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May 5, 2013

Why elections matter locally as well as nationally

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

I have observed with growing dismay the decision orchestrated by Cleveland County commissioners to delete all funding for the Crossroads Emergency Youth Shelter. The amount struck during their budgeting decisions totals $225,000.

By comparison, more than $51 million dollars of bonded indebtedness has been allocated for the new county detention center and will be paid out during the next 20 years. 

Many excuses have been offered for their short-sighted action, including Commissioner Rod Cleveland’s following lame quote: “Not one other youth shelter in the state receives county funding.” Exactly.

Apparently this commissioner wants Cleveland County, the third most populous and fastest growing in Oklahoma, to set the same wrong-headed priorities as found in the other 76 that make up our state.   

During my period of elected service as a town trustee, mayor, representative and senator, I viewed that my first responsibility was always to enhance the health, safety and education of children, with special emphasis on the most vulnerable. It’s this group of at-risk kids that are protected, fed and sheltered at our Crossroads facility through the amazing leadership of its longtime director Lisa Winters and her incredible staff.  

Funding of critical public services is Job 1 for those entrusted with taxpayers’ dollars. As a 60-year resident in Oklahoma’s most progressive and thoughtful county, I never dreamed I would ever see convicted felons being a greater concern for our commissioners than endangered, and in some cases, dangerous children. However, through their recent unanimous vote to abolish funding for Crossroads, that is without question exactly what these three men believe.

Obviously our commissioners are taking their fiscal cues on spending priorities from Republican members of Oklahoma’s dysfunctional legislature, where funding for health, education, infrastructure and other important responsibilities have been ignored, all in the name of another worthless and stupid tax cut.

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