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It’s time again for Oklahoma Gazette’s annual, super-duper official Chicken-Fried News year in review and predictions!

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(Oklahoma Gazette / Cover: Christopher Smith)
  • Oklahoma Gazette / Cover: Christopher Smith

Chicken-Fried News takes overwhelming pride in its sensitivity and thoughtful analysis of the news that matters most to you. (Or, you know, it’s crap that cracks us up. Both ways equal win.)

With that in mind, here are our favorite CFN news stories of 2014, followed by our predictions of where those stories might take us in 2015.

Cheers.

(Oklahoma Gazette)
  • Oklahoma Gazette

‘I do’

Oklahoma joined the majority of states in the union with the legalization of same-sex marriage, proof that America is well on its way to becoming a place where marriage equality is the law of the land.

“It’s been a long, hard wait and a long, hard fight,” said Kenny Wright, who married his partner, Barry Bass, on the first day of legal marriages in the state.

The U.S. Supreme Court could still hear a same-sex marriage case next year, but it is expected that any decision from the court would favor gay marriage. The granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples was historic in 2014, coming a decade after Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly banned same-sex marriage in the state constitution.

Prediction: State lawmakers won’t give up looking for a way to ban same- sex marriage. Another shot at banning all marriages — which was proposed by one lawmaker in 2014 — might be floated, or maybe Oklahoma will offer “Marriage Prime.” Like the subscription service to Amazon, Marriage Prime would offer heterosexual couples a higher level of service, including discounts at Hobby Lobby and a vanity license plate that asks, “Who Would Jesus Marry?”

(Oklahoma Gazette)
  • Oklahoma Gazette

Along for the ride

Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft arrived on the scene in Oklahoma City this past year, which sparked opposition from taxicab companies that were probably upset they hadn’t come up with connecting riders and drivers via apps themselves. When City Hall considered ways to regulate rideshare companies that were practically shuttling people around without abiding by the rule of law, Uber and Lyft cried government intrusion and pretended they were just a mobile app company that had nothing to do with cars and drivers. The Oklahoma City Council eventually passed laws requiring the companies to apply for licenses and drivers to pass medical physicals and background checks,along with inspections of their vehicles. “The assumption that we shouldn’t do anything is faulty because right now, we have an industry that is operating unregulated,” said Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner.

Prediction: In typical Oklahoma Legislature fashion, state lawmakers will impose some sort of law that prevents cities from setting regulations on rideshare companies. When OKC passed its own abandoned building registry this year, the state quickly stepped in and said, “You can’t do that.” When cities across the country began considering minimum wage increases, the state passed laws banning municipalities from setting their own wage levels. For a statehouse that loves to criticize Washington for its government intrusion, Oklahoma lawmakers do a good job of impersonating the federal government.

(Oklahoma Gazette)
  • Oklahoma Gazette

Monumental task

The Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma State Capitol was destroyed after a man drove his car onto the Capitol lawn, rearranged a ramp, drove up it and then crashed into the monument. The driver’s family said he deals with mental illness, treatment of which is woefully underfunded across the state. Maybe lawmakers will address that problem, but first there was the matter of replacing the monument and proclaiming God’s law for all to see. Wait. Aren’t the Ten Commandments an example of God intruding on state rights?

Prediction: The Guardian statue at the top of the Capitol dome will be replaced with a statue of Jesus and legislators will be divided by gender on the House and Senate floor and it will feel more like a Baptist church camp. Christian values will continue to be proclaimed at the statehouse, drawing attention to the way God has blessed the great state of Oklahoma. Those blessings don’t include strong academic performance, low obesity rates or well-built roads. But Oklahoma’s sunsets sure prove God loves us.

(Oklahoma Gazette)
  • Oklahoma Gazette

Winning

Mayor Mick Cornett cruised to reelection in 2014, setting him up to become OKC’s longest serving mayor. Even though Cornett faced a stiffer challenge than his last race in 2010, the mayor won convincingly after reminding people that OKC is a place built on rainbows and sunshine.

“It just felt like there was so much riding on this campaign,” Cornett said following his victory.

Add in the fact that Cornett married Tulsan Terri Walker and it has been a pretty sweet year for the mayor.

Prediction: What goes up always comes down. OKC is riding a hot streak, but how will voters handle potential challenges? If falling oil prices trip up the local economy, controversy builds over projects like the convention center and the Thunder miss the playoffs, Cornett’s approval rating might take a dip in 2015. Then again, he can rebound with promises of what the next MAPS vote in just a few years will bring: a dome over downtown to protect it from the elements, extending the streetcar to Byron’s Liquor Warehouse and giving every citizen his or her own Segway.

Food for thought

H&8th Night Market food truck festival hit its stride in 2014. More food trucks, more people and more bands turned what was once a mild block party into a monthly state fair for hipsters. We’ve all heard that H&8th is the largest food truck festival in the country, and since there is no way to disprove that, we can all just take pride in it. H&8th does have its drawbacks, like having to wait in line for a burrito or the fact that even the most outgoing person develops claustrophobia by the end of the night. But it’s still a fun event that will only get better.

Prediction: The largest food truck festival in America will become the largest on planet Earth. That means even more people from beyond Oklahoma City will come to next year’s H&8th festivals. More Edmondites will come. Guests from the small towns of western Oklahoma might also travel in to see those “fancy kitchen vans” and prove that it is possible to buy food that has fewer than 1,000 calories from a truck.

(Oklahoma Gazette)
  • Oklahoma Gazette

Thunder down

The Thunder had another deep playoff run in 2014, and Kevin Durant was named the league’s Most Valuable Player. The new season hasn’t started off as well, owing to a series of critical injuries, but KD continued to expand his brand with an HBO documentary and a new endorsement deal with Sonic Drive-In — he will work with the fast-food chain to develop healthier items for its menu.

Prediction: Not to be outdone, other Thunder players will sign their own endorsement deals with fast-food chains. Russell Westbrook will join Burger King and agree to wear one of their cardboard crowns from the 1990s during games for an extra million dollars. Nick Collison will be signed by Chick-fil-A and, like the restaurant, will refuse to play on Sundays. Taco Bell will offer the Scott Brooks Value Meal, which features a combination of hot sauces that don’t make any sense and a taco topped with hair gel.

Booze and bullets

OKC welcomed Wilshire Gun, a state- of-the-art shooting range and gun shop that also features a bar, this year.

“Alcohol is legal in Oklahoma.

Guns are legal in Oklahoma,” Ward 3 Councilman Larry McAtee said. “[But] I have a real problem with mixing the two.”

Many gun control advocates raised their eyebrows when the city council granted Wilshire an alcohol permit, but locals aren’t surprised. This is Oklahoma, the land of family values, and nothing says family values like firing off a round or two and then chugging back a cold one.

Prediction: Some people are predicting disaster, but because Wilshire Gun has a lot invested in its new range and bar, you can bet owners will do everything possible to avoid catastrophe. After its success, other establishments — a shooting range at the Oklahoma City Zoo, or maybe a bar at the downtown library — will follow. Booze and bullets will prove to be a great way to inject a little life into any business looking to attract more customers.

This land is our land

Immigration was a hot-button issue in the United States this past year, as a wave of unaccompanied minors crossed the border. President Obama took executive action to prevent nearly 5 million undocumented residents from being deported.

Minorities don’t always relate to Republican platforms, but that didn’t stop Gov. Mary Fallin from criticizing President Obama for using a Fort Sill base for emergency housing of some Central American minors. She also criticized the federal government for not doing a better job of protecting the border. Even so, the border is more secure now than it has been in the past 20 years.

Prediction: Oklahoma voters will be asked to approve construction of a 15-foot-tall electrical fence around our own state border, preventing any more undocumented residents from coming into the state. However, after receiving 75 percent voter approval, the courts will overturn the election results, continuing the trend of statewide ballots that would become law if not for that pesky Constitution.

Democratic blues

Oklahoma’s slow shift toward becoming a red state accelerated over the past several years as statewide races, presidential contests and issue votes all seemed to go the Republicans’ way. Until this year, Democrats could at least lay claim to more registered voters, which was at best a sad relic of years past for the liberal party. This month, however, Republicans took over the registered voter lead for the first time in state history, putting an exclamation mark on a 2014 that saw more GOP dominance at the polls.

Prediction: 2015 won’t be any easier for Democrats. There are no elections, but Democrats will be helpless to do much at the state Capitol and will see continued dominance of conservative policies. The remaining Democratic lawmakers will be relocated to the basement of the Capitol. However, it won’t be all bad for Democrats. Close proximity to the rarely used fitness center and barber shop will help the Democratic caucus become the best- looking group of legislators up there.

(Oklahoma Gazette)
  • Oklahoma Gazette

Forever Fallin

Gov. Mary Fallin was reelected governor, proving in 2014 she might have had 99 problems but a Democratic opponent wasn’t one. When she wasn’t blaming President Barack Obama for stuff, Fallin was firing semi-automatic guns, adopting puppies and zip-lining across the Oklahoma River, proving she’s an all-American woman who is always ready for an adventure.

Prediction: Without any more elections, Fallin is free to tackle the most important issues facing Oklahoma in 2015, such as lowering tax breaks for oil companies to the point that the state actually pays for corporations to drill on our land.

(Oklahoma Gazette)
  • Oklahoma Gazette

Weatherman

Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is one of the biggest climate change deniers there is. So it makes sense that he would become the new chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works following the GOP’s take-back of the U.S. Senate in 2014.

Prediction: State Rep. John Bennett will be appointed leader of Oklahoma’s committee on Islamic relations.

(Oklahoma Gazette)
  • Oklahoma Gazette

Public art

The new SkyDance Bridge over Interstate 40 added some color to the downtown skyline, the Terra sculpture catches the attention of motorists in Automobile Alley, and even the city’s new parking garage next to City Hall is considered a work of art. It’s possible that 2014 was the year when public art officially became a thing in OKC. There are still those in the city who view public art as a waste of space and money, but it seems more and more residents realize the unique flavor these magnificent pieces can bring.

Prediction: Residents will appreciate public art, the chamber and city will display new pieces in promotional materials and OKC will just feel like a more beautiful place. However, state lawmakers will still look for ways to defund any state-sanctioned public arts program.

(Oklahoma Gazette)
  • Oklahoma Gazette

Class act

Robert Neu became the new superintendent of the Oklahoma City Public School District. In his first few months, he has already announced aggressive plans to provide every student with a tablet or computer, repay tuition for OKC grads who come back to teach and provide higher salaries for teachers.

Prediction: In an effort to fill teacher shortages, Neu will announce new benefit packages never seen by Oklahoma teachers before, such as free access to printer paper and salaries above $40,000.

Ticket to ride

OKC’s transit system adopted a new name: Embark. The city council also approved increased funding to help the system expand service, including some routes riding on Sundays. Most OKC residents remain skeptical of public transit, but 2014 was a year when city and business leaders expressed their support for expanded transit options. The city also continued to move closer to beginning construction on a downtown streetcar line that will bring rail-based transit back to OKC for the first time in more than 50 years.

Prediction: Because the use of goats to control grass levels at the Hefner canal have been so successful this year, city leaders will experiment with goats at the downtown transit center as a way to control litter and distract riders from their 115-minute wait for the next bus.

Final act

Stage Center theater in downtown was demolished in 2014 after years of vacancy. The uniquely built theater had its detractors and was reduced to rubble to make way for OG&E’s new headquarters.

Prediction: Construction on OG&E’s new building will be halted after construction crews discover the site is haunted by the spirits of past play actors. Muppetlike creatures will be seen sabotaging construction equipment, leading the city to rebuild Stage Center to its original state.

Nonstop

Will Rogers World Airport, an airport named after a plane crash victim that actually doesn’t have any flights to the world beyond America’s borders, began new nonstop flights to Charlotte in 2014 and announced the addition of service to Seattle in 2015. Without frequent direct flights to places like New York and Miami — you know, places people actually want to travel to — it has been hard to consider our local airpark a Big League airport. But that is changing, and it’s becoming less necessary to drive to Dallas in an effort to get a direct flight at a cheaper cost.

Prediction: Will Rogers will see nonstop service to Canada, but not for passengers. The continued delay of the Keystone Pipeline will cause Canadian oil companies to ship their oil to America through the air.

Print headline: Half-fried headlines, It’s time again for Oklahoma Gazette’s second annual, super-duper official Chicken-Fried News year in review and predictions!

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