Speak 'Fourth' 

The Fourth of July is a special day for many of us: families, friends and loved ones; for veterans, for active and reserve duty soldiers; for those who aspire to be Americans and for young and for older alike.

We are fortunate in Central Oklahoma to have several holiday celebrations available. Festivities at Tinker Air Force Base, fireworks downtown and at Bricktown, neighborhood cookouts and parades, and even team roping at the Lazy E Arena are a few of those happenings we can enjoy.

Indeed, the Fourth is a favorite holiday for many.

Today, I think of my dad, now deceased but a veteran of World War II; my brother, a retired career Navy officer; my nephew, who served in Afghanistan and Kuwait; my daughter's former boyfriend now serving in Iraq; and the son of a dear friend who recently returned from his second war tour. I think of those who have lost their lives for our country in this war and in former wars.

I also think of our men and women serving today in 125-plus degree heat in the Middle East. That is hard for me to imagine, and I love Oklahoma summers! I think of the thousands of soldiers who have served and returned with damaged bodies, psyches or spirits. I know something about caring for a loved one with serious disability; it is not easy.

This year, I have chided readers to "do better" as policy leaders and as budget appropriators, as community leaders, as employers and as protectors of our community's children.

As I celebrate the Fourth of July and look toward a community in Central Oklahoma that is ever more better, more healthy, more supportive and responsive to its citizens, fairer, more caring and productive and successful, I ask you to consider the impact of the following on your families and associates:

·         We have done a good job of electing women to statewide office and to county offices. We are doing better electing women to the Oklahoma House and Senate. This is an election year. Will you look at all candidates at all levels to see if we can build on equal representation, including gender and ethnicity of qualified candidates? Will you discern for yourself those deserving your support and your vote and not be misled by typical political ploys and posturing?

·         State and federal jobs set salary levels based on merit and seniority. In the private sector, do you as an employer pay women the same as men for similar jobs, or do you pay the 70 cents on the $1 that is typical? Do you promote women to leadership and executive positions, or do you perpetuate the subtle national bias that keeps women CEOs at fewer than 5 percent, as exhibited by Fortune 500 companies?

·         Economic security depends on the business "bottom line," which is linked directly to output from a quality workforce. That workforce performs best when it is not ill or worried about health issues, does not feel isolated or excessively vulnerable during economic turndown, is able to be responsive to family and personal needs, and generally feels valued, included and heard. How well do you do care for your employees?

Please consider your part and your responsibility as we experience this sacred holiday.

Boyd, a former state legislator and 1998 Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is owner and chief executive officer of Policy and Performance Consultants Inc.

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