By Ron Jenkins `We whistle while we work and we move
forward,'' Gov. David Walters said as he rejected the notion that
the operation of his office has been hurt by the barrage of
criticism over his controversial personnel actions.
Last week was a relatively quiet one for Walters as he returned
from an economic development trip to New York. There he huddled
with financial leaders and played host to dignitaries attending a
new Broadway production about Oklahoma humorist Will Rogers.
The first-year governor is trying to regroup from weeks of
criticism over hirings and firings.
In addition to leaving town to take part in the trade mission to
New York City, Walters' campaign organization made mailings to
legislators, supporters and others extolling ``the first 100 days of
action'' of the Walters regime.
In a cover letter to the six-page document, Walters said ``a
strong foundation for change has been laid'' by his administration.
But at week's end, another key Walters program appeared dead,
leaving the new governor with little to brag about as far as getting
his program through a Legislature dominated by fellow Democrats.
Walters on Thursday conceded his plan for a $300 million capital
improvement program is probably dead for the year because he and
legislative leaders could not agree on a method of financing the
Among the Walters proposals shelved earlier in the year were a
plan to consolidate law enforcement agencies and a proposal to break
up the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. The Department of
Human Services plan would have created separate entities to handle
juvenile and elderly programs and to run state teaching hospitals.
Curiously, some legislative leaders who had previously clashed
with the governor are saying nice things about him as the session
heads into its final three weeks. Lawmakers must adjourn by May 31
under the state Constitution.
``I think he's doing an OK job,'' said Senate Appropriations
Chairman Stratton Taylor, D-Claremore. ``I'd grade him a `B'.''
Taylor was harshly critical of Walters' budget-cutting proposals
a few weeks ago, but now is praising him for his attention to budget
matters in his first year.
``He's an extremely bright and capable person and I think he'll
have a successful four years,'' Taylor said.
He said he did not know that Walters had done anything different
in filling state positions than past governors.
Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Cullison, D-Skiatook, said he
also thought Walters had ``done a good job,'' adding it was not
unusual for a new chief executive to lose some major legislative