In The Know: New survey, over 60 percent of state’s public schools without storm shelter

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 a new survey found that more than 60 percent of the state’s public schools have no refuge or safe area in place to withstand a violent tornado.  A federal appeals court heard oral arguments in the case of an Oklahoma police captain who refused to attend, or send subordinates, to a law enforcement appreciation event hosted by the Islamic Society of Tulsa.

M. Scott Carter wrote in The Journal Record that complaints about ‘the growth of state government’ belie the fact that basic and vital public services have been neglected – like Oklahoma’s long-suffering medical examiner’s office, which has been forced to operate for years without sufficient resources out of a substandard facility.  

The Board of Corrections is scheduled to meet privately to discuss the death of an inmate at a state prison in McAlester, found deceased in his cell in July.  A 55-year-old inmate at Lawton Correctional Facility, found unconscious in his cell Wednesday, was hospitalized for injuries from a severe beating.

An illustrated video from The Urban Institute debunks the myth that large portions of the country “don’t pay taxes.”  The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s rank nationally for the percentage of women in private sector management positions.  In today’s Policy Note, watch and listen to local health experts answer Oklahomans’ questions about the Affordable Care Act at a community forum presented by Oklahoma Watch.

In The News

Most Oklahoma schools without storm shelter, survey shows
More than 60 percent of the public schools in Oklahoma have no refuge or safe area in place to withstand a violent tornado, according to a survey released Thursday by proponents of a ballot measure to place storm shelters in schools. The survey of all 517 school districts in Oklahoma shows more than 1,100 schools, or 61.5 percent, have no shelter or safe area, said Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, who is pushing a ballot initiative for a $500 million bond issue to help schools pay for storm shelters or safe rooms.

Read more from Associated Press

Appeals panel hears arguments from Tulsa police officer who refused to attend mosque event
A three-judge panel heard oral arguments Thursday in a Tulsa police officer’s appeal of a ruling in favor of the city of Tulsa and police administrators who he asserts violated his rights by suspending him for refusing to attend an event at a mosque. Capt. Paul Fields wants the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court’s decision in December in favor of Police Chief Chuck Jordan and Deputy Chief Daryl Webster.

Read more from Tulsa World

Fourth Reading: Reversing the domino effect
You could call it one of those domino-effect things. For years the state medical examiner’s office has needed new space, new equipment and a proper facility to perform its job. For years it hasn’t had one. Bodies have literally been stacked up, waiting for examination and keeping a chief medical examiner – forced to use such a horrific facility – has been difficult.

Read more from The Journal Record

Okla. prison board to meet, discuss inmate death
The Oklahoma Board of Corrections will privately discuss the death of an inmate at the state prison in McAlester during its regular meeting. The board plans to meet at 1 p.m. Friday at the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply in far northwest Oklahoma. Among the items on the agenda is a closed session of the board to discuss an investigation into the death of 43-year-old Timothy Joel Hale, who was found in his cell in July at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Read more from News9

Attack at prison leaves man in hospital
A 55-year-old inmate at Lawton Correctional Facility was hospitalized Wednesday night after a severe beating by another prisoner who wanted to use his cell to use his cell phone, police said. Lawton police were called to the prison, 8607 SE Flower Mound, at 8:30 p.m. after the inmate was found knocked out in his cell. He was reported to have a swollen face, two black eyes and a severe cut over his left eye. The man was taken to Southwestern Medical Center where his eye was stitched up and injuries treated. He received several broken ribs and a collapsed chest, according to the report.

Read more from The Lawton Constitution

Watch This: Debunking Myths About Who Pays Taxes
During the last presidential election, much was made of the fact that nearly half of Americans paid no federal income tax in 2010. But is it true? A new 4 minute illustrated video from The Urban Institute explains who doesn’t pay income taxes and why. The video debunks the myth that large portions of the country ‘don’t pay taxes’. Although some households don’t pay federal income taxes, all households inevitably pay other taxes (sales and property, payroll, and/or state income taxes).

Watch this at

Quote of the Day

“Oklahoma must have a medical examiner’s office – it’s an absolute necessity. And while it has been easy for some lawmakers to whine and complain about the growth of state government, the idea that the state doesn’t have a resource for the families of deceased Oklahomans and for the law enforcement community is absolutely insane.

It’s always easy to point fingers and say how bad government is or how ineffective or bloated – until someone needs a government service. The service provided by the ME’s office is vital to both the average Oklahoman and the law enforcement community.”

M. Scott Carter, The Journal Record 

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank nationally for the percentage of private sector management positions held by women, 37.2 percent in 2010

Source: Center for American Progress

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Oklahoma Watch-Out Panelists Field Questions on Affordable Care Act
The featured guests were Terry Cline, Oklahoma commissioner of health and Gov. Mary Fallin’s secretary of health and human services, and Andrew Rice, executive director of the Variety Care Foundation and a former state senator. Both Cline and Rice told the crowd of about 65 some of the ways the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare,” would affect Oklahomans and how the state has responded to implementation of the law. They also answered questions from the audience that ranged from how the law would affect rural hospitals to whether young uninsured people will seek coverage.

More from Oklahoma Watch

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