Claremore Daily Progress

Our View

October 17, 2013

Voice of petition signers wrongly silenced


Who will hear the collective voice of the 6,994 citizen signers of the Rogers County Grand Jury petition?
Is it you, Judge Jefferson Sellers?
Is it you, Attorney General Scott Pruitt?
Is it you, Oklahoma Supreme Court?
If we live under a government of the people, by the people and for the people -- as Abraham Lincoln famously declared in the Gettysburg Address -- then one of the above needs to impanel the grand jury promptly to investigate the serious allegations contained in the petition.
Judge Sellers’ decision Tuesday to silence the nearly 7,000 signers who called for the grand jury inquiry runs afoul of the people’s First Amendment right to petition their government for a redress of grievances. 
It also appears contrary to the liberal  intent of Oklahoma’s petition laws giving registered voters the benefit of the doubt even if they omit or fail to list their addresses when signing on to a petition.
The judge said the petition sponsors, including three law enforcement officials,  obtained the 6,994 registered voter signatures for a grand jury on unauthorized signature pages because each page did not repeat the exact wording of the court-approved petition form.
Never mind that the exact wording was contained on the cover of the manila envelope containing the signature pages, and that the purpose of the petition campaign was summarized on each page and also well known throughout the county due to extensive media coverage.
Sellers, a district judge from Tulsa County, acknowledged he wasn’t absolutely certain his ruling would hold up on appeal, and urged the petition sponsors to challenge it in a higher court so the issue could be settled for sure.
Both the judge and the state attorney general can administratively impanel the grand jury, but if they decline to do so, then the Oklahoma Supreme Court should expedite an appeal of the ruling to toss out the signatures on a technicality. 

Text Only
Our View
  • Senate Review

    April 15th was the deadline for filing taxes.  I’m certain it’s no one’s favorite time of year, but here’s something that may help give a little perspective—at least as far as state taxes go.  

    April 21, 2014

  • Wind energy gets $193M while education suffers

    Industrial Wind Energy is expected to receive $193 million in annual subsidies, yet education continues to suffer.

    April 21, 2014

  • Burrage, sean.tiff Senate review by Sean Burrage

    Hailey Mathis is studying political science and history at the University of Oklahoma. She’s one of a very select group of college students each year who have the opportunity to learn about government and public service through an internship at the State Senate.  

    April 4, 2011 1 Photo

  • Time is now for real tax reform

    An ill-advised legislative plan to drain $30 million a year from state highway funds to bolster school spending will soon be considered in the House and Senate. 

    April 21, 2014

  • Financial protection for children in foster care

    It has been a pleasure to work with Senator Sean Burrage for the past 8 years.  Always a trusted colleague and ally in the Senate side, I’ve been honored to carry some of his legislation in the House of Representatives.

    April 21, 2014

  • Burrage, Sean.jpg Senate Review

    I can’t imagine that there would be very many politicians who would say they didn’t think public education was important.  I’m sure if you polled the legislature, 100 percent would say it’s a top priority.  But it’s one thing to talk the talk—it’s another to walk the walk.  

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • sherrerBenweb.jpg Public Education:  The vine must be watered

    Monday’s rally for public education was the single most exciting event I’ve had the opportunity to experience in my 10 years in the legislature.  

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kim Dabney Autistic in Oklahoma

    Since the 1970’s, April hosts Autism Awareness Month to highlight the fastest growing epidemics of our time. Just last week, the Center for Disease Control announced a startling statistic, 1 in 68 children are suffering with autism.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kim Dabney Autism awareness did not save Avonte

    Every April since the 1970’s due to an abruptly rising condition in children across the country, we observe Autism Awareness Month.  According to government figures, the rapid increase in autism, unheard of prior to the 1940’s, skyrocketed from 1 in 10,000 children to the latest estimates of 1 in 68.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Randy Cowling John D. Williams: Claremore’s Progressive Citizen of the Year

    There are few opportunities to make choices that will guide the future direction of our lives, let alone the impact on our community.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo