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. 

Read more
The Two-Way
7:52 am
Thu January 16, 2014

34 Officers At Nuclear Site May Have Cheated On Exams

An intercontinental ballistic missile in its silo at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.
Airman John Parie U.S. Air Force

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 9:35 am

Already reeling from reports about alleged drug use by some officers in its nuclear missile corps and the alleged "drunken and inappropriate behavior" of that command's top general, the Air Force now has another scandal on its hands.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
7:51 am
Thu January 16, 2014

Pressure On Arkansas Polluters Behind Recent Illinois River Water Quality Gains

Ed Brocksmith, co-founder of the advocacy group Save the Illinois River, says clearer water doesn't mean the poultry industry should be off the hook.
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Former State Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas poultry industry in 2005.

His claim: Chicken waste was polluting the Illinois River with phosphorous. Arguments ended in 2009. Since then: nothing. The judge still hasn’t ruled.

Read more
6:55 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

2013 Warmer, Wetter Than Average For The Contiguous US

Lead in text: 
Tornadoes killed 54 people in 2013, even though the number of twisters was below average. The National Climatic Data Center has its year-end report on weather across the nation and the globe.
The State of the Climate is a collection of monthly summaries recapping climate-related occurrences on both a global and national scale.
Sell State-Owned Facilities To Municipalities
6:20 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Possible New Solution For Oklahoma's Most Severly Disabled

Credit mikecogh / Flickr.com

A state senator from Enid is proposing to sell state-owned facilities in Pauls Valley and Enid where some of the state's most severely disabled residents are cared for in an effort to stop a plan to shutter the two campuses.

Sen. Patrick Anderson said Wednesday his bill proposes the two campuses be offered for sale to the municipalities where they are located. Anderson said his hope is that the municipality could lease the facility to a private contractor who could then operate it for the current residents.

Read more
Margins Are Narrowing
5:28 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

More Democrats Than Republicans In Oklahoma

Credit mrsdkrebs / Flickr.com

The Oklahoma Election Board says the number of registered voters in the state has fallen to just under 2 million.

Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax released the agency's annual voter registration statistics Wednesday. They show the state has 1,978,812 registered voters including 885,609 Democrats, 854,329 Republicans, 238,870 independents and four Americans Elect registrants.

The total is down slightly from just more than 2 million registered voters in the state in 2012.

Read more
Politics
2:50 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Why The GOP Is Winning The Statehouse War

Texas is one of 23 states in which Republicans have control of both the state legislature and the governor's office.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 5:18 pm

While the federal government is divided and gridlocked, some states have become political monopolies where one party controls both the state legislature and the governor's office.

Read more
StateImpact Oklahoma
2:31 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Oklahoma Oil & Gas Regulator Proposes Rules To Help Study Drilling-Related Earthquakes

A disposal well in Northern Oklahoma.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has proposed new rules requiring more stringent monitoring of disposal wells in a region of the state that has seen a sharp increase in earthquakes.

Oil and gas companies inject saltwater and other drilling fluids into disposal wells so the toxic waste doesn’t contaminate water supplies. Federal and university seismologists have linked disposal wells to Oklahoma’s recent earthquake swarm.

Read more
Native American
1:18 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Quapaw Tribe, Arkansas National Guard Sign Agreement

Quapaw Tribe Chairman John Berrey
Credit indiancommittee / Flickr Creative Commons

The Quapaw Tribe and the Arkansas National Guard have signed an agreement to protect the tribe's cultural and historical resources.

The agreement will help the tribe protect and enhance sacred sites and resources of historical and cultural importance in the state of Arkansas. The Quapaw Tribe lived in Arkansas for hundreds of years prior to its statehood.

Read more
Oklahoma Revenue
12:04 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Doerflinger: Revenues Below Estimate, Adequate To Avoid Spending Cuts

Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston Doerflinger said Tuesday General Revenue Fund collections for the first half of the fiscal year remain below the estimate, but adequate to avoid across-the-board spending cuts through the remainder of the year.

“At this time, total revenues are below the estimate but still adequate to make it through the current year without mandatory spending reductions,” Doerflinger said in a release.

Read more
Storm Shelters
11:10 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Dorman Officially Files Bill To Fund Oklahoma School Shelters

Petitions are completed for the Take Shelter Oklahoma organization in December. The group did not have enough signatures to put its petition on the ballot.
Credit Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

An Oklahoma lawmaker has filed legislation that would ask voters to decide whether to fund storm shelters in public schools.

The measure was filed Wednesday by Rep. Joe Dorman of Rush Springs, a Democratic candidate for governor. It is similar to an initiative petition Dorman helped spearhead that called for a statewide referendum on a $500 million bond issue to pay for storm shelters in schools.

Read more

Pages