Friday, February 29, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tulsan Darla Hall Dies

Darla Hall, a longtime Tulsa city councilor and westside community advocate, died Thursday. She was 69. Read the Tulsa World story here.

Anna Pendley May Be Oklahoma's Oldest Resident

The Oklahoman had a nice article Feb 19, 2008 on Anna Pendley who, at 109, may be the oldest person in Oklahoma. Read the article here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Laura Anderson Sandefer - Okie Author

On February 27 at 5:30 p.m. Laura Anderson Sandefer will visit Full Circle Book Store in Oklahoma City for a reception and booksigning. She has written and photographed a wise and charming depiction of lessons learned from her two old dogs. Laura, who grew up in Oklahoma City, is the daughter of Michael Anderson, pastor emeritus of Westminster Presbyerian Church and now director of the Presbyterian Health Foundation.

Oklahoma Launches Breastfeeding Initiative

The State Chamber and the Oklahoma Department of Health have launched an initiative to encourage businesses to provide environments friendly to breastfeeding workers and to teach new mothers about their rights. Among other things, it proposes breastfeeding friendly worksite criteria. But its hortatory only (nothing is mandated) so we can only hope it makes a difference. Read more here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Incarceration of Women in Oklahoma

A recent AlterNet article reports Oklahoma's incarceration of women ranks us as:

"one of the highest per capita rates -- 129 per 100,000 residents, a figure that is right behind Texas, the federal system and California. Oklahoma’s imprisonment of women rose a stunning 1,237 percent from 1997 to 2004."
The author, Silja J.A. Talvi, focuses on drug addiction as a contributing cause for so many women in prison today. Talvi is an investigative journalist and the author of Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System which was published in 2007 by Seal Press, a publishing house "by women, for women."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New center to process state's female inmates

This Oklahoman article says female inmates will no longer go to Lexington for intake. Instead, a new assessment and reception center is opening at Mabel Bassett. It also reports that "Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate for women among the 50 states."

We're number one . . . woopee.

LaRita Aragon Picked to Run OU's Advanced Programs

The University of Oklahoma program that allows U.S. military and civil service personnel to pursue degrees regardless of where they're stationed in the world has hired Retired Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, the former commander of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, as director. According to The Journal Record story:
Advanced Programs was established in 1964 as part of the university's continuing education and public service commitment. OU's College of Continuing Education pioneered the intensive teaching format, which includes advanced class preparation, a one- or two-weekend class session and post-class work. In all aspects except time, Advanced Programs courses are identical to those taught on the Norman campus, officials said. Thousands of men and women throughout the world have completed their degrees through Advanced Programs and OU Outreach. The program serves personnel at 31 military bases in North America, Europe and Asia, offering 10 master's degree programs and one doctoral program in organizational leadership.

Brooke Smith Murphy Profiled

The Oklahoman today has a half page profile on Brooke Smith Murphy, president of Crowe & Dunlevy law firm in Oklahoma City. You can read the full article here. I am always blown away by women who buck the system and pursue "nontraditional" careers. When I was getting ready to go to college in the 1960s, most high school career counselors were telling girls they had three options - secretary, nurse or teacher. So imagine my surprise to learn Brooke started her career as a first-grade teacher. But look where she is now. You go girl! For her bio, see what Martindale-Hubbell says about her, read an article about her in The Journal Record, and here is Crowe & Dunlevy's bio.

State Senator Susan Paddack (D-Ada) Honored

Congratulations to State Senator Susan Paddack, Democrat from Ada.

The Oklahoma Professional Economic Development Council recently named Paddack as their 2007 Legislative Advocate of the Year.

The Council's announcement reads in part:

Paddack has shown she is a true advocate for business in her voting record, her support of education and workforce issues and for her support last year in voting for tort reform, an issue that has been high on OEDC’s legislative agenda for several years,” stated Yowell. “We appreciate Senator Paddack’s dedication to education issues because we as economic developers know that education means a better workforce and makes Oklahoma more competitive in the global economic development arena.”

Paddack joins a list of distinguished past recipients including Co-President Pro-Tempore Senator Glenn Coffee, Representative Susan Winchester, former Speaker of the House Todd Hiett, Representative Clay Pope, Senator Scott Pruitt, Senator Dave Herbert, Senator Jim Maddox, former House Speaker Lloyd Benson, Representative Jack Bonny, Senator Ted Fisher and Representative Don McCorkell.

The Oklahoma Professional Economic Development Council is a statewide organization of economic development professionals and advocates promoting a competitive business climate in Oklahoma through legislative initiatives, coalition building and professional development. View OEDC's press release here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Remembering Wanda Bass

Wanda L. Bass (1927-2008) died Tuesday evening at age 81. She was a banker, a philantropist, a parton of the arts and an inspiration for all Oklahoma women (and men). She was grace and kindness and caring and guts and vision. Oklahoma is lessened by her passing. Read The Oklahoman article on her passing here. And also here.

Remembering Terry D: Can Yet Another Lawsuit Against DHS Protect Children in the State's Custody?

Children's Rights, a New York based national watchdog organization that advocates on behalf of abused and neglected children in the U.S., has initiated a federal lawsuit on behalf of children in Oklahoma's child welfare system. Their suit alleges the Oklahoma Department of Human Services fails to protect children in its care. While the suit has been brought on behalf of nine Oklahoma children ranging in age from 4 months to 16 years who have allegedly been psychologically and physically abused while in the custody of DHS, the plaintiffs are seeking class action status so they can represent the 10,000 children in the system.

Click here to read today's Tulsa World article and The Oklahoman article.

Will it once again take court intervention to improve how Oklahoma treats children placed in the custody of the State? Does anyone remember the "Terry D" case that challenged how Oklahoma treated emotionally disturbed and dependent children including "incorrigibles" and runaways (today we call them "children in need of treatment")?

The State of Okahoma took "Terry D" away from his mentally ill mother and alcoholic father when he was 9. After several unsuccessful placements in foster homes, he was declared a "dependent and neglected child" and was placed in a state reform school. When he was 15, a class action suit was brought by three civil liberty groups on behalf of "Terry D" and 7 other juveniles. The suit against DHS and its chief administrator, Lloyd E. Rader, charged that over 900 juveniles were being held in and abused at state "training schools." These emotionally disturbed children had never committed a crime yet were being housed with juvenile delinquents.

In 1982, the Oklahoma Legislature passed HB 1468 that brought about sweeping reforms. Five state training schools were closed and the Legislature created the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) to conduct unannounced, independent monitoring of children and youth held in the state system. (In the 1980's while working at OSU's Policy Sciences Group, I was privileged to help OCCY design inspection survey instruments and analyze the data OCCY staff collected during their unannounced visits to children's facilities. I also worked on a study for Governor Henry Bellman on how "children in need of treatment" were being treated by Oklahoma's court system.)

So, yes - I am old enough to remember the Terry D lawsuit and the stories that came out regarding abuse and neglect of children held in state institutions. I still have a copy of "Hearings before the Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Congress, 2nd Session on Allegations of Serious Abuses and Misconduct in the Detention of Juveniles in Institutions Maintained in the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Feb 11, May 26 and 27, 1982. Serial No. J-97-95." It was not Oklahoma's finest hour.

One other great institution came out of this period. In response to the Terry D case, the Gannett Foundation provided a $50,000 grant to establish what became the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. You can read remarks by OICA's excellent Executive Director Anne Roberts on the history of child advocacy in Oklahoma here.

The "Terry D" case was about children held in state institutions and I want to believe that DHS (with OCCY watching over them) does a much better job with those children today. This new lawsuit is about children in Oklahoma's foster care system. Children's Rights notes in their suit that in the last 5 years, Oklahoma has twice been rated the worst program in the nation in terms of children being abused while in foster care. How will Oklahoma fare this time through the courts? Watch and see. And watch the Oklahoma Legislature, too. Will our elected officials vote against additional funding for our state's foster care and adoption programs while voting for more money for roads and bridges? Money talks. Watch how we allocate our state funds and you'll understand Oklahoma's true priorities.

(And if all of this shames and/or upsets you, show where your own personal priorities are by making a financial contribution to the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy!)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bill Inspired by Legislative Intern Valorie Rodgers

Valorie Rodgers, an intern working for House Democratic Leader Danny Morgan, can take credit for House Bill 2673, which passed out of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice yesterday. Read more here.

Get Well, Margaret Swimmer

Great news. Margaret Swimmer is recovering and there is talk of her being discharged from the hospital soon. I think she works at maintaining a low public profile but Margaret is a very special leader both in Tulsa and statewide. Her friends are thrilled to learn her health crisis appears to be behind her.

2008 Oklahoma Book Award Finalists

The Oklahoma Center for the Book has released the 2008 Oklahoma Book Award Finalists. In the fiction category, 4 out of the 5 nominees are women:

Harpsong—Rilla Askew
The Drop Edge of Yonder—Donis Casey
Set Sail for Murder—Carolyn Hart
The Hellfire Conspiracy—Will Thomas
Paper Hearts—Debrah Williamson

Way to go, ladies! If you live in Oklahoma City, pay a visit to Full Circle Bookstore's Oklahoma section. Curl up in a comfortable chair in front of a warm fire and check out Oklahoma's many talentede writers. To view other nominated categories, click here.

Anne Roberts Honored

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority has selected Anne Roberts as the 2008 recipient of the "TJ Brickner Defender of Health" award. Roberts is Executive Director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. Read more here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Terry Neese Named Distinguished Fellow

The Journal Record reports Oklahoma City's Terry Neese, co-founder of Women Impacting Public Policy, was named a distinguished fellow by the National Center for Policy Analysis -- a non-profit public policy research institute seeking innovative private sector solutions to public policy problems.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Muskogee Mayor Wren Stratton

The Tulsa World has a nice article by Susan Hylton about Muskogee Mayor Wren Stratton. You can read it here. Mayor Stratton chose not to run for re-election so will be stepping down as mayor in April.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

REI's Women's Business Center in Oklahoma City

Lori Broyles is the coordinator of the Women's Business Center in Oklahoma City. Run by Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc. (REI), the center is located at the Presbyterian Health Foundation complex. According to the Presbyterian Health Foundation website,

"Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc., A non-profit economic development organization focused on business financing and business incubators. REI has diversified its services over the years to include, a down payment and closing cost assistance program for rural homebuyers, an equipment program for small manufacturers, international trade assistance, manufacturers assistance and a Rural Women's Business Center."
Read The Journal Record article here.

Oklahoma Gets "A" on Teen Dating Violence Prevention


Break the Cycle -- which works to empower youth to end domestic violence -- recently issued the first-ever state-by-state report cards evaluating the level of legal protection each state offers young victims of domestic and dating violence. The report was issued in conjunction with National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week, February 4-8, 2008.

The report cards are designed to draw attention to the discrepancies between the protections afforded to adult victims of violence as compared to teen victims. States were graded on an A through F scale. Those states that do not allow minors to obtain restraining orders were given an automatic failure.

Fifteen states received an "F", while only three - California, New Hampshire and Oklahoma - received "A's." Along with the grades, Break the Cycle released recommendations for improvement of state domestic violence laws. Click here to read the Oklahoma Summary and the full report.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Gena Timberman Promoted

Since 1999, Gena Timberman has been deputy director of the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority which is responsible for developing the site on the Oklahoma river in Oklahoma City that will be the home of the Native American Cultural Center and Museum. Recently Timberman was promoted to Executive Director of the authority -- a well deserved promotion. Way to go, Gena.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tulsa Women Picked for 21st Annual Pinnacle Awards

The 21st annual Pinnacle Awards will be presented by the Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women and the Tulsa Women's Foundation at a dinner March 11 in Tulsa. This year's honorees and their category of honor are:

Carol Axley, education. Axley is a student advocate at East Central High School. She has been instrumental in establishing collaborative relationships among students, parents and the school community in order to improve the educational experience.

Carla Lawson, health. Lawson is the executive director of Ability Resources. The Tulsa organization assists people with what some call disabilities attain and maintain their personal independence through advocacy, education and service.

Karen Schafer, business. Schafer is president of Tulsa Global Alliance, a group whose mission is focused on promoting world peace and understanding of different cultures through education and advocacy.

Virginia "Ginny" Le Doux, arts and humanities. Le Doux is a middle school teacher at Holland Hall and executive director of the Tulsa Children's Chorus. She is known for her dedication to children's involvement and access to the arts.

Glenda Love, community service. Love is the executive director of the Tulsa Ronald McDonald House, which provides shelter and hope for ill children and their families. Barbara Santee, spirit. Santee has advocated for women's health and social justice issues for three decades.

Carmela Hill, rising star. Hill is an executive assistant with the Bank of Oklahoma. In addition to playing a key role in the bank's adoptive relationship with Emerson Elementary School, Hill also does volunteer work for groups such as the American Red Cross, the Oklahoma Blood Institute and Junior Achievement. She also is diversity crew leader with the Tulsa Young Professionals and spent considerable time on last fall's river development effort.

Mayor Kathy Taylor also is scheduled to receive a special Pinnacle Award for her leadership during last month's ice storm.

OSU's Black Artist & Author Expo Highlights Jeannie Drew

If you are in Stillwater today, go by Oklahoma State University's Student Union Atrium and take in "Celebrating the Arts" - one of OSU's Black History Month programs. This program is hosted by OSU Women’s Programs (coordinated by Gloria Birdine), the OSU Center for African Studies and the OSU Black Faculty and Staff Associations. It features work by OSU students plus Edward Grady, faculty member and curator of the Melvin B. Tolson Black Heritage Center at Langston University and authors Donkor Khalid and Eddie Faye Gates. At noon today, there will be a special presentation by OSU's own Jeannie Drew whose quilts and textured artworks combine African fabrics and American storytelling. Read a Stillwater Newspress article about the program here.