Oklahoma ScissorTales: Mixed results in OKC, OK County voting
Voters in Oklahoma County said this week that they wanted liquor stores to be open on Sundays. This was no surprise, unlike Oklahoma City voters’ rejection of a proposed sales tax increase to benefit city parks.
The Sunday sales question was widely expected to pass, and drew no organized opposition. Backers of the proposal said it was a matter of fairness — recent voter-approved changes to Oklahoma’s liquor laws had allowed grocery stores and convenience stores to sell on Sunday, but that didn’t apply to liquor stores.
The proposal won 70% approval in Oklahoma County. Similar proposals won handily in six other counties.
However, city voters said no to a citizens’ initiative that sought to use a permanent one-eighth-cent sales tax to bolster funding for Oklahoma City parks. The proposal would have raised $13 million per year but fell short, winning 47% support.
A group called Secure Oklahoma Inc. ran a late campaign against the idea. Was that the difference? Maybe. Or, perhaps Oklahoma City voters figured they had already taken care of parks by approving MAPS 4 in December. It included $140 million for parks, $63 million of that for neighborhood parks.
Another possibility is that Oklahoma City voters who turned out Tuesday felt the combined state-city sales tax rate of 8.63% is high enough.
A reminder of America’s unending appeal
The occasional ceremonies, such as the one Feb. 28 in Oklahoma City federal court, where people become naturalized U.S. citizens provide a rousing reminder of this country’s attractiveness to others. Natives of 33 countries, including Mexico, Iran and Bangladesh, took part in the latest event. Those who swore their Oath of Allegiance had first met several benchmarks, including passing an English test and a civics test. “I like this country and want to stay here forever,” said one new citizen, Rima Patel, who moved to the United States from India six years ago. Another new citizen, Russia native Viktoriia Domskick, noted the hallway full of new Americans. We “are all people and we want the same thing,” she said, “and that’s to live here in America.” Congratulations to them all.
Petition effort is up against the clock
Supporters of an initiative petition to remove the Legislature from the job of drawing Oklahoma’s congressional and legislative districts find themselves up against the clock. Two new legal challenges were filed recently with the state Supreme Court. The latest challenges focus on the proposed state question’s constitutionality and on its gist, which is the description of the measure. The court referred the challenges to a court referee who is scheduled to hear arguments March 17. Backers of proposed State Question 810 want a quick resolution, so they can get busy gathering enough signatures to get SQ 810 on the ballot in November. That’s a reasonable request — we’re not fans of the proposal, but voters should have the chance to weigh in.
Money matters, but only so much
Concerns about billionaires Michael Bloomberg or Tom Steyer “buying” the Democratic presidential nomination proved to be wildly overblown. In the span of several days, they each dropped their campaigns. Steyer had spent $253 million and Bloomberg roughly twice that amount. Yet Steyer failed to crack 4% support in Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada. He finished third in South Carolina, but didn’t reach the minimum 15% threshold to earn any delegates. Bloomberg focused his massive ad buys on Super Tuesday states, to no avail — he won 15% support in just four of the 14 states. Meantime Joe Biden won Massachusetts after spending just $10,000 there, won Minnesota after spending less than that (the endorsement of Sen. Amy Klobuchar helped him, no doubt), and he won Arkansas, Tennessee and Oklahoma without having visited any of them. We’ve said it before: Money is a factor in politics, but only one factor. Ideas and personalities matter, too.