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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Year In Review
9:03 am
Tue December 31, 2013

VIDEO: Oklahoma Sports, Entertainment Suffered Losses In 2013

Oklahoma A&M basketball center Bob Kurland
Credit National Collegiate Athletic Association

The football coach who installed the wishbone at the University of Oklahoma, a former OU quarterback, an Oklahoma State basketball legend and one of America's first great ballerinas were among those with ties to Oklahoma who died during 2013.

Chuck Fairbanks installed the wishbone in 1970 and the offense helped OU to national titles in 1974 and 1975 after Fairbanks left for the NFL. Fairbanks died in April at age 79.

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The Two-Way
6:34 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Singing, Stomping, Stranded Explorers Prep Antarctic Helipad

Framed by ice: the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been stuck in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 7:31 am

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Led The Thunder To Three Wins
6:13 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Kevin Durant Is Player Of The Week

Credit Keith Allison / Flickr.com

Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant has been named the NBA Western Conference Player of the Week.

The announcement was made Monday after Durant led the Thunder to three wins by averaging 32 points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game.

Durant scored 29 points in a win over New York, 34 in a win over Charlotte and 33 in a win over Houston.

Miami's Chris Bosh was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

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Nine Murder Complaints
4:14 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Federal Agents Arrest Doctor, Seize Medical Records

Credit .v1ctor Casale / Flickr.com

Narcotics investigators have seized medical records from the office of a former Oklahoma City-based doctor who has been arrested on nine murder complaints after eight patients died of prescription drug overdoses and another allegedly caused a fatal traffic accident.

An affidavit for a search warrant filed Monday says the records were seized from the office of 71-year-old William Martin Valuck. Federal agents arrested Valuck Friday at his home in Kilgore, Texas.

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The Two-Way
3:23 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Test Sites Chosen For Commercial Drone Testing

The Federal Aviation Administration's map showing the locations of the six "unmanned aircraft systems" test sites it has chosen.
FAA.gov

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 11:24 am

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday unveiled the names of the six applicants who have been granted the right to test the commercial uses of "unmanned aircraft systems" — drones.

The FAA's approvals were highly sought after because the test sites are expected to bring high-tech jobs and investments to the states where they're located. The six winners are:

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:12 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Why Oklahoma Drivers Will Pay 50 Cents More For CNG On Jan. 1

Credit Scott Lowe / Flickr Creative Commons

People who drive natural gas powered vehicles aren’t used to pain at the pump, but a federal tax credit that expires at the end of 2013 will add at least 50 cents to the price of a gallon of compressed natural gas.

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The Two-Way
12:57 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Al-Qaida's Receipts: From 60-Cent Cake To A $6,800 Workshop

This receipt for groceries, which includes prices paid for tomatoes, onions, charcoal, meat and a light bulb, was retrieved from a building occupied by al-Qaida's North African branch in Timbuktu, Mali.
AP

The Associated Press has posted images of more than 100 receipts believed to have been left behind by al-Qaida operatives in Timbuktu, Mali, that show how "the extremists assiduously tracked their cash flow, recording purchases as small as a single light bulb."

According to the wire service:

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10:28 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Oklahoma Fails To Make FAA Unmanned Aircraft Research Site List

Lead in text: 
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin had expressed hope that Oklahoma would become a center for drone research. But the Federal Aviation Administration selected locations in Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota, Virginia Tech, New York and Corpus Christi.
RT @flightlevel150: Merry Christmas to Pilots, ATCOs, Flight Attendants, Mechanics and all other aviation professionals who keep grinding t... Follow us on Twitter After a rigorous 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test site operators across the country.
Oklahoma Voices
10:14 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Changing Demographics May Help Recovery Of Southern Democrats

Lloyd's new military map of the border & southern states from 1864.
Credit Author: Hall, Edward S. Publisher: H.H. Lloyd & Co. / Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL

Listen to three experts in southern politics discuss the region's political past and future.
Scott Buchanan discusses the politics of the southern U.S. and its role in national elections during fall event sponsored by the Oklahoma Political Science Association.

Three political scientists who study the politics of southern states in the U.S. say shifts in population from rural areas to urban centers could help Democrats win more elections.

Scott Buchanan of the Citadel Symposium on Southern Politics says there is evidence the move is already taking place in Florida and Virginia.

Buchanan also says the coast of South Carolina is seeing an influx of immigration from other states, changing the politics of the area.

The Democrats lost the south, in part, because they failed to develop their party, according to the University of Georgia’s Charles S. Bullock III. He says they took their dominance for granted and did not develop candidates in the face of a rising GOP presence.

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Corrections
7:45 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Special Report: How Actions By Gov.'s Staff Led To Weakened Oklahoma Justice Reforms

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. More Oklahoma Watch content can be found at www.oklahomawatch.org.

Oklahoma Watch reporter Clifton Adcock talks with KGOU about his investigation into efforts to weaken changes in state policy intended to reduce Oklahoma's high incarceration rates.

Behind-the-scenes moves by Gov. Mary Fallin’s senior staff members helped lead to a severe weakening of a program designed to cut the state’s high incarceration rates and save taxpayers more than $200 million over a decade, according to interviews and records obtained by Oklahoma Watch.

The efforts by the governor’s staff, assisted by legislative leaders, to take control of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative took place during periods when staff members met with representatives of private prison companies, which stood to gain or lose depending on how the initiative was implemented, emails and logs of visitors to Fallin’s offices show.

During that time, private-prison company representatives also made donations to Fallin’s 2014 campaign as well as to legislators, Oklahoma Ethics Commission records indicate.

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