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Imperfect Past
by Barry Friedman

(First appeared in TulsaPeople Magazine)

You know, you can Google this stuff before changing conferences.

Oral Roberts University announced it is leaving the Southland Conference, where it had been for the past two years, and returning to the Summit League, where it had been for the previous fifteen. According to Athletic Director Mike Carter, the move was prompted in part by a desire “to improve travel costs.” Odd, for when the school left for Southland, then-school President Mark Rutland said, “This is a good decision for us. The footprint, geographically, is a benefit.”

Crazy geography. Keeps changing.

“Hey, Barresi, leave those schools alone, Part II”

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University called the state’s new A-F school grading system misleading, concluding the differences between the A-F letter grades are “meaningless”; that combining math, reading and science in one letter grade is neither “clear” nor “reliable”; and determining the use of “letter grades masks achievement gaps between poor and minority children and their wealthier, non-minority peers.”

Well, an accountability expert from the University of Colorado who specializes in such studies called for “scrapping the current A-F system and developing a more valid accountability system for Oklahoma.”

Hammer. Nail. Head.

In a related story, Gov. Mary Fallin’s spokesman Alex Weintz said, “We will not tolerate Washington trying to control Oklahoma’s education policies.”

Right. When in doubt, blame Obama.

Dumb (and Most Dangerous) Criminal of the Month

The suspect, who was eventually sentenced to life without parole, punched his attorney in the face in full view of taser-wielding court law enforcement officials.

Overheard

The man, visiting from Las Vegas, while viewing Tulsa’s street construction: “Weren’t they working on this road last year?”

(As regular readers of this column will notice, he said the same thing last year about the year before that.)

But getting the state involved in health care is government interference in our lives.

Oklahoma has spent more than $70 million in federal money on keeping people ... married.
The problem? (I mean, other than spending federal money on keeping people married.) Eighty percent of the funds have come from the state’s welfare fund — money that could have been used to help single mothers at Reasor’s.

The program began in 1999, when then-Gov. Frank Keating decided to cut the state’s divorce rate by a third. When that proved unreachable, the goal was to, well, encourage healthy relationships.

According to the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative, however, financial troubles are one of the leading causes of divorce in the state.

So, let’s make even less money available.

Worse, last session, a bill authored by House Speaker T.W. Shannon made discretionary welfare funds available to pay for public service announcements promoting marriage.

That’s right: commercials.

“Stay married. For yourselves. For your kids. For Oklahoma.”

This message paid for by people who don’t have enough to eat.

Rule 12 E-cigarettes should be smaller than kazoos.

Ups and downs

UP QuikTrip, for donating $12.5 million to A Gathering Place. Now, bring back the PB&J sandwich.  

UP A New York-based Satanic temple for planning to put a pentagram next to the Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol. The precedent has been set.

DOWN The local TV networks that pimp out school closings by selling sponsorships. Considering the airwaves are owned by the public, why not just provide the closings as a public service? How much can the crawl at the bottom of the screen cost you, anyway?

Goodbye to some of that ...

In which I move down the virtual hall

As many of you know, Urban Tulsa Weekly recently folded and Langdon Publishing Co. has begun an alternative newspaper, The Tulsa Voice.(Full disclosure: I worked at UTW a million years ago.)

The big machers around these parts and I have concluded I will be of more use at Tulsa Voice — and it was a close call on this — than I will be staying at TulsaPeople. The Tulsa Voice (as you probably know by now) is published bi-weekly and is an eclectic combination of local events and stories that lends itself more to the cranky, liberal snark found in this column.

Plus, I’ve been promised I can curse more over there.

So, I’m leaving, but not going far. Actually I’m not going anywhere. The staff of TulsaPeople barely sees me now; the staff at Tulsa Voice will not see me just as much.

On that note, though, TulsaPeople has been a pleasure and an honor. Kendall, Joy (now in Missouri), Michelle, Morgan, Amanda (now in Arizona), Jim, Juley, Judy, Mary, Matt, (now the new honcho at Tulsa Voice): my thanks for fielding the angry phone calls and allowing me to drop in obscure Yiddish references.

And for your friendship.

I’m over the fence at Tulsa Voice. Come see me there.

(This last part didn't make it in the final edit, for the man about whom it was written was too modest to include it. I am including it here.)

Without Jim Langdon, there would have been no Barry Friedman At Large at TulsaPeople; without Jim, there will be no Barry Friedman At Large (or whatever we decided to call it) at Tulsa Voice. If you like what you read here, wherever here is, he’s the reason. I am in his debt.

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