I did get to talk to Mrs. Catherine White and after doing so found myself twice as mad as before!
Catherine is a genuinely nice, gentle lady and the antics that Ken Miller imposed on her have caused her more than a little discomfort. She is trying to help others get involved and informed. She managed to get 75 people out to that event, and that is a feat no matter how you slice it. Much preparation went into the meeting and she was distressed that 5 people left the event right after sitting through Ken Miller’s public hissy fit. I hope she takes this all as a learning experience and uses the bad behavior as an example of why the grassroots needs to be involved in the political arena.
As far as her take on the whole mess, Catherine was not impressed with Ken Miller at all! She said that he spent a good deal of time canonizing himself as “the were the most holy, stainless, pure and angelic person” and then treated the crowd to 30 minutes of hurling accusations at Al Gerhart. She didn’t mention the specific accusations but did find it notable that while Al sat quietly through the rant; “he didn’t make a peep” she said, Miller was “jumping up to get his two cents in” when it was Al’s turn to speak. Catherine would not allow Al to use his time to shoot back but reminded him that he was there to inform them about the state questions so Al got little time to defend himself which I think is just as well and Catherine handled that matter very appropriately. She was concerned about all of those people who showed up to be informed and made sure that they were.
Here is the advice I gave to Catherine by email after we spoke;
I understand your concern about this situation reflecting poorly on you or tea party efforts.
My advice is to turn it into a learning experience for them. We are just regular folks that generally take things at face value because in our daily lives that works. Unfortunately, politics seems to follow a different set of rules but far from discouraging us, this fact should indicate to us that our input is sorely needed.
What happens is that the good people, upon getting a whiff of the bad smell emanating from the political arena, pinch their noses and go home. Well, this is exactly what serves the stinkers best!
I always say that I wish I didn’t know had bad it all stinks because now that I do, I cannot turn my back on it. Why? Because the dirty dealings that are going on in politics translates to all of us being taken advantage of in many ways not the least of which is in our pocketbooks.
The grassroots are the only political force that can resist the corruption and therefor we must serve as the moral compass in our chosen parties and government. This is what the grassroots are for.
Rather than being bewildered by the bad behavior rampant in politics, we should turn the tables and insist (just like you did!) that the players follow the rules that we all do with each other ever day.
When you see this type of bad behavior displayed openly, doesn’t it make you worried about what goes on behind closed doors? It is as bad as you would imagine.
The best advice I have gotten to date on how to navigate the political arena, and you will no doubt be familiar with this bit of wisdom;
“Be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves”
Oct 31, 2010
No longer content to wait on their Party to hand out assignments or provide them with walking lists, modern day rabble-rousers are doing it all. They lobby, teach, organize events, help write legislation, block walk and even serve as civil watchdogs.
While our government runs us through a meat grinder in their quest to transform government, there is a growing number of Americans who may have been called the liberty sensitive “canaries in the coal mine” but as their numbers continue to grow they look less like canaries and more like a flock of freebirds (or possibly magpies to some aggravated lawmakers. Perspectives will vary)
They print their own political signage, run radio ads, make use of high tech tools like robo calls, databases and websites to inform voters and shine the light on political shenanigans.
But it ain’t all sunshine and roses.
Al Gerhart, of the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance and Sooner Tea Party along with the hosts and attendees of a recent Tea Party meeting in Ada got a surprise visit last Tuesday.
Gerhart was scheduled to speak on the state’s ballot initiatives and upcoming Tea Party activities when State Representative, Ken Miller, Republican candidate for the Oklahoma State Treasurer’s office turned up unannounced at the event. He asked if he could speak in response to an ongoing Tea Party campaign, www.kenmillerlied.com , an effort to expose instances that activists believe demonstrates deceit on the part of Rep. Miller.
Ken Miller has received some un-welcomed attention from grassroots activists and the media on matters pertaining to the Governors Spy Cam scheme, tax credits, and his role in the Tax/Fee bill that was passed at the tail end of the last legislative session.
The hostess of the evening, Mrs. Catherine White, graciously allowed Rep. Miller the floor in order for him to have his say.
I am told The Oklahoma State Representative began his talk tame but grew temperamental before long.
After offering a bit of personal background about himself, Rep. Miller turned his attention to the matter that inspired him to attend the Ada event in the first place.
Rep. Miller is quite put out with the quantity of “litter” being strewn about the state and he is pretty sure who is responsible for it.
Now, as far as campaign materials go, the signs in question are unusually discreet ones measuring app 3″ x 18″. They hardly seem to qualify as litter but perhaps the difference between litter and valuable information is in the “eye of the beholder’ as one Oklahoma Representative told members of the House when he was asked to clarify the difference between a “Tax” and a “Fee”.
The signs bear only a single web address:
“They littered my entire House District with them, and they are littered ALL over the state!” the Rep. and State Treasurer hopeful declared to the onlookers.
The Representative went on to charge that Al Gerhart, small business owner and newly minted Tea Party political activist, was fabricating the allegations found online at www.KenMillerLied.com
If you have not met Al Gerhart, I will note that he has a no-nonsense, straightforward approach that has served him well as a small businessman. These same skills have quickly earned him both loyal fans and intense detractors in the Oklahoma political arena.
I like to give credit where credit is due. One thing about Al that is undeniable is that he gets the job done! Furthermore, he does it at a price that you can’t beat with a stick.
Al Gerhart, like many other great people in this state and nation, receives nothing in return for his labor as a grassroots activist and he works harder at it than just about anyone I know.
I am very interested in finding out what those who witnessed what must have been a rather uncomfortable meeting, took away from the Tuesday night spectacle. On Monday I plan to satisfy my curiosity and contact some who were present and find out what the folks in Ada thought about it all.
When I found out about this contentious event that took place in Ada I contacted Al to find out more about what actually happened — which he was happy to share.
According to Mr. Gerhart, Ken Miller has been badmouthing him and other Tea Party activists at Republican events since last July; other sources validate that this is true.
“We ignored Mr. Miller’s antics, after all, he was helping spread the story, I thought perhaps some of the attendees would look further into the facts. Never in a million years did I think Mr. Miller would ever take the time to hunt me down and confront me personally.”
Apparently, Rep. Miller’s first contention at the recent Ada event was that “I and a few friends were “littering” the entire state with the KenMillerLied.com signs,” says Al.
He notes that Rep Miller “didn’t explain just how a few people could afford the cost of the signs nor how we could manage to ‘litter’ the entire state.”
Ken Miller believes that Al and others in the Tea Party Group were angered by his refusal to permit a certain bill, HB 2810, to advance in the legislature last session.
That certainly didn’t win Ken Miller any grassroots love but it also isn’t the only thing that has gotten him crossways with voters.
Rep. Miller told the crowd that this bill would have prevented the federal government from collecting excise taxes and would also allow the printing of Oklahoma currency.
According to Gerhart;
“HB 2810 did not prevent collection of Federal Excise tax, it would have merely created an escrow account for the tax should Eric Holder, the Obama administration Attorney General make good on his threats to strip road and bridge tax money from Oklahoma should Oklahoma pass a bill to make English the official state language.”
According to this story posted on The McCarville Report on Feb. 10, 2010;
House Bill 2810 allows the state to collect and then remit federal taxes and hold that money in a fund that can be invested with the state retaining any earnings from the investment.
“There is a potential for over $50 million new tax dollars to be made by the state if this bill passes,” said Key. “And that is in the current low interest rate environment. In a typical year, that figure could be four or five times higher.”
Key filed a similar bill in 1995 and it passed the House on an 89-12 vote, but was held up by the Senate.
Gerhart also insisted that there was no mention of printing currency in the bill. I did a word search on HB 2810 and indeed, the word currency is not in it, nor is “printing”, “coin” or “money”.
Here is my story about the resistance we met with on HB 2810;
HB 2810 The Oklahoma Sovereignty Act: Stuck in Liebmanns Craw
One can only hope that Rep. Miller actually read this bill before deciding to kill it early last session.
Rep. Miller had other complaints about Gerhart and the Sooner Tea Party.
Al Gerhart related that Rep. Miller was indignant over robo calls that the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance (a conservative coalition group initiated by Gerhart last year) issued in July to inform voters about Rep. Miller’s voting record.
“He is apparently upset that mere citizens dared to inform other citizens of his voting record.” says Gerhart.
**Note to self, robo calls do in fact, still work.
Rep. Miller’s role in the controversial, last minute tax increase bill is a central point of contention between the activists and Rep. Miller that led to the creation of the www.KenMillerLied.com website.
At issue is Rep. Miller’s campaign statements that assert that “he has never supported a tax increase”, a statement disputed by others, including this well respected Republican commentator who has no known involvement in the Tea Party movement.
As highlighted by the www.kenmillerlied.com website, Rep. Miller posted this statement to his campaign website in response to the insistence by some in the Tea Party movement, including this writer, that he was not being truthful about his voting record or his role in the tax increase
In Ada, Rep. Miller admitted that he did author the bill but downplayed that fact saying that that it is part of his responsibility as the Chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. There is something to this but it isn’t the point.
But focusing on it serves a great red herring for Rep. Miller to use. The reason many took issue with the bill in the first place was because they believed it was not in accordance with the Oklahoma State Constitution which plainly says no revenue bills can be passed in the last five days of session.
Rep. Miller has backed himself into a corner by making overarching statements to try to obscure his complicity in the tax increase bill.
From what I have seen, I have no doubt that Ken Miller is pretty bright, bright enough to know that the bill was a blatant violation of the law.
Isn’t his first responsibility as a legislator to uphold the law? I doubt the job description for chair of the Budget and Appropriations committee requires Rep. Miller to uphold and defend unconstitutional legislation.
Here is the oath Oklahoma officials do solemnly swear:
“that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, and that I will not, knowingly, receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law; I further swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties”
If Kim Holland caught the problem with the bill Ken Miller certainly should have!
Miller’s Tax Bill Gets theGavel!
The detractors of the tax increase bill were actually vindicated by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in August of this year;
Oklahoma Supreme Court Finds Health Insurance Tax Bill Unconstitutional
Naturally, the person listed as the author of this measure earned the brunt of the ire.
There is some confusion as to the technical procedures at play in our state legislature but Rep. Miller’s blanket denial of culpability in regards to authorship and support of the bill brought about renewed outrage as he is clearly listed as the author and records show that he signed the bill out of committee as well.
The bill in question traveled an unusually tortured path on the way to its eventual passage making it tough to evaluate. The 11th hour appearance before the house and also owing to the resistance it met with from some members of the State House contributed to the mess of documentation on the measure that made sorting out exactly what happened and what it meant hard to discern. Again after researching the matter and the input of those with the credentials to decipher the meaning from the morass of papers, Rep. Miller’s culpability was validated.
See the documents and explanation here
DRT-Dead Right There
In an effort to better understand the degree of support that Ken Miller really did lend to the measure, I made several calls to both legislators and staff and it was pointed out to me that the author of a bill also has the power to quash it at any time. As a gadabout and citizen lobbyist at our state capitol, I was aware of this but asked if this ability to kill your own bill was changed by the fact that Rep Miller is the chair of the Budget and Appropriations. Does his position make any difference? The answer is no.
Had Rep. Miller really wanted to, he could have made that nasty, unconstitutional bill “DRT-Dead Right There”, as Neil Bortz likes to say
From my July 26, 2010 posting on the matter;
- Ken Miller authored the bill
- A bill cannot be altered or advanced without the approval of the author meaning that
- The author has sole power to withdraw their bill.
- If Ken Miller really opposed the bill, he could have killed it.
- Ken Miller did not kill it.
Given these facts and Rep Miller’s statement that it is a “ridiculous assertion” that he “authored and supported a tax increase bill” as he stated on his website, “Ken Miller Lied” is a perfectly fair and indisputable statement.
They are watching you (but not as much as they could be)
Thank goodness the Spy Cam, InsureNet Governors Revenue deal fizzled out!
Rep Miller was also miffed about the Tea Party dragging him down the center of town with devils bringing up the rear prodding him with pitchforks right in the behind.
It turns out that the gentle tea folk did not do anything of the sort. But they did discuss (or fantasize) about doing such a show at the recent Ghouls Gone Wild Halloween Parade in OKC.
This idea was resoundingly rejected by the group as a whole as unseemly and the rest settled on handing out candy and literature instead.
The shocking thing to me is that we have a state legislator spying on a group of citizen activists. Think about that for a minute. Ken Miller is not sure who exactly put those little signs out all over the state, but when the legislation he authored reaches its fulfillment then we will understand just what a chill comes when the government has even more power to spy on the people.
Rep. Miller told the audience Tuesday night that he had nothing to do with the spy cam bill. He is telling the truth, technically speaking.
The has been no legislation in Oklahoma that I am aware of called a “spy camera bill”
The Spy Cam’s in question are actually Automatic License Plate Recognition or ALPR.
ALPR uses a video camera and optical character recognition technology to read the letters and numbers on your license plate. By comparing your plate with whatever database it might be linked up to, the device can check to see if you have any outstanding tickets or warrants. It can also see if you are on a watch list, owe back taxes or verify whether or not the vehicle is insured. ALPR can store your data allowing your movements to be tracked and cataloged.
The technology is not foolproof and requires certain features to be present on license plates in order to work optimally.
Our old Oklahoma license plates did not have the features needed to be read properly by the ALPR. The font of the characters, contrast in color and reflectivity needed to be changed before the ALPR could work properly.
**See 3M’s brochure
Oklahoma passed legislation to mandate the creation and implementation of the camera ready plates.
In 2007 SB 748 was passed
SB 748-Creates the Oklahoma License Plate Design Task Force to choose the design of a new official Oklahoma license plate. Requires the Oklahoma Tax Commission, contingent upon statutory authorization, to implement the license plate reissue using the design selected by the task force.
In 2008 HB 3326 was passed
HB 3326 by Rep. Kenneth Miller, directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to begin replacing state license plates with those approved by the Oklahoma License Plate Design Task Force
Gov. Brad Henry’s Budget Proposal for FY 2011 which was unveiled at the State of the State address proposes;
Automated Enforcement of Vehicle Insurance
The Governor’s budget proposes that the State of Oklahoma better protect Oklahomans from uninsured motorists by increasing drivers’ compliance with compulsory vehicle insurance laws through implementation of an automated enforcement system. An automated enforcement system will increase the efficiency of the current Oklahoma law enforcement, enable equal enforcement of in-state and out-of-state violators and reduce costs to existing vehicle liability policyholders. An automated system also eliminates insurance fraud by providing instant insurance verification.
Without these two bills, Oklahoma would not have the (spy)camera ready license plates that we do today.
Read more about the Oklahoma, Spy Cam, InsureNet Budget Deal
Gerhart goes on to give a detailed account of what he said to the audience when time came for him to speak but I will only give an abbreviated version here with a promise to follow up after I have gathered the impressions of some of the others who were present.
“I did tell the crowd of the work and expense of the KenMillerLied.com project, all of which was funded by dozens and dozens of citizens from all across the state.”
He indicated to me that he defended the efforts and actions of activists who are ordinary working people that were trying to do their part to improve matters in our state by getting involved in the political process.
Gerhart apparently covered a lot of ground despite several interruptions by Rep. Miller who was finally admonished by an elderly gentleman who stood and expressed that the Representative was being unfair by interrupting when he had been allowed his say without interference. Rep. Miller doesn’t seem to think the same rules that we follow, apply to him.
Al Gerhart expressed some surprise and doubt about the quality of Rep. Miller’s judgment in showing up unannounced to the event and acting rudely. He questioned whether Rep. Miller underestimated the intelligence of the group of people in Ada, who surely had some background about the matters raised that evening.
“Miller is not stupid, but he is eaten up with arrogance and pride.”
Speaking of politicians that exhibit these qualities, Gerhart says he wonders if “the very qualities that put them in charge will not be what brings them down to public humiliation”
Gerhart left the people in Ada with some food for thought;
“He [Miller] had listed a long list of endorsements for his campaign, yet he left out one of the most remarkable endorsements, that of the sitting State Treasurer, Democrat Scott Meachum.
“I asked what sort of world were we living in where a Democrat elected official would stand for one of their highest elected officials endorsing a Republican? Is that not insanity?”
He then makes the point that it only seems insane “because we don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”
The reasoning, Al suggests, transcends partisan politics because those who stand to benefit most from a Treasurer that will play ball….
“. . .can’t afford to have an honest man elected to the Treasurer’s office”