In The Know: Oklahoman newspaper sold; GOP members targeted by colleague; ‘Lasting harm’ of incarcerating mothers…

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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

In The News

Oklahoman sells to GateHouse Media, lays off several newsroom staffers: The Oklahoman Media Company, the state’s biggest, announced today that it was being sold to GateHouse Media — and laid off 37 staffers. An estimate was that about 15 of those job losses came from the newsroom, though two people agreed to retire. A story on says that the sale will be final Oct. 1. Employees reported being alerted via email yesterday to a mandatory meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday. They sat through a 35-minute presentation about the sale and upcoming changes before being informed of the layoffs. [Poynter] GateHouse Media already owns The Journal Record, The Daily Ardmoreite, Bartlesville Examiner-Express, Miami News-Record and Shawnee News-Star, as well as a number of weekly publications. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma Republicans targeted by colleague, dark money: When voters booted a dozen Oklahoma Republican legislators from office in the primary, the common thinking was that educators angry about classroom funding were behind the ousters. But there were forces at work beyond just agitated teachers. A top GOP House leader actively participated in a plan to take down several hardline members of his own caucus. [AP News]

Report focuses on ‘lasting harm’ of incarcerating mothers prior to trial in Oklahoma: The perils of pretrial incarceration practices in Oklahoma are spotlighted again in a report that specifically zeroes in on the “devastating” consequences of keeping mothers from their adolescent children. Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday released a 121-page report on “the lasting harm of jailing mothers before trial in Oklahoma.” The report states that women are the fastest growing correctional population in the U.S., and since the 1990s, Oklahoma has incarcerated more women per capita than any other state. [Tulsa World] Read the full report here. [Human Rights Watch]

Advocates: Failure-to-protect laws harming women: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s recent decision on a mother’s commutation request has renewed questions about Oklahoma’s so-called “failure-to-protect” laws. The case of an Oklahoma woman named Tondalo Hall has become a primary example cited by advocates when discussing the need to change the law. More than a decade ago, Hall was sentenced to 30 years in prison for failure to protect her children from physical abuse after her boyfriend broke her infant son’s leg. For that abuse, the boyfriend was sentenced to eight years of probation and no jail time. [Journal Record]

Answers sought after spike in health-related jail deaths: From 1999-2015, an average of nearly five people died each year while in the custody of the Oklahoma County Jail. Triple that number died the following year, or 15 people by the end of 2016, and then 10 more by the end of 2017. So far this year, the jail has reported another five deaths. The causes of their deaths fell in line with U.S. Department of Justice statistics – illnesses are far more common than homicides for detainees – but the numbers for those two recent years exceed the national per-capita average. Experts said it’s impossible to pin down one reason, although staff flux represents a strong possibility. [Journal Record]

Poll: Kevin Stitt leading Drew Edmondson 47-43: A poll released today shows Kevin Stitt leading Drew Edmondson 46.9 percent to 43.4 percent in the race to become Oklahoma’s next governor. Chris Powell received 2 percent support, with 7.8 percent remaining undecided. Conducted Sept. 25 and 26 with 1,058 respondents, the poll was commissioned by Right Strategy Group and shows a close race at the top of Oklahoma’s general election ballot. [NonDoc]

School violence study: Schools need more counselors, tip lines: Schools statewide need more mental health counselors and officials should increase their use of student resource officers and add text tip lines to ensure they’re better protecting against violent threats in public schools, officials told lawmakers Wednesday … House lawmakers held an interim study Wednesday at the Capitol to probe the safety and security issue in Oklahoma’s public schools and what it could cost districts or the Legislature to make classrooms safer. [CHNI]

Oklahoma schools relying more and more on fundraisers to pay for the basics: The beginning of any school year brings with it the hope for academic and athletic success, memories to last a lifetime and all the ups and downs that come with life in a modern American school. It also signals the beginning of a year of fundraising that sees students, and often their parents, hawking everything from bacon and candy bars to mattresses to fund activities and, in some cases, necessities, in an era of tight budgets for Oklahoma’s public schools. [NewsOK]

$2.7 million grant to extend Tulsa research into benefits of preschool education: When the project started in fall 2016 with 3-year-old students in preschool, researchers hoped to follow the children’s educational progress through the third grade, but funding didn’t ensure it. Now, a new $2.7 million grant will extend the research even further, enabling the students to be tracked through the fourth grade by a partnership between the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and Georgetown University. [Tulsa World] The research has already found Tulsa’s early childhood education programs producing lasting gains. [OK Policy]

Free flu vaccines available Oct. 1 at county health department locations across Oklahoma: Free flu vaccines will be offered at county health department locations across the state after last year’s flu season set records for its severity. Last flu season, between September 2017 and May 2018, saw 291 deaths and 4,819 hospitalizations across Oklahoma. “We are encouraging everyone to get their flu vaccination and we hope this effort to provide the shots at no out-of-pocket cost to recipients will make it more accessible,” OSDH Interim Commissioner Tom Bates said in a news release. [Tulsa World] Go get your flu shot. Yes, you. [OK Policy]

Collaboration sought to meet needs of Latino community: Oklahoma City’s population is becoming more diverse, and the social service nonprofit Latino Community Development Agency needs to grow to meet those needs. That was the message of President Raúl Font. But that obligation to collaborate shouldn’t just rest on the shoulders of the Latinos in the community, said Sonic Corp.’s most visible Latina woman. [Journal Record]

TPS admins like idea of bilingual certification: It seems likely that Oklahoma high school graduates with extensive foreign language study may soon be able to qualify for certifications on their academic records or diplomas. According to the Oklahoma Association for Bilingual Education, students could also be certified as bilingual in tribal languages. The OABE is working with the Oklahoma Department of Education on possible requirements. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Oklahoma in waiting game for Real ID extension approval: The clock is ticking for Oklahoma officials to find out if their Real ID extension will be approved. Last month, Oklahoma filed for a year-long extension, but lawmakers are still waiting to hear back. If not approved, it could affect travel plans for all Oklahomans. For 11 years, the state’s drivers licenses haven’t complied with federal law. The deadline is Oct. 10. [KTUL]

Joe Exotic to make first appearance Thursday in Oklahoma federal court: The tiger king of Oklahoma accused in a murder-for-hire plot will make an appearance in federal court Thursday. Officials with the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma confirm that Joseph Maldonado-Passage, “Joe Exotic”, will be arraigned at 3 p.m. Thursday. [FOX25]

Quote of the Day

“While most women admitted to jails are accused of minor crimes, the consequences of pretrial incarceration can be devastating. This report finds that jailed mothers often feel an added, and unique, pressure to plead guilty so that they can return home to parent their children and resume their lives. These mothers face difficulties keeping in touch with their children due to restrictive jail visitation policies and costly telephone and video calls. Some risk losing custody of their children because they are not informed of, or transported to, key custody proceedings. Once released from jail, they are met with extensive fines, fees, and costs that can impede getting back on their feet and regaining custody of their children.”

– Human Rights Watch report on the lasting harm of jailing mothers before trial in Oklahoma [HRW]

Number of the Day


Share of Oklahoma City Metro Area workforce that usually works from home.


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Many young people don’t vote because they never learned how. Here’s a free class now in schools trying to change that: Yes, there’s something wrong with that, and with the fact that young people don’t vote in big percentages in any election. In fact, a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center ranked the United States 31st out of 35 countries for voter turnout — and it’s not only young people who stay at home during elections. Only 56 percent of the U.S. voting-age population cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election, which was less than in the record year of 2008. [Washington Post]

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Oklahoman newspaper sold; GOP members targeted by colleague; ‘Lasting harm’ of incarcerating mothers…

  1. I enjoyed reading the AP article about the Oklahoma Republican House leader taking a role in the largely successful effort to use primaries to defeat the right-wing extremists in the Republican legislative ranks.

    It really had to be done. Those extremists were saying “no” to everything and giving the Republican party in Oklahoma a bad name.

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