In The Know: State releases report of botched execution

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.

The state Department of Public Safety has released a report reviewing the botched, 43-minute execution of Clayton Lockett on April 29. The report cites errors in inserting the IV and a lack of training or backup equipment. You can read the full report here. Gov. Fallin has ordered that no executions will be carried out in Oklahoma until the Dept. of Corrections implements recommendations made in the report. The ACLU of Oklahoma released a statement in response to the report, calling it “partisan” and “superficial.”

The vice chairman of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission is accusing state lawmakers of illegally taking $3 million from his agency’s revolving fund to balance the state budget. The chairman argues that the appropriation will leave the agency unable to meet its obligations. We’ve written about how funding grabs have created shortfalls for many state agencies before. The mayors of Tulsa and Oklahoma City are planning a campaign to push for municipal tax base diversification. Presently, municipalities are funded almost entirely through sales tax revenue, which the mayors argue is unreliable. Saint Francis Hospital opened a 150-bed patient tower and trauma center on Wednesday, the largest expansion in the hospital’s history. A new report ranks Oklahoma 7th-worst in the US for obesity. The report notes that Oklahoma is one of only two states that do not require schools to provide health education. Oklahoma’s scorecard is available here.

An event Thursday night examined segregation in Tulsa schools, 60 years after the Supreme Court ordered schools to desegregate. Executive Director David Blatt and others argued that Tulsa schools are now segregated by income rather than by race. A Teachers Matter forum held in Oklahoma City discussed ways to support and improve teaching in Oklahoma. Speakers included author and journalist Amanda Ripley, author of “The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way,” which we recently reviewed on the OK Policy Blog. Oklahoma’s ACT math scores continue to lag behind the national average, although it is ahead or on par with the national averages in reading and science. A new teaching garden in a Tulsa elementary school will help students learn about healthy eating.

Gov. Fallin announced the creation of a Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity in response to increased earthquake activity in Oklahoma. The council will help connect researchers with policy makers and energy industry experts.  All 800 Walgreens Pharmacies in Oklahoma have installed time delay safes in an attempt to deter painkiller theft. We’ve discussed Oklahoma’s biggest drug problem before. The state and the Choctaw Nation have signed a vehicle tag compact, allowing Choctaw citizens to purchase Choctaw tags from state agencies. The Tulsa Jail is currently using goats to control weeds and overgrowth at the facility, and jail officials say that the goats seem to be having a calming effect on inmates as well.

StateImpact described how environmental protections for the state’s rivers have lead to economic development because pristine waterways attract tourism and fishing. Despite recent rains, drought conditions have worsened in western Oklahoma. The Number of the Day is how much real tax income in Oklahoma remains below the pre-recession peak. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post explains how America’s aging population is encountering infrastructure designed for for the young.

In The News

IV errors, lack of training cited in Oklahoma botched execution report

Oklahoma planned to execute two inmates on the night of April 29, but the prison didn’t have key medical equipment or a contingency plan in case things went wrong. The state’s official investigation, released Thursday, cites problems with the IV that was supposed to deliver the lethal drugs as “the single greatest factor” in Clayton Lockett’s botched execution. The report recommends several remedies to Oklahoma’s execution protocol, including improvements in training, communication, and a backup plan in case something goes wrong.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Read the full report here.

See also: Governor: No Okla. executions until protocols set from KTUL and ACLU of Oklahoma’s response to the report.

Oklahoma Legislature is accused of illegally tapping aeronautics revolving fund

The vice chairman of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission has accused state lawmakers of illegally taking $3 million from the agency’s revolving fund to help balance the state budget. “I feel the Legislature has acted illegally in the taking of those funds,” commission Vice Chairman Tom Stephenson said in a letter mailed this week to legislative leaders. “This removal of funds from the account of the Oklahoma Aeronautics (Commission) without approval leaves the commission in a position of soon not being able to meet its obligations,” said Stephenson, an Oklahoma City attorney.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: They did what?? Funding grabs create shortfalls for many agencies from the OK Policy Blog.

Tulsa, OKC Mayors meet to plan municipal tax base change

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett met with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett on Wednesday to plan a campaign to get the state Legislature to allow cities to diversify their source of revenue. Municipalities in the state get funding almost solely through sales tax, which the mayors argue leads to instability with the ebb and flow of retail sales. Started by the mayors of the state’s two largest cities, Bartlett said he hopes all the mayors in the state will join in the effort.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Saint Francis opens new patient tower, trauma center

Saint Francis Hospital formally opened its new 150-bed patient tower and trauma center with a ribbon cutting on Wednesday, celebrating the greatest expansion in the hospital’s history. “It’s our hope that this new building will bring about meaningful advances in the health care in Tulsa,” said John-Kelly Warren, chairman of the Saint Francis Health System board of directors.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma obesity rate in the worst seven in the country

Oklahoma is one of eight states where the obesity rate got worse this year after it increased by less than 1 percentage point, according to report released Thursday. The state now ranks seventh in the nation in overall obesity, with a rate of 32.5 percent. Last year, it ranked sixth with 32.2 percent, according to the report released by Trust for America’s Health. Deanna Douthit, medical health and wellness director for YMCA of Greater Tulsa, said people seem to be getting used to seeing a high obesity rate.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: The State of Obesity in Oklahoma from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Segregation in modern-day Tulsa schools based more on income than race, panel says

Marking the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end racial segregation in public schools, a panel of community leaders on Thursday examined dramatic shifts in Tulsa’s modern-day segregation patterns. “We see that our schools are far from integrated, but they are not racially monolithic, either,” said David Blatt, executive director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute. “There has been a notable diffusion of poverty.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Can Foreign Countries Teach Oklahoma a Lesson About Schools?

How did Finland, South Korea and Poland become international leaders in education? How can the United States and Oklahoma learn from their models? That question and ways to improve the teaching profession were the focus of a Teachers Matter forum held in Oklahoma City Thursday. Speakers included author and journalist Amanda Ripley, teacher of the year Peter Markes, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Robert Neu and Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

See also: Two Takes: The Smartest Kids in the World from the OK Policy Blog.

Oklahoma continues to lag behind in ACT math scores

Oklahoma ACT scores have increased steadily over the past two decades, but educators still have a lot of work to do, a higher education official said Thursday. “We are still behind in math. Math is our challenge,” said Cindy Brown, director of student preparation. “We’ve still got much to do.” Brown presented a report on ACT scores for the graduating class of 2014 during a meeting of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

Read more from NewsOK.

Whitman Elementary students plant garden to learn about healthy eating

A new teaching garden at Whitman Elementary School is taking the age-old admonition of “Eat your veggies” down to the root level. Sponsored by D&L Oil Tools and the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, Whitman’s new teaching garden was also made possible by donations from Colebrook Nursery. “We want them to see every step of the process and be involved in every step so they can replicate this at some point,” said Thomas Boxley, facility manager at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic, which is one of Whitman’s community partners.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Governor Creates Coordinating Council On Seismic Activity

Gov. Mary Fallin has announced the creation of a Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity to link researchers with policy makers and energy industry experts as Oklahoma experiences a dramatic uptick in earthquake activity. Fallin’s announcement on Thursday came during the fourth annual Governor’s Energy Conference in Oklahoma City. The council will be headed by Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment Michael Teague. Fallin says Oklahoma is seeing more earthquakes today than it did several decades ago, and that it’s important to study the issue.

Read more from KGOU.

Pharmacies put time delay safe in all Oklahoma Walgreens to help prevent prescription robberies

More than 800 people died in Oklahoma last year from drug overdoses, according to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. Eighty percent of those deaths involved prescription medications. Law enforcement say the abuse of these drugs is on the rise and leads to other dangerous crimes, including robbery. One pharmacy is taking measures to prevent prescription robberies and protect its employees and customers. Last month Walgreens Pharmacies installed time delay safes in all of its Oklahoma stores.

Read more from KXII.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin Signs Vehicle Tag Compact with the Choctaw Nation

Governor Mary Fallin announced today that the state of Oklahoma has signed a vehicle tag compact with the Choctaw Nation. The compact, signed during last weekend’s Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival, establishes how the state and tribe will work together to issue Choctaw vehicle tags. “The state of Oklahoma and the Choctaw Nation already are important partners in economic development, education, health care and transportation infrastructure,” said Fallin. “This is just another example of an opportunity for state leaders and tribal leaders to get together to strengthen our partnerships.”

Read more from KTEN.

Tulsa Jail gets goats to clean up property

A few weeks ago, medical staff at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center — commonly known as the Tulsa Jail — asked administrators what could be done about the overgrown vegetation in the facility’s atrium area. The view from their offices looks out at the area, which is about 4,500 square feet of grass, weeds and plants, and they wanted the area cleaned. But they said they were both surprised and pleased at Tulsa County Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark’s proposed solution. “Could you imagine being out here with weed eaters?” Clark asked Thursday afternoon. “It would have taken some time (to clean), so I thought, ‘Throw a couple goats in there. Why waste the grass? They’re natural weed eaters.’”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

On the Mountain Fork River, Environmental Protection Equals Economic Development

Eddie Brister knows how the stream warms and cools, and where the current rushes and eddies. He knows every pebble in the river, and he can spot a trout without even dipping his waders in the water. “There’s a rainbow right over there,” says Brister, a fly fishing guide and owner of the Beaver’s Bend Fly Shop. He spots another trout sidling up to a white rock below the dam spillway at Broken Bow Lake. “See how he’s going back and forth? He’s eating things that are coming downstream for him right there.”

Read more from StateImpact.

Despite rains, dry conditions linger in western Oklahoma

Despite several inches of rain that fell in parts of the state Monday night, Oklahoma’s drought situation worsened over the week, a new report shows. Hot, dry, windy conditions caused the drought to intensify in the western part of the state, where conditions were already driest, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday. Areas along the Oklahoma-Kansas border that received rain early this week showed little improvement. Over the past 30 days, western Oklahoma has received just 0.29 inches of rain, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

“We made the point that if we don’t do anything about this problem in some manner, shape or form there will be cities that will not be able to afford a police department or a fire department.”

– Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, who is launching a campaign with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett to get the state legislature to allow cities to diversify their source of revenue. Oklahoma municipalities are currently funded almost entirely by sales tax (Source:

Number of the Day


How much real tax revenue in Oklahoma remains below the pre-recession peak.

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

America is rapidly aging in a country built for the young

Although we seldom think about them this way, most American communities as they exist today were built for the spry and mobile. We’ve constructed millions of multi-story, single-family homes where the master bedroom is on the second floor, where the lawn outside requires weekly upkeep, where the mailbox is a stroll away. We’ve designed neighborhoods where everyday errands require a driver’s license. We’ve planned whole cities where, if you don’t have a car, it’s not particularly easy to walk anywhere — especially not if you move gingerly. This reality has been a fine one for a younger country.

Read more from the Washington Post.

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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