The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

April 4, 2013

Rep. Sally Kern exactly right in her call for civility

ENID, Okla. — Our recent headline stated “Oklahoma panel won’t hear bill banning Agenda 21 plan,” but the bigger story was behind the scenes.

House Bill 1412, introduced by conservative state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, would have prohibited state organizations from following suggestions from a United Nations plan that helps cities and countries become more environmentally sustainable.

A number of state legislators, including our own state Sen. Patrick Anderson, were opposed to Agenda 21.

Anderson, whose main concern involved individual property rights, wrote Senate Bill 23 to ban Agenda 21, while Kern penned the measure House measure.

Anderson was approached by Mark Irwin, one of the directors of the Enid group Sons and Daughters of Liberty, about offering the bill. Enid resident Mary Rumph wrote us a letter to the editor claiming Agenda 21 “is being run by extreme environmentalists whose goal is a one-world government with no property rights.”

Also, the Jenks-based Immigration Reform for Oklahoma Now, a grassroots anti-illegal immigration group, called for a full Senate vote on Anderson’s stymied legislation.

Meanwhile, the House bill’s demise came a day after the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation launched a probe into an email to Republican Sen. Cliff Branan from Al Gerhart, controversial co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party political group.

“Get that bill heard or I will make sure you regret not doing it,” Gerhart wrote in the email. “We will dig into your past, (your) family, your associates and once we start on you there will be no end to it.”

Branan, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, told The Associated Press late Tuesday afternoon that he’d decided not to hear the measure at the panel’s Thursday meeting, likely killing it for this year’s legislative session. Branan said the bill is based on a “fringe conspiracy.”

To her credit, Kern issued a statement Thursday calling the outrageous personal threats against Branan “unfortunate” and “pathetic,” suggesting the Legislature should deal with “policy, not personalities.”

It’s one thing to disagree politically, but it’s unacceptable to threaten people on a personal level. Regardless of where you stand on this policy issue, Kern is exactly right in her call for civility.

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