An Editor’s Notebook: Another land fix, Strategic communications on taxpayers' dime, Pruitt lost and Renzi found?
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Published: 16-Jul-2018

OKLAHOMA CITY – From an editor’s notebook, the Chickasaw “land fix” is again pending in Congress, a reporter wonders if Bixby public schools targeted voters likely to vote for or against particular candidates, and a businessman who scored great Rose Bowl tickets for former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt gets a “Lost Ogle” jab. 


Back in the spring, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, came close with his effort to enact legislation intended as a “land fix” for Oklahoma tribes in April ( 
That Cole proposal had prevailed in the U.S. House, but fell barely short in the U.S. Senate when it was wrapped into a labor relations act (exempting tribes from certain labor law requirements, losing it support among Democrats). 
Cole has pressed for the measure, designed to carve sometimes-controversial trust land provisions into concrete. observed, in a story last month, that Cole’s efforts were stymied in part because fellow Republicans concluded he “was trying to go around their backs.”

The measure, H.R. 2606, gained new life in June during a committee hearing in the nation’s capital. The issue is now linked to a proposal portrayed as an effort to benefit all the sovereign nations, and to undo judicial precedent.
However, critics assert the real beneficiaries of Rep. Cole’s plans would be Oklahoma’s largest Native American nations, popularly deemed the “Five Civilized Tribes.” The major beneficiary, some analysts contend, would be Cole’s own tribe, the Chickasaw. 


There may be even more than met the eyes of readers of a recent story on “targeted” communications from the Bixby Public School district. The events in question took place in advance of the June 26 primary elections. 
Stacy Martin, an independent journalist who is former editor of The City Sentinel newspaper, reported ( Bixby District Superintendent Rob Miller saw no problem allowing use of school resources, including turnout efforts employing what was called a “strategic” list to reach voters in three state House districts.
Continuing her work on the story, Martin observed that “If the list targeted voters who were identified as likely to vote for or against a particular candidate, the calls could be campaign activity even if no candidates were mentioned over the phone.” 
The referenced districts were House districts 67 (Scott McEachin, incumbent), 69 (Chuck Strohm, incumbent) and 80 (Mike Ritze, incumbent). Apparently targeted for opposing the largest tax increase in state history (enacted days before the teacher stike/walkout at the state Capitol during the spring legislative session), Reps. McEachin and Strohm were defeated. 
Rep. Ritze, however, made the August 28 runoff and hopes to return for a sixth and final term at the Capitol.


“The Lost Ogle,” a widely read website that combines substantive news with often searing commentary, said in a July 11 tweet they/he were “hearing” that Saxum Communications “is laying off some staff.” The author guessed “the OU football tickets” that principal Renzi Stone had “scored for Scott Pruitt were more expensive than we all thought.” ( 
Not to stir the pot or anything, but the tweet could be a sign that Stone is under scrutiny in Oklahoma leadership circles, perhaps including at the University of Oklahoma, where he serves on the Board of Regents. Spending at the Norman campus is under the microscope in wake of news the campus has run a substantial deficit  for years. 
Stone helped show the door to former Regent Kirk Humphreys, who had expressed traditional faith perspectives on several issues. Humphreys, who apologized for his strong words in those matters, had served a long hitch as mayor of Oklahoma City and is the co-founder of a well-regarded charter school in Oklahoma City ( Humphreys left the Regents under pressure, but retained a board post at the local charter school.

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