In The Know: Trump considering fracking mogul Harold Hamm as energy secretary

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.

Today In The News

Exclusive: Trump considering fracking mogul Harold Hamm as energy secretary – sources: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is considering nominating Oklahoma oil and gas mogul Harold Hamm as energy secretary if elected to the White House on Nov. 8, according to four sources close to Trump’s campaign. The chief executive of Continental Resources (CLR.N) would be the first U.S. energy secretary drawn directly from the oil and gas industry since the cabinet position was created in 1977, a move that would jolt environmental advocates but bolster Trump’s pro-drilling energy platform [Reuters].

Fallin readies prime-time speech at Republican convention: Gov. Mary Fallin plans to speak at the Republican National Convention here Thursday about “things that are valuable in life, the principles that made America great and what we need to do to make America great again.” The governor has a 6-minute slot on the last night of the convention, when Donald J. Trump is set to accept the nomination for president [NewsOK].

Promises of change made at Tulsa Talks forum on law enforcement, race issues: The best-attended discussion in recent weeks about law enforcement and racial divides in Tulsa left community leaders with several promises on policy changes Tuesday. Tulsa Police Department and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office officials told an audience of several hundred people that they would look into adopting several practices, including requiring officers to better identify themselves, publish education about how people should interact in arrest situations and include implicit-racial-bias training for officers [Tulsa World]. Three takeaways from the meeting are available here.

OKC police rifle policy draws questions: Optics took center stage Tuesday in the debate over how well-armed Oklahoma City police officers ought to be. While Police Chief Bill Citty took pains to dispel the notion that officers soon would begin carrying military-style rifles on traffic stops, city council members were warned of the potential for a breakdown in progress on police-community relations. Grace Franklin, of OKC Artists for Justice, an advocacy group for women of color, urged a go-slow approach to equipping more officers with rifles and called for a quick restoration of body-worn cameras [NewsOK].

Oklahoma must eventually curb growth in prison population: Last week, an inmate at the Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown was stabbed to death during a fight. This didn’t occur in his prison cell or in the cafeteria. Instead the fight broke out in a day room that ordinarily would be used for leisure activities but instead was loaded with bunk beds housing 52 inmates. Why? Because at Mack Alford, as at the prisons across the Department of Corrections system, the number of cells isn’t sufficient to house the number of inmates [Editorial Board / NewsOK]. Oklahoma has the second highest incarceration rate in the country, up from fourth highest in 2012, with approximately 1,310 out of every 100,000 of our citizens incarcerated in 2014 [OK Policy].

Federal Judge: Civil Rights Suit Against Glanz, Tulsa County Jail Can Proceed: A federal judge ruled the civil rights lawsuit against former sheriff Stanley Glanz and the Tulsa County Jail can proceed. Elliot Williams died in 2011. His family said he was left on the floor of his jail cell with a broken neck. The judge denied the County’s request to throw the lawsuit out and said the County knew the jail medical care had failed in three previous audits [NewsOn6].

More people with mental illnesses are ending up in jail, the ‘asylum of last resort’: More people with serious mental illnesses are ending up in county jails across the country , a recent report from Public Citizen and the Treatment Advocacy Center shows. The report, which included survey data from 230 sheriffs’ departments from 39 states, including Oklahoma, outlined the challenges that jail staffs face in overseeing this population. For one, inmates with untreated serious mental illnesses are more likely to be victimized by other inmates, attempt suicide and lash out at jail staff, according to the report [NewsOK]. The full report is available here.

Prosperity Policy: Off the runoff: Oklahomans looking for innovative ways to make our democracy work better should pay attention to Maine this fall. Maine voters will decide whether to adopt a new method of voting for legislative and congressional elections known as ranked-choice voting, or the instant runoff. Under this system, voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, tabulation proceeds in rounds, with last-place candidates eliminated until one candidate achieves a majority [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Lawsuit seeks to halt November vote on Oklahoma grocery store wine sales: The Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma asked a judge Wednesday to block a November public vote on whether to allow supermarkets and convenience stores to sell wine and strong beer in Oklahoma. “State Question 792 is unconstitutional because it denies to certain persons equal protection under the law,” the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, claims changes proposed in Oklahoma’s alcoholic beverage laws would treat holders of liquor licenses less favorably than supermarket and convenience store operators [NewsOK].

Income inequality in Oklahoma has declined but there’s more work to be done: The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) recently released an updated report on income inequality in the U.S. by state, and the data shows improvements in Oklahoma. In 2012, income inequality in Oklahoma reached a historic high. The bottom 99 percent of Oklahomans were earning an average income of $41,995, while the top 1 percent were earning $1,105,521, which was 26 times greater. Overall, in 2012, Oklahoma ranked 12th highest in the nation for income inequality. However, Oklahoma’s income inequality gap narrowed in 2013 (the year of most recent data) [OK Policy].

Community colleges see increase in STEM enrollment: Two-year colleges are seeing a steady increase in enrollment in science, technology, engineering and math programs. This year, more than 1,000 students enrolled in STEM programs at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City. Terry Clinefelter, head of the STEM Division, said registration has increased by 26 percent this summer compared to last year. However, he said this is nothing unusual because enrollments at two-year colleges vary with the economy [Journal Record].

Teachers learn strategies to help English learners, as 80 languages span TPS student population: A pair of educators gave their pupils a taste of their own medicine Tuesday. Tetyana Roger and Lauren McMahon made introductions and gave class directions in only Russian and Mandarin, respectively. Their pupils happened to be school teachers, and it was a mere 15 minutes before someone broke down. “One teacher said, `I’m exhausted!'” said Shelbie Ray, one of the teachers in Roger and McMahon’s “Newcomer 101” class at Tulsa Public Schools’ English Language Development Summer Summit [Tulsa World].

New student discipline guidelines approved by Tulsa school board: New student discipline guidelines that will introduce alternatives to suspension for less serious offenses were approved Monday by the Tulsa school board. The board voted to adopt the district’s Behavior Response Plan for 2016-17, which has been revised to reflect a new disciplinary approach emphasizing “intervention” over “punishment” in cases deemed appropriate. Principals and teachers will be trained in the new approach for the fall semester [Tulsa World].

Foundation For OKCPS Gets Perfect Score From National Nonprofit Evaluator: A national nonprofit evaluator has awarded a perfect score to the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools for operating in a financially efficient and trustworthy manner. Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities, awarded the Foundation for OKCPS a four-star rating, which is a perfect score. This rating signifies the organization has exceeded industry standards and outperformed most charities in the nonprofit sector. Only one-fourth of rated charities have achieved this distinction [News9].

Quote of the Day

“The council needs to take under consideration what it would mean to a portion of the community if we can get rifles with officers, but we still don’t have body cameras.”

– Grace Franklin of OKC Artists for Justice, an advocacy group for women of color, speaking at a recent meeting on a policy change allowing Oklahoma City police to bring privately-owned rifles on patrol (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of women per 100,000 incarcerated in Oklahoma.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

My four months as a private prison guard: I started applying for jobs in private prisons because I wanted to see the inner workings of an industry that holds 131,000 of the nation’s 1.6 million prisoners. As a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. When prisons do let reporters in, it’s usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Private prisons are especially secretive. Their records often aren’t subject to public access laws; CCA has fought to defeat legislation that would make private prisons subject to the same disclosure rules as their public counterparts. And even if I could get uncensored information from private prison inmates, how would I verify their claims? I keep coming back to this question: Is there any other way to see what really happens inside a private prison? [Mother Jones]

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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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