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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Oklahoma News
12:42 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Hearing On Oklahoma Executions Moved To U.S. Court

Credit T Woodard / Flickr Creative Commons

A lawsuit challenging Oklahoma's law that shields details of drugs used in executions has been moved to federal court.

The suit filed by death row inmates Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner was set for a hearing Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court, but the hearing was canceled after the case was transferred to federal court at the request of the state.

Lockett faces a March 20 execution while Warner is set to be executed March 27.

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The Two-Way
11:57 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Obama's $3.9 Trillion Budget Would Produce $564 Billion Deficit

Copies of President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal 2015, after they were delivered to the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 12:53 pm

As expected, President Obama on Tuesday unveiled a $3.9 trillion budget plan for fiscal 2015 that his number crunchers say would produce a $564 billion deficit.

The gap between spending and revenue, while large, would be down from more than $744 billion this fiscal year and a record $1.4 trillion in 2009 — a fiscal year that began when President George W. Bush was still in office. Since then, deficits during the Obama years have topped $1 trillion three times.

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The Two-Way
10:31 am
Tue March 4, 2014

At Last, No News Is Good News When It Comes To The Weather

For one day at least, an "all clear" has been issued.
National Weather Service

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 8:37 am

We wouldn't normally post a map that basically says there's nothing happening.

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Oklahoma News
9:06 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Oklahoma City Airport Lands New Flights To North Carolina

Credit BriYYZ / Flickr Creative Commons

New nonstop flights to Charlotte, N.C., are coming this summer to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.

The new service will be operated by US Airways Express and regional partner Mesa Airlines. US Airways merged with American Airlines in December, forming American Airlines Group Inc.

The airlines say the new flights will begin July 2. The service includes two departures and two arrivals daily to and from Charlotte. The Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft seats up to 70 passengers and includes nine first-class seats.

Flights will be open for sale beginning Saturday.

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Oklahoma News
8:00 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Pro-Pot Petition Seeks To Decriminalize Cannabis In Oklahoma City

Proponent Brittney Guest signs the petition to decriminalize marijuana in Oklahoma City at City Hall Monday afternoon.
Credit Provided / Reform OKC

A group of marijuana advocates filed an initiative petition Monday to decriminalize marijuana in Oklahoma City.

Reform OKC will start gathering signatures Friday.

State Senator Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) has been an outspoken supporter of cannabis legalization at the state Capitol. She says Oklahoma City’s petition could pave the way for a larger, statewide effort to legalize the drug.

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Monkey See
6:11 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Book Club Meeting: Come Talk About Steinbeck's 'Grapes Of Wrath'

The Grapes Of Wrath opens in Dust Bowl Oklahoma.
AP

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 3:44 pm

Late last week, an email exchange between NPR Books' team members went something like this:

Camila: OH MY GOD PIGS EAT BABIES!?!?

Nicole: YUP. But then, later, people eat pigs. So, does that make them even?

Colin: I trust this isn't a spoiler. Ahem.

Tanya: SPOILERS PEOPLE.

Camila: Not a spoiler cus it's NOT EVEN A BIG DEAL. That's the worst part. It's just like "Oh yeah, remember the time that pig ate that baby? Memories."

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Some House Committees Get New Leaders
6:19 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

New Speaker Of The House Hickman Announces Changes In Leadership

Credit Oklahoma State Legislature

The newly elected speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives has announced several changes to the chairs and vice chairs of various House committees.

Republican Speaker Jeff Hickman announced the leadership changes on Tuesday.

Among the major changes were Norman Rep. Aaron Stiles replacing Rep. Leslie Osborn as chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Mike Reynolds replacing Rep. Jason Murphey as chair of the Government Modernization and Accountability Committee. Osborn will now chair a budget subcommittee instead.

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Lacked three votes
4:41 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

No More Tax Credits For Film Industry

Credit twoshortplanks / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma House has defeated legislation to extend a tax credit program for the film industry.

House members voted 48-43 for the measure Monday — three short of the 51 votes needed to pass in the 101-member House. Its author, Republican Rep. Todd Thomsen of Ada, kept the measure alive by announcing a plan to reconsider the vote.

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Manager's Desk
3:23 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Tornado Preparedness Public Forum

Path of the El Reno Tornado on May 31, 2013.
Credit Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

This week, I’m inviting you to an important public forum about tornado preparedness and storm safety on Wednesday, March 12 at the Moore Public Library.

You’ve heard KGOU's special reporting project that is funded by CPB -- Ahead of the Storm: The Oklahoma Tornado Project. This public meeting is part of this project.

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The Two-Way
12:09 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Russia Denies Issuing Ultimatum Or Warning Ukraine Of 'Storm'

Armed men in military uniform, believed to be Russian soldiers, were outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in Bakhchisaray, on the Crimean Peninsula, on Monday.
Maxim Shipenkov EPA/LANDOV

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 3:21 pm

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: "Total Nonsense," Russian Official Reportedly Says:

Any claims that the Russian military has warned Ukraine to surrender in Crimea or face an assault on Tuesday are "total nonsense," a Russian Defense Ministry official says, according to The Voice of Russia.

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