Editor’s Notebook: Anti-war rally, Common Core conundrum, mayoral maneuvers in OKC, Taiwan ties

OKLAHOMA CITY — From an editor’s notebook: a conservative legislator is organizing an anti-war rally, the Common Core conundrum, an interesting mayoral race taking shape, and Taiwan ties.

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State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, is organizing an anti-war rally on the south steps of the state Capitol building. Wesselhoft, a strong conservative Republican, says he will be only one of several speakers at the rally on Friday, July 12, with the theme, “Not Our War!” 

Wesselhoft opposes U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war, saying, “The U.S. has no political or moral obligation to intervene in Syria’s intractable civil war. It’s none of our business. Our involvement in shipping arms to the Syrian rebels commits us to a proxy war with Russia. This is not good, not wise, not acceptable, so we object.”

He said musical entertainment will precede speakers from 6-7 p.m., with a “left and right” spectrum of orations beginning at 7 p.m. He guaranteed equal time to anti-war activists regardless of philosophy. 

Wesselhoft said he had major projects on his schedule this summer “and did not want to lead an anti-war rally. I was hoping the President would not involve America in another country’s civil war, but we are now arming the rebels.”

In a message sent to CapitolBeatOK, he said, “This rally will be a single-issue event on our involvement in the Syrian civil war.  It will not be about other issues supported or opposed by the President. We will be united, regardless of political party, in one clear message to our government: ‘Syria is NOT OUR WAR!’”

He has worked with former state Rep. Ryan Kiesel, a Democrat now serving as state chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to focus critical state government scrutiny on the implication of drone technology for state policymakers.  

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Tuesday (June 25), State Budget Solutions (SBS), a national nonprofit focused on fiscal responsibility and pension reform, unveiled a national study analyzing the Common Core Curriculum standards, also known as Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

The study cautions that states should deliberate common core issues on the merits, and not be lured by the promise of federal funding to abandon state control of schools. 

Bob Williams, president of SBS, said in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, “States are quick to give up control to the federal government, and then complain that the feds are impeding on core state functions, such as education. States are separate and independent sovereigns, sometimes they need to act like it.”

A press release from SBS pointed to increasing controversy over the standards, especially in conjunction with increasing state government reliance on federal funds – financed through deficit spending — to meet budget obligations.  

In the new study, written with Joe Luppino-Esposito, Williams writes, “The implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative is forcing states to determine when a ‘good offer’ becomes an offer that cannot be refused. That is to say that federal incentives offered to states for adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have become very attractive — so attractive that ‘voluntary’ participation in the program may be merely a nominal check on the centralization of American education.”

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Councilman Ed Shadid has announced he will run for mayor of Oklahoma City in 2014. Often pegged a progressive or liberal actor on the local political stage, Shadid gets support from some conservatives for his methodical criticisms of business incentive programs and what he calls “corporate welfare.”

Three-term incumbent Mayor Mick Cornett – elected in 2004, 2006 and 2010 – has not yet announced his reelection plans. A race between Cornett and Shadid would likely be the most expensive mayoral race in the city’s modern history. 

On the council, Shadid has emerged as a critic of some aspects of city planning. He has financed and coordinated several town hall meetings on transportation and other issues.

Shadid ran unsuccessfully as an independent against Republican state Rep. David Dank in 2010, then won a city council race over the preferred candidate of the local Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, Shadid organized an event with Ralph Nader focused on the Sooner State’s restrictive ballot access laws

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Officials from the Republic of China on Taiwan will present $20,000 to Oklahoma’s tornado recovery efforts at a Blue Room ceremony this Friday (June 28).

Director General Steve Hsia from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston will make the presentation. 

The event builds on long-standing close ties between Taiwan and Oklahoma, dating to the 1940s, and a formal “sister state” relationship that began in 1980. 

You may contact Patrick B. McGuigan, Oklahoma City bureau chief for the Watchdog.org network, at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.