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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100-year-old building needs overhaul
4:16 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Letter Urges Legislators To Support Capitol Building Repairs

Credit Serge Melki / Flickr.com

A nine-member committee that oversees the long-term management of state buildings is urging the Legislature to support a bond issue of up to $160 million to repair the state Capitol.

The Long-Range Capitol Planning Commission voted Thursday to send a letter to lawmakers urging support of the bond issue.

The Senate already has passed a bill authorizing up to $160 million in bonds to pay for an overhaul of the nearly 100-year-old building. That measure is pending in the House, where conservatives have rejected the idea of borrowing money.

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World Views
2:35 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

SLIDESHOW: On The Road - Rio Ready? Brazil's Inequality Ahead Of World Cup, Olympics

Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Suzette Grillot KGOU

Rio de Janeiro is known throughout the world for its Carnival celebration and an incredibly diverse and lively culture, but this vibrant image contrasts with striking examples of inequality.

University of Oklahoma anthropologist and International Studies professor Erika Robb Larkins says “the beauty of the contradiction of Brazil” is the coexistence of cultural vibrancy and the challenges facing segments of the population. Wealth neighbors poverty in close proximity throughout Rio de Janeiro.  

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World Views
2:07 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Oscar Talk: The Five Academy Award Nominees For Best Foreign Language Film

Credit Davidlohr Bueso / Flickr Creative Commons

The 86th annual Academy Awards will be handed out Sunday evening, and this year a record 75 countries entered the category of Best Foreign Language Film. Suzette Grillot and Rebecca Cruise discuss each of the five films submitted by directors from Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.

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Corrections
1:27 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Oklahoma Inmate Refuses To Leave Cell For Clemency Hearing

The main gate at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla.
Credit duggar11 / Flickr Creative Commons

A death row inmate set for execution next month is refusing to leave his prison cell to attend his clemency hearing before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

Clayton Lockett was slated to appear via video hookup before the board on Friday to ask for clemency.

But officials say Lockett refused to leave his cell, so his lawyer asked the board to commute Lockett's death sentence. Lockett is scheduled to be put to death March 20 for the 1999 death of 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman near Tonkawa.

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The Salt
12:50 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Why The 'Non-GMO' Label Is Organic's Frenemy

The increasingly successful movement to eliminate GMO crops from food is turning out to be organic's false friend.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 10:29 am

It's easy to think of "organic" and "non-GMO" as the best buddies of food. They sit comfortably beside each other in the same grocery stores — most prominently, in Whole Foods Market. Culturally, they also seem to occupy the same space. Both reject aspects of mainstream industrial agriculture.

In fact, the increasingly successful movement to eliminate genetically modified crops — GMOs — from food is turning out to be organic's false friend. The non-GMO label has become a cheaper alternative to organic.

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The Two-Way
11:21 am
Fri February 28, 2014

New Documents Shed Light On Inner Workings Of Clinton White House

President Bill Clinton in 1995.
Luke Frazza AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 4:54 pm

The Clinton Presidential Library released about 5,000 pages of previously withheld documents on Friday.

The documents date back to the administration of former President Bill Clinton and include communications about a wide array of issues including the administration response to Rwanda and its health care overhaul initiative, as well as communications from the first lady's office.

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State Capitol
9:46 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Cherokee Nation Officials Like A Possible Oklahoma Native American Cabinet Post

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker
Credit Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker is applauding efforts to create a cabinet level position in the Oklahoma governor's office that would be dedicated to Native American affairs.

State Democratic Rep. Chuck Hoskin of Vinita has authored a bill that would create an executive branch cabinet secretary of Native American Affairs. The secretary would be designated the Oklahoma Native American liaison. Hoskin is also the Cherokee Nation chief of staff.

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Oklahoma City
8:42 am
Fri February 28, 2014

How Will OKC Handle 900,000 Residents? City Government Seeks Answers

If you think it's crowded at events like the Festival of the Arts now, what will it be like when Oklahoma City's population hits 900,000?
Credit Arts Council of Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City residents are invited to attend any of seven workshops and offer their opinions on how the city should grow.

The planokc workshops begin Monday and run through March 12.

About 600,000 people live in Oklahoma City now, and planners say the population is projected to grow in the state's largest city to around 900,000 during the next 40 years.

Workshop attendees can view examples of how Oklahoma City could accommodate an additional 300,000 people and around 170,000 jobs. Residents can also share their opinions about how the city should grow.

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Music
7:38 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Norman Native Performs Mozart With OKC Phil

Yolanda Kondonassis
Credit Robert Muller

Grammy-nominated and Norman native, harpist, Yolanda Kondonassis performs with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at 8 p.m. March 1 at the Civic Center.

The program will features Kondonassis performinig Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, K.299 with flutist Marina Piccinini. The program will also include Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 both under the direction of Joel Levine.

Kondonassis says performing for a “hometown” crowd is fun because she sees friends and others she knows.

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Creates new department
6:24 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Bill To Consolidate State Agencies Clears House Committee

Credit carletaorg / Flickr.com

A plan to consolidate Oklahoma's arts, history and tourism agencies into one new organization has narrowly cleared a House committee.

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