The Edmond Sun

Opinion

July 1, 2013

Consider these 4 criteria for elected officials

GUTHRIE — Sometimes voters elect officers on a platform of reform and innovation. The new office holder starts out with the best intentions, excited and ready to implement new ideas, but over time he changes into a self-centered career politician whose primary motivation becomes the extension of his political life.

So how do you know if your elected official has stopped striving for reform? In 2008 I wrote about three criteria voters can use as accurate indicators of the elected official’s transition:

• Has he attempted to increase your taxes? (See hd31.org/509 for the 2008 article and hd31.org/512 for last week’s article about this item.)

• Does he oppose transparency? (hd31.org/510)

• Has he voted himself a pay increase? (hd31.org/511)

If he/she answers yes to at least one of these questions, odds are that the politician’s heart has changed and it is time to elect someone else.

A true public servant has nothing to hide. He knows everything he does with taxpayer dollars should be open to the public. When a politician votes or takes action against transparency, he is saying he does not want the taxpayers to have true oversight. He feels it is OK for him to forcibly take away your property and liberty through taxation, while inhibiting you from overseeing his spending of your money. The co-opted official hates transparency. He knows his public persona remains one of a reformer and transparency risks exposing his true MO to the public. He may even attempt to bully those who do know the truth into not talking.

When I wrote about the transparency issue in 2008, I had little idea how real this concept would become to me. In 2012, working with House of Representatives Speaker Kris Steele and Sen. David Holt, we sponsored legislation to apply Oklahoma’s transparency laws to the state Legislature. The Legislature makes transparency laws that apply to other government entities, but exempts itself from these same laws. In the business world, this hypocrisy isn’t defensible. But in the upside-down world of the Capitol, openness and transparency seem alien and scary.

It was especially heartbreaking to experience intense opposition from those legislators who are almost always strong allies in the fight for transparency. I have always appreciated and do not take for granted the votes of these legislators when we are advancing transparency reforms. But it became clear that while they were very supportive of transparency for others, they were opposed to transparency for themselves. I still have a tough time coming to terms with the fact that some of those whom I greatly respect can’t see through the hypocrisy.

Being a servant to the public should be a sacrifice. It should be a limited time of sacrificial giving to the community and should never become a well-paid political career. An elected official who votes himself a raise does not understand this vital concept. He no longer has the heart of a public servant.

This self-serving practice of voting for large raises was a trend in Logan County government for several years. I wrote the first three criteria after observing County Commissioners vote for not one, but two large raises! Worse yet, and unbelievably, the raises applied retroactively. Since that time, thankfully the practice has come to an end.

Here is a fourth important criteria: Has the elected official run out of innovative new ideas?

Technology provides the means to innovate like never before. Longtime office holders too-often view their political office as a personal career rather than a real opportunity to better serve the taxpayer through innovation. Maintaining the status quo is easy, but real reform and innovation is hard work. An innovative elected official won’t hesitate to explain his ideas and future plans. A co-opted, lazy or cynical official will have few ideas and little enthusiasm about his work.

When you are solicited for support for someone who wishes to stay in office, please carefully apply these four criteria before casting your vote.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results