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
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results