Oklahoma ScissorTales: Judge seeks quick resolution of gaming dispute
If federal judge Timothy DeGiusti has his way, then the gaming dispute between Gov. Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma’s Indian tribes won’t drag on and on.
DeGiusti, the chief district judge in Oklahoma City, ordered the two sides to mediation to resolve a lawsuit filed on New Year’s Eve by three tribes that sought a declaratory judgment in their favor.
The tribes say the gaming compacts automatically renewed on Jan. 1 for another 15-year term. Stitt contends the compacts, agreed upon in 2004, expired on that date and that tribes have been operating Class III games illegally since then.
DeGiusti gave both sides until Friday to each submit three proposed mediators, and said he would act quickly to choose one. Once a mediator is appointed, he wants a joint report on the status of the proceedings within 21 days. He wants mediation to be “completed or substantially completed not later” than March 31.
Both sides said they welcomed the judge’s order. The head of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Commission said the tribes “look forward to a timely decision on the case.” They’re not alone — many Oklahomans will be glad when this conflict is in the past.
Oklahoma’s execution respite set to end
State officials expect a five-year respite in Oklahoma executions to end soon, with drug injection as the method. The last execution was in January 2015; one set for September that year was called off when a doctor realized a wrong drug had been supplied. It was the last in a series of execution-related human errors that forced the Department of Corrections to overhaul its protocol. Meanwhile, the Legislature approved using nitrogen gas as the method of execution if drug injection wasn’t possible. Attorney General Mike Hunter and others announced Thursday that work will continue toward adopting nitrogen gas, but that enough drugs have been secured to resume the practice. Legal challenges can be expected, but so too can an execution in the not-too-distant future.
Powerful words from a grieving mother
Amid abject grief, grace sometimes appears. It did so in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, when relatives of nine people who were shot and killed during a Bible study in their historic black church forgave the attacker. It was evident again last week in a south Oklahoma City church, where Erika Martinez spoke at the funeral for her 16-year-old daughter, Yuridia, who days earlier was struck by an intoxicated motorist while running with her Moore High School track teammates. “We have felt your love during this time of sadness and devastation,” Martinez said. “But during our days sometimes we fail to love one another. I want to ask one thing and that’s to love one another.” She continued, “No matter what circumstances we are all facing and no matter what we’re going through, we must love one another and trust in the Lord.” Impressive.
Easy to understand teachers’ frustration
We wrote last month about a survey by the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. In it, 88% of respondents said they had students who disrupted the learning environment, 82% said they had students who ignored requests of faculty and staff, and 47% said they had a student with a chronic discipline who shouldn’t be in their classroom. Such misbehavior can lead to students being suspended, of course. Discipline-related data presented to the school board this week showed a 33% increase in suspensions over the same period last year, and “inequities” along racial and ethnic lines. To help combat this, teachers (most of them white in a district whose students are overwhelmingly non-white) and district staff must complete a 55-minute online course on implicit bias, and officials are looking at ways to mandate more cultural sensitivity training next year. Is it any wonder so many teachers are frustrated?