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Back to the future



Fallin offends everyone,
straight and gay

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin put the state in the national spotlight in 2013, but not in a positive way. Fallin, in her infinite wisdom, decided unilaterally that a federal mandate directing spousal benefits to same-sex couples in the military would not take place in Oklahoma.

As a result, Fallin pulled spousal benefits from all Oklahoma National Guard members because she and her staffers knew eliminating benefits from gays only would create a severe backlash and litigation. However, the embarrassment she created for Oklahoma took on a life of its own.

Comedian Stephen Colbert, of The Colbert Report, made fun of the governor with some outlandish and sarcastic comments of his own.

“And, folks, we wouldn’t even have this problem if gays weren’t allowed in the military,” he said during his show. “So no one should be allowed in the military. I say we let those drones do all the work. They’re still months away from developing a sexual preference.”

C’mon Mary! Do you honestly believe denying spousal benefits to every soldier is a good public policy, or is that your homophobic re-election rhetoric?

Here’s some advice. Follow the rules that are prompted by the president and the Pentagon. Guv, you took an oath of office to defend, not offend, the Constitution of the United States of America.

Prediction for 2014: We urge the lady guv to use common sense, treat everyone equal and stop pandering, for re-election purposes, to the extreme right-wing conservatives.

Wayne Coyne
won’t be silenced

In 2013, Flaming Lips front man and lead singer Wayne
Coyne found himself kicked off the social media site Instagram. For what
reason? you ask. As usual, it was for posting inappropriate (nude)
photos. Again. Now, with 2014 upon us, he has started a new account on
the image sharing service, posting under the handle
“waynewontpostpicsofnakedwomen.” Yeah, yeah. We’ve heard it before.

for 2014: He’ll be kicked off Instagram not once this year, but at
least two more times. The only questions that remain are when and which
rules will be violated.

Thunder gets
louder every year

All of those NBA prognosticators (local and national)
should be ashamed of themselves for selling the OKC Thunder short during
so-called pre-season analysis. Most of the scribes and mouthpieces
thought OKC would suffer from Russell Westbrook’s absence, but he came
back from a second knee surgery quicker than most anticipated (and
probably will his second surgery, too). Since then, the Thunder has
dominated its opponents. Three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant is
posting another record-setting year, and head coach Scott Brooks is
leading the troops with just the right touch. But basketball isn’t
Durant’s only interest right now. His new Bricktown restaurant opened to
big fanfare, so the 6-foot 9-inch NBA star is riding high heading into
the new year.

Prediction for 2014: NBA championship. Take that, Eddie Vedder (and Seattle).

Walkability scores
remain low

to, OKC has a walkability score of 31 out of a possible
100 and a biking score of 39.3. Those scores rank OKC as the 43rd most
walkable large city in the U.S., which is nothing to brag about.
The website also shows that OKC residents must drive to conduct most of
their errands.

In addition, OKC has 4,548 restaurants, clubs and bars,
but residents can only walk to 0.2 percent of them in five minutes or
less. In 2009, OKC voters approved MAPS 3, which included $39.5 million
for 32 miles of walking and bike trails and $9.1 million for 35 miles of
new sidewalks. Ironically, OKC is the second-largest city in terms of
square miles (626) and lots of green space.

Prediction for 2014: The city learns how to utilize that space to its maximum potential.

Crown Oklahoma
— again?

This year, several city landmarks have been marked for
destruction — the Gold Dome at Classen Blvd and NW 23rd Street, for one.
Another, Stage Center, will likely be razed for a highrise. While
architects, history buffs, entrepreneurs and lovers of the arts and
quirk scramble to save one or both, the least likely to survive will be
Stage Center, the boxy, multi-level theater that served as a centerpiece
for the Festival of the Arts for so many years.

As for the Gold Dome? The future is a bit more gilded.

for 2014: Gold Dome’s new owner, Greg Lorson, CEO of TEEMCO, plans to
relocate his energy company to the site. We’d like to think it had
something to do with old-school (and fictional) private eye Jim
Rockford. You know, from The Rockford Files. (Hey! It’s on
Netflix.) After fighting his way out of jail for wrongful imprisonment,
Rockford (aka Norman’s own James Garner!) becomes this city’s very own
version of Batman. If the energy company falls through, he’ll get the
Gold Dome’s top moved to our state Capitol building.

Who will really
replace Gary England?

May tornadoes devastated many areas of central Oklahoma, but the
situation might have been worse if not for dedicated weather guys like
Gary England. However, Oklahoma will be without his expertise this
spring since he retired from KWTV-Channel 9 in 2013. Many people from
Moore and surrounding cities who Oklahoma Gazette interviewed in the twister’s aftermath credited England with their survival — and rightfully so.

he was an excitable sort, England brought a sense of calm to his
viewers, especially children who might have been home alone. His
statesmanlike, fatherly approach reassured Oklahomans even in the worst
of times.

Now that he’s gone from the day-today weather
scene, who will become the next Gary England? Obviously, David Payne
was hired to fill those shoes, but we have a different idea.

for 2014: Channel 9 should hire James Garner just because he’s so
awesome, is about the same age as England and he was a really cool dude
in The Rockford Files (Did we mention it’s on Netflix?). Yes, we just mentioned him. Again. It’s his year. We can feel it.

of marijuana

Passage of a medical marijuana measure would save lives of
several children in Oklahoma, but state lawmakers won’t go for it. At
least that was the message during 2013 when medical cannabis bills
introduced by Sen. Connie Johnson (D-Forest Park) were virtually

Apparently, it doesn’t matter to Oklahoma’s
solons if children and their families in Oklahoma have to move to
another state to receive a cannabis treatment that will save lives. The
kids aren’t smoking pot to get high. In fact, they’re not even smoking. A
proper mix of marijuana components can be developed in droplet form.

Attempts to legalize medical marijuana in Oklahoma will be brought up again when legislators convene in February.

for 2014: In 2014, Oklahoma will move forward and help some of its
youngest citizens who are suffering from debilitating diseases.

Crazy OKC
mayor’s race

Who cares about issues when people’s fascination with drugs, sex and rock ’n’ roll can run rampant? It’s a
lot more fun than talking about mundane, worn-out issues like lack of
police officers, run-down fire stations, backyard chickens and, of
course, MAPS 3 projects.

2 Councilman and mayoral candidate Ed Shadid has admitted to drug use
and that he has watched porn in the past. Sounds like something most
normal people did in college.

Shadid is publicly talking about his former drug problems and
subsequent treatment and recovery, incumbent Mayor Mick Cornett has been
unusually quiet. In fact, he won’t even return phone calls to Oklahoma Gazette regarding
allegations of his own drug use. His chief of staff, Steve Hill, sent a
one sentence email. It reads, “The mayor has never done illegal drugs.”

no suggestion here that Cornett isn’t telling the truth, but it would
be nice if he spoke directly to reporters instead of sending an email
from his personal assistant.

there’s Joe “Sarge” Nelson, a tireless advocate for truth who shows up
at almost every council meeting to berate and educate the mayor and
council. He’s jumped into the race but it’s unlikely he’ll have much of
an impact. Sorry Sarge, but that’s how we see it.

for 2014: With all of these outdated allegations floating around
regarding the mayoral candidates (except for Sarge), it’s possible a
fourth, dark horse candidate might emerge. What about Gary England? He’s
not doing anything these days.

to succeed

The A-F state school grading system showed us this year
which schools excel. After system wide failures during this year’s
mandated testing, some 9,000-plus students had their results

That should have been a hint. But no. On went the testing —
and the testiness from families, students, teachers and politicians —
and results finally came out late 2013. The results? Generally, it’s the
schools with the best funding. In other words, urban schools failed and
our more affluent suburbs are (shocker!) thriving.

Prediction for 2014: In a show of confidence, Oklahoma State Department of Education
State Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi takes all the mandated tests
on her own. She fails and blames the teachers. Lesson learned: schools
are still separate and unequal. Let’s fix that.

The darndest

Politicians say the darndest things. This year’s winner is
Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) who, in 2013, told us about the four
(!!) branches of government (all spelling and grammar sic): “This
country isn’t ran by just one individual it’s ran by four branches, but
three branches that are in control of this,” MSNBC reported Mullin
saying. “Not all of us is going to get 100% of what we want, but we
should do what’s right.”

Prediction for 2014: Dog
muzzles for everyone! Or at least translators. Or copy editors. Or maybe
even a speech writer. Carry on.

the future

Some crap just isn’t worth digging up in a year-end
review. Unless, of course, you’re talking about the crappiest story of
2013. Yes, that one. In July, 52-year-old Kenneth Enlow was found in the
septic tank of a park restroom at Keystone Lake near Tulsa. You read
that correctly.

The Peeping Tom was discovered by a 7-year-old and her
mother. The story quickly went viral worldwide. “I saw that he was
standing with his head and shoulders out of the hole and that he was
covered in feces,” a Tulsa County Sheriff report showed. After being
hosed off, the man was taken to OSU Medical Center for evaluation before
being sent to the clink.

Prediction for 2014: Weird crap like that will keep Chicken Fried News healthy for years to come.

Imagine all
the monuments

So, it all started long ago, in a land far, far away. No,
wait. This is Oklahoma. Against recommendations, the Ten Commandments
monument went up at the Capitol in 2012. By August, the American Civil
Liberties Union — and some Christian groups — protested it as a
violation of church-state boundaries.

“To argue that the monument merely commemorates something historical rather than religious is a slap in the face to the
many Oklahomans, like myself, who incorporate the Ten Commandments into
our religious practice,” said Bruce Prescott, an ordained Baptist
minister who, with the ACLU, filed a suit saying it favors one religion
over all others. Enter the “God of Chaos” monument erected in the still
of the night in our Paseo Arts District, which was quickly removed and
replaced with ... a log. Shortly thereafter, Satanists and Hindus wanted
their free speech monuments erected outside our Capitol.

for 2014: Make it an art contest. Oklahoma Gazette will (maybe,
perhaps, it could happen) sponsor it. Agnostic? Atheist? Hindu? Jewish?
Christian? Catholic? Protestant? Bahá’í Faith? Wiccan? Islamic?
Buddhist? Zoroastrianism? Confucianism? Taoism?

Heck yes. Let’s do this.

Special discount
for framing, birth control

What can be written about Obamacare, its ill-prepared
website and the years long political battle that hasn’t already been
penned? Here’s a quick review of what happened in 2013, and of course,
Oklahoma was at the center of this epic Biblical argument. Remember
conservative Hobby Lobby and its owners who fought to ignore part of the
Obamacare mandate?

The company won a partial victory
in July when a federal judge granted a temporary exemption to the
Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain, a ruling the government has
appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit claims the
government mandate forces the Christian family that owns the chain to
violate their deeply held religious beliefs under the threat of heavy
fines (up to $1.3 million a day), penalties and lawsuits.

Still, Hobby Lobby is a for-profit company, and business is business.

Prediction for 2014: In-store custom framing and birth control both will be 40 percent off while supplies last.

Urban agriculture
aids community health

Ah, the happy sounds of egg-producing chickens may soon fill
backyards across Oklahoma City. Urban agriculture and sustainability
became A Big Deal to locals in 2013, and unclear ordinances often
left code enforcement in the lurch. How many chickens is too many? May
we garden in our front yards?

Said Allen Parleir, an
advocate of urban farming and community gardening, “Home gardens,
community gardens, urban farms all bring more wholesome food and
encourage the local food movement. Less fossil fuel is used to get the
food here, it shows good environmental stewardship and it teaches all
ages where food comes from.”

Prediction for 2014: We agree. Everybody gets clucked!

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