- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Tulsa World, Oct. 22, 2016

Russians could use a lesson in democracy, but they won’t get it

There won’t be any Russian observers at Oklahoma’s polling places Nov. 8.

Too bad. The Russians might have learned something about how a real democracy works.

The state rejected a request from Alexander Zakharov, Russian consul general in Houston, to have an officer from the Russian Federation study our election process.

State law strictly limits who can be in and around polling places; it’s one of the ways Oklahoma protects the privacy and security of voting in a secret-ballot election.

The consul got a similar answer from officials in Texas. There is no such law in Louisiana, but a state election official there also rejected a Russian request to observe the election, citing problems the state is having dealing with recent flooding.

It’s too bad Russia isn’t allowed to get a close look at the American election. It might have benefited from seeing a real democracy in action.

If it had been given a chance to observe Oklahoma elections, it would have seen free people voting for the candidates of their choice after a spirited campaign where no one was denied their free speech rights. It would have seen a verifiable process that effectively protects each individual’s voice. It would have seen secure balloting, overseen by fair election judges and tabulated accurately.

To us it might have seemed pretty dull - the bureaucracy of an election - but only because we’ve been doing it the right way for a long time: no armed guards, no coercion, no ballot stuffing. Given the way things run in the strong-man state back in Mother Russia, it might have been fascinating to the consul.

The request, of course, was partially a joke and partially propaganda. Playing off Donald Trump’s discredited claims that the U.S. election is “rigged,” the Russians would like nothing more than to impute discredit on America’s tradition of free, fair elections, in hopes that it would make their own history less shameful.

Tough luck, Consul Zakharov. We could teach you a few things about democracy, but we doubt you’d be interested.

___

The Oklahoman, Oct. 21, 2016

Events undermine anti-police narrative

The narrative portraying police officers in this country as little more than unaccountable criminals with badges continues to be undermined by the facts, as demonstrated by several recent events.

Police must make split-second, life-or-death decisions and live with the consequences. In most cases, they make the right decision. And in those instances where police do wrong, they are held accountable.

Consider Tulsa, where officers responded this week to a domestic situation where an estranged husband forced his way into his wife’s home and seized the woman’s 2-year-old daughter at gunpoint. The man ignored repeated requests to release the child over several hours, and pointed the gun at police and the girl. Eventually, the man stepped onto a balcony still holding the girl and his gun. A police sniper ended the standoff.

Police spokesman Leland Ashley said, “The officer, fearing for the child’s safety, was able to take a shot and killed the suspect.”

Those who suggest police work is easy and that the correct decision is always obvious should put themselves in that officer’s shoes for a moment. Having to take a life is no small matter.

That law officers are willing to risk their own lives in such situations to protect the community - in this case a small child - is something for which most Oklahomans are grateful. Not all situations end as well as the Tulsa event.

In Palm Springs, Calif., officers Lesley Zerebny and Jose “Gil” Vega were killed recently in an ambush while responding to a disturbance call. Zerebny had just returned from maternity leave. Vega, a father of eight, was months from retirement.

Police not only make decisions in split-seconds, but can face lethal threats just as quickly.

This doesn’t mean no officer ever crosses the line. But when that happens, law enforcement officials are quick to investigate.

Lt. Alex Edwards, a 10-year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department, was arrested last week on prostitution-related felony complaints. Edwards has been involved in community nonprofit work and has never been under investigation. That didn’t cause law enforcement officials to turn a blind eye.

That’s in keeping with prior incidents in Oklahoma City. Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was accused of raping multiple women while on duty. He was ultimately sentenced to 263 years in prison for rape, sexual battery and other charges.

In Tulsa, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has completed an investigation into misconduct allegations at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office during the tenure of former Sheriff Stanley Glanz. That report’s findings have been submitted to prosecutors for consideration of potential charges.

The OSBI report comes on top of a grand jury investigation that resulted in two misdemeanor charges against Glanz and led to his resignation. Glanz has since pleaded guilty to willful violation of the law and no contest to refusal to perform official duty. He admitted he took a $600 monthly stipend to use a personal vehicle for work, but actually drove county-owned vehicles instead.

Despite the overwrought assertions of some activists, working in law enforcement is not a license to run wild. It remains a difficult, stressful job in which danger is ever present, subject to the highest level of scrutiny and with firm consequences for those who don’t toe the line.

___

Enid News & Eagle, Oct. 20, 2016

Move Oklahoma’s liquor laws into the 21st century

Oklahoma’s liquor laws are some of the most restrictive in the United States.

Prohibition was repealed in the 1950s. When many of the state’s counties passed liquor by the drink in 1985, Oklahoma was the last state in the union to OK public drinking within state boundaries.

While grocery and convenience stores only sell low-point 3.2 beer currently, State Question 792 would allow those stores to sell refrigerated wine and strong beer.

Also, liquor stores will be allowed to sell liquor, cold full-strength beer and wine until midnight Monday through Saturday.

And grocery and convenience stores will be able to sell wine and full-strength beer on Sundays.

A broad coalition of retailers, grape-growers and consumers are supporting 792 to modernize our state’s antiquated alcohol laws.

Some Oklahoma liquor retailers claim the legislation will benefit big-box stores, leading to higher prices, more underage access, fewer small stores or less selection.

SQ 792 is not perfect. Well-intended initiatives like this are almost always flawed to some extent.

Hopefully, any unintended consequences can be dealt with in follow-up reform.

“While liquor stores fear the loss of their monopolistic market for regular-strength, room temperature beer and wine, they will have new opportunities to compete with provisions to increase the number of liquor stores an individual can own,” Republican Sens. Clark Jolley and Stephanie Bice wrote in a guest column for The Oklahoman and Tulsa World.

Patrick Gaines, who represents the commercial Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma, argues liquor stores can add refrigerated sections to sell fresher beer.

“They will also gain the legal right to sell non-alcoholic items such as mixers, corkscrews, ice, limes and other convenient items currently prohibited now,” Gaines wrote in an editorial supporting SQ 792.

It’s time to bring Oklahoma’s liquor laws into the 21st century.

We urge Oklahomans to vote “yes” on SQ 792.

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