Special Report: Auditing The Disaster Aid For 2013 Tornadoes And Storms

Federal public-assistance funds are paying for the rebuilding of Plaza Towers Elementary School, in which seven children died in the May 20, 2013, tornado. The school is expected to open next month.
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

The tornadoes and storms that devastated Oklahoma and killed 34 last year triggered the release of tens of millions of dollars in federal and state aid that will keep flowing for years.

To date, the federal government has approved up to $257 million in disaster assistance of various kinds to help re build damage and help victims of the winds and flooding that struck between May 18 and June 2, 2013, and to mitigate future risks.

The state has contributed an additional $10.5 million, and private insurers are paying about $1.1 billion. Charities also have pumped in aid.

The relief aid stemming from Disaster No. 4117, as it is called by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is arriving through several channels, heading ultimately to state and local agencies, contractors, businesses and individuals.

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Washington
6:16 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Cole Casts Lone Oklahoma Vote In Favor Of Reopening Government

Credit U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole is the only member of Oklahoma's delegation to vote in favor of a plan to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

The House voted 285-144 Wednesday night in favor of the plan, following the Senate's 81-18 vote.

Cole was among 87 Republicans in the House voting in support of the bill that restores funding for the government through Jan. 15 and extends the nation's borrowing authority through Feb. 7.

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn voted no, and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe didn't vote because he's recovering from emergency heart surgery.

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State Capitol
4:39 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Domestic Violence Big Factor In Homelessness Of Women And Children

Credit Stefan Neubig / Flickr.com

An advocate for domestic violence victims says violence against women is a principal cause of homelessness among women and children.

Jackie Steyn of the YWCA of Oklahoma City told an Oklahoma House committee Thursday that 70 percent of those who seek services from the Homeless Alliance in Oklahoma City report a history of domestic violence.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:23 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Despite State Assistance, Water Problems Worsening in Konawa

Justin Johnson, a wastewater treatment plant operator in Konawa, OK, stands near some of the town's water wells in December 2012.
Credit Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Many of the 1,500 or so residents of Konawa, in Seminole County, are once again without water as the town continues to grapple with the ongoing breakdown of the pipes, mains, and pumps that deliver water to homes and businesses.

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Health
12:41 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Link Of HIV, Tulsa Dental Office 'Inconclusive'

Credit KWGS News

The Tulsa Health Department says genetic tests on HIV specimens from former patients of an Oklahoma oral surgeon accused of maintaining filthy office conditions are inconclusive for potential connection to his practice.

Specimens from three of four patients of Dr. W. Scott Harrington testing positive for HIV were submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for genetic analysis to determine if the source of infections was related to the clinic.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
12:03 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Why The Growth Of Wind Energy Worries Weather Forecasters In Oklahoma

Radar systems engineer Redmond Kelley and Caleb Fulton, an assistant professor of engineering, test an experimental phased-array weather radar in Norman.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is now No. 6 in the nation in wind-generated electricity capacity, and last week the state helped set a wind power record for the entire region.

Wind farms are multiplying and expanding in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and throughout the Great Plains, where the nation’s wind energy potential is concentrated.

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Fall Membership Drive
11:16 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Invest in Your Continuing Education

Renee Montagne on assignment in the Middle East.
Credit Tom Bullock

I have a great admiration of journalists. I think it’s a fascinating profession, but more importantly, I believe it is necessary and noble work.

The ability to understand a subject, look at it from all sides and present it in a way that makes sense to the reader, listener or viewer takes skill and knowledge. 

Journalism is a public service dedicated to accuracy and truth.  It is vital for a free society to have reporters asking questions, verifying information and presenting it to the public. 

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Grand Jury
11:02 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Rogers County DA Files Defamation Lawsuit Over Recall Petition

Rogers County District Attorney Janice Steidley
Credit Oklahoma District Attorneys Council

District Attorney Janice Steidley has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Rogers County leaders who spearheaded a petition drive to get her removed from office.

Steidley filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton, Claremore police officers John Singer and Steve Cox and others. The group gathered the nearly 7,000 signatures needed to impanel a grand jury, but a judge ruled this week that improper paperwork was used.

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State Capitol
10:58 am
Thu October 17, 2013

No Surprise, Fallin Wants To Lead Oklahoma Again

Gov. Mary Fallin speaking to the media at the state Capitol earlier this year.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin, who made history as Oklahoma's first female governor, has formally launched her bid for a second term in office.

Fallin announced her bid in an event Thursday morning in Tulsa. She plans stops later in the day at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City and the Museum of the Great Plains in Lawton.

Fallin's announcement is no surprise as she's been actively raising money all year.

She reported raising about $550,000 during the second quarter this year and having more than $970,000 in her campaign fund at the end of June.

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The Two-Way
10:54 am
Thu October 17, 2013

As It Happened: The Fight Over The Debt Ceiling, Shutdown

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks to the Senate floor after agreeing to the framework of a deal to avoid default and reopen the government, on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 9:23 pm

Update at 10:18 p.m.: House Approves Bill:

The crisis is over. With about two hours before the country reached the debt ceiling, the House has approved the bill and it is now it's way to the White House. We've posted separately on that development and we are putting this live blog to bed.

Our Original Post Continues:

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It's All Politics
10:12 am
Thu October 17, 2013

10 Takeaways From The Fiscal Fight

With the shutdown-debt ceiling fight over, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, appeared to strengthen his hand within the House GOP caucus but weaken it outside that group.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 11:50 am

With the double crises of a partial government shutdown and a potential debt default resolved, it's a good time to consider some of the lessons we learned from the dysfunction and drama of recent weeks.

Here are 10 of them:

Shutting Down The Government Is Not A Winning Political Strategy

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