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Number of children in state custody drops below 10,000

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Governor Mary Fallin today announced that her Oklahoma Fosters initiative with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), private and faith-based partners has achieved its goal of recruiting more than 1,000 new foster families in Oklahoma.

DHS also reports that the number of children in state custody has dropped below 10,000 for the first time in three years.

This is the first time DHS has reached its foster care recruitment goal since the Pinnacle Plan was launched in 2012 to reform the state's foster care system.

“Oklahomans have again responded to a crucial need in our state,” said Fallin. “I’m pleased that so many Oklahomans came together to help us recruit foster and adoptive families so we can improve the lives of these children in state custody. I thank all of those Oklahomans who stepped up to make the commitment to be a foster or adoptive parent.”

While Oklahoma has been successful in reaching the Pinnacle Plan’s goals on several fronts, foster care recruitment has continued to be a challenge. DHS’s official goal for the 2016 fiscal year was 1,054 new foster families. The agency is still validating the final numbers, but preliminary figures show more than 1,070 new families were certified during the year.  

“Achieving this goal is a great example of what can happen when Oklahomans from all walks of life – government, businesses and the faith community – work together in the best interests of our children,” said Fallin. “The goal of the Oklahoma Fosters campaign, simply put, was to bring all those groups together to help recruit more foster families for our children who are in state custody.

“It is rewarding to know that Oklahoma Fosters helped bring awareness to the need for more foster families to love and support these children during their time of need.”

DHS Director Ed Lake said it took a team effort to reach the state’s foster care recruitment goal.

“We are grateful for the support of Governor Fallin and the Oklahoma Fosters initiative, and thankful for the thousands of compassionate foster families who provide loving homes to our children every day,” said Lake. “I often say that DHS cannot do this work alone. This has taken the government, working alongside faith, non-profit and business partners in every community to achieve this recruitment goal.”   

Lake said he and staff with DHS Child Welfare Services were also excited, but cautiously optimistic, in June when the number of children in state custody dropped below 10,000. The last time the number of children in state custody was less than 10,000 was in July 2013.

The number of children in state care had been steadily climbing since the start of the Pinnacle Plan in 2012, peaking at 11,317 on Oct. 27, 2015. On July 6, there were 9,906 children in care.

Lake said there are two main reasons for the decrease: DHS’s investment in more resources to help keep kids with their families safely and avoid removals when possible; and DHS’s efforts to help children exit the system, either by safely reunifying them with biological families or finding adoptive homes or appropriate guardianships.  

“I commend Ed Lake and his team at DHS for their efforts to safely reduce the number of children in state custody,” said Fallin. “I know it takes a multi-faceted approach to keep kids safe, to only have children in the system who truly need to be there and to help kids get back home or to another permanent home as quickly as possible.”

Jami Ledoux, director of DHS Child Welfare Services, said she is proud of the progress being made every day thanks to the dedicated workers serving children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

“We successfully helped 5,537 children safely leave the system last year,” said Ledoux. “If that wasn’t remarkable enough, there are an additional 1,481 children who are currently in trial reunification with their families or in trial adoptions. That is nearly 1,500 more children who are closer to leaving state custody. I am so impressed by our staff and the enthusiasm and commitment they bring to work every day. ”  

“An adequate number of foster homes is foundational in the effort to reform the foster care system in our state,” said Tom Bates, special adviser to the governor on child welfare services. “Coming into state custody is a traumatic experience for a child. Stable loving foster families are necessary to help these children begin the healing process. In a best case scenario, a foster family not only cares for the child but is instrumental in mentoring biological parents and ultimately reunifying families. We still have work to do but Governor Fallin's vision for the Oklahoma Fosters campaign has been a game changer for child welfare in our state. The momentum is exciting to see and we are just getting started."

About the Oklahoma Fosters initiative

Governor Fallin and DHS launched the Oklahoma Fosters initiative in November with the stated goal of recruiting more than 1,000 new foster families to better serve children in state custody.

The Oklahoma Fosters initiative uses a grassroots approach to coordinate efforts involving faith, government, business and local communities to solve the foster care crisis in Oklahoma.

"We are grateful to all of the outstanding partners across this great state who are passionately dedicated to the service of our most vulnerable children and whose work together helped to achieve this ambitious first goal of recruiting more than 1,000 new foster families,” said Ashley Hahn, executive director of the Oklahoma Fosters initiative. “In addition to the efforts of Governor Fallin and DHS, we would like to thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation, America’s Kids Belong, the 111 Project, Count Me in for Kids of OKC, the Child Protection Coalition of Tulsa and the Oklahoma City Thunder.”

In addition to continuing recruitment efforts for both foster and adoptive families, Oklahoma Fosters plans to expand minority outreach and increase awareness in the business community.

Oklahomans may get involved by going to the Oklahoma Fosters website – OklahomaFosters.com – and clicking on “Foster Care & Adoption” for information on being a foster or adoptive parent. They also may call the foster parent hotline, 1-800-376-9279.

Unless you follow politics closely, you could be forgiven for thinking that Hillary Clinton has locked up the Democratic presidential nomination. This is not true. She still doesn't have the requisite number of delegates. That could, and probably will, happen next month when her lead in superdelegates puts her over the top at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia -- when the superdelegates actually, you know, cast their actual votes.

The media, however, doesn't want you to know that Bernie Sanders is still in the race. And so, based on that flimsiest of measures -- an opinion survey of superdelegates who are allowed to change their mind at any point before July's DNC -- they've called the Democratic race for Clinton.

This completely illogical reasoning logically leads pundits to the question of the month: how can the Hillary Clinton campaign convince progressive supporters of Bernie Sanders -- whose race was largely based on the assumption that Clinton is so far to the right that she might as well be a Republican -- to vote for her?

Every four years, mainstream political writers and commentators push Democrats to the right after the primaries, arguing that swing voters decide presidential elections. Like trickle-down economics, however, that doesn't seem to have been true any time in the recent past. Political parties seem to perform best when they motivate their base to turn up at the polls. Given the fact that Republican voters are congenitally more likely to fall in line behind their nominee even if he turns out to be a potato -- or, this year, a proto-fascist --than Democrats, it's obvious to everyone that Hillary Clinton will need as many Bernie Sanders supporters as possible in November if she indeed becomes her party's nominee.

Obvious to everyone but Hillary.

Last week, NBC's Lester Holt asked her about Sanders: "Can you name one idea that he's put forward that you want to embrace? That he has really changed your position on?"

Her answer: a big fat negatori.

"Well, it's not that so much as the passion that he brought to the goals that -his campaign set," said Clinton.

Granted, I can't think of anything she could do to get me to vote for her. But there are millions of Sanders voters who could be convinced not to sit home on election day, support a third-party candidate like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, or defect to Donald Trump. She'll need those voters if there are any more Orlando-style terrorist attacks (great for Trump's fear-based campaign) or, for that matter, after presidential debates in which I expect Trump to savage her.

Maybe Debbie Wasserman Schultz can schedule those debates for the middle of the night on Kazakhstani state television.

Except when she's hanging out with investment bankers and Walmart board members, Hillary Clinton reflexively refuses to compromise. If she continues her "I have nothing to learn from Bernie and he'll be lucky to get a speech at the convention" attitude, however, better get prepared for President Trump.

What do Bernie Sanders supporters want? As Trump says, everything is negotiable. So let's negotiate!

"Add back the public option to the Affordable Care Act," Howard Dean suggests to Hillary in the New York Times. "Let Americans vote with their feet about whether they want to be in a single payer or the current system."

The problem with that is, big insurance companies bribed her with $13 million in campaign contributions to get her to say that single payer "will never, ever come to pass."

Dean wants Clinton to back Sanders' "massive overhaul of the criminal justice system, starting with emptying for-profit prisons and juvenile detention centers."

Nice idea, except that here too, she's owned: she collected just about as many big donations from lobbyists for the for-profit prison industry as Marco Rubio.

He also wants her to embrace Bernie's push for reforming Wall Street -- but how likely is it that someone who made over $100 million giving speeches to scumbags in the financial services industry will turn against her backers?

"She should release the transcripts of her speeches and explain any of the objectionable things she said in them," says Stephanie Rioux. If Clinton were going to show us her speeches, it would already have happened.

It may not feel like it now, but Hillary Clinton is in a pickle.

Her supporters keep citing her willingness to support Barack Obama after her defeat in 2008 as an example Bernie Sanders ought to emulate now. But Clinton and Obama were ideologically virtually identical. Both were members of the right-wing Democratic Leadership Council. True, Obama pretended to oppose the Iraq war, which Clinton supported. But Obama wasn't in the Senate in 2003. When he did get the chance to vote on Iraq, he voted six times out of six in favor of funding it. And he continued the war long after he took office.

Conversely, there's a huge gap between Clintonism and Sandersism. Bernie Sanders is essentially a Democrat circa George McGovern in 1972: he favors big government antipoverty programs, socialized medicine, and a limited role for the US military overseas. He's skeptical of free trade agreements, and hasn't met a Wall Street banker that he likes. Hillary Clinton isn't just against all that - she's diametrically opposed, essentially a Republican circa George W. Bush in 2003, many of whose advisers she shares.

"Sanders supporters...are motivated not by animosity toward Hillary Clinton but by a sophisticated analysis and belief that the system is irreparably broken and compromised," says Sandernista Jonathan Tasini. Actually, only the second half of that sentence is true. As anyone who has attended a Bernie rally can tell you, there's plenty of animosity toward Clinton.

So what does Hillary Clinton do if she wants to win?

She'll have to sell out some of her big corporate donors -- and she'll have to do it in a big way. If she goes big, she could appoint Bernie Sanders as her vice president -- a sure path to victory -- or as an economic czar, like giving him both the secretary of the treasury and the head of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Failing that, she'll have to adopt at least a few of Bernie's major platform planks. But here's the rub. Even if she does, are Bernie's supporters naive enough to think that she would follow through?


OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today directed her Cabinet secretary of safety and security to delay the use of devices that read the magnetic strips on credit, debit and gift cards as well as any other card that has financial information on them.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has had the Electronic Recovery and Access to Data readers for about a month. The agency purchased 20 card readers, with 16 assigned to troopers. None of the devices have been used to help seize any funds.

The readers are intended to apprehend those involved in identity theft or other illegal activities involving monetary transactions. The readers allow troopers to read the back of the strip on a card or other item, such as a hotel room card, to see if it matches the information on the front.

Secretary of Safety and Security Michael Thompson, who also serves as commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said that before troopers may use the readers, they must have reasonable suspicion to believe a crime has occurred. Troopers typically would not use the devices unless a motorist was stopped traveling with dozens of cards.

Some groups and lawmakers have raised concerns that the devices could be misused and raised suspicions that troopers were scanning everyone’s information.

“The Department of Public Safety needs to formulate a clear policy for using this new technology,” said Fallin. “It can be a viable tool for law enforcement only if authorities are able to ensure Oklahoma motorists and others driving through our state that it will be used appropriately.”

More than 25 states use the card-reading devices. Their use has been upheld by courts.

“The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has enjoyed the trust of Oklahoma motorists for decades,’’ Fallin said. “Taking time to develop policy for the use of these devices and to educate the public will help calm the fears of the motoring public.”

(OKLAHOMA CITY) Gov. Mary Fallin has directed DPS Commissioner Michael Thompson who also serves as Cabinet Secretary of Safety and Security, to delay the use of Electronic Recovery and Access to Data (ERAD) devices.

DPS purchased 20 of the card readers in May, with 16 assigned to Troopers.

“I strongly support the Governor’s decision to suspend the use of this card reader technology,” Thompson said. “Suspending the ERAD program was a viable option which I discussed with the Governor’s staff this week. The public has expressed strong concerns about this program, and it is important that we address their concerns. The Highway Patrol's focus will be to continue to faithfully serve the people of Oklahoma.”

Voters, especially men, would rather have a beer with Donald Trump, but they're evenly divided over which of the major presidential candidates they would invite home for dinner.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 45% of Likely U.S. Voters would prefer to have a beer with Trump over Clinton. Thirty-seven percent (37%) would rather have a beer with Clinton. Eighteen percent (18%) are undecided.

But while 42% of voters say they’d prefer to invite Trump into their home for dinner with them or their families, just as many (41%) say that of Clinton. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure.

The gender gap is clear in both questions. Most men (53%) would rather have a beer with Trump, while women by a much narrower 42% to 38% margin would choose Clinton as their drinking partner. But women (21%) are also more likely than men (14%) to be undecided which beer buddy they prefer. By a 47% to 36 margin, men would pick Trump over Clinton for dinner at their home, while women would choose instead to eat at home with Clinton by a similar 45% to 37%.

The national survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on June 12-13, 2016, by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

After wrapping up the Democratic nomination last week, Clinton took a four-point lead over Trump – 42% to 38% - in Rasmussen Reports' latest weekly White House Watch survey. We’ll update those numbers at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

Even lighthearted questions such as these elicit partisan divisions. While roughly 70% of Republicans would prefer Trump in both scenarios, even more Democrats say they’d prefer Clinton for a beer or a meal. But voters not affiliated with either major party would prefer Trump in both cases - for a beer 50% to 25% and for dinner 46% to 27%. Still, unaffiliateds are also the most likely to be undecided.

Those under 40 say they’d prefer to be with Clinton for both a beer and dinner. Older voters would rather have Trump as their guest in both cases.

Black voters heavily favor Clinton in both scenarios, while whites prefer Trump. Other minority voters are closely divided when it comes to dinner but would prefer to have a beer with Trump.

Ninety-one percent (91%) of voters who would prefer to have a beer with Clinton also would choose to bring her home for dinner. Among those who'd rather drink with Trump, 83% consider him the preferred dining guest.

Now that Clinton and Trump appear to have clinched their respective party nominations, we'll release new favorability numbers on them later this week.

In early May, voters continued to be lukewarm about President Obama's national security policies and expected more of the same if Clinton moves back into the White House next January. Trump, if elected, will definitely change things, voters said, but not necessarily for the best.

Generally speaking, when it comes to the economy and other major issues, voters expect Clinton to continue Obama's policies and Trump to change them, for better or worse.

With Clinton poised to become the first woman nominated by a major U.S. political party to be president, most voters still say they’re willing to vote for a woman president and are slightly more confident that those close to them will do the same.

April 28, 2016

Officers responded to a vehicle in a ditch on Hwy 62 near E. 20th St. Ashley Patterson (31) was arrested for DUI (Drugs) and Failure to Maintain Lane.
Matthew Harjo arrested for an Okmulgee Co. Warrant.
Fraud report taken in Police Lobby.
Henry Bryan (23) was arrested for Larceny of Merchandise From Retailer (Subsequent)

April 29, 2106

Thomas McFarland (28) was arrested for Larceny of Merchandise From Retailer.
Counterfeit report was taken from Walmart.
Fraud report was taken in the Police Lobby.
Tanner Pollard (23) was arrested for DUI, Operating Unsafe Vehicle, No Insurance, and No Valid Licence.
Carl Glenn (56) was cited for Trespassing.

April 30, 2016

Officers responded to a Fight in Progress. Warren Tunley (35) was arrested for Assault and Battery and Public Intoxication.
Shoplifting report was taken from Circle K (1201 W. 4th)
Report of Rape was taken from Circle K (303 S. Wood)
Steven Cline (25) was arrested for Obstructing an Officer
Burglary report was taken in the 1300 Blk of E. Chicago.
Officers responded to the area of Rogers and Emerson in reference to an Assault involving juveniles.
Aaron Merritt (27) was arrested for Public Intox and Resisting Arrest.
Cody McGertt (37) was arrested for Larceny of Merchandise From Retailer.
Officers were dispatched to the 900 Blk of N. Alabama in response to a Domestic Dispute.

May 1, 2016

Orlando McJunkins (22) was arrested for an Okmulgee Co. Warrant, Resisting Arrest and Possession of a Firearm (AFCF).
Bethany Mason (20) was arrested for Obstructing Officers and Harboring a Fugitive.
Samarian Kaskaske (30) was arrested for Shoplifting.
Burglary report was taken form the 1200 Blk of N. Griffin.
Officers responded to Pizza Hut in reference to an Assault. James Parker (38) was arrested for Assault With a Deadly Weapon.

May 2, 2016

Joshua Barnett (21) was arrested for an Okmulgee Co. Warrant.
Road Rage report taken on North Bound 75 near the Headstart Building.
An Assault report was taken at the Muskogee Creek Nation Hospital.
Nicole Stange (23) was arrested for Possession of CDS(Meth) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
Shannon Hart (21) was arrested for Okmulgee Co. Warrants and Trespassing of Real Property.

May 3, 2016

James Young (45) was arrested for Public Intox.
An Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle report was taken from the 1200 Blk of E. 4th St.
Gale Gordan (29) was arrested for Public Intox.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued this statement on signing House Bill 2720, which amends the Oklahoma Charter School Act to clarify how public school districts may convert an existing public school to a “conversion school:” (A conversion school has the flexibility of a charter school.)

“House Bill 2720 empowers local school boards to create conversion schools allowing for additional flexibilities similar to charter schools. I hope schools will use this opportunity to maximize resources to increase educational outcomes. I appreciate the bi-partisan effort from Representative Emily Virgin, Speaker Pro Tem Lee Denney and Senator Clark Jolley to ensure the success of this bill, as well as the input from the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. This is a positive step forward to improve the quality of education in our state.”

HB 2720 also amends the Charter School Act to clarify the governance, funding and personnel flexibilities afforded to a charter school.

Conversion schools are still managed by the local school district and receive the same funding as traditional public schools. Conversion schools have access to all of the flexibilities currently afforded to charter schools in Oklahoma.

The local school board is the only entity to approve or disapprove a plan to create a conversion school.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange released the following statement Wednesday:

“Yesterday, Al Gore, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and a small handful of other East Coast State Attorneys General announced what they called an “unprecedented coalition” that “vows to defend climate change progress made under President Obama and to push the next President for even more aggressive action” by seeking to criminally investigate energy companies for disputing the science behind global warming.

“We won’t be joining this effort, and we want to explain why. Reasonable minds can disagree about the science behind global warming, and disagree they do. This scientific and political debate is healthy, and it should be encouraged. It should not be silenced with threats of criminal prosecution by those who believe that their position is the only correct one and that all dissenting voices must therefore be intimidated and coerced into silence. It is inappropriate for State Attorneys General to use the power of their office to attempt to silence core political speech on one of the major policy debates of our time.

“We are proud to be a part of a different coalition, one driven by respect for the rule of law, rather than by ambition to use the law to silence voices with which we disagree. Our coalition of 29 states is leading the fight to challenge the legality of President Obama’s plan to kill off fossil fuels – his so-called “Clean Power Plan.” The 29 states and state Attorneys General who are part of this effort respect our proper role, which is not to pick winners and losers in the energy sector nor to silence those who disagree with us, but rather to ensure that the EPA is acting consistent with the power granted to it by Congress and to fulfill our statutory duties to ensure that the consumers in our states have access to reliable, affordable energy. In fulfilling these duties, the 29 states and their Attorney Generals understand that all sources of energy should be considered – not just those that we may prefer for one policy reason or another – so that we give ourselves the best possible chance to achieve our goal of energy independence, with reliable and affordable energy available at the lowest possible cost to our citizens.”

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued this statement on the passing of Phil Tomlinson, who served as Oklahoma secretary of transportation from 2003 until 2009:

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Phil Tomlinson, who served the state of Oklahoma with great distinction. He served six years as secretary of transportation under former Governor Brad Henry, and also served as director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, where he was instrumental in modernizing agency contracts for real estate and travel stops. In addition, he served as a coordinator of rural economic development programs for former Governors Dewey Bartlett and David Hall. He also will be remembered for his work in commercial real estate projects.”

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 15:49

State recognizes Libertarian Party

Oklahoma State Election Board announced that the Libertarian Party has been certified as a recognized party in the State of Oklahoma, after election officials reviewed and approved petitions submitted last month.
The Libertarians gathered 42,182 signatures. Of those, 30,517 were deemed valid. The minimum number needed to certify a new party was 24,745.

This means Oklahomans can register as members of the Libertarian Party, and candidates can run as Libertarian for all partisan offices in the state. The Libertarian Party also will receive a ballot line for President and Vice President in November’s General Election.

There is a short window for those who would like to register as Libertarians before the June Statewide Primary and August Runoff Elections. Anyone who is currently registered and wishes to change their affiliation must do so by March 31 for the change to be processed before those elections.

The Libertarian Party will allow Independents to vote in its primary and runoff primary elections.

Those who want to change their affiliation or register as new voters in the Libertarian party must fill out and return a Voter Registration Application Form, which can be downloaded at www.elections.ok.gov Forms are also available in person at county election boards, tag agencies and other locations.

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