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#FeaturedFour: Oklahoma SCOTUS Tie, Child Abuse Cuts, U2’s Philanthropy, Finance Secretary Trouble

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland visits the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum for the 2015 Reflections of Hope Award.
Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland visits the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum for the 2015 Reflections of Hope Award.

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

President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death last month. The veteran of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has a significant connection to the Sooner State, having supervised the investigation into the attack, and the prosecution of convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh.
The open seat on the high court during an election year created a political firestorm, and Oklahoma U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford said they don’t want to see a nominee confirmed until after November’s election. Garland earned support from his 1995 courtroom opponent – McVeigh’s lead defense attorney Stephen Jones. The Enid lawyer has been active in Republican politics for five decades, but said Garland is tremendously qualified, with a “flawless” judicial and law enforcement record. He urged Lankford and Infofe to vote for Garland if a confirmation hearing takes place.

Reader Walter Jenny Jr. writes: “He deserves the support of Oklahoma's two senators.”

Samantha Hanaway, left, holds her son as she meets with Kourtney Waganer, a family support specialist with Parent Promise.
Credit Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record
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The Journal Record
Samantha Hanaway, left, holds her son as she meets with Kourtney Waganer, a family support specialist with Parent Promise.

Oklahoma’s $1.3 billion budget shortfall will lead to a $2.2 million cut to the state’s child abuse prevention program. Samantha Hanaway is part of just one of about 700 families who will be affected by the reduced funding to the State Department of Health. Hanaway’s story led to a heated exchange in our comments section, and she even weighed in to counter assumptions about her personal life.
Hanaway writes: I stay home with my son because in May, two months before my son was born, my mother(who would've been his primary caretaker) passed away. I was married to a hard working man before I got pregnant and my son was VERY MUCH PLANNED. Also, this specific program isn't about abuse control. Kourtney comes out and meets with us to make sure my son is meeting his milestones. Something that I wouldn't know otherwise because the person I would ask is dead.

U2 performing on one of their concerts of the 360° tour in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on August 3, 2009.
Credit SteBo / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
U2 performing on one of their concerts of the 360° tour in Gelsenkirchen, Germany on August 3, 2009.

Since even before the group formed in 1976, Bono and his bandmates in U2 have had a strong social conscience and a desire to use their celebrity to make the world a better place. University of Oklahoma international studies professor Alan McPherson tells the story of how the band went from touring with Amnesty International to lobbying the Bush administration to grant billions of dollars worth of debt relief to developing countries.
Reader Kelly Sikes-Sturges writes: “I really enjoyed this one in particular. I would like to add that music itself is a great motivator. Especially U2. Bono has consistently written powerful lyrics and, together with the Edge, developed a unique sound that is not soon forgotten.”

Finance secretary Preston Doerflinger (left), House Speaker Jeff Hickman (center), and State Sen. Clark Jolley (right) address the budget situation and revenue failure during a Deember 17, 2015 news conference at the state Capitol.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma
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StateImpact Oklahoma
Finance secretary Preston Doerflinger (left), House Speaker Jeff Hickman (center), and State Sen. Clark Jolley (right) address the budget situation and revenue failure during a Deember 17, 2015 news conference at the state Capitol.

The same collective of Oklahomans who successfully led a petition drive for a grand jury investigation into the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office now wants Oklahoma’s top budget official in the executive branch to step down. We The People Oklahoma criticized Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger for comments he made on an Oklahoma City talk radio station criticizing Republican lawmakers and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. Doerflinger later walked back those comments.
That’s a look at four stories that audiences appreciated on KGOU’s social media and online platforms this week. We’re always interested in your comments, feel free to write to us at news@kgou.org.

KGOU is a community-supported news organization and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting 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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