Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to pbacharach@okgazette.com or sent online at okgazette.com, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

Hungry for credibility

Mr. Brandon Dutcher, vice president for policy at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, opines in his June 12 commentary (“Touting marriage: Why knot?,” Oklahoma Gazette) that taking about 1 percent of federal money earmarked for the program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and spending it instead on TV ads touting marriage is no big deal. Actually, he thinks it is a great idea and another wonderful initiative coming from our brand new, 19th century-oriented Speaker of the House., T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton.

Just as he writes endlessly about everything that is wrong with our public schools in Oklahoma, Dutcher’s personal knowledge about the challenges facing our “needy families” is zero. About 90 percent of Oklahoma City Public School kids get two free meals a day at school and who-knowswhat at night. Oklahoma ranks fourth in the nation in hunger indicators, but Dutcher is obviously clueless, as usual, about the fact that tens of thousands of our children and their parents regularly go to bed hungry.

Here’s a test for Brandon. Until his children say, when he is tucking them in at night, “Daddy, I’m so hungry again,” he ought to shut up and write about something he actually knows something about.

I was going to suggest a topic he might have some understanding of but, unfortunately, having known Mr. Dutcher for 30 years, I can’t think of one.

—Cal Hobson Lexington

A needed immigration reform policy

As a person who works daily with Oklahoma small business owners, I support government policies that grow our economy. I believe reforming immigration to create a system that brings people here legally and gives them an opportunity to work and prosper will do just that.

The U.S. Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill will end the de facto amnesty we have today. It will give deserving immigrants a chance to come out of hiding and lead productive lives.

A common-sense immigration system that matches skilled legal immigrants with the needs of our workforce will add to the already significant contributions Latinos and other immigrants make in Oklahoma.

Last year alone, Oklahoma Latino families spent $7.2 billion on consumer purchases, and Latino-owned businesses did $1.7 billion in sales and employed almost 9,000 workers.

We have always been a nation of immigrants, but today we seem to have lost sight of the many good things that new Americans do for us.

I think the Senate immigration reform plan will strengthen our borders and stimulate economic growth. I hope Sen. Tom Coburn does everything he can to help it pass.

—Jaime di Paulo Oklahoma City

di Paulo is business development chair at the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Stormy weather

Recently, Mike Morgan of KFOR Channel 4 was criticized (News, Tim Farley, “In cars,” June 12, Gazette) for advising residents in the path of the recent tornadoes to flee if no storm shelter was available.

It appeared to some this caused a higher risk for people to be caught in a vehicle. I am not always pleased with news coverage of severe weather. Nonetheless, I believe some points should be made in defense of local news organizations’ approach to severe weather coverage. I believe they, in a supporting role to the National Weather Service, provide an essential service, and one fraught with difficult choices.

Forecasters have always faced the dilemma of how much to tell. Their job is to report on phenomena that are not utterly predictable. Truly, not enough information is dangerous. Yet, too much information leads too often to complacency on the part of the public, a result equally as dangerous.

Not long ago, tornado warning lead time was much shorter than today. Now, warnings are issued when a tornado is likely, so people have time to take shelter. But just because a tornado is possible does not mean one will form. The larger number of warnings can result in the public ignoring them.

Often there are no good choices when warning the public. For example, in any tornado, a house is far better protection than a car. If an EF5 strikes your house directly, however, the house will not likely save you. An EF5, by definition, means utter destruction of aboveground housing. If no shelter is available, one may choose to leave the area.

But then this can create traffic jams with a tornado imminent. So which is the best choice?

Morgan’s task was how to warn people already shell-shocked from another EF5 without panicking them. These are people all too aware of how little protection a house offers in an EF5 tornado.

The psychological impact of the recency and severity of that event must not be underestimated. Morgan and KFOR handled the situation, if not perfectly, then at least humanely and with care.

Traffic was also jammed because employers let out early so people could get to their loved ones before the tornado arrived, and many people already knew that a house was not enough protection and chose to flee.

Prior knowledge and preparation will save more lives than anything else. Acceptance that we don’t understand everything, and certainly cannot control everything, is needed so that we can prepare accordingly.

—Rob Stokes Oklahoma City

Stokes has a master’s degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma

Medicaid expansion makes sense

If there’s a Republican governor more opposed to Obamacare than our Mary Fallin, it’s Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, notorious for wagging her finger at Obama on the airport tarmac.

Yet Brewer is another GOP governor — like Rick Scott of Florida and others — to finally embrace the benefits of Medicaid expansion in their state under Obamacare. They are among nine Republican governors supporting or accepting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

“There comes a time when you have to look at reality,” Brewer said. “It’s not only a mathematical issue, but it’s a moral issue.” Arizona will accept billions in federal aid to pay for Medicaid expansion, and hundreds of thousands of people without health care will come into the program.

Her statement applies to Fallin and Oklahoma.

If Oklahoma commits a few hundreds of millions over the next decade to expanded Medicaid, the feds will kick in $8 billion or more.

That’s real money for unmet needs benefiting every hospital and health clinic in Oklahoma qualifying to provide Medicaid care. It would extend Medicaid to some 150,000-200,000 needy Oklahomans.

Other aspects of Obamacare already have kicked in, benefiting all Americans with health insurance.

Insurance companies may no longer cap benefits to expensive care that you may need, and children are now covered by parents’ insurance to age 26.

It’s time for Fallin to drop her opposition and do what’s right for Oklahoma, Medicaid recipients and the doctors and hospitals in our state.

—Nathaniel Batchelder Oklahoma City

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