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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Sweetness And Light
2:19 am
Wed September 18, 2013

More Than Average: Dow Jones Adds The 'Swoosh'

Don Ryan AP

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 3:01 pm

After 117 years, sports has finally made it to the big time, when, starting next Tuesday, a sports company will be included in the Dow Jones averages.

The Dow Jones, of course, has always preferred very serious corporations –– your banks, your automotives, your insurers. OK, the movies were allowed in 1932 with the inclusion of Loews, and Walt Disney was brought onboard in 1991, but sports was never considered substantial enough for an industrial average until now, when Nike has been ordained.

Yes, Dow Jones has the swoosh.

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Cold Cases Possibly Solved
6:14 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Dive Teams At Foss Lake Recover Two Vehicles With Human Remains

Foss Lake
Credit thrsmaurer / Flickr.com

Authorities say two vehicles possibly missing from more than 40 years ago have been recovered from a western Oklahoma lake and likely contain the bodies of five people who disappeared with them.

Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said the cars recovered from Foss Lake Tuesday may solve cold cases from the late 1950s and 1970. Dive teams testing sonar located the cars and the medical examiner's office was brought in after skeletal remains were found.

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National Guard Ordered To Stop Processing Requests
4:44 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Fallin Says No To Same-Sex Couples Benefits

Oklahoma National Guard
Credit The National Guard / Flickr.com

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered the National Guard to stop processing requests for military benefits for same-sex couples.

Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the governor was following the wish of Oklahoma voters, who approved a constitutional amendment that prohibits giving benefits of marriage to gay couples.

Because of that prohibition, Weintz says the governor's legal staff advised the Oklahoma National Guard not to process requests for benefits from gay couples.

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High School Sports
1:39 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Oklahoma Sports Governing Board Faces Criticism

Union High School takes on Coweta High School in the 2012 Union/Jenks Basketball Invitational.
Credit Matt Wansley / Flickr Creative Commons

The organization that oversees tens of thousands of Oklahoma high school athletes, cheerleaders and other extracurricular activities is facing fierce criticism from parents, coaches and school officials over how it operates.

Several people testified Tuesday before the House Administrative Rules Committee about their experience with the private, nonprofit Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association. Legislators who requested a formal study of the association say they have received numerous complaints that there is little oversight of the organization.

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Around The State
12:51 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Properties Tied To Famous Oklahoma Women To Be Surveyed

Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller, one of several Oklahoma women Alyson Greiner plans to research.
Credit LaDomene13 / Wikimedia Commons

An Oklahoma State University professor is set to start examining historical properties associated with famous women in the Sooner State later this month.

Alyson Greiner says the project will last about nine months and her research will be sent to the State Historic Preservation Office. The hope is to nominate some of the properties associated with the women to the National Register of Historic Places or to update current landmark listings with the role women played.

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Native American
11:35 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Cherokee Nation's Economic Impact On Oklahoma Is $1.3 Billion

The Cherokee Casino in Tahlequah, Okla.
Credit peggydavis66 / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report shows the Cherokee Nation had a $1.3 billion economic impact on the state of Oklahoma during 2012.

The report says the Cherokee Nation government and business operations directly accounted for more than 8,000 jobs and an additional 1,160 contract employees.

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Corrections
9:40 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Oklahoma AG: Pardon And Parole Board Can Continue Considering More Crimes Violent

Credit mikecogh / Flickr Creative Commons

The Pardon and Parole Board can continue its practice of treating some offenders’ crimes as violent even though the offenses are not included in two statutory lists of violent crimes, board members were informed Monday.

Tracy George, Pardon and Parole Board interim executive director, said a recent attorney general’s opinion reaffirmed the practice of treating some crimes as violent although they are not among the violent offenses listed in statute.

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Shots - Health News
9:18 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Laid Off And Looking For Health Insurance? Beware Of COBRA

After losing a job, figuring out health insurance may be the smartest first step.
Franck Camhi iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 1:14 pm

People who lose their jobs and the health insurance tied to them will have new coverage options when the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces open in October.

But consumer advocates are concerned many of these unemployed people may not realize this and lock themselves into pricier coverage than they need.

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Parallels
8:57 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Why The U.S. Needs Bashar Assad To Stay For Now

President Obama is no longer calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, as the U.S. presses him to dismantle his stockpile of chemical weapons. Assad is shown here on Sept. 8.
AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 9:57 am

Throughout the Syrian war, President Obama has insisted that President Bashar Assad must go. But now, the U.S. may want, or even need, Assad to remain in power for a while longer so he can oversee the dismantling of his chemical weapons stockpile.

"For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside," Obama said back on Aug. 18, 2011, in his first explicit call for Assad's ouster, something the U.S. president went on to repeat on multiple occasions.

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eCapitol
7:41 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Teacher Shortages Continue To Leave Numerous Vacancies In Oklahoma

Teacher shortages continue to increase across the state despite small progress made last session via legislation that would allow alternative certification for special education teachers through the use of a “boot camp.”

Since the state Board of Education approved the boot camps in the spring, the department has approved five providers and offered two boot camps itself, serving just over 100 participants.

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