It’s important to remember that concern about the way the state carries out executions is not the same thing as sympathy for the condemned 

Government secrecy is deadly

I agree with those who feel that Oklahoma is very much in the wrong when it comes to hiding basic facts about its plans for lethal injection from the public.

It’s important to remember that concern about the way the state carries out executions is not the same thing as sympathy for the condemned. If we are to have good government, it is essential for us to be able to fully know, understand and be able to communicate with our government about its actions.

Oklahoma is treating its citizens as if we are children who don’t need to be bothered with the facts, but in reality, the government’s extreme secrecy about lethal injection raises serious concerns.

It’s our state government, and we have every right to understand what it is doing in our names. Extreme secrecy is bad government, undemocratic and dangerous. The state must turn over much more information about lethal injection before any execution can move forward.

— Emmett E. “Bud” Welch

Oklahoma City National President of Murder Victims Families for Human Rights

For the people, by the people?

On April 14, Governor Mary Fallin signed into law a piece of legislation that prevents cities and counties from setting mandatory minimum wage standards.

Some Republicans cited general fear of capital flight and rising unemployment as the cause of concern, while others said the bill was a direct shot across the bow of those in Oklahoma City agitating to raise the city’s minimum wage. There are a number of things that may be gleaned from this episode that explain the current condition of state politics.

First, there is a lack of diverse political positions available to Oklahoma voters right now. Governor Fallin and the rest of the Republican leadership have in the last couple decades presided over a transition to what can only be described as a single-party political system. There is no credible opposition at almost every level of government, and this is beginning to become a problem. The lack of accountability allows politicians like Fallin, for example, to cite “executive privilege” in the attempt to cover up the details surrounding her rejection of expanded Medicaid coverage for the poorest Oklahomans. One might also point to similar deficiencies of governance in matters of state infrastructure, education and many of the empty ideological gestures that come from the state Legislature each session.

Oklahomans need an opposition party to keep its elected officials accountable.

Second, there is a growing rift between state politics and Oklahoma City politics. The movement to raise OKC’s minimum wage demonstrates this, but the vitality of the LGBTQ community, for example, has for a long time provided a foil to the political valence of the state. As the city has attracted more people, businesses and a diversity of establishments in the arts, entertainment and restaurants, we can see a continued increase in the diversity of political opinion.

Lastly, the state-level political class is attempting to impose a standard of ideological purity that contradicts their purported populist values. Oklahoma politicians often wax eloquent about the independent spirit of the state and make hay about the encroachments of the federal government — to great effect. But this move to prevent cities from raising the minimum wage demonstrates the vapidity of these claims. Populist rhetoric should always be evaluated by a single empirical test: Are these policies good for the people?

— Kyle WIlliams

Oklahoma City

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