Following Oklahoma's 2013 Tornadoes, Where Does Federal Aid Really Go?

Debris filled the streets in Moore, Okla. on May 20, 2013.
State Farm Flickr Creative Commons

After a string of deadly tornados hit Oklahoma in the spring of last year, President Obama signed a federal disaster declaration that paved the way for up to $257 million in aid.

One year later, about one half of that funding has been spent.  The Oklahoma Tornado Project teamed up with Oklahoma Watch to track where all the money went. 

Following huge disasters, there’s always a potential for things to go wrong. In New Orleans, former mayor Ray Nagin was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking bribes from contractors rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. And in New Jersey, there’s been criticism that some Sandy aid money has gone to less needy areas.

So we wanted to look into Oklahoma’s post-storm recovery. State Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood – who has worked closely with FEMA – says outright fraud is less common than it used to be. 

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All Services Are Free
7:48 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Remote Area Medical Clinic August 15 And 16

Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps
Credit Remote Area Medical

On Saturday, August 16, and Sunday, August 17, Remote Area Medical (RAM) will provide care to as many people as possible at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City.

Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis regardless of income or immigration status.  Patients are encouraged to bring a list of any medications they take.

At this event, professionals will be providing free dental care - mostly cleanings and extractions, but a limited number of fillings will be done for some patients.

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Public Hearing August 15
6:52 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Ethics Commission To Consider Amendments To Rules That Take Effect In January 2015

Cathy Stocker, Chair of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission
Credit Oklahoma Ethics Commission

The Ethics Commission will consider a series of proposed amendments to its new rules during upcoming meetings that will be submitted to the Legislature for consideration in 2015. 

The commission held a series of public meetings in 2013 before submitting a completely rewritten version of its rules to the Legislature at the start of the 2014 session. Those rules were adopted when the Legislature did not take action to disapprove or amend them before adjourning sine die. These new rules, largely, do not take effect until Jan. 1, 2015, to allow the current election cycle to be completed under one consistent set of guidelines.

"I think we are going to need to consider some amendments to those rules to be considered in 2015," Ethics Commissioner Executive Director Lee Slater told the commissioners during their meeting Friday.

Slater said several specific issues had been brought to his attention, including the treatment of political parties, the commission's abilities to assess fees and possible punishments for those who commit mid-level rules infractions.

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Approves 80 Plus Interim Studies
5:45 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

House Speaker Approves Study Of Oklahoma's Execution Methods

Rep. Mike Christian
Credit Oklahoma State Legislature

Legislators plan to look at alternatives to lethal injection as Oklahoma's method of execution during an interim study before lawmakers return for the 2015 session.

The study is among more than 80 that were formally approved on Friday by House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview.

A total of 93 studies had been requested by House members. Sixty studies were approved individually and 22 requests were combined into 11 single studies. Hearings for the studies will be conducted by the standing committees to which they were assigned.

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Claims He Was Wrongly Portrayed
4:19 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

OSU Booster Sues Sports Illustrated

Credit Erik Drost / Flickr.com

A representative of the Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes has filed a lawsuit against Sports Illustrated, saying he didn't pay benefits to players on the Oklahoma State football team as the magazine alleged he did.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Payne County District Court by plaintiff John Talley. In it, Talley says he was wrongly portrayed as an overzealous booster who improperly paid football players.

The magazine's five-part series published last year included interviews with more than 60 former players who played for OSU from 2001-10.

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Immigration
12:54 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Immigrant Children Could Be Housed At Fort Sill Until 2015, Rep. Cole Says

Credit Republicanconference / Flickr

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole says federal officials want to expand the use of military facilities like Fort Sill to house an increasing number of children from Central America who are caught trying to enter the country illegally.

The Republican from Moore said in a statement Friday that the Department of Health and Human Services wants to increase its capacity for the number of children being held at temporary shelters and extend the use of facilities until 2015.

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The Two-Way
11:46 am
Fri July 11, 2014

LeBron James Will Return To The Cleveland Cavaliers

A Cleveland Cavaliers fan holds up a LeBron James poster at a New York Yankees game Thursday. One day later, the fan's wish was granted: James will return to the Cavs for this year's new season.
Tony Dejak AP

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 12:20 pm

The Miami experiment is over: LeBron James will play for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. The NBA star opted out of his contract with the Heat after spending four seasons in Miami, where he won two championships.

James, 29, played for Cleveland for seven seasons before leaving the town, and his home state of Ohio, for Miami. Speculation about his next move heated up after James and the Heat were trounced in the NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs.

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: 'I'm Coming Home'

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Health
11:44 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Tulsa Preparing For National Gay Men's Blood Drive

Credit Expert Infantry / Flickr Creative Commons

Tulsa's Dennis R. Neill Equality Center and the Oklahoma Blood Institute are teaming up for Friday's National Gay Men's Blood Drive.

Officials at the center say that gay and bisexual men have been banned since 1983 from donating blood. The ban was instituted shortly after the start of AIDS. Officials at the center say it has been left in place since that time.

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Music Interviews
8:37 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Miranda Lambert And The Soft Side Of Tough

Miranda Lambert.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 8:57 am

Miranda Lambert has painted herself as one of country music's bad girls: Whether it's solo or with her trio Pistol Annies, she's got a deep catalog of songs about revenge, guns, cigarettes and beer. But her new album, Platinum, shows a more vulnerable side.

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Education
7:45 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Former State Regents Chancellor, Oregon State President Dies

Credit Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education

The former Chancellor of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education has died.

Oregon State University says Paul Risser passed away Thursday in Norman at the age of 74. He served as the 13th president of OSU in Corvallis from 1996 until 2002.

Risser also led Miami University of Ohio from 1993 until 1996. He left Oregon State in 2003 to return to his home state and take charge of Oklahoma's system of higher education.

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It's All Politics
6:06 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Study: Statehouse Press Corps In Decline

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver talks to reporters in a hallway at the capitol in Albany in March. The ranks of statehouse reporters have been thinning in recent years.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 7:26 pm

A declining number of reporters are stalking the hallways of the nation's statehouses.

That's according to a Pew Research report released Thursday. The study found that the number of full-time statehouse newspaper reporters declined by more than a third between 2003 and 2014. There are now just 164 full-time newspaper journalists reporting on the bills, protests and politicians in the nation's 50 state capitals.

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