The rule of Republican supply-siders in Oklahoma has brought us to the budget crisis we now face. While corporate welfare and incomes for our top 2% have risen, we have sunk to the bottom in most every measurable category: income equality, health outcomes, educational attainment. A once proud state has been reduced to shuttered rural hospitals and businesses, crumbling roads and bridges, and growing disparity of incomes.

Nowhere is our failure under austerity policies more pronounced and self-defeating than in our public schools. Failure to keep schools funded has now led to a walkout of teachers across the state, who not only demand long-neglected raises, but funding for school upkeep, books, supplies, support staff, as well as arts, foreign language and science programs – things that should be taken for granted but have been cut from our schools. They audaciously demand that all Oklahoma public schools operate for a full five-day week!

Oklahoma’s wealthy and corporate entities depend on consumers and taxpayers – which include teachers and their families — to maintain the marketplace that allows them to prosper. But the cost of educating our children cannot rest solely on those groups. It’s past time to even out the responsibility, by raising the gross production tax back to the historic 7% (or more), eliminating the capital gains deduction and other tax breaks that benefit only the very wealthy.

OROK fully endorses the teacher walkout, for as long as it takes to make the legislative leadership come to its senses and pass bills that restore Oklahoma to a basic standard of public services through progressive tax reform.

Chelsea Marlett-Kennedy

By Chelsea Marlett-Kennedy

State Question 788, allowing for medical marijuana, will be on the June 26 ballot. It is the result of three grassroots campaigns in the past decade to get this matter voted on by the people of Oklahoma. The legislature has the option to pass enacting legislation to further shape and facilitate the resulting law.
This speech was given at a meeting of Our Revolution Oklahoma in Oklahoma City on March 6, 2018.

At a time when the people of Oklahoma are set to vote on using the proven medicine found in Cannabis, and at a time when polling suggests that nearly 70% of all Oklahomans support SQ 788, along comes Republican Senator Erwin Yen (SD40) with a bill (SB1120) that he touts as the only medical cannabis bill in the state. Senator Yen’s bill is the worst form of snake oil, masquerading as compassionate care for those we know who suffer immensely and want to avoid the use of or addiction to opiate based medication.

Sen. Yen, an anesthesiologist, presents us with disaster, not relief. He uses his membership in the American Medical Association to claim that he and he alone has the expertise to know what patients need. What he claims patients need is a bill so restrictive that few, if any, will be able to use medical cannabis. He restricts the qualifying conditions to exclude many illnesses that result in chronic pain.

He doesn’t believe that our brave veterans who risked their lives in combat and now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of their service deserve any relief but opiate- or diazepam-based medications. Despite what is documented as the worst opiate crisis in American history, Sen. Yen insists that those suffering from chronic pain MUST prove that they have tried all available opiates before being allowed to use cannabis.

This type of restrictive, intrusive legislation is an insult to patients who have suffered too long. This is absolutely unacceptable to those of us who have fought long and hard for the rights of patients and their families.

On another front, State Representative JP Jordan has introduced medical cannabis legislation that promises to be less restrictive. It provides for feedback through the creation of The Oklahoma Cannabis Commission made up of citizens and health care professionals. Most important, it allows for a broad list of medical conditions that allow patients to receive medical cannabis. In comparison to Sen. Yen’s draconian legislation, House Bill 3468 is a breath of fresh air.

At a time when the people spoke overwhelmingly through the initiative petition process and appear on the verge of passing revolutionary legislation to help address the opiate crisis, along come a lawmaker who belongs to a party touting smaller government and fewer regulations. Sen. Yen’s legislation violates the very principles his party stands for.

Rather than keeping the bill under the umbrella of health-related agencies, Sen. Yen prefers making it a law and order issue, a throwback to the tired old war-on-drugs, reefer-madness mentality that we had hoped was beginning to fade away. Rep. JP Jordan steers toward the saner path of sensible regulations of a much needed treatment option.

No one in our community is opposed to sensible regulations and oversight by qualified professionals. We recognize that there is a potential for some people to use something good to break the law for their own selfish purposes. Most importantly we recognize that insanity is defined as doing the same tired old things over and over while expecting different outcomes. Senator Yen proposes doing the same tired old nonsense that failed to work the first time. His legislation meets the definition of insanity.

So, what we need at this point is for lawmakers to help us, not hinder us in our efforts, to aid us in healing and seeing to it that our patients are spared the addiction and side effects of opiate-based medications, not arrested and sent off to private prisons. We need compassion, not over regulation.

We need sane, balanced compassionate legislation that leans heavily on medicine and sparingly on law enforcement to address the few bad apples that harm us all.

We need that. We need that now. It is our earnest desire to see our patients receive treatment that eases their suffering while reducing the incidence of addiction and fatal opiate overdoses that now kill more people per year than automobile accidents.

We implore our lawmakers to be compassionate. Please call your senators and ask that they vote no on Senator Yen’s Senate Bill 1120.
Thank you.

Chelsea Marlett-Kennedy is a long-time activist on this issue, having worked on all three initiative campaigns.

Find contact info for your State Representative and Senator

Mark Henricksen speaks on Democratic Socialism

On March 7, OROK chair Mark Henricksen addressed The Brennan Society with a speech entitled “Why I Am a Democratic Socialist.” Watch below; scroll down for the written text.

Please “like” the video on Youtube and follow our new channel, which will feature other speeched, interviews with activists and candidates, officeholders and policy advocates.

The talk was recorded by OROK Communications and Outreach Committee Chair.

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A poll of eligible members will determine whether Our Revolution will publicly endorse State Question 788. If passed, OROK will promote voting and active support for this measure. Poll closes at 11:59 pm on March 5, 2018.
OROK voting members were polled between Feb. 22 and March 5 with the question “Should OROK endorse State Question 788 (medical marijuana)?”
Votes Yes: 30
Votes No: 1
Abstain: 0

We are gearing up for our canvassing campaign for State Question 788 (medical marijuana) and putting out the call for experienced as well as newbi canvassers to help us contact targeted voters who are likely to support this initiative.

Also on deck this month, meetings in our committees on ballot initiatives, candidate endorsements and lots more.

Be sure to join us on Saturday March 24 to march behind our beautiful banner in support of gun reform and supporting our students marching for their lives.

 

If you are on our list, check your email for the issue. If not subscribe here, or you can download a PDF version, which we encourage you to forward to friends who might be interested in our work. And thank you for that!

Note: Links do not work in the preview below, download here.

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Connie Johnson, OROK’s gubernatorial candidate endorsee, has a record on medical marijuana that is unequaled among the candidates in the race, and goes back all the way to 2007.

She is rightly known as the mother of Oklahoma’s medical cannabis movement. During her time in the legislature she introduced four bills on the issue. Her unflinching persistence and determination to advance this cause was rewarded with the successful 2016 petition drive led by Oklahomans for Health that finally got the question on the ballot after multiple failed efforts.

OROK members are invited to participate in a special canvassing event to support Sen. Johnson’s race for governor (this is separate from our SQ788 canvass), tentatively scheduled for early April. As soon as a date is finalized, you can get more details and RSVP through our website or Facebook events list.

 

We had an active January, and we’re not stopping now! In this issue, read about all our activities last month, and those we have planned for you!

Then sign up for our Bernstorm for SQ788 on March 6, and let’s get medical marijuana legalized in Oklahoma by registering and getting folks to the polls on June 26. We’ll get all the info and materials we need from those who worked tirelessly for years to get this on the ballot.

If you are on our list, check your email for the issue. If not subscribe here, or you can download a PDF version, which we encourage you to forward to friends who might be interested in our work. And thank you for that!

Note: Links do not work in the preview below, download here.

orbit201802

OROK Board Member Sam Fredrickson sat down for a conversation with Alex Scott, candidate for Norman City Council Ward 8.

What explains a young woman’s audacity to run for City Council in Oklahoma’s third largest city? Alex Scott’s answer is straight-forward. You begin from a desire to serve, and then walk-the-talk. You step up to fulfill the responsibilities you take on along the way. It looks like audacity to those observing from the sidelines, but along the way it just becomes who you are.

“I didn’t like what I was seeing in the state.” Scott explains, “I didn’t like what I was seeing at the national level, and I couldn’t do anything at the national level so I started canvasing for candidates locally for people I wanted elected.”

This spark has lead Scott from knocking doors, to being elected Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party in Congressional District 4, to now running as one of three candidates for Norman City Council Ward 8. Ward 8 covers much of northwest Norman. The election is February 13.

“As Vice-Chair… part of my job is to make sure that we have good candidates running for every single seat possible, that no seat goes uncontested. That’s another reason that I stepped up in the City Council race… there was no Democrat [running]… I felt that it is in my Ward and I want to step up anyway. So why not this be the time?”

For Scott, it seems the time is always now, but just a few short years ago as a student at OU, she didn’t envision this path. After earning her degree in Classical Studies in 2015, politics was not the direction she set out for herself. Alex’s aspirations were focused sharing her passion for ancient Roman culture and language, teaching Latin at the high school level. But after a year in the classroom and feeling the financial impact of an encounter with the American health care system after a car wreck, Alex realized that in this moment her calling lay elsewhere.

Like many millennials, 2016 kicked-off her political activism. In fall election season, she got involved with the effort to pass SQ 779 — the 1% sales tax to fund education — and then moved on to volunteer for local Democrats running in special elections. She counts recently elected State Representative Jacob Rosecrants as one of those friends and political allies she’s part of building a better Oklahoma with.

“Jacob is moving in down the street. I’m going to make him walk my dogs with me. He’s going to knock some doors for me… He’s got to run again this election cycle. I’ve got a big sign in my garage that’s going to go back up on my fence as soon as it’s time.”

So within less than two years Scott has put herself right in the thick of local politics in Central Oklahoma.

As a candidate for Norman City Council, Scott’s focus is on bringing a greater degree of communication and transparency to city business. The intention is to build greater integrity into the process and build a sense of community. She has made a pledge to hold a public forum once every two months to get feedback from those in the community and share what has been going on around the city and at City Hall. Scott also repeatedly comes back to the issue of Norman’s roads and bridges. She counts her husband Kalynn Scott, a Civil Engineer with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, as a valuable resource to her for educating herself on the issue and bringing attention to specific key upcoming projects such as plans to improve the I-35 Robinson Crossing intersections, the widening of 36th Avenue, and the replacement of the Indian Hills Interchange.

Finally, as a progressive she emphasizes the need to make sure that city politics serves the entire community, not just the interests of special interests and developers. Recent tax financed major real estate development has predominantly served to bring major national retailers to North Norman, and now it is being proposed that the same tax-base finance the building of a new basketball arena. Scott’s suggestion is that if tax-based real estate development is to be used, it should be done in a way that promotes economic growth is promoted in more than one area of Norman and more than just big business.

As Scott and her supporters hit the phones and knock doors over the next ten days, there is an understanding that the time is now but it also just the beginning. The spirit that has awoken in 2016, still reverberates forward into 2018.

Alex Scott has received a recommendation from Our Revolution Oklahoma. OROK encourages its members to support and assist its recommended candidates through donations and volunteer time. 

Campaign website | Facebook page

Taking the organizing model the Bernie ’16 Campaign used in OKC and around the country, Our Revolution Oklahoma will meet on March 6  to arm ourselves with the latest and greatest information to push for Medical Marijuana legalization (one of the state questions on the June 26th ballot) and then organize into teams ready to take the “Vote YES” message to the streets and the web. Can you feel the Bern?!

This will be the first quarterly membership meeting of 2018, which is an important election year for candidates as well as ballot initiatives like 788. The June 26 election will also include the gubernatorial primaries.

Our informative forum will include members of Patients and Activists for 788 and Oklahomans for Cannabis, who organized and collected signatures to make sure the citizen initiative was on the ballot for Oklahoma voters after a years-long struggle.

There will also be reports from our committees on their work, and some resources on the campaigns and candidates that will be on our ballots this year. The event will be held at the Teamsters Union Hall and doors open at 6 PM!

Don’t miss it! Reserve your seat now.

Image: TheDailyChronic.net

The Incorruptibles’ model of campaign organizing rejects corporate PAC money, builds on town halls and small dollar donations.

The Incorruptibles workshops, presented free of charge in OKC and Norman on the weekend of January 20-21, were challenging, in-depth trainings that gave attendees the resources and tools to create tight, grassroots coalitions of folks currently underserved by their governments.

Attended by candidates and possible future candidates, as well as community activists, the three sessions provided the opportunity to learn how to Strategize Your City, Strategize your State and Raise Small-Dollar Donations.

Saturday morning, at the Strategize Your City workshop, we did lots of  brainstorming of underserved groups, listed possible coalition partners, discussed the power structure of Oklahoma City government, and thought of hot-button policy issues facing the city (and the demographic groups affected).

Saturday afternoon, the Raising Small-Dollar Donations workshop explained the concept of Continuous Town Halls — how they can be utilized as an opportunity to connect with different constituent groups, and how they can be a great source for small-dollar donations. We practiced listening sessions, which were supposed to be 70% listening, with the rest of the town hall (30%) being used for educating and mobilizing attendees. 70% listening is not easy, will definitely take practice!

On Sunday, the Strategize Your State workshop (which was critical to include, because Oklahoma has such deep problems at the state level) was similar in flavor to the Strategize Your City workshop, but with different answers to the questions asked. We came up with a great list of possible coalition partners. Then we looked at the structure of state elections, and had a spirited discussion (to be continued) on what our “dealbreaker” issues are for us to engage with possible coalition partners. (Is all corporate money bad? What if the corporation is an ESG [environmental, social, and governance] corporation?

OROK board member Melody Ball was responsible for finding out about this fantastic free resource for progressive activists. She send a followup message to attenders of all the workshops: “Be on the lookout — a follow-up meeting is being planned! And thanks for joining us!”

The Incorruptibles | Sign up for info on future OROK workshops.