” the city council voted early Wednesday morning to cut more than $800,000 from the police department budget in response to calls to fund alternatives to armed policing. [The Oklahoman] Norman Mayor says budget cut is not about punishing police [News9]  Norman, Oklahoma City take different paths amid calls to defund police [KOSU]

Analysis projects $142M in savings from sentence reforms, but Department of Corrections disagrees: A conservative think tank is making the case for a ballot initiative that would do away with repeat offender sentence enhancements for nonviolent crimes. The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs found enhancements were applied 80% of the time, despite district attorneys saying they’re used selectively. [Public Radio Tulsa

Dateline NBC episode on Friday features two Tulsa brothers wrongfully convicted for murders: Two Tulsa brothers fighting for more than 20 years to prove their innocence will be the focus of a special Dateline NBC episode airing Friday at 9 p.m. For the first time on national television, brothers Malcolm Scott and Corey Atchison will discuss their struggles with the justice system, as well as their pact to help one another get out of prison. Both were wrongfully convicted for separate murders. [Tulsa World]

Payne County jail testing after COVID-19 exposure: A Health Department strike force descended on the Payne County jail Wednesday, armed with COVID-19 tests. Sheriff Kevin Woodward told the News Press he called the Payne County Health Department for help after learning on Tuesday that one of his jailers had tested positive for the virus. [Stillwater News Press]

Editorial: Jaywalking is no reason to arrest or handcuff a child: The video of two black Tulsa teenagers being handcuffed, and one wrestled to the ground and arrested, for jaywalking is hard to watch. It highlights the criticisms of overpolicing in majority black neighborhoods and harsher treatment of black residents, particularly young men. But, these are not men. They are children. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Spirit of open records law is important, too: Oklahoma City is following the letter of the law in withholding certain police video footage of recent downtown protests. It would do well, however, to follow the spirit of the law instead. [The Oklahoman Editorial Board]

Health News

Pandemic jeopardizes vote on Oklahoma Medicaid expansion: Oklahoma residents going to the polls June 30 have the chance to override state leaders’ decade-long refusal to expand Medicaid, which would cover more than 200,000 low-income adults and bring billions of federal dollars into the state. [U.S. News & World Report]

Can SoonerCare capacity meet Medicaid expansion’s demand?: If State Question 802 passes, approximately 200,000 more people will be eligible for SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program. Whether SoonerCare can handle the increased patient population is another question. [KOSU]

As COVID-19 surges in Oklahoma, Tulsa Health Department workers are ‘starting to wear down’: As Oklahoma hits a stride in ever increasing COVID-19 infections, health officials and political leaders remarked on the continued need for prevention. Oklahoma has hit another high in new COVID-19 cases, with 259 more confirmed infections, the state reported Wednesday. Likewise, Tulsa County also hit a new high. County health officials reported 96 new confirmed cases. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma cities, counties request $7.5 million in COVID-19 reimbursements: Over $2 million from Oklahoma’s portion of the the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act have been distributed to 21 cities and counties to cover COVID-19 related expenses, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office announced Wednesday. [The Oklahoman] Video: Stitt shares update on CARES Act funding with city, county leaders. [The Oklahoman] Stitt: The state has begun fulfilling requests, and cleared about 30% in seven days, arranging to forward more than $2.1 million to 21 localities. [The Journal Record]

Federal Government News

Supreme Court ruling upholds DACA program: A deeply divided Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration Thursday from ending a popular program that allows nearly 650,000 young, undocumented immigrants to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation. [USA Today] The justifications the government gave, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, were insufficient. He said the administration may try again to provide adequate reasons for shutting down the program. [New York Times] More than 90 percent of DACA recipients are employed and 45 percent are in school, according to one government study. Advocates recently told the Supreme Court that nearly 30,000 work in the health care industry, and their work was necessary to fighting the coronavirus pandemic. [Washington Post]

Dormant transgender rights cases see new life in Supreme Court ruling: The only thing Rachel Tudor wants more than to be herself is to teach. After transitioning from male to female in 2007, Ms. Tudor, a professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, applied for tenure to ensure she could do both. [New York Times]

Economic Opportunity

Food insecurity rates climbing: The Hope Center had been assisting an average of around 400 to 500 households a month before the pandemic guidelines set in. In the 10 weeks between March 16 and May 31 that number jumped to over 1,448 households, which is approximately 4,500 individuals, according to The Hope Center Director of Operations Tonia Cain. [Woodward News]

Economy & Business News

Point of View: More than platitudes needed to help Black-owned businesses: As we continue to reckon with inequality in America, it is important to take into account the many ways American systems continue to oppress Black business owners. During COVID, Bureau of Labor Statistics data has shown that Latinx and Black small-business owners have shuttered at 1.5 times and double the rate, respectively. Without data on the PPP Loan program, we risk not identifying major gaps, and prolonging wealth inequality in this country. [Op-Ed / The Oklahoman]

No reason to believe Austin has advantage over Tulsa in attracting Tesla, Oklahoma commerce secretary says: Secretary of Commerce and Workforce Development Sean Kouplen said he has no reason to believe Austin, Texas, has an advantage over Tulsa in attracting a Tesla plant. [Tulsa World]

‘Good compression’: Trump visit boosts suffering hospitality industry: President Donald Trump’s visit to Tulsa this weekend will provide a welcome boost to a hospitality industry that has been slumping for months because of the impact of the coronavirus, a local hotel executive said. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Trial date set in state’s attempt to access virtual school records: An Oklahoma County judge has set an August trial date as the state auditor’s office attempts to access financial records from a private company that manages a virtual charter school. [The Frontier] The district judge limited the involvement the State Chamber of Oklahoma is allowed to have in court action against a company that manages Epic Charter Schools. [The Oklahoman]

OSU regents to vote on removing ‘Alfalfa Bill’ Murray’s name from building: Oklahoma State University regents will likely vote Friday to remove the name Murray from a campus building in Stillwater, erasing a connection to an early governor who helped give birth to the state but also supported segregation and Jim Crow laws. [Tulsa World] Chairman Tucker Link said the board of regents “fully intend” to remove the name. [The Oklahoman] History is clear: Alfalfa Bill Murray was a terrible bigot [Op-Ed / NonDoc]

OU Provost Kyle Harper to step down, return to faculty: Provost Kyle Harper will step down at the University of Oklahoma to return to a teaching position among the faculty. Students demanded Harper’s resignation during a hunger strike and sit-in in February. More than 100 protesters filled OU’s administration building and issued a list of demands for institutional changes. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Tulsa City Council approves $828.5 million budget for next fiscal year, including $876K more for police department [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Hornets Silencing Hate’: Booker T. Washington alumni to host unity rally [Tulsa World]
  • Chief: It was the Claremore Spirit that made recent protest a success [Claremore Daily Progress]
  • OSU students seek to address racial injustices with Juneteenth rally on campus [Stillwater News Press]
  • ‘This disease is still spreading in Stillwater’: Mayor Joyce discusses recent spike of coronavirus cases [Stillwater News Press]
  • $6.1 million federal grant will go toward building manufacturing center at Tulsa Port of Catoosa [Tulsa World]
  • Nowata County Judge set new orders to conform to Open Up and Recover Safely Plan [Miami News Record]

Quote of the Day

“As a physician, my oath is to do no harm, and to sit silently on this matter feels wrong. I was raised in a conservative, pro-life, Southern Baptist household and continue to have these values today with my own family. It’s not about President Trump. For me, it doesn’t matter if the rally is for a Republican, Democrat or Queen Elizabeth herself. It’s a terrible idea.”

-Dr. Samantha Whiteside, a Tulsa emergency physician [Op-Ed / Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Projected change in the number of uninsured Oklahomans if the state accepted Medicaid expansion

[Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation / Urban Institute]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Racism is a public health crisis, say cities and counties: The data is stark: Black women are up to four times more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than white women. Black men are more than twice as likely to be killed by police as white men. And the average life expectancy of African Americans is four years lower than the rest of the U.S. population. The bleak statistics have helped convince more than 20 cities and counties and at least three states, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, to declare racism a public health crisis. [Pew Trusts]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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