Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

December 11, 2013

Get a plan in place for next snowstorm

TAHLEQUAH — Though the weather outside may have been Arctic-cold in the wake of last week’s storm, hundreds of area residents have been hot under the collar about the conditions of Tahlequah city streets. Some folks began demanding answers on the Press Facebook page over the weekend. Why, they wanted to know, had the streets not been cleared?

This question was posed late Sunday by the Press to Mayor Jason Nichols, who happened to be online at the time. But we also indicated Street Commissioner Mike Corn is the person most qualified to speak about such concerns. Though his budget may be controlled by the mayor and council, Corn’s is a largely autonomous position, and he makes the decisions as to staffing and equipment use by his department, in day-to-day operations as well as during emergencies.

Nichols pointed out that last week’s snowstorm was highly unusual for this area, and that street crews had been working around the clock. No blame was cast by Nichols, or as far as we know, by any city councilors who addressed the issue. Neither did the Daily Press or its representatives level criticism, because like the mayor, we recognize the unique nature of the circumstances.

It was disconcerting, then, when staunch supporters of Corn and his department began to point accusing fingers at the mayor and council, perhaps even without Corn’s sanction. They began lambasting the governing body for cutting the street department’s budget – which, in fact, is not true. The Daily Press attends every city council meeting and is privy to the budget. Others who zealously keep tabs on city business – like local businessman Josh Hutchins – also refuted the budget-cut claims. But those looking to kick a political football instigated a no-win, cyclical argument by insisting that since the “watchdogs” aren’t allowed in executive sessions, we’re not privy to what goes on behind closed doors.

It seems these folks are claiming that during executive session, the mayor and council – presumably with the help of City Attorney Park Medearis – are cooking the books on the budget. Meanwhile, only this tight band of their opponents – who, by the way, are also barred from executive sessions – have the low-down on municipal business. The rest of us are either clueless or covering up for them.

For those who really want the low-down, here it is: First, it’s not the responsibility of the mayor and council to run Tahlequah’s street crews. Second, despite what a small group of trouble-makers may say, the mayor and council did not cut the street department budget or hamper those employees from doing their jobs. And third, the street crews WERE, in fact, doing their jobs as they understood them, though perhaps not in the manner some folks would have liked.

Hindsight is always 20-20, but many citizens have weighed in with proposals on how Tahlequah can clear its streets more efficiently during future storms. Some have suggested we need better equipment, but as Corn himself has said, this is not pragmatic. Tahlequah isn’t Breckenridge, and such costly machines could only be used on rare occasions. That money could be put to better use on, say, filling potholes.

What Tahlequah does need is a more concise disaster plan, prioritizing which streets are to be cleared, and when and how, should a storm of this magnitude strike again. The crews did a great job clearing the bridges, but other heavy-traffic areas – like Fourth Street – remained icy as of Tuesday. It will be up to the street department, and the mayor and council, to work together to hash things out.

As discussion transpires during council meetings, citizens should take seriously their civic responsibility to make suggestions – which will be far more productive than trying to fan the flames of rumor and discord. Blame doesn’t need to be assigned; it’s sufficient to say that by working together, we can do better next time.

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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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