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
Wants To Avoid Appearance Of Impropriety
6:48 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

First Gentleman Will Not Practice Law Before New Commission

Credit Scott* / Flickr.com

Gov. Mary Fallin's husband says he will not practice before the new workers' compensation commission to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

First Gentleman Wade Christensen announced Friday that he will continue to represent several hundred clients whose cases are pending with the current workers' compensation court system.

But Fallin signed a bill last session to convert the current court-based system to an administrative system overseen by a three-member commission appointed by the governor.

Read more
5:34 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Oklahoma’s Insane Opposition To Prison Reform

Lead in text: 
Decisions made in Gov. Mary Fallin's office that led to the dismantling of legislation intended to reduce Oklahoma's prison population is getting national attention.
What do you get in Oklahoma when you mix visceral disdain for President Obama, instinctual loathing for prison reform advocates, and an unrestrained fear of a Tea Party insurgency? You get the quick demise of a perfectly sensible series of laws designed to help save taxpayer money by easing the state's burgeoning prison crisis.
Business
2:49 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

What's Behind The Drop In Unemployment

Shoppers make a purchase at an outlet mall in Los Angeles. Employers added 55,000 jobs in the retail sector in December.
Gus Ruelas Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 2:20 pm

Whether you had a job or were looking for one, December was a gloomy month.

The Labor Department said Friday that for December, employers added only 74,000 jobs — about a third as many as most economists had been predicting. That was the lowest level of job creation in three years — not exactly the news that 10.4 million job seekers wanted to hear.

Read more
Oklahoma News
12:46 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Former Oklahoma Governor Now Director Of Tulsa Company

State Rep. Al McAffrey at a bill signing with Gov. Brad Henry - September 13, 2009.
Credit Tiddled / Wikimedia Commons

Former Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry has become a shareholder and been elected director of a CFS2, a Tulsa-based debt collection company.

The company announced in a press release Thursday that Henry's role will be in the strategic and capital planning process.

Henry said in a statement the company focuses on "nontraditional ways to help consumers overcome financial difficulties."

The company was founded in 2010 by Bill Bartmann, who previously founded the debt-collection company Commercial Financial Services.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:03 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Target Says 70 Million Individuals' Data May Have Been Stolen

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 8:52 am

The size of the data breach at Target Co. stores late last year took a sharp rise Friday when the retailer said it now estimates that up to 70 million individuals may have had information that includes their "names, mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses" stolen.

Read more
World Views
10:55 am
Fri January 10, 2014

SLIDESHOW: On The Road – Three Observations From China

The smoggy skyline of Shanghai.
Suzette Grillot KGOU

World Views host Suzette Grillot is in the middle of a four-city tour of China on behalf of her day job as the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies. She lived in Beijing for a semester as a teaching fellow at Beijing University in 2007, but she’s there now with the College’s Assistant Dean, Rebecca Cruise.

Read more
Education
9:27 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Study: Oklahoma Ranks High In Academic Standards, Low On Achievement

Credit Lexie Flickinger / Flickr

An annual report released Thursday by Education Week ranks Oklahoma high for its academic standards, but shows the state continues to underperform in student achievement and per pupil spending.

The Quality Counts report tracks key education indicators, including national exams, and grades the states on their performances and outcomes.

Read more
The Two-Way
8:15 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Economy Adds Only 74,000 Jobs In December; Jobless Rate At 6.7 Percent

Sign of the times? A "help wanted" sign in the window of a Philadelphia business last year.
Matt Rourke AP

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 1:08 pm

  • On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Yuki Noguchi and David Greene preview the jobs report
We'll be posting updates after the report's 8:30 a.m. ET release.

There were only 74,000 jobs added to public and private payrolls in December, but the unemployment rate fell to a 5-year low 6.7 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday morning.

Read more
Oklahoma Watch
7:41 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Corrections Board Looks at Expanding Use of Private Prison Beds

Credit Oklahoma Department of Corrections

The Oklahoma Board of Corrections is looking at three options to deal with overcrowding at the state’s prison facilities: expanding public prisons, contracting for more private-prison beds, and buying or leasing one of the state’s two empty private prisons.

Read more
Code Switch
5:35 am
Fri January 10, 2014

White House Picks Choctaw Nation To Fight Poverty In Oklahoma

Chief Gregory Pyle (left) and Assistant Chief Gary Batton stand in front of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's Capitol building in Tuskahoma, Okla.
Larissa Copeland Courtesy of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 4:59 pm

Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared his "War on Poverty," President Obama issued his own plan to combat poverty Thursday with the nation's first five "Promise Zones."

All "Promise Zones" will receive a competitive advantage when applying for federal grants, on-site support from federal officials, and, pending congressional approval, tax incentives for businesses hiring and investing in the community.

Read more

Pages