In The Know: SandRidge ousts CEO Tom Ward

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 SandRidge Energy Inc’s board of directors removed the company’s founder and CEO, Tom Ward, on Wednesday after a months-long struggle with investors who accused him of self-dealing at the expense of shareholders. Ward will receive a severance payment of more than $90 million in cash and stock. The Oklahoma City Council is delaying action on finding public funding options for a convention center hotel until a market study is completed to see if it is actually needed.

Sen. Patrick Anderson is suing to block bond authorization for a new Medical Examiner’s Office. OK Policy previously discussed why the plight of the Medical Examiner’s Office is a clear example of how Oklahoma’s underfunding of core public services is harming our citizens. A new OK Policy fact sheet shows why accepting federal funds to extend Medicaid would be good for Oklahoma businesses and workers. David Blatt’s Journal Record column imagines a solution to the contradictions in state lawmakers’ attitudes about federal funds. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act will be argued before a federal district judge today.

The Tulsa World writes that the resignation of Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones is a blow to Oklahoma’s criminal justice system, and NewsOK writes that lawmakers should take Jones’ criticisms seriously. A Stanford geophysicist said the growing number of earthquakes caused by wastewater injection wells are worth worrying about. Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, is holding a rally at the state Capitol to oppose U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war.

The Number of the Day is how many low-income working Oklahomans would qualify for health coverage if the state accepted federal funds to expand Medicaid. In today’s Policy Note, entrepeneur and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer makes the capitalist’s case for a $15 minimum wage.

In The News

SandRidge ousts CEO Tom Ward

SandRidge Energy Inc’s board of directors removed the energy company’s founder and chief executive, Tom Ward, on Wednesday after a months-long struggle with activist investors who accused him of strategic mistakes and self-dealing at the expense of shareholders. Ward, who was also under fire for his high pay, will receive a severance payment of more than $90 million in cash and stock. Ward’s termination at SandRidge follows the departure of Aubrey McClendon as chief executive at another Oklahoma City energy company, Chesapeake Energy Corp. The two men, who both faced allegations of governance problems at their companies, founded Chesapeake together in 1989.

Read more from Reuters.

OKC City Council weighs whether a convention center hotel is necessary

Financing a convention center hotel in downtown Oklahoma City isn’t as important as discovering if one is actually needed. That was the consensus of the city council June 11 when it rejected a proposal to pay a financial management company an extra $100,000 on delivering financing options for a would-be convention center hotel. That firm, Chicago-based Public Financial Management, is under contract for other city projects. Instead, the council wants to see the results of an ongoing market study to show if OKC even needs a hotel for the convention center, which will be funded through the MAPS 3 sales tax. The hotel is an independent project with no financing at this point.

Read more from the Oklahoma Gazette.

Sen. Patrick Anderson fights plans for new state Medical Examiner’s Office

The Enid Republican lawmaker who previously sued to kill bond plans to improve the Arkansas River in Tulsa is now taking on plans to finance a new headquarters for the state Medical Examiner’s Office. In January, the Oklahoma Council of Bond Oversight approved $116 million in bonds for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Master Lease Program. When the bond council approved the plan, it stipulated that the Medical Examiner’s Office building would only be part of the program if the Legislature specifically passed legislation endorsing the plan to fund bonds with future appropriations. No such legislation was ever passed.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Previously: Getting what we pay for from the OK Policy Blog

Accepting federal health care funds is good for business

Starting January 1, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows state Medicaid programs to expand coverage to all individuals with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). This means that an individual making up to $15,856 or a family of four with a household income of $32,499 would be eligible for Medicaid coverage. If Oklahoma creates a plan to expand health care coverage to low-income working Oklahomans it will be taking advantage of a major opportunity to strengthen our workforce and businesses. In a new OK Policy fact sheet, we provide information demonstrating how accepting health care funds to provide health insurance to low-income working Oklahomans will be an investment in our workforce and businesses.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Prosperity Policy: The colors of money

The rhetoric around Oklahoma’s use of federal funds has involved some glaring contradictions of late. Here’s an imagining of a modest proposal to fix it. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Washington, D.C. – In an effort to help state governments distinguish between good federal money and bad federal money, the Treasury Department this week announced that it will begin printing U.S. dollars in two different colors. “Until recently, it was believed that all money coming from Washington was the same,” said Treasury spokeswoman Jennifer Argent. “But now we are hearing from states that some money being offered them by the federal government is tainted. Printing dollars in two different colors will help states keep things straight.”

Read more from the Journal Record.

State’s challenge to federal health care law to go before judge

Oklahoma’s challenge to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – will be argued before a federal district judge Thursday. In 2011, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed the case in Eastern District U.S. Court for Oklahoma two weeks after taking office. The Pruitt case sat idle for months as other state challenges to the federal law progressed. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last June that the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate, was largely constitutional, the Oklahoma case was essentially undercut. But in September, Pruitt revived his litigation, picking up arguments initially proposed by conservative think tanks. If U.S. District Judge Ronald White agrees with Pruitt’s argument, it would mean thousands of uninsured Oklahomans would be unable to get federal assistance for their health insurance costs.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Justin Jones’ resignation a blow to Oklahoma corrections

Only 10 men have headed the Oklahoma Department of Corrections since its modern-day creation 46 years ago. The average time spent in the most punishing job in state government has been 4.5 years, a tenuous tenure that Director Justin R. Jones, will have doubled when he departs Oct. 1. Surviving eight years in a political shark tank is an eternity when political forces, or, more aptly, political foes – from the governor to the legislative leadership – want you gone. To his credit, Jones does not share their short-sighted vision for privatization of prisons. That conflict means that a very good man, well-suited for the job, is being shoved out for all the wrong reasons. It also means that the state’s absurdly high per-capita incarceration rate likely will never come down. Why would it when there are private cells to be filled and a private prison lobby passing out campaign donations?

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: Improving the corrections system should be goal of Oklahoma policymakers from NewsOK

Injection well earthquakes worth worrying about, Stanford geophysicist says

Ohio is one of the half-dozen states — like Oklahoma — where earthquakes have been linked to disposal and injection wells used by the oil and gas industry. And while Ohio and Oklahoma — and other states like Arkansas, Texas and Colorado — aren’t usually associated with earthquake activity, injection and disposal well activity routinely produces “micro-seismic events,” Mark Zoback, a geophysicist and Stanford University professor said Tuesday at a conference on natural gas development in Ohio’s Utica shale. “So is it something to worry about?” Zoback said to an audience of engineers, scientists, students and community activists gathered at Severance Hall for the conference on opportunities and challenges presented by shale gas for our region. “The answer is yes.”

Read more from StateImpact Oklahoma.

State legislator announces anti-war rally

A state lawmaker and Gulf War veteran announced an anti-war rally on the south steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol at 7 p.m. July 12. The rally’s theme is “Not Our War!” and will be held to reflect the views of those who oppose U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war, said state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore. “The U.S. has no political or moral obligation to intervene in Syria’s intractable civil war. It’s none of our business,” Wesselhoft said in a press release. “Our involvement in shipping arms to the Syrian rebels commits us to a proxy war with Russia. This is not good, not wise, not acceptable, so we object.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

The top five industries with workers who fall into the newly eligible Medicaid population are those we interact with on a daily basis. They are the workers who serve our meals, build our homes, care for our children, and assist our aging loved ones. Do they not deserve health insurance?

-OK Policy analyst Tiece Dempsey, author of a fact sheet showing why accepting federal funds to extend Medicaid would be good for Oklahoma workers and businesses (

Number of the Day


The number of low-income working Oklahomans who would qualify for health coverage if the state accepted federal funds to expand Medicaid

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The capitalist’s case for a $15 minimum wage

The fundamental law of capitalism is that if workers have no money, businesses have no customers. That’s why the extreme, and widening, wealth gap in our economy presents not just a moral challenge, but an economic one, too. In a capitalist system, rising inequality creates a death spiral of falling demand that ultimately takes everyone down. Low-wage jobs are fast replacing middle-class ones in the U.S. economy. Sixty percent of the jobs lost in the last recession were middle-income, while 59 percent of the new positions during the past two years of recovery were in low-wage industries that continue to expand such as retail, food services, cleaning and health-care support. By 2020, 48 percent of jobs will be in those service sectors. Policy makers debate incremental changes for arresting this vicious cycle. But perhaps the most powerful and elegant antidote is sitting right before us: a spike in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Read more from Bloomberg.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

One thought on “In The Know: SandRidge ousts CEO Tom Ward

  1. Thanks again, Dr. Ed Shadid. You are in the vanguard of leadership; smart, analytical, yet practical and humane. Foiling the plot by revealing the lot of capitalist movers, corporate takers and elected fakers and their get richer schemes, attempting to build a service industry and call it economic prosperity. DO THE MATH !

    This MAPS Math chicanery can only prevail where there is a stunning lack of transparency and true accounting methods. Money growing on trees? It is also stunning how little the OKC City Council knows about the real estate / hotel financing syndicate feasibility studies which are the basis of business literature. Apparently, OKC City Council members haven’t cracked the books, yet.

    Urban planning connivance. Is anyone paying attention or just paying through the “knows”?

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