We reported on a diverse array of stories in 2012. But despite some unusual coverage (like the economic reasons for an uptick in moonshining in southeastern Oklahoma) our most popular posts of the year had some similarities.
We love data at StateImpact, so we decided to analyze ourselves and investigate the topical composition of our most popular posts of the year. Half of our 12 most-read posts of the year are about Oklahoma’s oil hub in Cushing or tax policy.
What an eclectic, nerdy bunch you are. We love it. Here’s the post-by-post breakdown:
The 12 Most Popular Posts of 2012
Our reporting: Oklahoma’s poverty level in 2010 — 16.8 percent — is a hair higher than the 16.7 percent peak estimated in 2006. One-tenth of a percentage point seems small, but it represents tens of thousands Oklahomans.
Reader comment: “We are becoming just like China and India, where all the villages are poor and the only jobs outside of agriculture are in the cities. Welcome to the global economy, Oklahoma!”
Our reporting: Oklahoma is in an affirmative action battle of its own, but this one will be decided by voters when they weigh in on State Question 759. The initiative has sparked a debate over the fundamental fairness of the practice and whether discrimination is still a major problem in Oklahoma.
Reader comment: “Why should financial aid and scholarships depend on skin color? There are plenty of poor people of all colors, and plenty on well-off people of all colors.”
Our reporting: For Oklahomans under the age of 18, the hardest place to grow up is in Choctaw County. The area reflects the latest U.S. Census numbers showing poverty on the increase in many rural areas across the country.
Reader comment: “It’s sad that’s where were at, but an empty tummy goes a long way toward motivation. Life can be so harsh. But what else can be done?”
Our reporting: Tomorrow morning, a pipe yard in rural Oklahoma will become a platform for President Barack Obama’s domestic energy policy. The event is part of Obama’s four-state energy tour, and the stop in Cushing — home to one of the largest crude oil storage facilities in the world — is as symbolic as it is significant.
Reader comment: “I’m very disappointed that our elected officials, Gov. Fallin and her Lt. Gov., are not extending Oklahoma hospitality to the President of the United States by being present at his speech.”
Our reporting: The state will pay about $6,633.63 “out-of-pocket” for the governor’s bowl game trip, said Capt. Charles Strasbaugh with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. Most of that — more than $4,800 — paid for about 919 gallons of fuel. The state also paid $1,593.78 to cover hotels, meals and car rental for the trip’s pilot and co-pilot, plus $190 in landing fees and $6.38 for charts and maps, records show.
Reader comment: “The fact that the state did NOT pay for her own hotel and food highlights the fact that she was not operating in any official capacity.”
Our reporting: Cushing is one of the world’s biggest oil hubs, but its network of pipelines wasn’t built for the modern market, industry officials, researchers and economists tell StateImpact Oklahoma.
Our reporting: More than a half-dozen income tax-cutting measures were filed. Some contained immediate reductions; others were tagged with triggers and multi-year phase-outs. Here’s what went wrong:
Reader comment: “… It’s time to throw these phony social justice crusaders [sic] overboard, and let the private sector get back to growing unimpeded by a Marxist concept such as the income tax. Jobs and prosperity would return. The failed income tax era is over. Time to look closely at Texas and Tennessee and other no income tax states, and get rid of this Satanic curse that is the income tax concept.”
Our reporting: The outcome of a 2009 ruling from the state Supreme Court could mean that Oklahoma businesses face a tax on all of their intangible personal property.
Reader comment: “So, now you people who voted this question in tell me where the tens of millions in lost revenue to our education system is going to come from. Is it going to come from the companies who are the real beneficiaries of this “change?” Don’t think so. You people should have read between the lines.”
#4: State Question 766: What An Oklahoma Hamburger Chain Can Teach Us About Intangible Property Taxes
Our reporting: Intangible property is everywhere. An item’s intangible value is determined by its non-physical attributes. Telecommunications and utility companies’ transmission lines are worth more than the material they’re made up of. They have an intangible value.
Reader comment: “Aren’t businesses already taxed on intangible property?”
Our reporting: James Grimsley designs intelligent machines that mimic nature. One of his projects looks like a bird. More importantly, it moves like one. The black, winged apparatus is programmed to fly, observe, perch, wait … and explode. Drones are a booming business, and Oklahoma wants to pilot the controls.
Our reporting: Hiring former inmates isn’t a priority, or an option, for many Oklahoma business owners. But Lonnie Hunt says felons are often better workers than those who’ve never been behind bars. Hunt should know — He’s been to prison. And now he does the hiring.
Reader comment: “Lonnie Hunt deserves a medal. We need more people like him.”
Our reporting: Information is everything, and traders are using high-tech extremes to extract data about oil storage and flow from the high-security oil hub.
Reader comment: “Former Cold War spies are now tracking oil company technicians (and their families) in order to steal valuable cryptographic keys, control system data, and scheduling information. The payoff is simply amazing! These former spies are making 10 times what they made working for the U.S. Government. Welcome to the future my friends.”