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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Million Mask March
4:23 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Protest At Capitol Takes A Turn For The Worse

Credit courthouselover / Flickr.com

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol official says four men and a woman have been arrested at the Oklahoma state Capitol after a protest turned raucous and participants knocked over barricades.

Maj. Rusty Rhoades says the five were arrested early Tuesday afternoon on complaints of destruction of state property, obstruction and violating their protest permit. Their names were not immediately released. Rhoades said they were being transported to the Oklahoma County Jail.

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Higher Education
3:23 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

College Officials Say Oklahoma Schools More Efficient

Credit Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Oklahoma's higher education chancellor says the state's 25 colleges and universities are on track to save $451 million in five years.

Chancellor Glen Johnson told members of a legislative panel Tuesday that the state's higher education institutions have made it a priority to reduce their operating costs between 2011 and 2015.

Johnson says the savings are due to energy conservation, changes in salaries and benefits and changes in some university positions.

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Shots - Health News
2:13 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Wondering If You Need A Strep Test? Crowdsourcing Might Help

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to skip the strep test sometimes?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 1:35 pm

Most sore throats aren't strep. But because strep bacteria can in rare cases cause rheumatic fever, people often feel like they should get tested for possible strep infection.

It might be possible to skip that step someday by checking whether your neighbors have been getting strep throat, researchers say. Aside from reducing the cost and inconvenience of needless clinic visits, the neighborhood strep check could reduce the risk of being needlessly treated with antibiotics.

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Elections
1:57 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Oklahoma Early Voting Days Shifting To Thursday

Voters line up in Tulsa for early voting - October 31, 2008.
Credit thefixer / Flickr Creative Commons

The days for early voting are changing in Oklahoma, thanks to a new state law.

Beginning this week, voters can cast in-person absentee ballots at their county election board offices on Thursday and Friday before an election.

Early voting on Saturdays will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., but only for state and federal elections. Because next week's election is a special election, not state or federal, there will be no early voting on Saturday.

Previously, early voting days were Friday, Saturday and Monday. The new state law took effect last week.

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Politics and Government
1:05 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Oklahoma Senator Coburn Has Recurrence Of Cancer

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
Credit U.S. Senate

A spokesman for Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn says the lawmaker has had a recurrence of prostate cancer and is undergoing further evaluation and treatment.

Spokesman John Hart said in a brief statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the 65-year-old Republican will be out for the rest of the week but will be back "as soon as he's able, hopefully next week."

Coburn was treated for the same thing in 2011 and returned to work within days. He's also survived malignant melanoma and colon cancer.

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World Views
12:14 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Economic Lessons Europe Learned (Or Didn’t Learn) During The 20th Century

People walk past the former barrier between East and West Berlin after the Fall of Berlin Wall in November 1989.
Credit Raphaël Thiémard / Flickr Creative Commons

Listen to Suzette Grillot's conversation with Boston University historian Jonathan Zatlin.

Allied powers divided war-torn Germany into four zones of occupation after World War II, with three of those zones uniting in 1949 to form what became known as West Germany.

The Soviet Union controlled the fourth zone, and East Germany remained within the Eastern Bloc’s sphere of influence for the next four decades.

Boston University modern European historian Jonathan Zatlin says the divided nation served as a tripwire for all the tensions of the Cold War, and that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin worried a united Germany posed a security risk.

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Oklahoma Watch
11:31 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Hospitals: Patients Eligible For Free Care Fail To Complete Paperwork

Wagoner Community Hospital
Credit Wagoner County Economic Development Authority / State of Oklahoma

At least 40 nonprofit or government-owned hospitals in Oklahoma spent less than 1 percent of their net patient revenues caring for those who couldn’t afford to pay their medical bills, records show.

The data, obtained by Oklahoma Watch and analyzed and reported with the Tulsa World, covers 2011 and 2012. Some hospitals reported spending below 1 percent during both years while only one year of data was available for others.

Most of the hospitals with charity care below 1 percent had negative operating margins but a few did not.

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Native American
10:05 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Oklahoma Movie Up For Top Native American Film Prize

A still from the movie, "The Cherokee Word for Water."
Credit http://www.cw4w.com/#about-the-film

An Oklahoma-based film is up for several awards at a film festival celebrating Native Americans.

"The Cherokee Word for Water" is one of several films nominated at the 10th annual Red Nation Film Festival and Awards Show. The festival honors individuals or groups supporting Native Americans through film, television or network productions. The film has earned a nomination for best picture.

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Common Core
9:47 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Common Core Losing Ground Among Some Oklahoma Lawmakers

Credit comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

LISTEN LIVE

Parents, teachers and other education officials are expected to voice their concerns over a set of public education principles known as common core state standards.

A legislative hearing will be held Tuesday before a House committee on common core. There is growing opposition, especially among conservatives, to the standards that were approved in 2010 and are now being implemented by Oklahoma school districts.

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The Two-Way
9:19 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Book News: Mozambican Writer Wins Neustadt Prize, 'America's Nobel'

Mia Couto received the Camoes Prize, the most important literary award for the Portuguese language, in June.
Francisco Seco AP

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 6:17 am

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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