In The Know: Defense Secretary orders National Guards to process military benefits

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 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel blasted Oklahoma and 8 other states for creating hardship for military families and violating federal law by refusing to issue identification cards to some military spouses at their National Guard facilities.  Hagel directed the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy the situation if states do not comply.

A wrongful death claim has been filed against private prison corporation GEO, alleging that a man died in their custody in Oklahoma when staff improperly administered his high blood pressure medication.  Governor Fallin will host a National Governors Association meeting on connecting workforce and education.  

After controversy surrounding the release of information related to two child abduction attempts, Lawton police and city officials announced that they will be changing departmental policies with the goal of more disclosure to the public.  A new exhibition of portraits of incarcerated Oklahoma women will open in Tulsa this weekend.  

The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety appointed DPS Commissioner Ricky Adams as the new chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.  The Number of the Day is the unemployment rate for Hispanic Oklahomans.  In today’s Policy Note, StateImpactOK examined Oklahoma City’s water supply options now and in the future.

In The News

Hagel blasts states on same-sex benefits policy
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is criticizing U.S. states that refuse to issue Defense Department identification cards – and the benefits that go with them – to same-sex spouses of military members at National Guard facilities. In remarks prepared for delivery in New York on Thursday evening, Hagel says these states are violating their obligations under federal law. And he says they are creating hardship and inequality by forcing legally married gay partners to travel to federal military bases to get the ID cards to which they are entitled. Hagel does not name the states, but the Pentagon has cited nine: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Read more from News9

Defense secretary contradicts order from Gov. Fallin, tells Oklahoma Guard to process benefit requests for same-sex military spouses
Gen. Myles Deering, the adjutant general of the Oklahoma National Guard, now has conflicting orders from his military superiors and the governor, who commands the Guard.Deering could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. It was not immediately clear whose orders Deering will have to follow, but Hagel said he will take further steps if the states don’t comply. “Today, I directed the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation,” Hagel said. “The adjutants general will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy.”

Read more from NewsOK

Death suit alleges prison negligence
Court records show Jessic Opdyke filed suit Oct. 24 on behalf of William Schrader Jr., 39, who was serving several 30-year sentences with the Department of Corrections for burglary and grand larceny. He was moved to the Lawton Correctional Facility sometime before his death Nov. 12, 2012. On that date, Schrader reportedly slept until lunchtime, but did not report to the cafeteria to eat. He was found after lunch unresponsive in his cell, and an autopsy revealed Schrader died from a verapamil toxicity. According to Web MD, verapamil is a drug used to treat high blood pressure. According to the suit, Schrader notified DOC officials of his medical problems when he began serving his time in 2006, but Opdyke’s suit alleges staff at Lawton Correctional Facility, 8607 SE Flower Mound, were negligent in administering his medication, resulting in the overdose.

Read more from The Lawton Constitution

Oklahoma Governor to Address Summit in New Mexico
Gov. Mary Fallin is scheduled to host a meeting in New Mexico to discuss ways to connect education and the workforce. Fallin will host the event Monday as part of her chairmanship of the National Governors Association.

Read more from The Associated Press

Police to change media release policies after abduction attempts
After controversy surrounding the public release of information related to two abduction attempts exploded this week, Lawton Police Department and City of Lawton officials announced Thursday afternoon that they will be changing departmental policies with the goal of more disclosure to the public. Lawton City Manager Bryan Long and Lawton Police Chief James Smith addressed media representatives Thursday at the Lawton Police Department, but both encouraged all parties to focus on the future rather than picking apart the past.

Read more from The Lawton Constitution

Upcoming Event: Invisible Eve at Tulsa’s 108 Contemporary
On Friday, November 1st, Tulsa’s 108 Contemporary, located at 108 East Brady Street, will premiere an exhibition of portraits by Yousef Khanfar from his book “Invisible Eve: Incarcerated Women of Oklahoma”. An opening reception for the event will take place Friday from 6-9 pm. Yousef Khanfar is an international award-winning writer and photographer. In Invisible Eve, he turns his lens on incarcerated Oklahoma women, presenting the images and words of those too often cast away and forgotten, in an effort to reach empathy and understanding.

Read more from Oklahoma Policy Institute

New Oklahoma Highway Patrol Chief selected
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has chosen assistant DPS Commissioner Ricky Adams as the new chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. DPS Commissioner Michael Thompson announced Thursday that Adams will become the 26th Highway Patrol chief on Friday and that Maj. Gerald Davidson is being promoted to assistant commissioner.

Read more from The Associated Press

Quote of the Day

“By giving them a voice, they felt good about themselves. They transcended their own tragedy. They felt they are part of the solution than part of the problem.  All the ladies I photographed were united by misfortune of circumstances and non-violent crimes. I refused to see them as inmates and I only saw them as human beings.”

Yousef Khanfar, about a project involving several women currently incarcerated in Oklahoma prisons 

Number of the Day

3.7 percent

The unemployment rate for Hispanic Oklahomans, 2nd lowest in the U.S. behind Virginia in 2012

Source:  Senate Joint Economic Committee

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why Oklahoma City Won’t Tap Water From the Aquifer Under Its Own Feet
Moving water from the southeast Oklahoma to Oklahoma City is highly controversial. The battle over who controls water across most of that part of the state still has the state, city and tribal governments tied up in court after more than two years. If only there was another large source of water, near the metro, that OKC could use. Well, State Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, says there is: The Garber-Wellington Aquifer. And he’s tired of seeing Oklahoma City take water out of his district in the far southeast corner of the state. “They’ve got other things. They’ve got groundwater. They’ve got the Garber-Wellington Aquifer there,” Ellis says.

Read more from StateImpactOK 

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