The last time Oklahoma redrew its congressional and legislative districts, digital mapping tools were primarily the province of government agencies and well-financed interests. They were complicated and expensive.
This time around, the tools and training are free and a couple mouse clicks away. If the free mapping program Oklahoma is using — Dave’s Redistricting — sounds like something you can learn to use watching YouTube videos, that’s because it is.
As a non-profit news organization dependent on your support, we appreciate its accessibility and potential to put engaged Oklahomans on the same footing. Our capitol reporter Trevor Brown used the app this week in his story about the congressional redistricting proposals that could reshape state and national politics.
The slider presentation Trevor used to compare congressional maps as currently drawn and proposed in the same visual was particularly useful to those of us who are joining this process in progress. Trevor plans to offer that current/proposed look at the remaining public submissions for congressional redistricting in his Capitol Watch newsletter on Monday.
(One of Trevor’s big takeaways from Tuesday’s public map session: Democrats and even some Republicans are worried about splitting Oklahoma City into two or three different districts.)
Regardless, Oklahoma’s political lines will be drawn for the next decade of elections and representation during the Legislature’s special session, which starts Nov. 15. State House Rep. Ryan Martinez, an Edmond Republican and one of the chairs of the Legislature’s joint Select Committee on Redistricting, indicated that the maps to be voted on could be made public by the first week in November.
— Mike Sherman, Executive Editor
Oklahoma’s only competitive congressional district could return to firm Republican control — or give Democrats the best chance they’ve seen in years. [Read More…]
On Episode 8 of Oklahoma Watch’s podcast, journalists share insight from stories that reveal political and criminal justice visions for Oklahoma’s future. [Listen…]
A Mile In Another’s Shoes: Tiffany Crutcher talks about advocating for Black victims of police brutality and generational trauma. “It reverberates. Starting with the Tulsa Race Massacre to my twin brother’s death to now my mom’s death with COVID-19. Trauma reverberates through my family’s history.” [Read More…]
If the Legislature accepts the task force proposal, all felony offenses would be ranked by severity and placed into 14 categories. [Read More…]
Oklahoma’s average ACT score improved by one point but far fewer students took the exam due to pandemic disruptions. [Read More…]
Did the Oklahoma Department of Mines’ failure to disclose a potential conflict of interest harm landowners’ case? [Read More…]
The Institute for Nonprofit News honored Oklahoma Watch reporter Whitney Bryen with its Insight Award for medium-sized newsroom for her investigative story on an Alva, Oklahoma nursing home’s battle to protect its vulnerable residents from COVID-19. The story, published Jan. 5 under the headline “‘God, Please Keep Us Safe’: Amid COVID, an Oklahoma Nursing Home Faces Impossible Decisions,” prompted these comments from judges:
“Compelling, beautifully written, heart-wrenching at times — and packed with insights about the real-life impact of the pandemic, policies and mandates, hour by hour, week by week, on one family-owned nursing home in a small town, their residents, caretakers and families.”
Whitney produced the reporting, writing and images for this award-winning story.
Around the web
- Oklahoma Establishes Nonbinary Birth Certificate Process, Drawing GOP Condemnation: Oklahoma has formalized a process for designating someone’s sex as nonbinary on birth certificates, settling a federal lawsuit by Oregon resident Kit Lorelied against the state health department. “Having a birth certificate that matches my identity means that the government respects my right to exist without having to hide who I am,” Lorelied said in an email to NonDoc.com. “It means that I can be treated with the dignity that any citizen deserves.” Lorelied, who was born and raised in Oklahoma, uses they/them pronouns and identifies as nonbinary. With the settlement, Oklahoma joined 14 states and the District of Columbia in offering a process to select nonbinary designation on reissued birth certificates. Gov. Kevin Stitt and other Republican leaders expressed outrage at the news. State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, has filed a bill for the upcoming session that would require male and female to be the only options on birth certificates. “I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period,” Stitt said in a statement Thursday condemning the settlement. “There is no such thing as non-binary sex and I wholeheartedly condemn the purported OSDH court settlement that was entered into by rogue activists who acted without receiving proper approval or oversight.” A spokeswoman for Stitt did not immediately respond to a message from the Associated Press seeking to clarify who the governor alleged was a rogue activist. House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, expressed disgust with Stitt’s statement: “To insinuate that non-binary Oklahomans threaten our ‘values and way of life’ is an abhorrent statement from someone who repeatedly claims to represent all 4 million Oklahomans.” [NonDoc/Associated Press]
- Oklahoma Death Row Inmates Ask Federal Court To Stay Execution Dates: Four death-row inmates are asking a federal district court to put their execution dates on hold. Attorney Dale Baich said the inmates are asking the federal court to “to enforce the agreement the state made last year. It promised that no execution dates would be set until the case before the federal court is complete.” Petitioners include convicted killer John Marion Grant, whose scheduled Oct. 28 execution would make him the first Oklahoma inmate put to death since the state put executions on hold in 2015, and Oklahoma County convicted killer Julius Jones, set to die Nov. 18 for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell of Edmond. Jones has a clemency hearing on Tuesday before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. [Tulsa World]
- Chickasaw Nation To Build $300 Million Resort Adjoining First Americans Museum On Oklahoma River: Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said the development, to be named OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark, is designed to make the riverfront a tourist destination. [The Oklahoman]
- We Fact-Checked Oklahoma Elected Officials’ Claims About The U.S.-Mexico Border Crisis: The Frontier used state and federal data, information from law enforcement and news reports to fact-check Oklahoma elected officials’ public statements about the U.S.-Mexico border crisis. Its findings backed up many of their claims. [The Frontier]
Help Us Make a Difference
During times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahoma needs high-quality investigative journalism. That is our mission at Oklahoma Watch. We produce stories that hold government and public officials accountable and that make transparent what some prefer to keep secret. We depend on financial support from readers like you to sustain our coverage. Help us make a difference.