Henry Bellmon and me
By John Greiner, 1993 inductee
When Henry Bellmon left the U.S. Senate, he was appointed by Governor George Nigh to head the Department of Human Services, also known as the Welfare Department.
Bellmon wasted no time in developing a reorganization plan for the massive agency. When he was ready to present the plan to the agency’s board of directors, he did so in the agency’s small board room. He would not release the plan at that time to the news media but made them wait until the meeting ended.
At a break, I went straight to Bellmon to explain why we reporters should have a copy of the report during the meeting. I argued it would make it easier for us to get things right.
“Do you want to run this agency?” growled Bellmon, sounding like the Marine he was.
Associated Press reporter Ron Jenkins grinned. After the meeting we got the report, as promised.
Bellmon came to me, Jenkins, and other reporters. He told us if he had released the report to reporters, Harry Culver of United Press international and Jim Young of the Oklahoma City Times would have gone back to the press room and filed their stories.
“I would have spent the rest of the afternoon answering phone calls [of other reporters],” Bellmon said.