Sunday, April 29, 2007

Randy Terrill and Jon Nichols -- at it again

Guess what the undynamic duo -- Randy Terrill and Jon Nichols -- from Cleveland County are doing now? They've proposed that "in the interest of public safety" no jails be built within two-miles from a school in Cleveland, Oklahoma or Tulsa counties. These two portray themselves as omniscient guardians of public safety who typically promote "local control" --- but in this case they are interfering directly with local control and are doing little to improve public safety. Rather, they are creating, yet another, issue to brag and grandstand about. While they didn't mention them by name the following editorial about their misguided scheme appeared in the Oklahoman today:

"If you build it ... It must be at least two miles from the nearest school. That's what a bill in the Legislature calls for regarding future construction of jails in Oklahoma, Tulsa or Cleveland counties. Are the lawmakers who are pushing this bill sure that a two-mile buffer is enough? Why not make it three miles? Five? Is two miles safe, but 1.7 isn't? Such arbitrary restrictions make no sense and really only serve one purpose — to allow legislators to brag about being hawkish on public safety."

On Friday State Senator John Sparks, also from Cleveland County, issued the following statement:

“Several individuals have contacted me regarding Senate Bill 896 and its effect on Cleveland County’s efforts to construct a new jail. Many have mistaken my silence on the issue for support of SB 896. Let me be clear I am opposed to SB 896 and I am urging Senator Nichols and Representative Terrill to withdraw the legislation. Should they choose not to do so, I will urge my Senate colleagues to vote against it.

“SB 896 appears on its face to set safety standards for the entire state. However, this is a thinly veiled and freely admitted attempt to micro-manage the business of Cleveland County. In fact, the practical result in our county would be counter-productive to the bill’s authors’ stated purpose regarding the safety and security of the citizens of Cleveland County. The passage of this bill would also create an undue burden on the taxpayers of Cleveland County.

“It is not the role of the Oklahoma State Senate to micromanage the affairs of Cleveland County. The Oklahoma Legislature is charged with the responsibility of crafting laws and policy for the entire state.
“While I may have an opinion regarding the location of the new jail, I was not elected to make this decision. I have not worked on this issue and I do not have the information to make such a decision. It has even been suggested the county commissioners should have contacted the Senate and House members representing Cleveland County not only to obtain their input on the issue, but to be the final word on the decision.

“Instead, local issues must be resolved locally by the Cleveland County Commissioners. They were elected to make this and other decisions regarding the business of Cleveland County. The Cleveland County Commissioners don’t have to get my or any other Senate or House member’s, permission regarding the way they are doing their jobs. If certain individuals (including House and Senate members) don’t approve of the job the commissioners are doing, they are free to run for the office of county commissioner.

“The passage of SB 896 also would increase the likelihood that the jail would be built close to the current Cleveland County courthouse in downtown Norman. If that occurred, the outcome would be the following:
• There will be six public schools within a mile of the proposed downtown jail site;
• 85 percent of Norman Public Schools students will attend school within two miles of the proposed downtown site;
• Cleveland County will be forced to build an expensive multi-story designed jail due to exorbitant land cost and unnecessarily hit the wallet of every taxpayer;
• Outdated, multi-story design requires extra staff and money to monitor each floor. We have all seen the problems such a facility has caused Oklahoma County; and
• The proposed new downtown jail will be only 40 feet from a 100 year-old neighborhood.

“These are just a few of the many issues the county commissioners must consider while making their decision regarding the location of the new jail. I am always willing to discuss any topic with the County Commissioners if they contact me. Until that time, I will focus on state matters such as increasing access to affordable health care, improving our public schools, fixing our roads and bridges and saving our Teacher’s Retirement System. When it comes to the new jail, I am confident our county commissioners can and will make the best decision for all of us in Cleveland County.”

When will someone finally "out" Terrill and Nichols? Oh, yeah, maybe the Oklahoman just did.

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