A Woman's Place Is...In The Winner's Circle

A Woman’s Place Is…..In The Winner’s Circle……For the Common Good - February 16, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

The sun rose in the east as domino players from the region and across the country gathered in Carnegie, Oklahoma this month for the 70th replaying of the World Championship Domino Tournament. Competitors began filtering in for coffee hours before the games were to begin.  Old friendships were renewed as players like eight-time champs Max Bender of Lawton and Jim Hulsey of Weatherford strolled in.  Bender ducked out of college classes in the 1960’s to play in his first tournament and has been present every year since.

Despite subfreezing temperatures, people continued to congregate as the Carnegie Herald’s list of past champions became the focal point of conversation and recollection. Surprisingly, the roster contained several names of people that I have known through the years.  Two-time champions Robert Farmer from Minco and Randall Jackson from Pocasset. I was proud as I saw the name of two-time champion Edwin Horton.  Uncle Ed was my mom’s brother and Max Bender referred to him as the best domino player he had ever known.  That is a pretty heady compliment coming from a man who had won 8 of the nearly 50 straight tournaments that he had attended.

Dominoes is a game that represents an indispensable slice of Americana. Non-players often scoff at the “waste of time,” however, players and their families know that those 28 tiles represent more than a game.  As surely as there are degrees in the Masonic Lodge and colored belts in martial arts, competence in dominoes is gradual, engrained and respected.  On the simplest level, novices learn that “you don’t score if you can’t make the spots add up to multiples of five.” Shortly comes the realization that “opponents don’t score if you can keep their spots from adding up to multiples of five.” Many players do not progress further.  However, those on the roster of past winners are Masters who attained the intellectual equivalent of a black belt, taking a comprehension of the game to levels that amaze the rest of us.

Yes, the sun came up in the east and set in the west, just like it when it was first won by a team of Native Americans in 1967 when Sports Illustrated covered the tournament.  Likewise, the sun traveled east to west in 2013 when the winners were African American. This year, the final match pitted Leisha Barber of Denison, Texas and Tammy Garrett of Calera against C.B. Cox of Anchorage, Alaska and Oliver Kern of Cache.  When the final point was tallied, the 2014 Champions were the all-female team of Barber and Garrett. 

My, how times have changed at the oldest continuous World Championship of Dominoes.  However, gender based pay inequality still exists across America.  A few years ago, job listings in the newspaper were separated by gender. It was legal to pay women less than men. Banks legally denied married women credit or loans. We have seen some improvement as we encounter women doctors, lawyers and college professors.  Three women are now United States Supreme Court Justices and we have had three female Secretaries of State. More recently, a woman, Janet Yellen, now serves as the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, when the 1963 Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President Kennedy, women were earning an average of 59 cents on the dollar compared to men. While women hold nearly half of today's jobs, and their earnings account for a significant portion of the household income sustaining the financial well-being of their families, they are still experiencing a gap in pay compared to men's wages for similar work.

 The Women’s National Law Center says American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts and in Oklahoma, a woman makes 76.2 cents for every dollar a man makes.  Unfortunately, African American women earn only 62.9 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes and Hispanic women earn only 49.3 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes.

We cannot turn our back on the women – widowed, divorced, or single -- who can’t draw on a second income from a man.  We cannot rest as long as 70% of the nation’s poor are women and children.  This travesty is not about glass ceilings, it is about all the women who are glued to the sticky floor of dead-end jobs that provide no benefits and no health insurance, women who, at the end of each month, have to decide whether to pay the electricity bill or feed their children.

The Domino Tournament is history for another year.  Through the years the championship has been claimed by minorities and women and the sun still comes up in the east.  It will continue to do so even if we do the right thing and make sure that women receive equal pay for equal work.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

My Brother Darryl and My Other Brother Darryl

My Brother Darryl and My Other Brother Darryl - February 9, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

For nine television seasons, ending on May 21, 1990, Dick Louden and his wife, Joanna, played by Bob Newhart and Mary Frann, operated the Stratford Inn, a two century old quaint country lodge in rural Vermont.  During the 1980’s the Newhart Show made us laugh as only Bob Newhart’s unique and dry brand of comedy could.

Having moved from New York City, Louden, a self-help book author and his wife, encountered a cast of Vermont natives whose quirkiness confounded, astounded, amazed and continually kept their “normalcy” off-balance. The inhabitants of the village were caricatures reflecting any personality disorder or regional eccentricity that a person could ever imagine in dyed in the wool Vermonters who lived in a state where wandering moose are the greatest road hazard and funds are appropriated each year to control rabid raccoons.

The show introduced us to George, the hard-working, but dim handyman. There was Kirk, who owns a nearby restaurant and has a truly difficult time with the truth. Chester was the Mayor and of course the town had a shoe store owner who was the quintessential racist and chauvinist rolled into one.

During the show’s tenure, scores of big name guest stars visited Stratford Inn and received or doled out the anecdotal humor that transplanted urbanites often consider themselves entitled to enjoy.  Some of the show’s more memorable characters were three brothers who first appeared as backwoods shack-dwellers who occasionally wandered into civilization to “do anything for a buck.”

Only one brother spoke regularly and routinely introduced the trio by reciting, “Hi, I’m Larry; this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.  We never learned the brothers’ last name or the circumstances by which Darryl and Darryl ended up with the same name.

Newhart used the rarity of siblings sharing a given name as a comedic punch line. However, when a thief or scammer takes a person’s name or identity it is no laughing matter. As an attorney and as a legislator I have been called upon to intercede numerous times to assist a client or constituent whose identity has been stolen or used without consent.  A stolen identity can literally cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to straighten out.

It is not my intent to frighten readers; however, today I have been contacted by yet another constituent who has been scammed.  This comes on the tail of the December 2013 Target Corp. security breach in which 70 million records, mine included, were stolen.  Frustratingly, that breach was comparatively small.  It was only the seventh largest in history and only the sixth largest in the past decade.  Amazingly, it was only the second largest in 2013, being dwarfed by the Adobe Systems breach where 152 million records were stolen.

In today’s plastic non-cash economy, debit and credit card holders alike should always remain diligent about the prudent use of their financial records ranging from bank accounts to card numbers. It is incumbent on you to realize that you can trust your bank.  Understand your liabilities that you may have with your credit cards and your debit cards.  If your credit card is not issued by your bank, you should only discuss the card with persons who you call at the numbers shown on your card or on your card statement and not in response to calls made to you.

It is imperative that you promptly and thoroughly review your bank statements and credit card statements as soon as they are available to you.  Not only will you be helping yourself, but you will also be helping your bank or credit card issuer and you may help catch a thief or keep someone else from being defrauded.

Never send money or share your card number or other personal information with someone who initiates contact with you.  Another recent scam involves a caller who promises to open a charge account for you if you will send them money.  They may ask you to purchase gift cards or cash cards and provide them the numbers of the cards that you purchase.

Currently, state and federal law contain little preventive protection and focus more on prosecuting the criminal after they are identified.  I am reviewing Oklahoma’s statutes to see if further changes can be made.  In the meantime, if you suspect that you are the victim of fraud, do not be ashamed.  Keep good notes and records of when you were contacted, who contacted you and how they contacted you. Call the phone number on the back of the card that the fraud related to or if the fraud involved your bank account, immediately contact your bank.

During the final episode of the Newhart show, in a twist of creative genius, the lead character “woke up” and assumed the character of Dr. Bob Hartley, who he had portrayed in an earlier series, thereby making his move to Vermont and all nine years of the series a dream.  Unfortunately, identity theft is no dream.  It is a nightmare.  Be cautious.   

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Good Night Mrs. Calabash, Wherever You Are

Good Night Mrs. Calabash, Wherever You Are - February 2, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

In 1940 as Jimmy Durante headed to the door of Coleman’s Restaurant in Calabash, North Carolina, he turned to 28 year old Lucy and with a smile said, “Good Night, Mrs. Calabash.”  For the rest of his life, until his death in 1980, every Durante appearance ended with his trademark phrase, “Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”

As with most entertainers who rose out of vaudeville, Durante’s style included repetitious skits and catchwords, not only phrases, but also songs and mannerisms.  His famous “Ah-cha-cha-cha-cha” and self-references to his own nose as the “Big Schnozzola” always brought the house down.

In addition to his “Inka Dinka Doo” skit, one of Durante’s most popular routines originated in 1935 when he appeared on Broadway in the play, Jumbo.  In the play, Durante was working for a cash-strapped circus that had more creditors than customers.  When the sheriff appeared to seize the assets of the circus, Durante attempted to save his beloved pachyderm, Jumbo, by removing the animal from the circus grounds.  As Durante led Jumbo across the stage, the sheriff asked, “Where are you going with that elephant?” and Jimmy responded with the immortal line, “What elephant?”

The skit was performed repeatedly by Durante for years after the Broadway show had closed and from the first day that the audience laughed at the elephant that Jimmy Durante desperately wanted to be invisible, “the elephant in the room” has been a metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being blatantly ignored or goes unaddressed. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s K-12 educational system has two elephants in the room, unfair evaluation and a disgraceful lack of funding.

Faced with a debate over how to improve our schools, the dialogue has been hijacked by partisan division and destructive rhetoric.  Forces whose goal is to undermine public education pit parents against teachers and instructors against administrators. Standardized testing mandates rob students of a broad and enriched education. A culture of high stakes testing and antagonistic demoralization robs gifted and talented teachers of their spirit to serve our children.

Eliminating high stakes and non-stop standardized testing will eliminate the need to “teach to the test” and help improve our educational system.  The result will be that Oklahoma’s quality teachers would be able to provide a more complete learning experience to their students.  Remember, teachers are not afraid of evaluation or accountability.  They want the public to know what they do and how well they do it.  Oklahoma’s teachers simply want to be assessed in a way that accurately reflects the job they are doing.

While Oklahoma’s public schools are performing as well or better than schools in other states that are comparably funded, that is like being proud of receiving the highest D in the class.  In other words, Oklahoma students are “blowing the socks off” students from other states that are also in the bottom funding tier.  That is not good enough for my children and grandchildren and it is not good enough for my neighbor’s children or grandchildren.

State aid funding for Oklahoma’s schools has not recovered from 2008 levels.  In fact, the K-12 budget has decreased by $224 million, more than any other state, over the past 5 years while the student enrollment has increased by more than 32,000.  A new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities validates the existence of the draconian cuts and focuses on dollars used directly in Oklahoma’s K-12 classrooms.  According to the study, an estimated $810 per student is cut each year, mostly affecting teacher salaries and shrunk school budgets.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute reports that Oklahoma will soon require children who do not pass a reading test to be retained in the third grade; however the state legislature zeroed out more than $6 million in funding meant to help students meet these new requirements. That same organization reported that $3 million was eliminated from Literacy First, a proven program for reading instruction.

The elephant does not stop there.  OPI also released numbers regarding Oklahoma’s student-teacher ratio.  Class size limits in place since 1990 have been suspended because schools cannot afford to meet them.  There is strong evidence that smaller class sizes promote student achievement—particularly in the early grades and for low income students.  Many schools are cutting teaching positions to cope with budget cuts.  Statewide the number of students per teacher has increased from 13.7 in the 2007-08 school year to 16.0 in 2010-11.

Get the facts.  Engage in the debate.  Be vocal. Hold your elected representatives accountable.  Let them know your priorities.  Jimmy Durante and Ms. Calabash may both be gone, but the next time you see an elephant in the room, tell it that you want our children’s education properly funded.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Dance With The One That Brung Ya

Dance With The One That Brung Ya for the Common Good - January 26, 2014

 

State Representative David Perryman

Loyalty is a virtue that brings meaning to the Golden Rule. No gratitude exceeds that feeling experienced when one is lifted up by a faithful friend in times of trouble.  Loyalty transcends race, creed, religion and even national origin, but it is a non-factor when it comes to the propane manufacturing industry.

This week, Oklahoma and at least 21 states are in a critical propane shortage threatening the viability of small businesses and endangering the health, safety and welfare of millions of thousands of citizens.  This tragic impact is being felt nowhere more severely than in Oklahoma.

Propane retailers, most of whom are small family owned business are in crisis mode. Deliveries of propane that weeks ago cost $8,000 to $10,000 now cost more than $40,000.  That is the equivalent of purchasing gasoline at $2.90 per gallon and a few weeks later pulling in for a fill-up at a price of $14.50 per gallon.

I have spoken to propane retailers in my district who are so distraught over the price increase that they are looking for any way possible to lessen the impact on their customers.  While retailers are scrambling to protect their customers, the cost would be devastating to consumers even if the retailer sold propane at wholesale cost.

Oklahoma families are struggling to stay warm; many of whom find themselves without funds to refill propane tanks. Agribusiness owners, who lack monetary resources, face the potential loss of losing poultry and swine located in barns that they cannot afford to heat. Operators of these facilities are paid only when they rotate out their animal production.  Consequently, their already strapped cash flow may be weeks or months from being received.

When cash is not available to pay propane retailers who are being charged 4 to 5 times the amount they are normally charged, the retailers cannot afford to replenish their supply and as a result the hog farmer and the chicken farmer have animals in subfreezing temperatures, sometimes as low as 9 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit, that are facing a real threat of death.

We often hear that it is a matter of security for us to have oil and gas production at a self-sufficient level.  The current propane shortage and its potential impact on our food chain is no less a matter of national security.

The travesty is that the shortage and financial crisis was avoidable.  Propane gas was discovered in 1910 by Dr. William Snelling when a Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, motorist complained that nearly half of his gasoline evaporated before he could get home. Dr. Snelling used a still to determine that the evaporation was the result of escaping propane and butane.  The refining process was altered to capture propane that quickly became a popular household fuel and ever expanding domestic, commercial and industrial uses spurred a multibillion dollar industry.

Important to Oklahoma is that the processing of natural gas and the refining of crude oil each produce about half of the propane produced in the world.  Also important is that the current “shortage” did not start this month or even November or December of last year. 

The propane industry has for months been intentionally under producing propane.  An article in the October 2013 edition of Agriculture.com, an online magazine of the Meredith Corporation, analyzed the supply situation and pronounced a short supply going in the fall.  According to a November 4, 2013, article in the Oil & Gas Journal by Dan Lippe, the spot propane price in Mont Belvieu, Texas, the largest underground storage facility in the nation, had increased by 21 cents per gallon in the spring and summer of 2013 due to “gradual reduction in inventory surplus.” 

The Lippe article predicted tighter supply-demand balances of propane on hand during the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 and predicted an additional price increase of 15 to 30 cents per gallon.

In addition to this Texas facility, millions of gallons of propane storage are available in vast underground salt mines in Conway, Kansas. Despite this storage capacity, the propane industry, cumulatively and calculatedly lowered U.S. propane inventory throughout the spring and summer of 2013 to end at 62.1 million barrels, an inventory level that was 15.7% lower than the 2012 inventory according to the StanfordLPgas.com website.  Despite record domestic demand, the industry further endangered domestic supply by lowering reserves to a 14 year low and recklessly increased 2012 exports in 2013 by 50.8% up to 258,000 barrels of propane per day.

Therefore, all Oklahoma taxpayers who directly or indirectly consume propane are being victimized by an industry that produces propane from oil and gas production that is hugely subsidized by state and federal tax credits. The taxpayers who subsidize the industry or who “brung them to the dance” are the very same propane retailers and consumers who are paying prices that have escalated by 400 to 500% over the past few months.

In 1999 Oklahoma adopted a consumer protection statute called the Emergency Price Stabilization Act. The act expressly authorizes the Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma to pursue any person or corporate entity that engages in price gouging during emergencies that have been declared by the Governor. 

Emergencies are defined to include weather related emergencies. I know of no more classic definition of price gouging than an industry that manipulates supply of a government subsidized product resulting in a 500% price increase.

We have a Governor, we have an Attorney General.  We have hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans whose health, safety and welfare are being threatened by governmental inaction. Join me in calling for action on this critical issue.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

2014 Session Preview

2014 Session Preview - January 19,2014

State Representative David Perryman

February 3 marks the beginning of the second regular session of the current Oklahoma legislature.  Throughout the year, Representatives are often contacted by constituents who have experienced recent personal or business issues as a result of state statutes.  We take those questions and suggestions and review current law to determine if the problem is widespread among citizens and whether a change in a statute could alleviate the problem without causing more problems.  I have received a number of these calls and have prepared legislation for the upcoming session accordingly.  Today, I would like to provide information about those bills so that you may track them through the upcoming session.

One issue that was brought to my attention dealt with the taxability of purchases made by civic clubs for distribution or donation to our youth or needy families.  Specifically, the Anadarko Kiwanis Club, a qualified 501(c)(3) entity purchased a substantial amount of food for distribution during the holiday season.  Of course the funds used by the club come from money raised by the volunteer efforts of the organization or by donations to the club.  Despite there being literally scores of exemption from the imposition of sales tax, there was no exception that would allow a civic club to purchase a turkey tax free to give to a family that would not otherwise have a Thanksgiving dinner.  I have filed HB 2430 so that groups like this hardworking club and Lions, Optimists, Rotarians across the State will be able to let the funds serve more needy persons.

Another area of concern that has been brought to my attention by tenants who were displaced by the 2013 tornados and relates to statutes that impose a criminal penalty on landlords for relatively minor infractions that harm the rights of tenants.  These statutes provide that the violator is subject to prosecution by the district attorney; however, most district attorneys in our state are literally overwhelmed protecting the public from criminals who commit major crimes.  One example is a statute requiring landlords to place rental damage deposits into a trust account that is segregated from the landlord’s personal funds.  The comingling of the rental damage deposits with the landlord’s personal funds is a crime and subjects the landlord to criminal prosecution.  While it is very important that those damage deposits be kept separate, it is counterproductive to burden the district attorneys with the prosecution of such minor cases unless the landlord habitually commits that crime or unless that crime is one of many committed by the landlord.

Another example of this problem is the statute that requires an employer to be prosecuted if he does not pay an employee according to Oklahoma law. Once again, the statute that requires compensation to be paid according to the level required by law, states that in the event the employer fails to do so, the employer will be prosecuted by the district attorney.  While prosecution may be appropriate under some circumstances where the employer has intentionally and systematically harmed employees in this manner, there is normally no need to clog the docket of the district attorney with that type of case.

Consequently, I have filed HB 2432 and 2431 to address these issues and provide a civil remedy for the person who has suffered loss.  The civil remedy does not eliminate the criminal action and the wrongdoer is still subject to that prosecution if the damaged tenant or employee has not received compensation according to the new bill.

I also have filed HB2992, a bill to remove some obsolete language from the statutes that allows district courts to empower municipalities to have jurisdiction over minor, first offense juvenile violations.  This change will eliminate troublesome language that has allowed some defense attorneys to question the validity of existing municipal juvenile courts.  I will discuss that bill and other bills next later, including a bill that has been requested by the law enforcement community to prevent a new scheme that has been occurring involving fraudulent liens being placed on automobiles for work that was never performed or performed at an unreasonably high cost.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Saving the Sooner Sub

Saving the Sooner Sub for the Common Good - January 12, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

In 2006, Pixar Animation Studios released the movie Cars and introduced us to Radiator Springs, an imaginary town along Route 66 that long ago had been bypassed by a freeway beyond the city limits. The characters are personified vehicles with names like Lightning McQueen, Sally Carrera, Mater the Tow Truck, Doc Hudson, Flo, Luigi and a whole host of other cars and trucks.

Viewers see a community where the slower pace and quality of life is enhanced by knowing and caring about one’s neighbors. The essence of the film is caught in a conversation between McQueen, a stock car literally lost in the rat race of society and Sally, a baby blue Porsche 911 who has intentionally escaped that world to pursue wholesomeness and harmony in Radiator Springs, a community where despite hard economic times, relationships matter.

After McQueen has experienced the virtues of Radiator Springs and developed feelings for Sally, he is amazed that the thousands of cars that zip by daily on the freeway do not know what they are missing. Sally explains that before the Interstate, cars came across the country in a whole different way and that before the Interstate “cut” through the land, the road “moved with the land…it rose, it fell, it curved.” Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time, they drove on it to have a great time.

While Radiator Springs is bypassed to “save ten minutes of driving,” it is a mythical composite of hundreds of communities across the nation that are constructively “cast aside” by highway engineers who cater to a new societal goal of getting from “point A to point B” as quickly and smoothly as possible.  Roads lose their unique character as the villages and towns along the way fade into a forgotten yesterday.  The countryside speeds by and distant glimpses of Americana rarely occur in sufficient time to catch the exit ramp. Tourist attractions slip out of sight and out of mind.

As the redesign of our highway system changes our culture, a similar fate was experienced by the shipping industry.  Inexpensive vehicles and cheaper gasoline had long been transforming passenger rail. Low cost fuel and population shifts stripped rail carriers of being anything more than a means of moving bulk tonnage from one urban area to another.  Business and industry in the towns along the way were neglected and suffered accordingly. Train traffic primarily became an interstate mode of shipping with no stops in the towns along the line. 

The stark anonymity and invisibility of the landscape along the freight rail lines is best conveyed by Steve Goodman’s 1970 rail ballad lyrics “passing towns that have no names” and “through the Mississippi darkness” which ended with the chorus, “Good morning, America, how are you…Don’t you know me, I’m your native son…I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans…I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

Railroads in Oklahoma suffered accordingly. Names like Kansas City Southern, M-K-T and Rock Island are gone. Cross-country shippers like BNSF and Union Pacific barely survived.  Over the past 30 years, the state purchased 900 track miles of rail that would have otherwise been lost forever. Most have been returned to private ownership. Those that remain in state ownership are returning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to the state treasury. 

One rail line that is and should remain in state ownership is the 97.5 mile long Sooner Sub running between Oklahoma City and a point near Tulsa. Acquired in 1998 at a cost of just over $5 Million the Sooner Sub has paid to the state in the last two years alone more than $1.1 Million in lease revenue.

Because it is state owned, the state is able to mandate that the line be used for passenger rail and for the benefit of new and existing businesses along the line as opposed to being solely used to transport freight cross country.

To understand this distinction, one must simply understand the difference between a business located on a highway where traffic can enter and exit as opposed to a business located next to a freeway miles from any exit ramp.  While the Sooner Sub is being used also to transport freight across the country, Watco, the company that is managing it, works closely with the State of Oklahoma and the communities and companies along the route to foster and incubate private enterprise. 

In the past decade or so, this business model concept of growing local enterprise has resulted in approximately 14 new and thriving businesses on the Sooner Sub rail line creating jobs in communities like Luther, Chandler, Stroud, Bristow and Sapulpa.

Watco and Iowa Pacific are currently working toward OKC-Tulsa roundtrip passenger rail. They say that the Sooner Sub is on the verge of being ready for passenger rail speeds of up to 60 miles per hour with trip times comparable to vehicular travel.

Unfortunately, a large interstate shipper who is not concerned about the best interest of Oklahoma and whose business plan does not include passenger rail now wants to purchase the Sooner Sub to enhance its cross country rail transportation system. The small businesses who have located along the rail are concerned that the interstate shipping business model will be disruptive and detrimental to the small companies and the communities in which they are located. I believe that also.

Alarmingly, ODOT, the state agency that has the authority to sell the rail line appears poised to do so.  If the State of Oklahoma sells the Sooner Sub, it will no longer be able to protect and foster business development or the establishment of passenger rail.

I urge you to investigate this matter as you should any issue facing Oklahoma and Oklahomans and take appropriate action. You can help these Oklahoma cities and towns remain vibrant and prevent them from being bypassed like Radiator Springs.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

We Say 'Toe-May-Toe'

  We Say ‘Toe-May-Toe’ for the Common Good - January 5, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

In the 1930’s when George and Ira Gershwin wrote the oft quoted lyrics to “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” they were not only poking fun at regional dialect, but also class differences.  Somehow blue-bloods who spoke ‘Toe-Mah-Toe, Poe-Tah-Toe and Bah-nah-nah’ considered themselves superior to our grandparents who actually knew where tomatoes and potatoes came from.

Today, it is humorous when we hear Republicans insist that we live not in a democracy but a republic and Democrats who simply maintain that ours is the greatest democracy in the history of the world. You may recall the 1960’s commercial where the announcer interrupted two identically dressed young ladies who were arguing over whether Certs was a candy mint or a breath mint.  He interjected, ‘Stop, you’re both right…Certs is two…two…two mints in one, with a sparkling drop of Retsyn.’

Regardless of party registration, we should all pause and consider that the first week of January, 2014, marks the 225th anniversary of the election of George Washington as our country’s first president.  Prior to 1789, we had no Chief Executive because the Articles of Confederation did not provide for an executive branch of government.  A newly ratified Constitution changed all that and the deadline of January 7, 1789, was set for the Electoral College to convene for the selection of the first Chief of the Executive Branch who was to be called President.

In 1789, the Constitution allowed each state to determine the process by which electors would be selected.  Of the original 13 states, North Carolina and Rhode Island had not yet ratified the Constitution and gridlock in New York prevented electors being sent from that state. Only six of the remaining ten states used popular vote to democratically select their electors, elected representatives selected electors in the other four and therefore the question of democracy or republic remained. 

One year later, the 1790 census showed a free population of 2.4 million and 600,000 slaves, but of the 3 million counted, only 1.3% of the population had cast a vote in the first presidential election.  Over the two and a quarter centuries since that first election, the right to vote has been greatly expanded.  Poll Taxes are now illegal and property ownership is no longer a prerequisite to ballot access. Constitutional protection of the right to vote came to African American males (1870) and others regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude in 1870.  Less than 100 years ago, all women (1919) finally gained that constitutional right of suffrage. 

However, access to the ballot box is still being hampered. While it is imperative that voters be properly identified so that voter fraud be eliminated, our current system does as much to promote voter fraud as it does to prevent it.  Oklahoma law allows a person to vote with a ‘voter identification card’ that is really not a card and does not actually identify the voter.  The “card” is barely more than a slip of paper with a name, address and precinct number and it contains no photograph.  With this slip of paper, an imposter would be allowed to vote. 

Without the “card” the voter is required to present a government issued photo identification card.  For literally scores of reasons, there are displaced and homeless individuals with subsistence and survival priorities who are disenfranchised because their life circumstances do not allow them to maintain on their person sufficient documents to allow them to vote every couple of years.  Keeping track of a piece of paper pales in comparison to knowing where their next meal will come from or where they will be sleeping that night.  The majority of us don’t live that way, but we are kidding ourselves when we deny that truth.  The goal of our state should be to facilitate legitimate voters and prevent fraud.  A possible solution would be obtaining fingerprint scans when a citizen registers to vote.

Fingerprint scanners and readers are inexpensive and reliable identifiers in the absence of identification documents. Today all Oklahoma drivers have their fingerprints scanned at the tag office. Inexpensive fingerprint scanners are used in lieu of passwords on computers.  Inmates are prevented from going through cafeteria lines twice by fingerprint scans.  Many Oklahoma students’ lunch accounts are automatically debited by a fingerprint scan as they go through the school lunch line.

If our state’s goal is truly to prevent voter fraud and not disenfranchise citizens, this method of identification would be ideal.  Currently, with the state’s non-criminal fingerprint database is already protected from potential abuse. I am in the process of drafting language so that an economic impact can be obtained to determine if this method of identification would be a practical and feasible means of protecting the sanctity of the ballot box.

Like you, I love Oklahoma and would not want to live in a part of the country where a tomato is anything but a tomato and it would seem a shame to have fried po-tah-toes, but our absolute goal should be to eliminate all impediments to the ability of all citizens to vote in our “stop, you’re both right…representative democracy.”

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Buckle Up

BUCKLE UP FOR THE COMMON GOOD - December 29, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

As December wanes into January those days between Christmas and New Years are best used to visit friends and relatives not seen in the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas.  Some use it for travel.  We all ponder on what we did not finish in the past year and anticipate that we will be better and do better next year.

My dad taught vocational agriculture and our Christmas break schedule revolved around the school calendar and a few livestock that we raised.  With Christmas Day passed, those days meant that  time with our cousins was coming to an end and we would be leaving our grandparents to get home to check everything out before school started. Sometimes the weather would dictate the day and time that we would exchange hugs with aunts, uncles and grandparents to begin our return home. 

Mom and Dad had an old Plymouth that was a little eccentric.  Instead of a stick shift in the floor or on the steering column, it had a pushbutton transmission.  Also, some engineer at Plymouth had designed the lug bolts on the driver’s side of this particular model to tighten to the left and the lug bolts on the right side of the car to more conventionally tighten to the right.  Until the fall and winter of 1961, I had the honor of sitting in the front seat between my parents.  I never paid much attention to my three siblings in the back.  One might say that I was riding first class and those behind the front bench seat were basically stowage.  However, things changed in August 1961 and I was bumped by the new kid on the block.  Transporting five kids called for a little more creativity. 

One trip in the old Plymouth stands out in particular. It was December 31, 1961, and Dad had carefully packed and repacked the car getting all of our suitcases, bags, boxes, gifts and food into every nook and cranny of the sedan.  After our goodbyes, my two oldest brothers pushed themselves into small places on the back seat that had been left for them.  My sister wriggled onto a pillow that had been placed between boxes and sacks over the hump in the back floorboard.  Mom and Dad and little brother were in the front.  I shimmied up and over a pile of bags into the best seat in the whole car.  My “seat” was a pallet that had been made on the deck in the rear window of the old Plymouth.  As I adjusted among the other items that were sharing my space, I discovered that I had a skylight, a sound system and a vantage point that would allow me to see everything that was going on everywhere. 

As we sped homeward across the great expanse of rural Oklahoma, I held my cheek against the cold glass. I watched the stars in the sky and most importantly, I listened to the countdown of the Top 100 songs of 1961. Floyd Cramer’s San Antonio Rose and Jimmy Dean’s Big Bad John were somewhere between 80 and 90.  As the numbers became smaller, there were songs by Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers and the Lettermen.  Long before Patsy Cline sang I Fall To Pieces at Number 2, Bobby Lewis sang the Number 1 Song of 1961, Tossin’ and Turnin’  I was asleep.  Somewhere on Highway 9 midnight had come and gone and we arrived home during the wee hours of New Year’s Day, 1962.

In 1962, Mom and Dad purchased a 1961 Chevrolet Station Wagon with all the room in the world…and seatbelts.  Prior to the 1960’s General Motors and other automobile manufacturerss had not placed a high priority on vehicle safety.  Recognizing the skyrocketing number of injuries and deaths caused by car accidents, Robert McNamera, one of the Ford “whiz-kids” of the 1950’s urged the company to focus on vehicle safety.  Ford began crash testing in 1955 and introduced its Lifeguard safety package of five new safety features in the 1956 Ford Crown Victoria.  These safety features involved padded dashboards, less dangerous steering columns, better designed door latches and front and rear seatbelts.  Classically, balking Ford corporate executives observed that “McNamera is selling safety, but Chevrolet is selling cars.”  Fortunately, auto safety prevailed through the mandates of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and those standards have fostered and promoted vehicle safety, protecting generations of Americans.  Corporate America does not always do the right thing when dealing with consumer safety or the environment.  We all wish that they did.  Regulations are a delicate balance.  As your representative, I continue to make certain that corporations are not unduly burdened by government regulation, but that they act responsibly and clean up after themselves.  Nothing more. Nothing less. 

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Shedding Light

Shedding Light on the Common Good - December 22, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Included in my great-grandmother’s diary is a story recalling an evening in the year 1902.  Earlier that year, she and my great-grandfather and their children had moved to a homestead eight miles south of what is now known as Carnegie, Oklahoma.  Before there was an Alden community, there was simply an expanse.  Before section lines and the Ozark Trail were cut in and before other quarter sections were settled, there were no landmarks.  The land was new and unfamiliar to them. 

Her diary tells of a trip that her husband and boys had taken to Apache.  Nightfall came and they had not returned.  Sometime after dark, she and her daughters heard them in distance.  She hurriedly lit a lantern and yelled, but was unable to get their attention across the dark prairie.  The men continued several miles northward until they neared the Fort Cobb area and realized that they had passed the homestead.  They redirected to the southwest and with the assistance of the light made it home sometime after midnight.  From that night forward, they hoisted a lantern on a tall pole that they had erected for a beacon to bring them home.

My great-grandmother recalled that the incident brought life to the song, There’s a Light in the Window for Thee, Brother” in a way that no other lesson could.  The need and appreciation for light is rooted in our being.  Virtually every world religion recognizes the primacy of light.  In fact, most faiths emphasize light as a core principle.  Christians are taught that the Bible is a lamp unto their feet and they fail to fulfill an essential biblical charge if they are not a “light unto the world.” 

Allah is spoken of by those of the Muslim faith as the inspiring, motivating and guiding source of light.  Annually, a billion Hindus, Sikhs and Jains light lanterns and earthen lamps in celebration of Diwali, the festival recognizing that light awakens awareness of God and the triumph of good over evil.  Hanukkah celebrants light their menorahs to celebrate the enduring miracle of enduring faith triumphing over evil. Kwanzaa, the secular celebration of black culture involves the lighting of seven candles rising from wooden stands, symbolic of the celebration’s seven principles, and recalling roots in Africa.

Even the Magi were guided by the light that shone from the Star of Bethlehem.  More fundamentally, billions of believers proclaim that Christ was born to be the light of the world, fulfilling God’s first gift to the heavens and earth: “Let there be light.”  

In addition to its spiritual nature, light is the catalyst for the process of photosynthesis enabling the earth to generate food and vegetation.  The spectrum of natural sunlight includes both visible and invisible light waves that are as essential to the earth’s health as vitamins are to us.  Perhaps nowhere on earth is there more exciting news about the science of light than Anadarko, Oklahoma.  Cooperative Research between Oklahoma State University, Unami, LLC and the Delaware Nation Economic Development Authority is being applied in exciting experimental and industrial ways at the Delaware Nation’s Greentech Center in Anadarko.  That scientific endeavor is essential to our future on this earth with the industrial application already employing a growing number of workers whose wages are making a positive impact on Caddo, Kiowa and Grady Counties.

Despite overwhelming evidence of the essential nature of light, we have a tendency to ignore the essential nature of light in our lives and light for the benefit of others.  Perhaps the greatest sorrow is that Oklahoma and Oklahomans are needlessly losing our way.  Just like my great-grandparents needed a light in the darkness of pre-statehood Oklahoma Territory, we need to use the light to redirect our priorities.  Realizing that our teachers are among the best in the world, we will understand that our schools are not struggling because of the quality of teachers.  Our schools are struggling because of demographic factors such as poverty, health, addiction and under-employment.  Our communities are struggling because we have de-emphasized quality of life issues in our communities.  We all strive to make Oklahoma “business-friendly” but fail in our endeavor to adequately fund schools, roads, fire protection, medical services and other quality-of-life functions that make us attractive to businesses and make them want to locate here.  We all strive to make Oklahoma “attractive to industry” but throw caution to the wind and actually jeopardize our future when we call for the repeal of regulations that keep us from becoming the next superfund site. 

The electorate must become engaged in the process, become educated on the issues and be a light to our family, our community and our state.  It takes discernment and we cannot keep our television on a single channel or read a single news source.  It is not an easy job, however, until we all step up to the task, we will continue to be frustrated and we will continue to be a part of the problem.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Time to Put a Penny in the Old Man's Hat

Time to Put a Penny in the Old Man’s Hat for the Common Good - December 15, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat.  Time to put a penny in the old man’s hat.  If you haven’t got a penny, then a half penny will do.  If you haven’t got a half penny, then God Bless You.

Christmas is coming and the season means many different things to different people.  My memories of the winter school break are of traveling between our house and our grandparents to the east and our grandparents to the west.  Before the interstate highway system that meant traveling nearly five hours on an old partially paved Oklahoma State Highway 9.  The holiday meant seeing cousins. It meant getting hugs from my Grandmother and eating those special Christmas cookies that no one else remembers and I cannot recreate.

Visits to grandparents who were born in the 1890’s gave my siblings and me fleeting glimpses at what normal was to an earlier generation. Outhouses, corn cribs, well buckets, milk cows and chicken coops were things of necessity.  One set of my grandparents actually had a bathroom in the house, but it could only be accessed from a screened-in back porch and seemed to have been added as an afterthought, particularly on cold December mornings.

My grandparents are the generation whose sons and daughters went to World War II or worked in factories in support of the war effort.  They are the generation that stopped turning the crank on the old Daisy churn that is now one of my Mom’s prized possessions.  They and their contemporaries were the last to slice cabbage into homemade sauerkraut and pack it in the old four gallon crock that Mom now uses as a vase filled with stalks of wheat.

They are also the generation that predominately evolved from a lifestyle of extended families to nuclear families. The 1950’s and 60’s signaled the end of an era of cohabitation of each generation with the next.  My family was no different.  Both my father’s parents and my mother’s parents cared for their aged parents.  Until the 1940’s and the following decade or two, seeing my grandparents meant seeing my great-grandparents.

In many cases, living arrangements were based totally on economic conditions.  Prior to the enactment of the Social Security System, most elderly Americans had absolutely no alternative but complete reliance on their children.  Almost 80 years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that Social Security would provide “protection against the hazards and vicissitudes of life.”  Because of Social Security 14 million elderly Americans this year are lifted out of poverty.

 While there are virtues to having extended families under a single roof, the autonomy and independence that the social security system has helped generations of retirees enjoy is without doubt the most successful and effective income security program in our nation’s history. Without social security, nearly half of elderly Americans would live below the poverty line; instead, only ten percent do.

Social Security is especially important to seniors of color, who are less likely than white retirees to have private retirement benefits or asset income. Nearly half of Latino and African American seniors rely on Social Security for more than 90 percent of their income, compared with 30 percent of elderly white beneficiaries.  Although Social Security retirement income is very modest and most retirees are not living high on the hog, reducing or eliminating this essential income source would leave millions of seniors effectively penniless and dependent on their working-age children for food and shelter.

In addition to supporting the social security system, it is imperative that we remember this time of year to support the food banks in our communities and the senior nutrition centers as well as the many churches and civic clubs that provide benevolence to our needy.  It is indeed time to put a penny in the old man’s hat.  Recently, I learned that groups like the Rotary, Optimist and Lions Clubs and sometimes Masonic lodges must pay sales taxes even though they are 501(c)(3) organizations.   For instance over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Anadarko Kiwanis Club engaged in a great project delivering food boxes to the elderly and needy.  The Club was required to pay sales tax on Turkeys that were purchased to be distributed.  One of the bills that I have introduced for the 2014 legislative session will prevent these benevolent and charitable civic organizations from having to pay sales tax on items purchased for distribution or donation to the needy.  My legislation will make the donations and funds raised by these organizations go further and help more. 

 I have such great memories of spending Christmases with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.  Playing games together and sleeping nights in a house full of relatives, covered by quilts made by generations of ancestors.  I am happy that my grandparents were able to live an independent life supplemented by Social Security and Medicare.  They did not want to be a burden on my parents.  No one wants to be a burden on their children.  Speak up and defend these social programs that have made life better for our parents and can and will make life better for us and for generations to come.

It is the prayer of our family that you and your family are blessed this Christmas and that you are safe and secure and are able to make precious memories with loved ones.  Please join our family in remembering members of the military and their families who will be separated over the holidays. Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Overcoming Mittyism

Overcoming Mittyism for the Common Good - December 8, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

My first trip to a movie theater was a pretty frightening ordeal.  Fortunately, my Mom had me out of the theater and into the lobby with reasonable haste.  She would never have allowed me to be harmed in any way, but for several years, I wondered why a horror story was made into an animated children’s movie.

It was December in the early 1960’s and the Time Theater was showing an English dubbed version of a Soviet produced adaption of Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen.  We had just settled in with our popcorn.  It was my older sister’s eighth or ninth birthday and several of her friends were being treated to a movie by our Mom.  I was along for the ride. The cartoon ran first, followed by Art Linkletter’s prologue with a group of children around a Christmas tree.  Then began the feature presentation.

The story unfolded with a little boy and girl sitting on their grandmother’s lap listening to her story about the classic tale.  All of a sudden, the Snow Queen with a face the size of the entire screen started flying around frosting windows and frightening little children in the village as well as this little child in the audience.  Suddenly, the shutters flew open and ice crystals blew into the boy’s eye, turning his heart to ice and making him mean-spirited.  Then, the Snow Queen whisked him away to her palace.  I don’t remember anything after that scene, since I did not go back into that theater for several years.

Fast forward to 2013.  My wife and I had seen fun previews of Frozen, the new Disney movie and gathered up our grandkids for a treat.  We had just settled in with our popcorn when the introduction credits revealed that it was also an adaption of Andersen’s Snow Queen!!!  Anxiously, overcome by a flood of unpleasant memories, I assessed all the exits…in the event or one or more of our grandchildren or I needed a quick escape from the storyline.   Apprehensively, I watched the entire motion picture without incident and the grandkids thoroughly enjoyed it.  Thank goodness the director had utilized artistic license in a more age appropriate manner than the Russians did in the 1950’s.

Speaking of remakes, a new film version of James Thurber’s Secret Life of Walter Mitty written in 1939 and filmed as a Danny Kaye movie in the late 1940’s is set for release later this month with Ben Stiller in the title role.  Thurber’s fictional character, Walter Mitty, whose overbearing self-perception of indispensability and grandiose value to society has come to signify those who are unwilling or unable to separate the reality of their true mundane value from a fantastically embellished existence upon which the weight of the world rests. While the Walter Mittys of the Oklahoma legislature are chasing rabbits and issuing self-congratulatory press releases about useless legislation and wasting public funds, Oklahomans are facing critical issues:

One in 6 Oklahoma women are victims of domestic violence. We are among the highest in terms of reported incidents of child abuse.  One in 5 high school students claim to have been physically abused or injured while on a date. Twenty-six percent of all ninth graders, three times the national average, report incidents of date violence.  Oklahoma ranks 3rd in the number of women killed by men.

Oklahoma has the highest female incarceration rate in the country. Eighty percent are non-violent offenders.  Sixty percent were victims of sexual and physical abuse as children and more than 90% were the victims of domestic violence in their adult lives.  More than half are mothers, many of which are the heads of single parent led households.

The list goes on. 5th in teen pregnancy.  2nd in divorce rate. 1 in 6 Oklahomans living in poverty with those single persons living in poverty having an average income $410.42 per month.  Incredibly, more than 190,000 children and over half a million Oklahoma residents live in homes where they don’t have enough money to pay for housing, medicine, food and heat.

These and other statistics should be a call to action by lawmakers.  There should be a concerted effort to identify what Oklahoma is doing wrong in comparison to other states and addressing those issues.  Simply dismissing these conditions as the result of bad decisions or lifestyle choices is the moral equivalent of sticking our proverbial head in the sand.

Yet, polished walnut and weight rooms are installed in the capitol building while foundational problems are neglected. Huge salary increases are awarded to allegiant agency heads while caseworkers, prison guards, highway patrolmen, teachers and other state employees slip further into economic despair. Plans are made to divert public funds toward the construction of a chapel in the capitol building.

This week I watched the 1950’s version of the Snow Queen on the internet.  I am happy to tell you that it had a happy ending.  The love of the sister for her brother gave her the courage to search him out at the queen’s palace and bring him home with a thawed heart.  Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s story is no fairy tale.  Education, the most likely means to break the cycle of poverty and violence has been cut by more than 22% which is a deeper cut than has occurred in ANY other state.  Until voters become engaged and hold elected officials accountable, this nightmare will continue.  Speak up or endure more of the same.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Supposing is Good, But Finding Out is Better

Supposing is Good, But Finding Out is Better…for the Common Good - December 1, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

West of Tuttletown, California, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains between Yosemite National Park and the San Joaquin Valley, my wife and I discovered a faded and weathered sign pointing up a dirt trail to “Mark Twain’s Cabin.” We eased off the narrow highway into the ruts that our GPS identified as Jackass Hill Road with the hill itself as our destination.

After a short distance, wondering if the name of our destination was actually a clue for what awaited us, we found a tiny cabin that had served as the winter shelter for one Samuel Langhorne Clemens and his friends, the Gillis brothers from December 4, 1864, to the end of February, 1865. Located between Virginia City and San Francisco in a region, like Sutter’s Mill, where gold mining had been the name of the game, the site had recently been restored by the Sonora Sunrise Rotary Club.

It has long been said, “There are no new stories, just endless ways to tell them.”  Like Shakespeare who used history and mythology as the fabric to be woven into great plays, Sam Clemens had spent endless hours in public libraries in those cities across the Midwest where he found work as a newspaper typesetter.   Parlaying his literary knowledge with real world experiences in those communities and later piloting a steamboat up and down the Mississippi River, Clemens honed his unique storytelling skills.  His stories were not new, but were uniquely spun.  Even the pen name, Mark Twain, referring to the depth of navigable waters, was borrowed from earlier writers along the river.

Twain was a traveler, and the American literary importance of the tiny cabin was not the Gillis brothers or the gold mines in the area but instead was its close proximity to a community named Angel Camp.  Angel Camp had sprung out of the mountains during the gold rush era and was base camp for the seedy underbelly of a society that was course and reckless.  Men who frequented the camp were not virtuous, and the women who resided there were anything but angels.

Nonetheless, a trip into Angel Camp that winter jump-started a faltering writing career and changed the face of American literature forever.  For you see, Samuel Clemens, later Mark Twain, and his friend Jim Gillis had dodged into a tavern just to get out of the rain and ended up next to an old wood burning stove. Over the course of the next few hours, they listened to the tale that Twain reignited in his first published work and that gave him national recognition.  The story told to the budding literary giant right there in Calaveras County, California, involved a jumping frog named Dan’l Webster and a contest that continues annually each May to this day.

Most importantly, Mark Twain’s notoriety did not end with the Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.  Other works followed and Clemens’ wit and wisdom continues to impact the world.  Much like Will Rogers, the timeless sayings of Samuel Clemens give us pause and reflection.  Sometimes they sting, and always they are relevant.

By the middle of this month, Oklahoma legislators will have filed bills for the coming 2014 Regular Session. I have assembled a few Mark Twain quotes that might shed light on what really needs legislative attention in the Sooner state.

With regard to the need for public education, Twain said, “Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end, you lose at the other. It's like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won't fatten the dog.”

The state government seems to be full of elected officials who have little or no experience in anything and what they do have has no relevance to their claimed “expertise.”  Twain made several enlightening comments that sound as if he had spent a week or two at the Oklahoma State Capitol or the State Department of Education.  “It's not what you don't know that kills you; it's what you know for sure that ain't true,”

“That is just the way with some people. They get down on a thing when they don’t know nothing about it,”

 “In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners whose opinions are not worth a brass farthing.”

Realistically, those “reformers” who believe that they have the expertise to “foster better government” will not realize that their mentality was the target of Twain’s barbed comments.

Perhaps the best advice to be given to those who create solutions and then go in search of a problem would be to know about the subject they lecture on.  Oklahoma’s teachers are not the problem.  Mark Twain said it best, ““In Paris they just simply opened their eyes and stared when we spoke to them in French! We never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.”

As for the rest of us, we must continue to realize that “Supposing is good, but finding out is better.”

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks for the Common Good - November 24, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Facing a polarized nation, what should a President do? Clearly, the issue had split the electorate pretty evenly down the middle.  A Gallup poll showed that 59% of Americans disapproved of the President’s proposal.  Twenty-two states had signed on to follow the President’s lead and Twenty-three had refused.  The others, including Colorado and Texas adopted a hybrid model.

The President’s proposal had come at the request of a large group of constituents.  They reasoned that the change would be good for the country and the economy.  Once implemented, frantic attempts to challenge and undermine it were instituted. Attempts to sway popular opinion resulted in confusion and further polarization.  Misinformation was rampant. Governors of those states that followed the President’s lead felt secure in their decision.  Those who declined on behalf of their states appeared just as confident.

Charles Arnold of Brooklyn, New York complained that the President’s plan would give an advantage to large businesses over small businesses.  Robert Benson and Clarabelle Voight, insurance agents from Groton, South Dakota, claiming to speak on behalf of all Midwesterners argued that the idea undermined morale and that by pursuing this idea, the President had practically lost his popularity and the goodwill of the people.  John Taylor, a printer from Salem, Ohio, did not care whether the plan was implemented or not but asked that any decision made would not be implemented for a year.

In the end, just when it appeared that the social fabric of America was going to be torn asunder, U.S. Senators and Representatives came together in a bipartisan manner, approved the others amendments and allowed December 26, 1941, to be the day that President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the resolution establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday.

The issue of permanently establishing Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November instead of the last Thursday of November had elicited a vitriolic partisanship that had not been seen since one party or the other had taken advantage of a relatively benign, but high profile issue to denigrate the other party.  At the core of this hugely partisan issue was whether to grant the request of large retailers to increase the number of shopping days between “Turkey Day” and Christmas in those years where the November calendar had five Thursdays instead of four.  In 1939 the press touted November 30 as the “Republican Thanksgiving” and November 23 as the “Democratic Thanksgiving.”     

Unfortunately, it took a while for the politicians to achieve the spirit of Thanksgiving penned by Floridian, F. P. Archer, Sr., when he wrote, “Mr. President: Please inform those who disagree with your advance Thanksgiving date that every day is Thanksgiving in Florida.  We who love healthful sunshine, bounteous harvests of fruits and vegetables and the clean cool breezes from the Gulf Stream never cease thanking Almighty God for these daily blessings.”

For you see, in the fall of 1621, when Plymouth governor William Bradford invited approximately 90 members of the Wampanoag tribe, including Chief Massasoit, to a three day celebration of thanksgiving feast around a midweek church meeting, the last thing on his mind was when the Christmas shopping season would begin.

 In 1777, following the Patriot victory at Saratoga, the Continental Congress was not contemplating newspaper sales circulars when they declared an American Thanksgiving.

In 1789 when George Washington declared a Tuesday in November as a day of Thanksgiving for the U.S. Constitution, he did not comprehend a Black Friday or a Black Wednesday for that matter.

In 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln began a tradition of declaring the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving, he did not pause to calculate how many shopping days would fall between the day of thanks and Christmas.

These leaders each encouraged participants to pause, mediate, and give thanks for the many blessings and the many freedoms that we enjoy as a people.  As a people and as a nation we give thanks for a social and political system capable of receiving and improving the lot of immigrants who have actually or figuratively passed Liberty Island and heard the words of New Colossus, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me; I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

We give thanks because we have faith that our nation will be a light for them as it was a light our parents and grandparents.  We have faith that the only thing we and our children have to “fear is fear itself.”  We give thanks because of the realization that we are but stewards for all mankind of the God-given abundance that is entrusted to us.  Our thanks is grounded in the knowledge that our blessings will surely cease when we depart from faithful stewardship.  It is my prayer and also that of my family that you and your loved ones will be blessed with peace, safety and abundance this week, this month and forever more.               

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Theodore Roosevelt Visits Osawatomie

Theodore Roosevelt visits Osawatomie for the Common Good - November 17, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Republican President Theodore Roosevelt packed his bags and left the White House in March 1909.  Seven and a half years as the country’s chief executive had hampered his ability to enjoy the great outdoors.  That is not to say that he had been locked in the presidential mansion, but his term had been marred by bumpy economic times extracting focus and attention that otherwise would have been allocated to the enjoyment of those expanses of natural scenery and wildlife habitat that have become his legacy.

In the aftermath of the Panic of 1907, the recurring theme of Wall Street greed and oppression had meshed with the “too big to fail” mentality of New York-based banks and corporations, President Roosevelt had seen big business rebuff his progressive ideas. Despite opposition, by the time his term ended, he had filed 40 trust-busting lawsuits, secured land for the construction of the Panama Canal, quashed German aggression in South America, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his diplomacy during the Russo-Japanese War and placed 210 million acres of our natural treasures into the National Park Service.

Make no mistake, despite his record of populist and progressive action of regulating railroads, protecting Americans through the Pure Food and Drug Act, protecting natural resources from exploitation and busting large corporate trusts, Roosevelt was no liberal. Theodore Roosevelt called the shots as he saw them through his trademark bipartisan spectacles.  He not only believed in a Common Good, he acted upon it.

On August 31, 1910, the former President returned from African safari long enough to stop by Osawotomie, Kansas and deliver an address that may rank as in the top 4 or 5 speeches in the history of our nation and became known as the “New Nationalism” speech. 

By nature, we seek media and literature that incestuously reinforces our limited understanding and restricted perception.  We must overcome that natural tendency. The text of Roosevelt’s New Nationalism address is readily available on the internet and at any library.  If you care about our country, the people who inhabit it and the ones that we hope to leave it to, I urge you to spend a few minutes reading, contemplating and sharing it with others. 

Regardless of your political leaning, you will discover that conservatism, progressivism and yes, even liberalism can and must co-exist to usher in hope for tomorrow.  You will discover that many of the dangers raised by President Roosevelt are unfortunately actual conditions that currently plague our political system today.

He argued that our country would have no value unless it was a popular democracy where men are guaranteed the opportunity to show the best that there is in them. He explained that the struggle for human betterment will only be successful through “equality of opportunity” and “destruction of special privilege.” Teddy Roosevelt also made it clear that a man who lies down and refused to work does not deserve to be carried and that no man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned, and that, “No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so after his day’s work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load.”

He asserted that, “every special interest is entitled to justice, but not one is entitled to a vote in Congress, to a voice on the bench, or to representation in any public office. The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good.  But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation.” Included was his near prophetic statement that “It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more important that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.”

Roosevelt condemned the, “utter confusion that results from local legislatures attempting to treat national issues as local issues,” and the selfishness causing “wealthy special interests to bring national activities to a deadlock.”  He expressed his view that the executive power is the “steward of the public welfare,” that the “judiciary be interested primarily in human welfare rather than in property,” and that the legislature, “represent all people rather than any one class or section of the people.” 

                Oklahoma would be a better place if the political leaders, of both parties, would don a pair of bipartisan spectacles to read, ruminate on and digest the words spoken by Theodore Roosevelt at Osawotomie, Kansas 103 years ago, particularly in light of the special interest legislation that will be introduced at Oklahoma’s Capitol next session and the social, economic and political environment that we find ourselves in today.        

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Presidential Proclamation 780

Presidential Proclamation 780 for the Common Good - November 10, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

There is a story that circulates among Oklahoma real estate attorneys about a Dallas banker who had been approached to lend money on land in the Sooner state.  As the story goes, the banker had his attorney review the abstract and the title appeared good, however, it only showed the record back to the 1902 Land Patent. Wanting more verification about the ownership of the land, the banker demanded that the abstractor prepare an abstract showing ALL prior owners.

The Abstractor who prepared the Abstract of Title responded, “I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 111 years covered by the abstract.  I was unaware that anyone in this part of the country, even someone from Texas, did not know that this land was purchased from France in 1803 as a part of the Louisiana Purchase.”

The Abstractor continued, “For the edification of you and other uninformed bankers and bureaucrats, the nation of France acquired the land of the Louisiana Purchase by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the then reigning monarch, Isabelle.”

“The good queen,” said the Abstractor, “being a pious woman and being almost as careful about real estate titles as is your bank, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to fund Columbus' expedition. Now the Pope, as I'm sure you know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And God, it is commonly accepted, created the entire world, including, that part of the world now named Oklahoma. I believe it is safe to presume that He, therefore, would be the owner of origin. I hope you find His original claim to be satisfactory.”

Aside from the tale of the confused banker, the history of Oklahoma is really a pretty interesting story and involves a twist and turn, or two, that makes it even more unique.  This weekend marks the 106th birthday of the State of Oklahoma.

Incredibly, the pan shaped state now known as Oklahoma nearly did not exist.  As early as 1889, a bill had been introduced in Congress providing for a portion of Indian Territory to be admitted as the new state of Columbia. Problematic was the fact that the tribal governments in Indian Territory held all land in common ownership and until the real estate was divided and allotted to individuals, statehood would not be granted.

But, the residents of Oklahoma Territory, comprised of that area west of Chickasha and Duncan and the area that includes Oklahoma City, Enid and Stillwater began pressing for separate statehood in 1891 or before.  Primarily, about the only thing that the residents of Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory could agree upon was that they both wanted to be separate states.

Locally, residents of Oklahoma Territory held conventions and proceeded as if they would be admitted as the state of Oklahoma.  Likewise, residents of Indian Territory held conventions and proceeded as if they would be admitted as the state of Sequoyah.  Maps were prepared; county lines were drawn in and county seats were selected. But it was not to be.

As with most matters of government, final decisions on whether there would be double or single statehood was politically motivated.  Despite strong feelings in the territories for double statehood, nationally, there was never more than a remote possibility of the triumph of double statehood. A Republican President and a Republican Congress were determined to join the Twin Territories to form a single state. Legislators from those states east of the Mississippi were unwilling to add four United States Senators from this part of the West, especially when it seemed likely that they would be Democrats.

According to the account contained in the archives of the Oklahoma Historical Society, there was little fanfare in Washington as Oklahoma became the 46th State of the Union. On the morning of November 16, 1907, at exactly fifteen minutes after 10 o’clock, the door leading to the executive office was thrown open and President Theodore Roosevelt stormed in.  A minute later he quickly signed Proclamation 780 with a quill pen that can be seen at the Oklahoma History Center.    A painting by Mike Wimmer memorializing this event now hangs in the Oklahoma Capitol building.

Despite the politics and chicanery surrounding Oklahoma joining the union, without a doubt, Oklahoma’s sunsets, fields of wheat, rivers, lakes, mountains and forests have been making the United States of America a more beautiful place to live for the past 106 years.  Happy Birthday, Oklahoma.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

The Spirit of the BB-48

The Spirit of the BB-48 for the Common Good - November 3, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

It was September 2, 1945 and each of the 280 Allied Warships that had accompanied the USS Missouri into Tokyo Bay for the formal signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, had its own story of heroism and perseverance. Assembled shoulder to shoulder on the decks of American ships were soldiers and sailors of every rank, of every race, from every state of the Union.

With one accord and undivided attention they watched on the deck of “Big Mo” as the Japanese representatives signed the Instrument of Surrender.  They observed as signatures were affixed by General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, Fleet Admiral Charles Nimitz and representatives of eight other Allied nations.

Those present and untold millions from around the globe listened silently as General MacArthur spoke about the need to put aside divergent ideals and ideologies; to put aside a spirit of distrust, malice and hatred and instead to rise to that higher dignity to which we have been called.  They watched as the ceremony concluded and over 1200 Allied aircraft from carriers anchored miles away flew low over Tokyo Bay.

What was not readily apparent at that time is an amazing and inspiring story of perseverance that must be told this Veterans Day.  Among the hundreds of ships and aircraft carriers that escorted and surrounded the USS Missouri on that historic day was a battleship carrying the designation BB-48.

BB-48’s remarkable story began shortly after World War I.  Congress, in the early 1920’s had decided to downsize the Navy and cancel battleship construction contracts. However, one ship, BB-48 was nearly complete and that contract alone was honored. Congress fully intended to send the “unneeded” ship to be turned into scrap metal, however, it was christened before it was completed and ultimately commissioned and launched in 1923.

BB-48 was the last battleship built for the U.S. Navy for 20 years and by merely escaping an early demise was instrumental in the pre-invasion bombardment of the Philippines; being a part of the last battle in world history where battleships engaged battleships with their big guns during the Battle of Surigao Strait.  But, these facts are not what makes the story of BB-48 so remarkable.

BB-48 took part in operations to capture several islands in the Pacific Theater, including Mindoro, Lingayen Gulf, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, using her sixteen inch guns to support U.S. ground forces.  She was hit by a Japanese Kamikaze plane on 1 April 1945 and remained in action.  Despite all this adversity, BB-48 escorted the USS Missouri into Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender and was used postwar as a troop transport on several “magic carpet runs” shuttling soldiers and sailors from points in the Pacific back to the U.S.

However, that she was present when the flag was raised on Iwo Jima and engaged in these other amazing feats is not the reason that the story of BB-48 is being told today.  This story is being told this Veterans Day because in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, while anchored just ahead of the USS Oklahoma, and just behind the mooring of the USS Arizona, BB-48, was hit by two bombs and a minimum of seven torpedoes blew huge holes in her port side.

Yes, on December 7, 1941, the USS West Virginia (BB-48) sank to the bottom of Pearl Harbor and endured the loss of more than 100 of her crew.  The amazing story of the USS West Virginia is being told because her story did not end with water gushing into the listing ship. You see, Captain Mervyn Bennion and his crew risked bombs, torpedoes, bullets from strafing Zeroes and explosions and intentionally flooded the side opposite the torpedo strikes, thereby righting the sinking ship.

The tenacity of the Captain to keep the ship afloat was matched by the perseverance of the Japanese as a bomb from 20,000 feet in the air hit squarely on the West Virginia hurling hot jagged metal in all directions and filling Captain Bennion’s abdomen with shrapnel.  Refusing to leave the sinking ship, his pain became too great, the Captain collapsed and then he died along with 105 crewmembers, but not before they made certain that the ship settled upright on the floor of Pearl Harbor.

What makes the story of the USS West Virginia so special is that through the grit and determination that defines our veterans and the service that they have given our country, at Pier F-6 on Battleship Row, a ship that lay settled into the mud at the bottom of the harbor with little more than a U.S. Flag visible was raised and repaired.  The spirit of BB-48 parallels the spirit of our veterans from every war and conflict from the time of the War for Independence down to the current engagements.

The amazing story is that the West Virginia did the things that she is known for AFTER she was sunk. Don’t think for a second that the spirit of Captain Bennion was not present when the flag was raised at Iwo Jima.  That is the same spirit that gives Americans purpose and validity.  It is the spirit of compassion that was present when General MacArthur proclaimed the end of a war that claimed 72 Million deaths and that delivered veterans home safely at the end of a horrible world war.

Our veterans embody that spirit of sacrifice and endurance.  We must do our part to be unified behind them.  All veterans, like Captain Mervyn Bennion, are permanently woven into the fabric of history.  They fought for freedom and social justice.  They gave of themselves. The least that we can do is graciously thank them and remember their sacrifices. Surely we are able to put aside partisan politics and petty differences to pull together for that same spirit of common purpose

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Moving Money By Sleight of Hand

Moving Money By Sleight of Hand…Common Good - October 27, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

With the speed and dexterity of a street hustler, tax revenue and state assets are shifted from one account to another. Following the money becomes as difficult as a shell game or a round of Three Card Monte.

In 2004, voters imposed twelve year legislative term limits on members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma State Senate. The resulting shift of power is readily apparent when we observe an overwhelming tide of lobbyist written legislation and bureaucrats in state agencies who have little concern about the “interference” of term-limited legislators.

Two case studies that deal with relatively high profile matters show who holds the real power is in Oklahoma government… and it is not the people or their elected officials.

An example of good government gone awry involves the railroad track running between the two largest metropolitan areas in the state.  The Sapulpa to Oklahoma City railroad, known as the “Sooner Sub” is a thriving enterprise, but it was not always so.  For decades, the railroad was owned and operated by Burlington Northern.  Ultimately, the rail line fell into disrepair and in the 1980’s BNSF sold the line for salvage value to the highest bidder. Fortunately, for all involved, the highest bidder on that track as well as seven or eight others was the State of Oklahoma.

 Each of the lines, with the exception of the Sooner Sub, was acquired solely to preserve and protect it for future sale back to the railroad industry.  With the exception of the Sooner Sub, each has either been sold by the state at a profit or is currently under lease to a railroad with the railroad company having the option to purchase the line from the state.

The Sooner Sub however, was not acquired for resale.  It was purchased to foster passenger rail between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Both legislation and contracts stated that intent. Consistent with that goal, the railroad was leased to a company that nurtured its purpose, was contractually required to annually install thousands of new rail ties and provide a considerable cash flow to the state.  By design, the line appreciated in value and has now caught the eye of a number of railroad companies, even the company that sold it to the state nearly 3 decades ago. 

Despite legislative intent, the bureaucracy of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has undertaken to initiate the sale of the Sooner Sub.  Moving from landlord of the line to having no ownership of the line at all will decrease and possibly eliminate any hope that passenger rail between Tulsa and Oklahoma City will come to fruition.

The legislature has no power to stop such a move; the public has no standing to demand to be heard.  Legislators can blow trumpets from the mountaintop, but career bureaucrats are not afraid of elected officials who will only be around a few years.

In similar vein, lobbyist authored legislation flies through without adequate scrutiny. A bill that on its face sounds great may have unintended circumstances.  For instance, HB 1875 was presented as the solution to a very real need.  Municipalities are overly dependent on sales tax revenue. Sales taxes are collected for cities and towns by the Oklahoma Tax Commission pursuant to contracts that currently allow the OTC to normally retain around one-percent to cover the cost of collection. 

HB 1875 is designed to decrease the OTC retainage to half of the current amount.  If this bill becomes law, the 13 cities and towns in District 56 will cumulatively receive around $75,000 more in sales tax revenue.  For instance Gotebo would receive about $190 more per year.  Roosevelt would receive around $250 more per year.  On the upper side, Anadarko could get around $13,500 more with Chickasha receiving $54,000.  The other towns in District 56 would be somewhere in between.  If you would like to know your town’s share, let me know. How could that be bad?  It pulls the money from the Tax Commission and gives it local government.

HOWEVER, slipped into the bill, after it was filed, is a provision to keep the tax commission happy.  For the Oklahoma Tax Commission to agree to allow $75,000 to go back to cities and towns in District 56, the Tax Commission will receive an additional TEN MILLION DOLLARS from the general fund.  Money from the general fund that would normally be divided among schools, colleges, technology centers, highways, roads, bridges, counties and yes…even cities and towns.  Money that could be used for COLAs for retirees or for raises to state employees who have not had a raise in eight years and are currently eligible for food stamps.  Money that provides funds for sidewalk projects and safe school projects.  Money that could be used for senior nutrition or health care.

Now, the real zinger.  District 56 contains the same number of voters as the other 100 legislative districts.  If District 56 generates approximately the same amount of sales tax revenue as the other 100 legislative districts, the Oklahoma Tax Commission would be giving up between $7 Million and $8 Million Dollars per year to receive $10 Million Dollars per year from the General Fund.  How is that for a powerful bureaucracy that increases its annual revenues by $2 Million to $3 Million Dollars by simply smiling?  This bill will be coming up early in the 2014 session.  I want more revenue for our cities and towns.  Is Three Card Monte the way to get it? 

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Initiative Petition

Initiative Petition…For the Common Good - October 20, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Imagine if you will, a state in tornado alley where EF4 and EF5 twisters are prevalent.  Imagine that state having so few public school safe rooms that daily over 500,000 students, teachers and staff attend school and work at sites with no protection from a tornado.

Imagine the legislature in that state imposing on those schools the nation’s largest cut in school funding.  Imagine those school districts having no revenue and no ability to borrow money to address the safety of their students and teachers.

Imagine a group of citizens finding a non-partisan way to allow the people of that state to vote to set aside funds, without raising taxes, to allow school districts, if they choose, to have access to money to build safe rooms or to match federal FEMA dollars to build storm shelters.

Now imagine a governor who does not want to use those funds to protect students because that money can instead be used to fund a tax cut for corporations.

Finally, imagine an attorney general who politicizes the process by feigning concern with the “language of the Petition” in an attempt to sabotage and stymie the collection of signatures so that ultimately the governor’s desire to provide a tax cut to corporations will prevail over the safety of school kids.

Can that really be true? Does that sound farfetched? What can be done about a government that attempts to block the will of the people?  There is a solution and Oklahomans have it.

Thomas Jefferson believed that, “the people are sovereign and that the power of the government can only be granted by the people.”

James Madison eloquently wrote in No. 49 of the Federalist Papers that, “thepeoplearetheonlylegitimatefountainof power, and it is from them that the…severalbranchesofgovernmentholdtheirpower…itseems strictly consonanttotherepublicantheorytorecurtothesame original authority... wheneverit maybenecessarytoenlarge,  diminish,  ornew-model the powers of government."

Thankfully, in 1906 the delegates to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention knew what Thomas Jefferson and James Madison feared and provided that when a government had little regard for the will of the people, the citizens of Oklahoma would have the power of the Initiative Petition.  We often hear about the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.  Top billing goes to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, right to bear arms and the right to be secure in our homes.  However, a powerful tool possessed by the citizens of only a few states is the Initiative Petition.  The process allows citizens, with no governmental restriction or interference, to propose a law and have it voted on by the people of the state. Its unique nature comes directly from the populist fervor that spread across the country in the very early 1900’s.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Since statehood, Oklahoma’s citizens have had this little used power of the people to reign in an out of touch government or a government paralyzed by inaction.   It is often overlooked, because in our democracy we learn about the power of the ballot box, but are led to believe that it is only the power to elect candidates.  What happens when our legislature refuses to enact laws that the people want? This tool is our protection against an unresponsive government. 

Will Rogers said, “Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do.” While Will’s analysis is correct most of the time, Oklahomans have the power to bypass the roadblock of a governor, the sabotage of an attorney general and the stall tactics of a state legislature. 

It is true that in any given year a very small number of children will be in danger of death or injury, but children deserve to be safe and parents deserve to know that schools have the resources to protect students.  Rep. Joe Dorman is showing that the power of the sovereign is truly reserved to the people by working with a non-partisan group, TAKE SHELTER OKLAHOMA, to circulate a petition to allow the people of this great state to vote on this issue.  The choice on whether you want to join him is yours.  If you do, you can find out how to join this grassroots effort on Facebook.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

What Would Will Say About That?

What Would Will Say About That?…For the Common Good - October 13, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

The homespun humor and wisdom of Oklahoma native Will Rogers has fascinated America for nearly a century.  His unique insight, accurate analysis and fearless delivery “plain-talked” himself into the hearts of millions.  When the California Legislature formed the California Bar Association to regulate the conduct of lawyers in the Golden State, Rogers said, “Personally I don't think you can make a lawyer honest by an act of the Legislature. You've got to work on his conscience. And his lack of conscience is what makes him a lawyer.”

In his no nonsense way, Will was quoted as saying, “What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.”  Will Rogers, in the oft quoted words of Finley Peter Dunne, regularly and routinely, “comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable.” In speeches and syndicated articles, our State’s favorite son, spoke on a multitude of subjects, hashed no words and always smiled as he conveyed a truth that was sometimes hard to swallow.  Although William Adair Penn Roger’s 134th Birthday will take place in a just a few days, his remarks are timeless, having uncanny application to current events.

This great American icon spoke of congressional gridlock and used terms like the “little guy,” the “big guy” and “the Normal Majority.” He poked fun at Democrats and Republicans and everyone in between.  His audience appreciated the clarity by which he spoke. 

Two of his particularly relevant quotes from the 1930’s were, “Doctors should make enough out of those who are able to pay to be able to work for the poor for free. One thing that a poor person should never be expected to pay for is medical attention and not from an organized charity but from our best doctors. Your doctor bill should be paid like your income tax, according to what you have” and “There is nothing that keeps poor people poor as much as paying doctor bills.”

Oh what a prophet…In 2009 Bloomberg Business reported that a Harvard University study found that 62% of all personal bankruptcies were medical related and 50% of all residential foreclosures are the direct result of health care costs incurred by the family that lives there. In the U.S. someone files for bankruptcy every 30 seconds in the aftermath of a serious health problem. And poor people are not the only ones affected.  This is an issue that touches each one of us. 

Health care providers who are only able to collect a fraction of their billings because of a patient’s bankruptcy or simple inability to pay, must either increase billing rates or decrease overhead. Decreasing overhead means employee layoffs or a lower quality of medical care.  Increasing billing rates will result in additional bankruptcies.  This pervasive vicious circle illustrates clearly why outgoing Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, says that “unless we resolve the health care issue, the economic issues we are grappling with today will be unresolved and will only grow in complexity and in depth.”

Most hospitals in Oklahoma, particularly rural hospitals, are writing off millions of dollars in bad debt.  It isn’t like patients do not want to pay, but the age old practice of using produce and eggs to satisfy a medical bill no longer pays the electric bill, allows the hospital to meet payroll or make payments on advanced medical equipment needed in today’s medical science.  In 2009, American families paid an average of $1,100 more in health insurance premiums every year to help cover the cost of medical care for the 47 million Americans who had no insurance.

If the Affordable Care Act is not the answer to the health care crisis, then it is imperative that an alternative solution be proposed.  It does not matter to Americans whether the leadership for that solution is Democratic or Republican, but shutting down the federal government without putting a solution to the health care crisis on the table is irresponsible.  What would Will Rogers say about that?  He already did. On July 28, 1935, only 18 days before he and Wiley Post perished in the plane crash in Alaska, Will said, “There is nothing as easy as denouncing..... It don't take much to say that something is wrong, but it does take some eyesight to see what will put it right.”

I appreciate the opportunity to serve you as your State Representative.  If there is ever anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Improving the Quality of Life on Baltic Avenue

IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE ON BALTIC AVENUE…FOR THE COMMON GOOD - October 6, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Milburn Pennybags possessed a most uncanny ability to accumulate wealth.  As far as I know, he was never seen without his trademark red bowtie, grey trousers, spats, tailcoat and top hat often puffing on the type of large cigar that connotes economic success.

Milburn was sketched sometime around the great depression and gained fame as the stereotypical “Monopoly Man” personifying wealth and the status of a financial baron whose “toil” had resulted in the accumulation of massive stockpiles of property and money.  It is hardly an accident that Milburn Pennybags arrived during an era of unrestricted corporate expansion and growing economic inequality.

In 1929 the gap between rich and poor was egregious. The 200 largest companies controlled fifty percent of America’s corporate wealth.  The wealthiest one percent of Americans had incomes that were 650 times greater than the poorest ten percent in 1928.  The United States had experienced 30 years of relaxed financial regulation that gave corporations and investment houses the green light to expand and consolidate into “too-big-to fail” conglomerates.  Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Earlier this year, a Dan Wasserman political cartoon in the Boston Globe graphically analyzed the situation.  According to Wasserman, the median annual compensation for CEO’s of large companies is $9.6 Million Dollars.  Based on that income, a CEO who takes four, one minute bathroom breaks per day makes four times as much per year standing at a urinal than a minimum wage worker makes in an entire year and, according to the author, that did not include any time for the CEO to wash his hands.

Similarly, Harvard’s Dr. Jeffrey Williamson and Dr. Peter Lindert of the University of California – Davis using 2010 Census data have determined that in 2010, the top 10% of wage earners in America received 47% of the income while the bottom 40% of wage earners receive less than 11% of the income. Even more shocking is a report from the Drum Major Institute showing that in 2006, the ratio of the average U.S. CEO annual pay to minimum wage worker’s was 821:1, whereas in 1986 the ratio was 40:1.  As alarming as the income inequality is now and was just prior to the Great Depression, it has not always been that way. 

Alexis de Tocqueville, the French aristocrat and historian who visited the United States in 1831 authored “Democracy in America,” perhaps the most frank and open critique of American life and politics ever written.  Tocqueville observed that, Among the new objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, none struck my eye more vividly than the equality of conditions. I discovered without difficulty the enormous influence that this primary fact exerts on the course of society; it gives a certain direction to public spirit, a certain turn to the laws, new maxims to those who govern, and particular habits to the governed.”

Today, in the absence of equality of conditions is it any wonder that the public spirit suffers also? For decades, our country had presented affordable educational opportunities to those young men and women who did not have access to family venture capital.  In perhaps the greatest travesty of the 21st Century, college graduates are burdened with near insurmountable tuition debt.

Compounding the dire nature of our circumstance is the disparity between today and Tocqueville’s 1831 observation that “In our day, one can say that in the United States the wealthy classes of society are almost entirely out of political affairs and that wealth, far from being a right [to power], is a real cause of disfavor and an obstacle to coming to power.”  Unfortunately, today, our political system begins and ends with money.  Money is power and according to information available at www.opensecrets.org those who have it are not afraid to use it.  Having come a full 360 degrees, our government and our courts now recognize the “freedom of speech” of huge multi-national corporations and their ability to “speak” with political contributions.

According to an article by Jordan Weissmann in the September 19, 2012 issue of the Atlantic, the income of the colonists was much more equal than our disparity today.  In other words, the colonists had much more in common, economically, socially and politically than we do today. Further, two historians concluded last year that astoundingly, income inequality is worse today even than it was during the Roman Empire and that included the income of slaves.  The study found that the top 1 percent of Ancient Roman earners controlled 16 percent of the Empire’s riches, compared to the top 1 percent of American earners today who control 40 percent of our country’s wealth.

The hijacking of our democracy must be halted.  Tocqueville observed a people who were acting on a passion for liberty, equality and pursuit of the common good.  Today, we observe special interests that bully; elected officials that cower; and a citizenry that has abdicated its responsibility.  Unless you and I find common ground, a shared concept of direction and the ability to compromise for the betterment of all, we will have no desire or will to reclaim what rightfully belongs to the American people.  Time is of the essence

Milburn Pennybags is not above the law.  Another recognizable character in the game of Monopoly is Officer Edgar Mallory, the policeman whose likeness appears on an orange colored “Chance” card dragging Pennybags “Directly to Jail,” probably for failing to pay a “Luxury Tax” or making an illegal campaign contribution.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.