- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Enid News & Eagle. March 26, 2018.

Mercy House has been a refuge for Enid’s homeless during inclement weather for several years.

The shelter, operated by Forgotten Ministries at 1714 S. 4th, is open during the hottest and coldest months of the year. It provides meals, showers, shelter and fellowship to about 55 people per night. On the worst nights for inclement weather, the shelter takes in as many as 100 homeless people.

Mercy House isn’t open all year for a simple reason - it only has funding and manpower to stay open half the year. The shelter closed on March 7, meaning those people who have been staying there have had to find another place to stay. Some will go to other shelters, namely Salvation Army. Others, though, will end up back on the streets, and often facing some of the issues they have haunted them before.

Shelter staff do what they can to stay in touch with guests when the shelter is closed. They have been working to develop volunteer programs for guests, so they can stay in touch with them and mitigate the backsliding that occurs during the shelter’s offseason. Three days a week, homeless come to Mercy House to work in the garden, clean around the shelter, sort donated clothes, perform yard work and minor repairs for area families in need, and other odd tasks. While they’re at the shelter volunteering, guests have an opportunity to shower, use indoor restrooms and check in with Mercy House staff.

In addition to a small paid staff, Mercy House relies heavily on volunteers to do what it does when it’s open - generally Nov. 1 to March 1 and July 1 to Sept. 1. Those volunteers do a lot of important work, such as helping at the check-in desk, assigning lockers, handing out clothing and hygiene items, and food preparation and cleanup.

Mercy House currently is operating on a budget of $50,000 to $60,000 per year, depending on occupancy rates and utility costs when it’s open, and would have to raise an estimated additional $60,000 per year to stay open year-round.

Jeremiah Herrian, Forgotten Ministries director, said Forgotten Ministries is in the beginning phases of exploring how it would fund that expansion, and would welcome conversations with any churches or businesses interested in supporting the shelter. Anyone who wants to help out can call the shelter at (580) 540-2223.

Volunteers would remain a key part of Mercy House’s efforts if it goes to year-round operations, but the shelter also would have to double its operating costs for utilities, paid staff, repairs and other operating expenses.

The need is there for Mercy House to operate all year. What’s not there now is the funding to do it. Hopefully, that will change.

___

The Oklahoman. March 27, 2018.

In selecting James “Jim” Gallogly as the University of Oklahoma’s next president, the board of regents chose someone who isn’t an academic but fully understands and appreciates the value of a college education. We think it has the potential to be an excellent choice.

Gallogly, 65, boasts a distinguished career in the energy industry, which began with an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and continued with a law degree from OU. He was a traditional student, but saw firsthand the importance of a degree regardless of when it’s earned.

Gallogly’s father, after spending more than 20 years in the military and raising a family of 10 children, pondered returning to school to become a teacher. He had been a C student, but had 2½ years remaining on his GI bill, Gallogly told UC-Colorado Springs graduates during a commencement speech in 2012.

“I was trying to convince my father that it was a very bad idea to go to college,” he said. But his father returned and “graduated in 2½ years with almost straight A’s.”

Gallogly, one of seven finalists for the OU job, will replace David Boren, who is retiring June 30 after a transformational 23-plus years as president. Boren has secured more than $2 billion in gifts and pledges - some of those from Gallogly, who has given generously - resulting in new facilities across OU’s campuses in Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The university’s endowed positions have grown six-fold, 20 new academic programs have been added, and OU regularly welcomes more National Merit Scholars than any public university in America.

Simply put, Gallogly inherits high expectations, something he acknowledged Monday in saying, “There will never be another David Boren.” The challenge should suit him well. He spent 29 years at Phillips Petroleum, ChevronPhillips and ConocoPhillips, ultimately leading the company’s worldwide exploration and production division. He left in 2009 to become CEO of Houston-based LyondellBasell, a plastics and refining company that was in bankruptcy proceedings at the time. A year later, the company was out of bankruptcy and today it’s flourishing.

Clay Bennett, OU regents chairman, said all seven finalists were outstanding but that Gallogly “was a clear standout and compelling choice.”

Gallogly “values education so very much,” Bennett said. “He values the student experience, he values the expertise of faculty and he’s a gifted manager - he understands how to put pieces together to be successful, and that’s what we’re all about.

“We have every confidence that he’ll value those constituencies and he’ll be successful.”

An indication of the sort of man OU will have as its leader can be found in those remarks to his alma mater in Colorado Springs six years ago. Gallogly told graduates to work hard, think big, give back (including to their university), help the less fortunate and do things the right way.

“Never compromise your ethics,” he said. “Ethics is not just about avoiding wrong, it’s also about doing right.”

And one other thing: “Dreams never come true if you don’t chase them,” Gallogly said.

We appreciate the work of the search committee, congratulate the regents on their choice, and wish Gallogly well as he works to foster the dreams of OU students today and in the future.

___

Tulsa World. March 27, 2018.

Oklahoma criminal justice leaders appear to have thrown in the towel on ever resuming lethal injection to carry out the state’s death penalty.

The lethal injection process has been beset by problems for years that we won’t reiterate here. As a result, the state hasn’t carried out an execution in three years, which undercuts justice and the potential for capital punishment’s deterrence.

Attorney General Mike Hunter and others are leading efforts to move toward the use of nitrogen gas to execute condemned prisoners. They want Oklahoma, which has a backlog of 48 killers on death row, to be the first state to use the new method.

Hunter says nitrogen is an inert gas that causes fatigue, dizziness, perhaps a headache, loss of breath and the eventual loss of consciousness. It has been used in assisted suicide in the past.

We support capital punishment. Oklahomans have made it clear that they want the death penalty to be used to punish the worst of the worst crimes, and we agree. The people on Death Row earned their way to their position, and we don’t have a lot of empathy for what becomes of them.

But Oklahomans also expect the law to be carried out in a way that is constitutional and not an embarrassment to the state.

We see no reason to rush our move toward an untried execution method. The state took too many lumps over its lethal injection debacles. We’d just as soon see other states be the test cases. Oklahomans want justice and they want it quickly, but there’s no reason we can’t lay back modestly and let other states prove the method in court and in practice.

In this race, second place makes a lot more sense than first.


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