Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

January 17, 2014

The more transparency for the public, the better

TAHLEQUAH — Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is by no means the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate, but he’s often near the top. On the other hand, Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is considered by many to be among the most liberal.

When two seeming polar opposites can come together on a piece of legislation, the American public ought to sit up and take notice. And that’s the case with their bipartisan Truth in Settlements Act, designed to increase transparency when it comes to settlements between federal enforcement agencies and corporations that have broken the law.

When violations occur, the amount of the fine levied against the corporation is typically disclosed, but as Warren and Coburn have noted, those figures are deceptive. Tax deductions and other cushions are built into these agreements, oftentimes reducing the punitive action to a mere slap on the wrist. That means there’s little incentive to keep the offending entity on the straight and narrow, and it’s often well worth the cost to commit the same infraction again and again.

Coburn has long been a proponent of transparency in government, but he often stands up to Big Business as well. The bill, he says, will give taxpayers access to “real” information about enforcement settlements. Warren agrees: “Anytime an agency decides that an enforcement action is needed but it is not willing to go to court, that agency should be willing to disclose the key terms and conditions of the agreement.”

Under the act, written public statements about settlement amounts must detail how the settlements are classified for taxes, and whether credits will offset the tab. Companies will have to disclose in Securities and Exchange Commission filings if they deduct these amounts from taxes, and federal agencies must post basic information on their websites. Any confidentiality attempts must be justified.

Coburn and Warren believe once the public can see what’s going on behind closed doors, the power brokers will be less likely to cobble together sweetheart deals that diametrically oppose the interests of the public they’re supposed to serve. At the same time, consumers can get a better handle on who they’re doing business with, and how often their executives try to cross the line.

The more transparent our government and society can be, the better off the public will be. It’s what the framers intended, and though it’s clearly not what most folks in the upper echelons of government or corporate American would want, it’s most certainly what the public deserves.

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Editorials
  • Ban on wage hikes by municipalities a mark of hypocrisy

    The words “God” and “governor” may share the same first two letters, but the two are hardly interchangeable.
    But let’s assume Gov. Mary Fallin really isn’t deluded enough to place her powers on the level of a deity. What rationale would a woman who has championed smaller government and local control use to explain her hypocrisy in banning individual Oklahoma cities from raising minimum wages in their jurisdictions?

    April 18, 2014

  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
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