Does anyone else remember the 90s? Not the gay 90s of the 1800s, but the wild 90s of the 1900s. Bush Sr. started the decade off right with the war of dubious morality. While he proved he was no wimp, the perception that he had broken his promises of “read my lips, no new taxes” led to his embarrassing loss to an upstart Governor of Arkansas (Arkansas no less) Bill Clinton. And the Oklahoma Democratic party gave one of their last gasps (though not quite their last one) when they got David Walters elected Governor. This was around the time when yours truly was turning Conservative, and I was listening to Rush Limbaugh and believing much of what he said. I was learning the Republican = Good, and Democrat = Bad. Governor Walters got embroiled in a scandal, and while he never resigned and never admitted to being guilty (except…you know…when he pleaded guilty) his political career was over. And in my youthful arrogance, I thought I understood all about it, and gloated over most of his misfortunes. But not over the death of his son. You NEVER gloat over pain involving children. After what I’ve gone through, I’m glad I didn’t. NOBODY deserves to lose a son. Except for people who abuse them.
I’ll post a link here for anyone who wants to remember that historic moment.
First off, let’s look at the number of scandals. As far as I can find and remember, Governor Walters was involved in two scandals (at any rate, they happened under his watch). I’ll leave a link here if you want to read further. https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=SC001
Let’s see if I’m able to count high enough for the Stittenator.
I got on this kick because it suddenly dawned on me, while I was writing the last post, that it seems as if Ryan Walters, Governor Stitt’s Mini Me in education, rose awfully swiftly through the ranks. And I’ve been pondering…how did he do it? Was he related to David Walters?
As far as your Tired Blogger can find, he is not. In fact, my search shows that David Walters is no fan of Stitt, and criticizes him vociferously on Twitter (so well, in fact, I started following him).
Let’s do a quick comparison between the two governor’s scandals.
By a Tired Blogger’s count, Stitt is at least indirectly involved in 8 different scandals. I gather that figure from reading this site: https://oklahomawatch.org/2022/10/25/our-state-under-stitt-government-at-the-speed-of-business/
Second, let’s compare the dollar amounts involved. Under Governor Walter’s we were pressuring him to resign over…wait for it, the amount of money is truly breathtaking…$13,500! No wonder we are in such a poor state, when governors get 13,500 more in contributions than legally allowed.
How much is the dollar amount Stitt stands accused of (in the public media)? According to The Tulsa World, there’s at least $68 million involved. To be fair, not all of that was during Stitt’s watch, yet he seems to be unwilling to do anything but throw the blame on Joy Hoffmeister. This figure is as of 2015, so let’s say half of this is on Mary Fallon and half on Stitt. So that would be $34 million. The no-bid debacle with ClassWallet amounts to $8 million. The Swadley’s BBQ fiasco: $12.4 million according to The Oklahoman. The establishment of a Covid-19 lab that was never used at all cost us $8.5 million according to https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/lab/oklahoma-lab-struggling-after-move-privatization-8-things-to-know.html
$5.4 million was spent on PPE that was never delivered. $2.6 million was spent on the spiffy wonder drug hydroxychloroquine. And the controversial plan to buy 1,000 electric vehicles from Canoo Inc, that contract is worth $50 million.
Now to break out the abacus…Carry the 8….take it times e….add the square root of Cthulhu’s birthday in a Non-Euclidean universe…. 120.9 million dollars.
Last of all, which of these governors has the coziest relationship with the media? Neither of them has (had) a great relationship with the local media, but I think there are some telling differences.
The death of Governor Walter’s son by suicide was reported the day after it happened. We didn’t find out about Governor Stitt’s son being arrested for drunk and disorderly with weapons on Halloween until after the election, conveniently enough. OKC Fox reported the incident five days ago…on the 18th. Best I can gather, the police chose to file charges, but the DA sat on the paperwork.
Having compared the two, I believe I will take Governor Walter’s 15 grand over Stitt’s $120 million. My math isn’t great, but it looks to me Walter’s hornswoggled a whole lot less, and suffered a whole lot more for it.
Likely I’m being unfair, but I’d be curious if we look up Laura Thomas a year from now, will we see some advancement in her career? And the officer involved, Katlin Dawn Long…if we look her up a year from now, will we find her career stalled? Maybe I’m being unfair, but I think it would be an interesting exercise in journalism if someone would keep track of these folks.
I promised to talk about the Epic fiasco, and I’ll at least begin to talk about it in this post. Give me a second while I change gears.
This is a hornet’s nest, and to be fair to Stitt, the problem goes all the way back to Mary Fallon. I’ll leave three links here so you can read further if you wish.
The OSBI opened an investigation of Epic in 2013 at the behest of Mary Fallon. So I’ll give her some points for that. Epic was founded by Ben Harris and David Chaney. I wonder if they started it with a computer and $1000?
According to KFour: “Epic recruited teachers based on a pay scale where they were paid $1,000 per student per year. Epic teachers and families of students were encouraged to recruit more students for Epic. Teachers were given pay bonuses for each student they recruited, and families were given a bonus credited to their Student Learning Fund account for each student they recruited. The bonuses were paid with state funds and created a situation similar to a pyramid scheme. The more students that were recruited the more money Chaney and Harris made…
“Investors recruit additional investors (students) and are paid a bonus dependent on the number of investors recruited. The bonus is a small portion of the money the management/owners at the top of the pyramid receive from the addition of each investor. Even though the low-level recruiters make money through their bonus payments, the owners/managers make more money. The difference with Epic is that low-level investors (teachers/students) don’t lose money because the money is provided by the State of Oklahoma for each student enrolled.”
These words are nearly verbatim from the probable cause affidavit from the OSBI.
Channel 4 continues: “Most of the upper-level administration consisted of either family or personal friends of Chaney, Harris, or Brock,” the report states, adding that Chaney and Harris often gave expensive gifts worth thousands of dollars.
“The report says that Epic’s recruitment led to teachers at private schools becoming teachers for Epic, and simultaneously enrolling their private school students as public-school students at Epic. The teachers were then paid by both entities.”
I don’t know about you, but I think that is brilliant! The best of both worlds! If only Amway were taking notes I might sign on with them again.
“Investigators found that students from St. John’s Christian Heritage Academy, St. Peter and Paul Catholic School, Bridge of Hope and Rising High Christian Academy were dual enrolled with Epic.
“Some parents whose children were enrolled in these schools had no knowledge their children were fraudulently enrolled in Epic. A parent confirmed her child was enrolled in RHCA, but never enrolled the child in Epic. An administrator of RHCA reported she had an ‘arrangement’ with Epic that provided RHCA with supplies and services in exchange for the enrollment of RHCA students,” the report claimed.”
There is more on this topic here: https://www.courthousenews.com/giant-online-charter-school-probed-for-ghost-students/
“Harris directed and controlled the establishment and relationship between Community Strategies and CS-CA in a manner that would ultimately profit the expansion of their brand ‘Epic’ to California at the expense of Oklahoma tax dollars,” the report stated.
“Even before a California charter school was created, funds from Oklahoma taxpayers were being pledged to create a public charter school in California.”
“Epic did not perform required background checks on their instructors. Epic paid for extracurricular activities for Epic students in organizations whose coaches were not certified by the Oklahoma Secondary School Athletic Association,” the affidavit states.
“Chancey said he tried to correct problems at Epic, but Chaney and Harris would appeal to the education department. If the agency didn’t support Epic, Chancey claimed that Harris and Chaney would have their attorney threaten to sue the Graham Public School District.”
So…we are going to teach the students without certification, even though we are paying them twice over from Oklahoma taxes. What about their safety? What about the level of student education? If some parents had no knowledge of the enrollment of their children in the school, how could these students be given grades? I wonder what would happen if we opened some of the grade books? In a university, I have it on good authority from a non-disclosed source, that grades must be posted by the Wednesday after finals. But how can you post grades for children who aren’t even aware they are enrolled? Do you just flunk them? I’d think there would be a lot of angry parents…
I wonder what we would find if we opened up the grade books at some of these schools. I wonder what Screwtape would say?
The Tulsa World reports on how the Pandemic made banner profits for the virtual school. At one point they were the largest school in Oklahoma according to The Oklahoman. On April April 14 of 2021, the school released a flow chart of how all their funding worked. At this point, the founders had not yet been arrested, but the audit requested by Governor Stitt likely caused them to think the gig might be up.
The end of the story is, lots of people are pointing fingers and blaming others, three men with a unique but likely illegal business plan were arrested, and the Epic school with all its glitter and flash has been downgraded in its “accreditation status changed to “Accreditation with Probation” according to channel four.
What has all of this got to do with Governor Stitt!? Stay tuned Friday for more Tired Blogging, and we’ll find out!