The continued oppression of the poor by Oklahoma City government.

OKC Council Ok’s $2 million for for whitewater park startup costs.

Once again the OKC Council proves its willingness to pay any amount of money for any half baked scheme from well connected downtown players, paid for with its continued refusal to properly fund a functional bus system that would benefit hundreds of thousands of city residents.

This money, taken from the GENERAL FUND, is money that could have been used to increase bus service. But no, we can’t do that, can we. OKC would be a disaster if lower income people could ride the bus to get to work, shop, learn, and educate. Then they would better be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, as our Mayor and City Council are constantly advising them. That would not be appreciated by all the businesses who profit from a large pool of unemployed and underemployed workers desperate for WORK AT ANY PRICE.

Further, the Council members obviously believe that one of the primary resolutions for the “problem” of “too many poor people” is that lower income households should abort their unborn children due to their financial desperation. So this is one more incident of a long line of crimes committed by OKC government against poor people. The hands of every person connected with this latest financial travesty drip with the blood of the innocent children killed by abortion because of the financial desperation of their parents, who can’t get good work because they don’t have adequate transportation and most jobs in OKC are NOT accessible via the bus system.

Jesus Christ said that all who oppress the poor burn in hell forever. I wonder how all these powerful city politicians and developers, who have prospered so much by leaving the poor behind for the wolves of life to deliver, will feel when at their judgement, they fall into the hands of demons cackling in the bowels of hell. Will they think their fancy downtown Potemkin Village built with the blood of the poor was worth their eternal damnation?

These kinds of people, despite some protestations of piety, are functionally atheists and don’t really believe that there are any eternal consequences for their narcissism, greed, and corruption. But Christ was plain in Matthew 25 as to the consequences of persecution of the poor. And as far as I am concerned, Jesus is God, and since God said it, I believe it, and that certainly settles the matter.

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Catholic, Collapse, Corporation shenanigans, Economic Prosperity, Oklahoma City, Social Justice | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

An Alternative State of the City Message

by Bob Waldrop, Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House

Earlier this month, Mayor Mick Cornett delivered his annual “State of the City” speech, giving his”View from the Top Down” as to how Oklahoma City is doing.  This alternative presentation is a “View from the Bottom Up.”

Oklahoma City is a place located on lands looted from the Creek (Muskogee) and Seminole peoples who were forcibly relocated here by the United States government in the 1820s. There may be nothing to be done about that at this late date, but forgetting our origins is a moral peril.

Oklahoma City is a place where we make twice as much in fines and court fees as it costs us to operate our court system. Cash bail ensures poor people are held until trial. They are charged rent for being in jail, even if they are later found innocent or charges are dropped. This can be more than $1200/month. If they do not pay, they are hunted down, arrested, and incarcerated in our debtors’ prison – the County Jail. Our municipal courts do not always advise people coming before them of their rights to a hearing to determine their ability to pay fines and costs. This social darwinist approach of City government grows out of the attitudes of our dominant culture and its leadership class. We are deaf to the plea of the single mother of three children for mercy for a ticket and costs amounting to hundreds of dollars for some random non-violent “crime” that hardly deserves that classification.

Oklahoma City is a place where, under the guise of “redevelopment,” the City and State have
used eminent domain to ruthlessly destroy entire neighborhoods, mostly peopled by persons and communities of color, scattering neighbors who have lived together for generations, and paying them cheap prices for their properties. Eminent domain is essential to the processes of structural racism that keep poor people poor.

The destruction of the Deep Deuce and the development of the Hospital/Innovation districts are textbook examples of structural racism at work. It’s very clever how it happens. As Oklahoma City schools integrated, white people moved to Edmond. A freeway connecting downtown OKC with Edmond was necessary to accommodate the white flighters. It jammed its way right through the Deep Deuce. But it’s not accidental that so many African Americans lived in its path because that was the only part of town they were allowed to live in – by law – for decades. Obviously it was their fault that they were black. If they weren’t black, they wouldn’t have had to live in that neighborhood. Plausible deniability is all over the place then and now. We give an occasional quick wink and a nod to the sacrifices of people of color to benefit those in the dominant culture who disliked them so much they were moving to Edmond to keep their kids out of schools with them.

Later, the remaining Deep Deuce eminently domained properties were transferred via various sweetheart deals to wealthy and politically well connected developers (mostly white of course). The mostly black original owners – these are people driven out by court orders via a due processed white riot that destroyed their neighborhoods just as thoroughly as the Tulsa rioters did to the Greenwood neighborhood in 1921 – get nothing from the newly politicized value of their former properties. All the construction and economic activities in the Deep Deuce and the Innovation/Hospital districts grows from these foundations of land theft by government decree.

In this process, more low income housing was destroyed than was subsequently built, so this eminently domained system of structural racism also raised rents for everyone. How convenient for the landlords and how inconvenient for the renters. I’m sure it’s an accident that most landlords are white. It’s hard to build family wealth, however, so you can become a landlord, when you are forced to sell your most valuable asset – your home – for a low non-market price, and then you have to buy new property at actual market prices. Oklahoma City has forced this upon some families as many as three times since the 1970s. This destroyed enormous amounts of family wealth and community cohesion for the sake of assorted pie-in-the-sky-white-people economic development gimcrackery. This is not the mythical invisible hand of the marketplace at work. It is the foreseeable result of public policies enacted by the government of Oklahoma City which has always been controlled by white people.

If this wasn’t enough. . . and it obviously isn’t. . . after all this history is studiously ignored by the dominant culture, its media, and its leadership class, and with the most enormous amount of hypocrisy possible, we say that their poverty is all their own fault and nobody else had anything to do with it.

Oklahoma City is a place where we spend a billion dollars spiffing up downtown, fattening the wallets of well connected developers and construction companies with huge welfare checks from the taxpayers. But our advice to the poor is always, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” When three of the richest guys in the state showed up on the porch at City Hall with their plan to snatch the Seattle Sonics and make them the OKC Thunder, Mayor Cornett didn’t say, “Great idea! I’ll support you all the way as you bootstrap yourselves into this new endeavor.” No, he did not say that. He most emphatically did not say that. He said: “Here’s the city checkbook boys. How much do you want?” Oklahoma City is a place run for the profit of rent seeking economic aristocrats who loot the common good with their crony capitalistic schemes.

Oklahoma City is a place where the permitting process for a tabletop shop (a small table or stand on a sidewalk) is so byzantine we might as well say its illegal. Los Angeles has 50,000 tabletop shops which means 50,000 people are able to create a microenterprise living for themselves with low barriers to market entry. OKC will hand out any amount of money to politically well connected developers but the City can’t provide an easy process to permit tabletop shops on sidewalks and other public rights of way.

Oklahoma City is a place where there is no plan to finance and operate a robust bus system that gets people to work, shop, worship, and learn, potentially benefitting hundreds of thousands of people in central Oklahoma. Most of our jobs are not reasonably accessible via the bus. We have no Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound (SMART) Goals for the bus system. Instead, the City is spending FOUR TIMES the annual cost of our bus system to build a downtown streetcar to nowhere, and then we take $3.5 million from the general fund for its operations. If there was $3.5 million in surplus revenue this year, why no improvements in the bus system? The dominant culture’s leadership class makes regular claims that there “will” be such a “robust” system, we should all “just be patient.” In the absence of SMART goals for the bus system and a transparent, public plan with actual details, we can only conclude that there is no plan. Since there is no plan, the claim by political and transportation leaders that the bus system is a priority and will eventually become “robust” are neither believable nor credible.

Oklahoma City is a place where we persecute the poorest of the poor with egregious violations of their First Amendment right to beg for help in public. It’s not enough that we set up situations of cascading sorrows that render people homeless. No, we must lock them up and levy fines and costs on them for begging the public for help. And then we callously and hypocritically claim that “this is for their own benefit.”

Oklahoma City is a place with a glittery downtown and a wannabe sophisticated urban culture that functions as a Potemkin Village hiding the ugly realities of a City where 88% of the Oklahoma City Public Schools students are eligible for free or reduced price lunches. Our willingness to let all of this evolve without insistently asking questions of morality and prudence speaks poorly of the character of the people of Oklahoma City and the political, economic, cultural, and religious organizations of its dominant culture. We have not held people accountable. We have turned our eyes away and ignored corruption. We have let the crony capitalists run amok at great cost to the common good. We are not taking decisive action now to secure justice, opportunity, and equity for all in this City.

So it comes to pass, that Oklahoma City is a place where solidarity is an increasingly alien, foreign concept apparently not a major concern to the dominant culture and its leadership class – until the next tornado anyway. Then the pressure of circumstances forces us to do what we should do anyway. But right now, we think we can get by without it. If it were important, things would be different. But they aren’t, so there you go.

If we want Oklahoma City to become a better place, then each of us must endeavor to be a better people. This is especially important for the dominant culture and its leadership class, because that is where the majority of our problems arise. All of this public social evil, with such consequences for so many people, grows out of individual bad decisions of omission and commission. Some, of course, are more responsible and culpable than others. Of those, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, says, “And these will go off to eternal punishment . . “

However pious the thought, it remains a cold comfort in the present situation.

Bob Waldrop

Oscar Romero Catholic Worker
January 24, 2018
The Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

The Works of Justice and Peace:
Mission statement of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker

+Live simply and justly in solidarity with the poor and marginalized and be a good neighbor. Make no war on them, rather, be one with them in spirit, truth, and love.

+Hear the truth when it is spoken to you. Discern the signs of the times and speak truth — to power, to the people, and to the Church.

+Make injustice visible — witness, remember, teach, proclaim, tell. Light candles, do not curse the darkness.

+Protect the poor and powerless– listen, learn, educate, organize, empower participation, and respect life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.

+Work for reconciliation with truth, evangelism, catechesis, orthopraxis.

+Celebrate life, goodness, beauty, virtue, responsibility, and joy. Practice peace, non-violence, servant leadership, harmony, community, voluntary cooperation, and the proper stewardship of God’s creation. Pray without ceasing.

+ Ensure fair distribution, subsidiarity, economic opportunity, justice, and food security for everyone everywhere.

Each month the Romero Catholic Worker delivers food to about 420 low income households where no transportation is available. To learn more about the activities of the Romero Catholic Worker, visit .

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Catholic, Collapse, Corporation shenanigans, Economic Prosperity, Financial Crisis, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living, Safe Community, Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The World Day of the Poor

Sunday is the first World Day of the Poor, which will be observed the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time. Here are four ways you can observe this World Day of the Poor.

Many people, when invited to help the poor, or get involved with the poor, react with fear. It is a common human tendency to be afraid of “The Other”, those who are “not like us”. But that is not what we are called to do and be. Jesus said “Blessed are the poor,” and our relations with all people should reflect that. Prayer is a good place to start. “Oh Lord, help me to not be afraid of those who are different from me.” If that prayer is too much, try this, “Oh Lord, help me to WANT to not be afraid of those who are different from me.”
It also helps to engage in an “examination of conscience” about your attitudes towards the poor. Why do you fear the poor? What have they actually done to you? Has someone told you to be afraid of the poor? Are you seeing a lot of propaganda encouraging social fear and cultural divisions? Who benefits from this culture of fear? If you get most of your ideas about poverty from your politics or from the television, that may be a real problem.
So, when you see stories about the poor in your news feed, don’t just hurry on past. Read and learn and pray for those impacted. Every day, five times a day even, pray for the poor. When people trash poor people in conversations, repeating currently “popular madness and delusions of crowds,” pray for the person with trash talk. Prayer is WAAAAY more important than most people think. But it isn’t everything that should be done. Nobody should think that prayer is a substitute for deeds, indeed, our works on behalf of the poor are a form of prayer.

Instead of investing in the “invisibility of the poor” strategy, do something practical to help the poor. Give food, money, go through your closet and give half of everything to the poor (most people have waaaaaay to many clothes). Carry little bags of food to give to panhandlers. Don’t ignore the panhandler at the door of the grocery store, offer to buy him or her a sandwich. Buy Christmas gifts from organizations that do fair trade imports whose sales of handicrafts and food items support people in rural villages in poor countries. If you’re not giving something every month to help the poor — goods, service, money — then there is something wrong in your life. Indifference to the poor is deadly to our spirituality, and to the future of our families and our culture.

It is not an accident that we have so many poor people here in the US and in other countries. It’s the way our system is designed to work. Sure some people are poor because of personal problems, but most are victims of structures of sin that keep poor people poor. There’s lots to be done on that, a good place to start is to change local and state and federal laws that prevent people from starting microenterprises that could grow into full time businesses. This includes legalizing tabletop and roadside shops and home bakeries and doing something about the endless growth of occupational licensure which makes it more expensive for everyone to train and work, most of which has little to do with competency and much to do with keeping people out of the job market. On an international level, work against war, ignorance, and the colonialist policies of rich countries against the poor. When you hear people trashing the poor, repeating popular propaganda, besides praying for them, challenge their ignorance (in love and mercy, of course!). You can always simply invite people to recall Jesus’ comments about the poor, such as “blessed are the poor” and “what you do — and don’t do — to these the least of my brothers and sisters, you do — or you don’t do — to me”.


Posted in Catholic, Collapse, Financial Crisis, international issues, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living, Peace, Social Justice | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The OKC GO Bond: A financial Confederate Memorial

Next Tuesday OK Citians will vote on the 2017 General Obligation Bond which will authorize expenditures of nearly one billion dollars over the next 10 years for hundreds of City infrastructure projects.

To cut immediately to the chase —

  • About 69% of that near-billion dollars can be identified to geographical areas of the City.

Of that 69% ($670,449,000 in project budgets plus interest and underwriting fees and etc):

  • 77% is allocated to the west side of town, and
  • 21% is allocated to the east side of town.
  • The missing 2% represents projects that could not be identified with a specific geography since they are for the city as a whole or outside the city limits (mostly drainage).

The NE section of town is mostly African American in its population. The SE section is very diverse, but the one component common throughout most of that area is abject poverty.  For the past 18 years, wearing my Catholic Worker hat, I have been busy organizing deliveries of food throughout the City’s low income areas, and the worst of the worst in terms of poverty is on the SE side.

Let’s not mince words here: this general obligation bond is a financial and legislative CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL.  

A budget is a moral document as well as a financial document.  This billion dollar, ten year proposal continues the long-standing Oklahoma City standard of leaving people behind for the wolves of life to devour because of their race and economic status. Just as the Confederate Memorials maintained a false narrative of white superiority and the Lost Cause, this budget maintains the supremacy of those who have and takes from those who have not in order to make that possible.

And then there’s the subsidy for sprawl.  The largest of the 13 or so bond propositions is the streets and sidewalks, coming in at $418,150,000.  My analysis suggests that 1/3 of that total is effectively a subsidy for sprawl.

SE and NE get a pittance (less than a million) for “street enhancements” (i.e. decorations), while $28 million is allocated west side.

West side gets about $17 million for sidewalks, east side gets $1.45 million, all NE, SE gets ZILCH for sidewalks.

There is nothing for libraries in the SE area — because, as it turns out, there are NO LIBRARIES in SE OKC.  Del City and MWC are the only libraries in that direction, but if you look at a map of the library locations, there is a big “library desert” on the SE side of town, arguably an area in desperate need of free public library services.

For parks and recreation, 70% of the dollars go west, and 30% go east, but most of those east side dollars are for one project — improvements to the Softball Hall of Fame Stadium, which is not exactly a neighborhood oriented project.

We can do better than this!  

But to do that, first we have to do an intervention with the City government, and the best opportunity for that is next Tuesday’s election.  So here’s my proposed intervention on behalf of social, economic, and racial equity in the way our City invests in its infrastructure, so that we leave no one behind.  Let’s give the City a chance to do the right thing.

Vote YES on these propositions. They are all for common goods:

  • Prop  — Civic Center
  • Prop 8 — Transit
  • Prop 9 — City maintenance facilities
  • Prop 12 — Police
  • Prop 13 — Fire
  • Quarter cent sales tax for police, fire, and city operations.

Vote NO on these propositions.   Note that this does not  mean we won’t eventually have a bond proposal for these issues, because all of these issues are important. But its important that we start right now to develop a better and more just and equitable system for the allocation of City resources. If we say “yes”, then we can’t make any progress on these issues FOR ANOTHER TEN YEARS!

  • Prop 1 — streets, sidewalks
  • Prop 2 — bridges
  • Prop 3 — traffic control
  • Prop 4 — economic development (this proposal borrows $60 million so the city can write phat welfare checks to politically well connected businesses. Not one penny will help any micro-entrepreneurs start part time jobs that could grow into full time businesses. Not one penny will help local entrepreneurs create local jobs.).
  • Prop 5 — Parks and recreation
  • Prop 6 — Libraries
  • Prop 10 — drainage
  • Prop 11 — downtown arena
  • “Temporary” one cent sales tax. This is the so-called MAPS extension, but unlike the GO Bond, this doesn’t come with a list of projects.  So while they are likely to spend the money for streets, sidewalks, and trails, we don’t know where the money will be spent.  But a clue to the geographies of the MAPS spending is found in the GO spending, since its pretty much the same people making the decisions. I expect that, absent an intervention from the voters in the form of a “no” vote on this extension, the east side will once again get the short end of the stick.

Yes, I show my work!  Below are links the spreadsheets I created.  I have checked and rechecked the math, but feel free to notify me of any arithmetic error you find. I downloaded all of these spreadsheets from the City’s website and then organized them to make this analysis.


      Percent of that category’s budget
Streets/Sidewalks West $332,720,000 80%
  East $85,430,000 20%
Traffic Control West $22,030,000 89%
  East $2,790,000 11%
Bridges West $18,565,000 23%
  East $5,530,000 77%
Parks/Rec West $86,456,666 70%
  East $36,983,333 30%
Drainage West $37,535,000 64%
  East $5,500,000 9%
System $15,400,000 26%
Libraries West $18,485,000 86%
  East $3,025,000 14%
Grand total West $515,791,666 77%
Grand total East $139,258,333 21%
Grand total these projects $670,449,999
Total GO Bond $967,000,000
Percent of the total GO
Bond of these projects 69%
Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Economic Prosperity, Environmental Sustainability, Financial Crisis, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living, Safe Community | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Five lessons to be learned from the failure of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

1. No good comes from hitching your political wagon to a team headed by a war criminal. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Honduras. Like the Mongols of old, we have been building pyramids of skulls, and that crusade has been a bipartisan affair– Democratic/Republican – from day 1 until today. Hillary played a major role in this. Whatever you want to say about Donald Trump, he isn’t a war criminal. He may be many other things (e.g. a “wannabee war criminal”), but at this time anyway his hands don’t drip with the blood of the innocent killed in our violent crusade against the Middle East. Hillary, on the other hand, has been pulling the political triggers driving violence in the Middle East and elsewhere for years.  Let us not forget that most of the dead  were poor and non-white and many were children.

Which is a reminder of an ancient moral principle – you cannot accomplish good by supporting evil.

2. The Democratic Party national nominating process, driven by the rules and regulations of the Democratic National Committee, is every bit as manipulative and rigged as anything in the Republican Party. Indeed, given the way that Bernie was treated by the DNC, the Democrats may be even more secretive, cronyesque, managed, and manipulative in their party nomination practices than the Republicans are.

3. If we want a humane political system in the United States, we can’t skip the necessary grassroots mass movement organizational efforts that would make that a political reality.  Before the Civil Rights laws could be passed and Jim Crow segregation could be abolished, African Americans and their allies did the hard work of organizing a grassroots mass movement that empowered people to work for change. Congress didn’t magically get a clue. The people forced the politicians to do the right thing.

4. People are saying “2020, 2020, 2020″. But what about 2017, 2018, 2019? Here in Oklahoma City, there are city council elections 2017 and 2019. Would you like a decent bus system? Municipal composting? Make the sprawl developers pay the full costs of their sprawl so they can’t shift their costs onto the taxpayers? How about an end to the phat welfare checks for the downtown business community? All we need to do is elect five people and a humane political agenda could control the OKC Council. There are three elections between now and 2020, and all three of those will have more impact on us here in Oklahoma than whatever happens in DC in 2020.

5. We are not automatically entitled to a good outcome absent our willingness to actually invest the work required for a good outcome. In other words, American Exceptionalism is a disease of nearly all political factions in the US and that delusion often blinds us to reality so we don’t do the work required for a good outcome because we think, you know, that we are entitled to that good outcome because, you know, we are the Americans! We are special! Entitled!

Posted in Campaign News, Collapse, Economic Prosperity, Financial Crisis, international issues, Middle East, Oklahoma City, Peace, Social Justice, War and Peace | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Odds are Never in our Favor: the Bobaganda Guide to the 2016 Election

Here’s the bottom line on this election. We have the government we have, because we are the people we are. If we want a better government, a time when the idea of someone like Clinton or Trump being on the ballot for president would be just simply impossible, then we, each of us, must do all we can to become better people.

Here are my best recommendations for the upcoming election. I hope it will be useful.

But first, a little music curated for Election Day. Listen while you read!


SQ 776, Death Penalty. No, no, a thousand times no! This proposal is a significant culture of death initiative that should be rejected by all who love life and good governance.

SQ 777, the Right to Harm Farms.  Another No, No, a thousand times no!  It was instigated here by out of state ideological special interests who do not have the common good of the people of Oklahoma at heart.  No good will come from this if it passes, and much harm may result.

SQ 779, Sales Tax Increase for Schools. The state legislature has utterly failed to properly fund the public education system, while at the same time continuing to hand out phat welfare checks to big corporations.  The cities are opposed to 779, because typically cities rely on sales tax.  Alas, that argument at least where Oklahoma City is concerned is not at all persuasive to me, given the massive misallocation of OKC sales tax funds over the years.

Ed Shadid, whom I greatly respect, believes that passing this would be a problem for future funding of mass transit options, but I continue to think that Salyer, Cornett, and the rest of the voting majority on the City Council wouldn’t know what a decent transit system was if it rose up and bit them on the ass. It will be a cold day in hell with pigs flying over downtown when those people vote to finance a decent bus system. Judging from the recently released ACOG transit plan, I think their plan is to  go with some lite rail and other trendy upscale things like their downtown streetcar to nowhere that the Chamber of Commerce and tourist people would like, but they will not finance a decent bus system that will get the poor and working class to work and to shop.  There’s not one damn thing in the recently published ACOG transportation plan that proposes a decent bus system. If it’s not in the plan, it’s not going to happen.

And while I’m ranting, let’s go on and talk about the rest of their Oklahoma City sins against justice which are legion. They are financing their court system on the backs of people too poor to pay bail. They never pass up an opportunity to kick low income people where it hurts. OKC government operates on a “leave the poor behind for the wolves of life to devour” principle. The problems in the schools just exacerbate their social darwinist ethos.  So I am voting  FOR 779, not only to fund education but to spit in the eye of Mick Cornett and his jock friends at the OKC Chamber of Commerce and the editorial page of the Daily Oklahoman. After all, looking at who is FOR and AGAINST an issue is one way to parse the decision.  The smartest and best thing for any lower income worker to do is to LEAVE OKLAHOMA. It would not be hard to find a better deal in another state.  Sometimes I think I should start a charity to help people escape Oklahoma. That’s not a joke.

SQ 780, Reducing Penalties for Simple Possession of Intoxicating Drugs. This one is YES, YES, a THOUSAND TIMES YES.  It is one of the most important good governance proposals in the history of this state.  It reduces simple penalties for intoxicating drugs from felony status to misdemeanor.  It doesn’t change the rules for dealers.

SQ 781. Fund for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.  This one is also YES.  It sets up a mechanism to increase funds available for substance abuse treatment. In the current fiscal climate, there is likely to be less there instead of more, but every bit helps.

SQ 790. Repeals Oklahoma’s Blaine Amendment prohibiting state funds to religious organizations. I know a lot of my friends are appalled by this, but personally I think Catholic Charities does a great job at what it does and if the state contracted with it for more services, the common good would truly benefit.   So I am voting yes.  The evident anti-religion bias of many of those opposing this hasn’t made their case any more persuasive.

SQ 792. Make Wal Mart Richer and Destroy Oklahoma Businesses.   And so I’m agin it!  I like my locally owned liquor store system JUST FINE. I know SQ 792 does some good things for local brewers and wineries, but hitching their wagon to the Wal Mart train was a bad strategic move. Throwing one group under the bus to benefit yourself just doesn’t work for me. The propaganda about “modernizing” liquor laws is just code words for “drive the locally owned liquor stores out of bidness and turn it all over to WalMart, Cost Co, and etc.”  It won’t increase employment. People will lose jobs in droves as locally owned stores close down. It won’t increase choice. No Wal Mart Manager is going to put as much care into deciding inventory questions as a local store owner. No Wal Mart manager is going to do a special order for you, like local store owners do all the time.

BOND ISSUES FOR SCHOOLS.  I am  voting FOR all of the bond issues for the schools.  The public schools are in a desperate situation and voting down these bond issues would do nothing other than increase misery, of which we have a plenitude already.

FOR PRESIDENT I am voting for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, the only choice other than “Crook versus Crook”.  I simply refuse to vote for people like Clinton and Trump.  I don’t agree with everything that Gary Johnson espouses, but he is the only peace candidate on the presidential ballot in Oklahoma. Sure, he won’t get elected, but a vote for him sends a principled message.

If you want to waste your vote in Oklahoma, vote for the noted war criminal Hillary Clinton. Trump will certainly carry the state, but if the libertarians get 2.5% of the vote, they will automatically be on the ballot two years hence.  One of our primary problems here is a lack of political diversity. The Democrats can’t manage to contest that many races, and appear to have no strategy or clues about how to cope with the present political situation.  All too often, the best they can offer is “we’re moderate Republicans in Democratic disguise”.  So increasing political diversity would be a step in the right direction. Maybe the the Libertarians manage to stay on the ballot, the Greens will be cheered by that and get themselves on two years hence. All of you who oppose Trump in Oklahoma, don’t waste your vote on Hillary Clinton, invest it in a more diverse Oklahoma political system by voting for Gary Johnson for Prez.

FOR US SENATOR I am voting for my long time friend ROBERT MURPHY, the Libertarian candidate.  I have known him since, hmmm, probably 1978, and I think he is a good man, honest, trustworthy. The kind of man (or woman) that you would want in such a responsible position.

FOR US CONGRESS, 5th DISTRICT, I am voting for ZACHARY KNIGHT. I am not personally acquainted with him, but I will go for him because he is the ONLY PEACE CANDIDATE in this particular congressional race.

CORPORATION COMMISSIONER, I am not voting. The only candidate is a Republican. The fact that there is no Democrat in this race is more evidence of the problems in the Democratic party. With all these earthquakes, this would have been a great year to challenge Republican dominance of the Corporation Commission, but alas, that was not to be.

STATE LEG DISTRICT 88, I am not voting. The current incumbent is unopposed, and he doesn’t bother to answer my letters or emails so I’m not going to bother voting for him.

OKLAHOMA COUNTY SHERIFF — I am not voting.  The jail is an utter mess, and our best hope  there is for a federal government takeover.

JUDGES — I am following the recommendation of the Oklahoma Policy folks and voting to retain the judges on the ballot.

FOR OKLAHOMA COUNTY CLERK I am voting for my cyber-friend Chris Powell. He should get elected, because his Republican opponent is somewhat a shady character and not someone you would want in such a responsible role.

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Campaign News, Collapse, Economic Prosperity, Environmental Sustainability, Financial Crisis, international issues, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living, Peace, Social Justice, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Comments on the Encompass 2040 Association of Central Oklahoma Governments transportation plan.

October 9. 2016

ACOG Transportation Planning Division
21 E Main Street #100
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104

Re: Comments about the Encompass 2040 Plan

To whom it may concern:

I have reviewed the “draft executive summary” of your Encompass 2040 Plan and listened to the webinar Sunday evening.

This plan does not even begin to address the needs of the common good in Central Oklahoma when it comes to transportation.

1. The list of named projects has not one single public transportation project listed. There may be some sidewalks associated with the road construction and widenings, although that isn’t clearly stated in the draft. There are little pedestrian and bicycle icons throughout the list of named projects, but their meaning is not explained in the document. One hopes that means that there will be sidewalks and bike lanes, but if so, that needs to be explicitly spelled out somewhere.

2. In response to a question during the webinar, the ACOG rep stated that it would be at least five years before any improvements to the bus system could be considered. This is because despite all of the work of ACOG, no one has actually gotten around to forming this regional transit authority that is going to do all these good things, supposedly, for public transportation in Oklahoma.

3. Looking at the locations for the road projects, the Encompass 2040 plan is obviously a subsidy for sprawl in the form of providing road amenities for upscale housing developments. This involves taking money from existing transportation infrastructure and using it to subsidize new home construction. So we take from the poor and working classes and give to the rich and politically well connected.

Why is this inadequate planning proposal such a problem? Because local governments throughout central Oklahoma are involved with many activities that, added together, constitute a system of structural oppression of lower income residents.

For example, all the ACOG governments are involved with operating various debtors prisons in their counties. Non-violent people, many of whom have not been convicted of a crime, are routinely incarcerated for long periods because they don’t have the money to pay bail. While incarcerated, they are charged for every day in jail. In Oklahoma County, that amounts to more than $1,200/month.

If they are unable over time to pay for those charges, they will be locked up again. None of the court systems in the ACOG area properly advise people coming before them of their rights to a hearing to determine whether or not they can actually pay a fine. Many of these courts routinely find that even homeless people are not “indigent” and thus require them to pay their fines and costs. Even when a hearing is lawfully requested, many of these judges simply refuse to schedule them, and demand that the individuals continually return to court instead of honoring their legal requests for hearings. I know these things because I often accompany very poor people to court in Oklahoma City and Norman and I have seen first hand the way that low income people are treated by these judges.

Another aspect of the structural oppression of lower income peoples is our inadequate public transportation system. Public funds that could be used for the bus system are routinely routed to other projects, such as subsidizing sprawl, and the notorious downtown OKC streetcar to nowhere. This is facilitated by planning processes such as this ACOG Encompass 2040 program. Of what use is a planning document that does not identify the structural problems that are causing the present dilemmas? If such problems are never called out, how will they ever be resolved?

Let us count the ways that the present transportation of central Oklahoma system oppresses low income people.

  • Most jobs in central Oklahoma are not accessible by the bus system.
  • Most retail stores in the area are not accessible by bus from the various neighborhoods of the City. E.g., none of the retail in the NW Expressway corridor is accessible by the bus system, nor are those jobs.
  • It does not get people to worship. Well, I suppose some Jewish and Seventh Day Adventist congregations are served by bus service on their Sabbath, but for the Christian majority, there is no bus service on Sunday. There is also no bus service for any one who works on Sunday.

What this adds up to is a situation where if you want a job, you have to have a car. Since many employers in the Oklahoma City area do not pay their employees just wages, maintaining a car on an $8/hr job is very difficult, even if the household has two incomes. So low income people often cancel their insurance, after getting their car registered for the year. This puts people at risk of scenarios like this:

  • A policeman stops the car because they have a broken rear light.
  • Finding that they don’t have insurance, the car is impounded.
  • The family loses the car because they can’t afford to get it out of impound.
  • The workers in the family loses their jobs because they can’t get to work. The bus doesn’t go there.
  • The household’s lights get cut off because they can’t pay the bill.
  • Someone tells social services, and the government swoops in and takes away the kids (disconnected utilities is grounds for putting kids into foster care).
  • Because they have no income, the parents are evicted and become homeless, splitting up. Another family down for the count.
  • Maybe the woman is pregnant, and she decides she can’t afford a baby in her circumstances, so she has an abortion, coerced by her financial circumstances.

This is a lot of human misery that could have been completely avoided if this family had had access to a reasonable public transportation system.

This is not an outlandish nor an extreme example. Something like this, in some form or another, happens every day in central Oklahoma, on multiple occasions. I have personally seen this happen again and again in my activities with the Catholic Worker House. When you are poor, a cascading series of catastrophes can easily result in homelessness, family collapse, and abortion. These tragedies are the consequences of the structural oppression of the poor by local governments.

So the lackadaiscal, “one of these days, we’ll get around to it,” attitude of the Encompass 2040 planning system regarding improvements in our bus system is a deliberate government decision to continue and increase the human misery, pain, and suffering of low income households that can be directly traced to the poor planning choices made by central Oklahoma governments, and the consequent maldistribution of public resources. As a primary planning organization for central Oklahoma, ACOG must shoulder its share of the moral blame.

ACOG is an essential aspect of the “leave the poor behind for the wolves to devour” social darwinism that is a characteristic of all the local governments in central Oklahoma. ACOG provides the necessary patina of “public input” that allows these governments to continue to ignore their responsibilities to the common good. ACOG facilitates the process of rewarding their friends and campaign contributors with all the transportation sprawl that they demand, and the consequent punishment of the poor who have no access to a reasonable transportation system. In the central Oklahoma planning process, the poor have no friends.

Oklahoma City always has all the money that any politically well connected developer wants, but it never, ever, under any circumstances, has enough money for an adequate bus system. The reason for that is obvious: the City Council’s voting majority cares nothing for the pain and suffering of low income people, and they care everything for the appreciation, friendship, and campaign contributions of the politically well connected upscale segment of the population.

In summary –

+ The ACOG Encompass 2040 plan does not even minimally meet the needs of the common good in central Oklahoma.

+ The plan subsidizes sprawl which will have enormously deleterious impact on the environment and quality of life of central Oklahoma.

+ The plan will do nothing to increase availability of public transportation options, because nothing in the plan provides any “SMART” goal markers. There is nothing about public transportation in this Encompass 2040 draft that is specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, or time based. Without those markers, nothing in a planning process will ever happen.

+ The plan enables local governments to continue the present system of structural oppression of low income households, and will therefore bring about an enormous amount of suffering, pain, and family dysfunction that will impact tens of thousands of people.

This letter also constitutes my resignation as a member of the Encompass 2040 Citizens Advisory Committee. I have no desire to have any affiliation with an organization such as yours, which is directly involved with facilitating the structural oppression low income people by the governments of central Oklahoma.

What do you mean by crushing my people, and grinding down the poor when they look to you? Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and prudent in their own esteem! To those who acquit the guilty for bribes, and deprive the just man of his rights!

Woe to those who enact unjust statutes and who write oppressive decrees, depriving the needy of judgment and robbing my people’s poor of their rights, making widows their plunder, and orphans their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, when ruin comes from afar? To whom will you flee for help? Isaiah 3:15; 5:20-21, 23; 10:1-3

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Climate Instability, Collapse, Environmental Sustainability, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Living, Peak Oil, Safe Community | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Endorsing Chris Powell for Oklahoma County Clerk

Below is my endorsement letter for Chris Powell, who is the Libertarian Party candidate for Oklahoma County Clerk.  The Democrats don’t have a candidate in that race, his opponent is somewhat sketchy even by Oklahoma Republican standards, sigh.  It’s a long shot to think a Libertarian might get elected, but to have the Republican character in such a responsible post in Oklahoma County for the next four years is not a prediction of good governance in our state’s largest population county.

September 20, 2016
To whom it may concern:

Oklahoma County needs a County Clerk who is honest, competent, and committed to public service. That’s why I am endorsing Chris Powell for election as Oklahoma County Clerk in the upcoming November 2016 election.

Chris has experience with legal processes and documents, a critical competency for this office. He is a notary public and has had experience as a life insurance agent, in the student loan industry and in personal financial services serving lower-income communities. He understands the necessity of handling public records properly and accurately.

Chris is committed to making records and services available. He strongly favors maximizing accessibility to public documents and data, while at the same time maintaining proper safeguarding of personal information that should be kept private. He has signed the FOI Oklahoma’s pledge to support open government.

Chris is a trustworthy and reputable member of the community. He has never lived anywhere but Oklahoma County, and he encourages people to search to see that he has no embarrassing run-ins with law enforcement that would make the news. His opponent cannot say the same, having been convicted of DUI and with a somewhat checkered political career that includes long stretches of not-voting and flip-flopping between the Democratic and Republican parties.

I encourage anyone concerned about the future of Oklahoma County to vote for Chris Powell for County Clerk. It’s time we stopped voting for crooks and thieves and started electing some decent human beings to political office in Oklahoma. Electing Chris Powell would be a great way to kick start that process.

Yours for a hopeful Oklahoma future,

Bob Waldrop

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Rise up! Wail in the night! Lift up your hands to the Lord for your children.

orlandoWith a tragedy such as the Orlando massacre, there is an urgency to come to an understanding of who is responsible.   I think that impulse at least in part comes from a desire to keep such terrible tragedies from happening again.

And certainly, the man with his finger on the trigger bears the first responsibility.  We know who he was and indeed he has already been punished being himself killed while in the act of killing other human persons.

But there is more in this plot than just this native born American citizen of Afghan ancestry or even his emotional connection with Daesh (the Islamic State) and his own inner demons.  Those are the obvious. We have to go deeper.  We owe that to all who have died.

We have to look at this problem with all of its complexities, and attempt to understand them and their many connections. Anything less is folly.

This holistic vision shows us that nobody is an island, everyone and everything comes from a milieu, a context. There is nothing that happens without a chain of causation. (Well, except for God of course but that is a different essay.)

So it comes to pass that we discover that there is such a thing in this world as “secondary terrorists.”  These secondary terrorists create the objective conditions in which “primary terrorism” — such as happened in Orlando — proliferates. Without secondary terrorism, there would be very little, if any, primary terrorism, because nobody would be creating situations where terrorism seems like the best idea since sliced bread for the resolution of grievances.

I know this conflicts with the popular delusion and madness of crowds that there are evil Islamic terrorists who want to kill us because they are irrationally evil Islamic terrorists who hate us because we are so good and they are so evil.

We forget that before there was Islamic terrorism, there was a century of Western attacks on the peoples of the Middle East. There are millions of people out there who personally know someone, or are related to someone, who has died in one of our wars. Do you think they love us?  We forget because we are supposed to forget, we have been relentlessly programmed to ignore the realities of our actions in this world.  We forget because its easier to forget than to face the truth about what the United States has been doing in this world of sorrow and pain.

Who are the secondary terrorists in this situation?  Those who are responsible for the political and military policies of the United States government and its allies throughout the world–

  • President Barack Hussein Obama
  • Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton
  • Former President Bush II, together with his cronies Cheney and Rumsfield.
  • Former President Bill Clinton and his VP Al Gore
  • The leaders of the NATO countries which have backed the US moves in the Middle East, plus the historical leadership of France and England that carved up the old Ottomon Empire in ways that are mind-boggling in their incompetence.
  • And all who carried water for these war criminals and made their war crimes possible.

(Trump is a “wannabee secondary terrorist.”)

This is definitely a most marginal opinion in today’s marketplace of ideas. But it’s the one consistent with all the facts.

The trouble with playing games with the lives of entire peoples is that there is no good outcome from such grave evil. In the end comes the crash and burn, the center that does not hold, and we will not be an exception to this historical truth. Ash heap of history, here we come! I have no idea what that will look like, but unless we the People of these united States decide to become much better people than we are now, we will not be able to avoid our fate. What goes around does come around, for good or for ill.

For the fact of that matter is that we have the government we have, these people are in charge,, because we are the people that we are. We ourselves are filled with greed and bloodlust and thus we should not be surprised when our leaders model our own sins on a world scale.

Which is to say that the situation isn’t actually hopeless, because every person is capable of becoming a better person.  And if that catches on, we could overthrow the greedy murderous fanatics —  Obama, Clinton, Trump — that are driving us towards the ash heap of history.  As a devout Catholic Christian,  I am addicted to the hope that good will triumph over evil, and that indeed by grace we will overcome evil with good.  And as with all addictions, there are times, like now, when that addiction is somewhat desperate.   I have read the Book, all the way to the end, and that is how it ends, but considering where we are now, between here and there is a lot of trauma.

In any event, given the scope of modern evil, and the hell being created all around us, all who hold to that promise ought to get busy, and if already busy, then we should get busier.

To what can I compare you—to what can I liken you— O daughter Jerusalem? What example can I give in order to comfort you, virgin daughter Zion? For your breach is vast as the sea; who could heal you?

Your prophets provided you visions of whitewashed illusion; They did not lay bare your guilt, in order to restore your fortunes; They saw for you only oracles of empty deceit.

Cry out to the Lord from your heart,  daughter Zion! Let your tears flow like a torrent day and night; Give yourself no rest, no relief for your eyes.  Rise up! Wail in the night, at the start of every watch; Pour out your heart like water before the Lord; Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children.(Lamentations 2:13-14;18-19)

Posted in Catholic, Collapse, international issues, Middle East, Peace, War and Peace | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Mayor Mick Cornett —

I don’t understand.

I just saw you on the news bragging about how the city was spending $57 MILLION to build what amounts to flowing water amenities for canoe enthusiasts. Yet, when you were asked by a reporter from Politico why OKC doesn’t do more to help its low income residents, you basically said — “They should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.”

Given your expectations of poor people. . . Shouldn’t people who like to shoot the rapids and do canoe races pull themselves up by their own bootstraps? Or are the canoe enthusiasts somehow “special.”

You can never find enough money for the bus system which would help tens of thousands of people, yet you always seem to have money for sports amenities for your jock friends.

Isn’t sauce for the goose sauce for the gander? When this idea for river amenities was presented to you, you didn’t say — “Great idea! I support you 100% as you bootstrap your way into completing this project!” No, you said, “How much taxpayer money do you want?”

You make demands of the poor that you would never think of making of those who are not poor. You never lecture the downtown development community about how they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Instead, you take money away from schools, public health, public safety, and libraries and give it to rich guys to build buildings.

So, in other words, you are a political hypocrite and as all us native Okies know, hypocrisy is always popular in this state.  Your downtown that you are so proud of is a Potemkin Village that hides many ugly realities in this City.

Posted in Good and Frugal Government, Collapse, Corporation shenanigans, Oklahoma City, Social Justice | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment