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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Public Health
11:33 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Judges Tosses Tulsa Oral Surgeon Civil Suit

Credit KWGS News

An Oklahoma judge has tossed out a lawsuit against an oral surgeon accused of keeping filthy office conditions at his two Tulsa-area clinics.

Judge Rebecca Nightingale dismissed Sharon Fairchilds' lawsuit against Dr. W. Scott Harrington after Fairchilds' lawyer failed to show up for a hearing on Monday in Tulsa.

Fairchilds sued saying that Harrington was negligent when he allowed two of his office clerks to perform sedation on a child.

Harrington's attorneys had asked that Fairchilds' lawsuit be dismissed.

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OTRS
10:26 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Wilbanks Fired As Head Of Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System

James Wilbanks
Credit State of Oklahoma

The executive director of the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System was fired after trustees found out he granted severance packages to a dozen employees without obtaining the required approval.

Trustees of the retirement system voted to fire James Wilbanks on Oct. 2.

The Oklahoman reported Monday that decision comes after trustees found out Wilbanks granted severance packages to a dozen employees without obtaining required approval from the director of the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

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Oklahoma Voices
10:02 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Reporting On The Middle East: Syria And Egypt After The Arab Spring

Participants during an October 2, 2013 panel discussion about Syria, Egypt, and the Arab Spring. Left-to-right: NPR correspondent Kelly McEvers, Egyptian scholar Samer Shehata, Syria expert Joshua Landis, and KGOU's "World Views" host Suzette Grillot
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

NPR assigned correspondent Kelly McEvers to Iraq in 2010 with instructions not to miss a day ahead of the expected troop withdrawal by the end of 2011.

“Then in late 2010, a young man in Tunisia set himself on fire, and literally changed everything,” McEvers says. “At first I was watching it on TV in Baghdad, sitting there thinking, ‘Do we really have to stay in Baghdad? C’mon, you know? Put me in coach!’ asking to be sent out on the stories.”

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9:53 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Sex Crimes Are Most Common Reason Police Lose Certification

Lead in text: 
From 2010 to 2012, of the 66 officers who had their certifications revoked or suspended, were given a letter of reprimand, or surrendered their certification, according to records from the Council on Law Enforcement and Education, or CLEET, 18 were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, sex crimes.
More than a quarter of Oklahoma peace officers who were disciplined by the state's certification agency or surrendered their certifications over three years were convicted of or pleaded guilty to sex crimes, according to records analyzed by Oklahoma Watch.
Planet Money
8:45 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Economics Nobel: Nobody Knows What Stocks Are Going To Do Today

The Nobel Foundation

If you want to honor today's Nobel laureates in economics, turn off CNBC and ignore everyone who says they know what the stock market is going to do today, tomorrow, or next week.

The award went to three economists — Eugene F. Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert J. Shiller — for their work studying asset prices.

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Oklahoma Watch
8:33 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Despite Convictions and Guilty Pleas, Law Officers Keep Certifications for Years

Shawn Theo Thomsen, a former Kingfisher County deputy, received a five-year suspended sentence in July 2010 after pleading to a felony charge of lewd acts with a child under 16. Thomsen has since moved to Texas, where he is a registered sex offender. According to state records, though, Thomsen still has an active Oklahoma peace officers certification.
Credit Texas State Offender Registry

View a map showing officers with certification actions.

In July 2010, a former Kingfisher County Sheriff’s Office deputy pleaded no contest to a charge of committing lewd acts with a child when he was an officer two years earlier.

Shawn Theo Thomsen, then 43, was given a five-year suspended sentence, court records show. Now living in Texas, he’s required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Despite the crime, Thomsen is still certified as a peace officer by the Council on Law Enforcement and Education, or CLEET. State law requires that the state agency take away certification for an officer who pleads guilty or no contest to a felony charge, thus removing him or her from law enforcement.

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This is KGOU
8:29 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Food For The Curious Mind

This baby Joe, one of the curious cats, at rest. To get a photo of him in his curious mode was impossible.

I have a couple of young cats in my household and I keep waiting for them to grow older and become more sedate like the 8 year olds.  

My house is “cat-proofed” and still, I’ve had to replace lampshades and window blinds.  They are always looking for new things in their environment – rings from the milk bottle, a new box, a shopping bag and the moth hiding on the ceiling. 

But honestly, the myth of the curious cat is no myth.  And -- I like their antics, I think, because they mirror my own mind.

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The Two-Way
7:50 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Americans Win Economics Nobel For Interpreting Stock Prices

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 8:12 am

Three American professors have won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Economics for their work in identifying long-term trends in the prices of stocks and bonds, based in part on analyzing the role of risk.

Professors Robert J. Shiller of Yale University and Eugene F. Fama and Lars Peter Hansen, both of the University of Chicago, won "for their empirical analysis of asset prices," the Royal Swedish Academy said in announcing the honor Monday.

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Ahead of the Storm
6:43 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Oklahoma's May Tornadoes Call For Ability To Adapt

Kristy Yager, Erin Engelke and Cynthia Reid discuss lessons they learned from the May tornadoes at a panel discussion held by the Oklahoma City chapter of the Association of Women in Communication.
Credit Kate Carlton

Kristy Yager is the Public Information Officer for Oklahoma City.  She’s used to creating game plans for emergencies.  So when May 20 came, she made her way to a bunker with emergency managers, police and a handful of city officials.  She’d prepared for the crisis as best she could, but found herself overwhelmed trying to handle the influx of media requests. 

“The minute that tornado hit the ground, I started getting national phone calls from everyone, from Fox, from CNN, from ABC, NBC, CBS,” Yager said. “I was having a very hard time managing the calls.”

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Around the Nation
6:31 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Shutdown Hinders S.D. Post-Blizzard Cleanup

Heavy and wet snow weighs down tree branches on the west side of Rapid City, S.D. Earlier this month, a fierce October snowstorm hit ranchers in the state hard.
Kristina Barker Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 7:58 am

A freak October blizzard earlier this month killed tens of thousands of cattle in South Dakota.

The number of animals is hard to confirm. In part, because the federal agency tasked with tallying livestock losses after a disaster is closed during the partial government shutdown.

October is often a great weather month to be in South Dakota, which is one reason why the early October blizzard caught so many off guard.

Todd Collins lost a fifth of his herd in this storm. "My dad is 80 years old, and he says he's never seen a killer storm the first of October."

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