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Featured Four: Price Tower, Quake Politics, OU Pay Cuts, Fallin’s Budget Breakdown

The Price Tower in downtown Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
Kate Carlton Greer
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KGOU
The Price Tower in downtown Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Four stories that were trending or generated discussion online or on KGOU’s social media platforms during the past week.

We’re always interested in hearing from our audience. Leave your comments on any of our stories, or get in touch with us via Facebook and Twitter. You can also email us at news@kgou.org.

 

As part of a new series called “Artland” KGOU is launching in collaboration with KCUR in Kansas City, we’re taking a look at how creativity builds community in unexpected places. Our reporter Kate Carlton Greer traveled north to Bartlesville, the home of the Price Tower. The mid-1950s, 19-story building was one of the last projects by renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and the only skyscraper he ever designed. It stands out in the comparatively tiny prairie town, and Wright’s unique style presents maintenance challenges to this day.
Reader Beth Prichard Robison writes: “I love the Price Tower! I was born and raised in Bartlesville, and now recognize what a special environment it was to grow up in. I've gone back and stayed in the Price Tower hotel, and it is absolutely magical. It transports you to almost a different plane. It's very special.”

Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologists and representatives from the Corporation Commission lead a public meeting on earthquakes held in March 2015 in Medford, Okla.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma
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StateImpact Oklahoma
Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologists and representatives from the Corporation Commission lead a public meeting on earthquakes held in March 2015 in Medford, Okla.

StateImpact Oklahoma has been following the interaction between the state, the University of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Geological Survey. Critics say energy industry executives are putting pressure on the university and the agency to dial back or temper some of the findings connecting the oil and gas drilling and disposal methods to seismic activity. In an interview with The Huffington Post, former OGS scientist Amberlee Darold said politics made scientific fieldwork frustrating, and geologists and seismologists were constantly on edge about media, public, and political pressure.

Reader Greg Reipl writes: “I guess that she might be as frustrated as those of us that see very obvious signs of increased tectonic stress being a major part of the equation yet researchers want to blame "all" of the earthquakes on water disposal and not have to deal with the inconvenient truth that a huge percentage of the earthquakes continue in areas that have little or no oil field activity capable of causing an earthquake.”

David Boren served as president of the University of Oklahoma from 1994 to 2018.
Credit Brian Hardzinski / KGOU
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KGOU
University of Oklahoma president David Boren

In order to deal with anticipated cuts to higher education caused by the $1.3 billion state budget shortfall, University of Oklahoma president David Boren announced this week he’ll be taking a 3 percent pay cut, along with all of OU’s vice presidents and college deans. Higher education payroll data collected by Oklahoma Watch indicates Boren makes just over $372,000 annually, meaning his cut comes to $11,160, or $930 per month. Oklahoma State University president Burns Hargis made $445,000 in fiscal year 2015.

Reader Casey Holcomb wrote on Facebook: “Why don't they just stop giving away $600 million per year on the horizontal drilling tax credit. That would cut the $900 million budget shortfall down to $300 million. Boren is a joke--he's taking in a cool half million a year for his board position with Continental Resources. 

How many of his lackeys at OU can afford the paycut he's proposing? Leading by example? This is a joke. More ridiculous austerity rhetoric from the top 1 percent.”

Gov. Mary Fallin enters the House chamber to deliver her "State of the State" address on Feb. 1. Political observers say she will need to work intensely behind the scenes to succeed in pushing through the revenue-raising measures she proposed.
Credit Michael Willmus / Oklahoma Watch
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Oklahoma Watch
Gov. Mary Fallin enters the House chamber to deliver her "State of the State" address on Feb. 1. Political observers say she will need to work intensely behind the scenes to succeed in pushing through the revenue-raising measures she proposed.

It’s now been just under two weeks since Gov. Mary Fallin delivered her State of the State address to open the 2016 Oklahoma legislative session, and since then the expected budget shortfall has grown to $1.3 billion. Oklahoma Watch went through Fallin’s proposals to fill the original $900 gap to explain how the budget will be shored up.

Reader Sheila Hawkins writes: “My idea? Take it out of the pockets of the legislators and Fallin. This mess did not happen overnight and it did not happen by mistake. They made this.”

KGOU relies on voluntary contributions from readers and listeners to further its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. To contribute to our efforts, make your donation online, or contact our Membership department.

Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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