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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Native American
9:30 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Osage Government Panel Recommends Removal Of Chief

Credit Osage Nation

Findings to support seven allegations of wrongdoing against Osage Nation Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle have been presented in a report by an Osage Congress committee that recommended his removal from office.

The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports that eight other allegations were deemed insufficient and no criminal matters are involved.

The tribe's Select Committee of Inquiry ruled that six of the charges were serious enough to warrant removal from office for the chief, who was elected in 2010.

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The Two-Way
7:12 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Sebelius: 'Hold Me Accountable For The Debacle'

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as she was sworn in prior to the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 3:28 pm

  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Secretary Sebelius on who's responsible for 'this debacle'

(We last added to this post at 4:10 p.m. ET.)

"You deserve better. ... I apologize. ... I'm accountable to you."

That's what Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Americans on Wednesday morning during a Congressional hearing into problems with the Obama administration's HealthCare.gov website and Republicans' concerns about the Affordable Care Act.

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State Capitol
6:45 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Former Rep. Terrill Seeks Release After Tuesday Guilty Verdict

An Oklahoma County jury found former state Rep. Randy Terrill guilty of political bribery Tuesday. He is expected back in court Wednesday to seek release on bond while appealing his conviction.
Credit Oklahoma House of Representatives

A former Oklahoma lawmaker convicted of bribery wants a judge to let him remain free on bond while he appeals his conviction.

A hearing is set for Wednesday in Oklahoma City on the request from former Rep. Randy Terrill of Moore.

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Corrections
6:29 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Study: Oklahoma Prison Health Care Costs Drop

Credit Kenny Breedlove / Flickr.com

A Pew Charitable Trusts report says the cost of health care for prison inmates in Oklahoma bucked a national trend and fell by 6 percent from 2001 to 2008.

Tuesday's report says Oklahoma spent $3,935 per inmate in 2008 — down from $4,201 in 2001. Researchers used numbers from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics and 2008 was the most recent year available.

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The Two-Way
5:33 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Alabama Agrees To Permanently Gut Immigration Law

Parents arrive to pick up their children from a school in Montgomery, Ala. After a tough immigration law was enacted in 2011, Hispanic students began to disappear from classrooms in the state's public schools.
Dave Martin AP

Opponents of Alabama's strict immigration law are declaring victory Tuesday, as the state agreed not to pursue key provisions of a measure critics had called an endorsement of racial profiling. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the state's appeal of a federal court's ruling that gutted the law.

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Rise In Seismic Activity
4:38 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Numerous Earthquakes In Oklahoma May Require Additional Insurance

Seismic Graph
Credit Tom Phillips Photos / Flickr.com

Oklahoma's insurance commissioner is advising residents to purchase earthquake insurance after a national report suggested that seismic activity in the central part of the state is here to stay.

Commissioner John Doak says quake damage can cripple the finances of property owners who haven't purchased policies.

A report released last week from the U.S. and Oklahoma Geological surveys suggests an earthquake "swarm" continues to affect central Oklahoma after a record 5.6-magnitude quake rattled Oklahoma in November 2011.

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The Two-Way
2:12 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

'We Hurt A Lot Of People,' Westboro Pastor's Granddaughter Says

Megan Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps, is seen during her days with the church. Now alienated from their family, Phelps-Roper and her sister, Grace, speak to religious and cultural groups.
Jennifer Hack MCT/Landov

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 5:25 pm

Nearly a year after breaking with the Westboro Baptist Church, two of Pastor Fred Phelps' granddaughters are enjoying a new freedom. But as they tell a Canadian newspaper, they also want to extend empathy to those they hurt in the name of a cause championed by the man they call "Gramps."

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Bribery Probe
1:30 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Ex-Oklahoma Lawmaker Denies Offering Bribe, Job

Former State Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Moore)
Credit Oklahoma House of Representatives

A former Oklahoma lawmaker charged with bribery denies that he ever offered a legislative colleague a job in exchange for her promise not to seek re-election.

Former Rep. Randy Terrill of Moore testified in his own defense Tuesday during his trial in Oklahoma County District Court.

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Health
12:51 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Oklahoma Supreme Court Answers Questions In Abortion Case

Credit Ben Ramsey / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Supreme Court says a 2011 state law restricting abortions effectively bans all drug-induced abortions, despite arguments that the state only wished to prohibit off-label uses of the drugs.

The Oklahoma court Tuesday answered questions posed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which asked the state court in June to clarify two issues before they consider an appeal from Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

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A-F Grades Flap
11:55 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Oklahoma School Grading Problems Continue

Credit amboo who? / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma State Department of Education has confirmed local school leaders' accounts of significant fluctuations in preliminary A-F grades for schools.

Schools had a Monday deadline to request that the state correct or otherwise verify their new school grade cards. On Friday, State Superintendent Janet Barresi said her department needed up to two more weeks before asking the state Board of Education to finalize the report cards and release them publicly.

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