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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Non-Profits
4:00 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Feed The Children Looking To Businessmen For Guidance

Volunteers for Feed The Children
Credit Salvation Army USA West / Flickr.com

Feed the Children has named two Texas businessmen to its growing international board of directors.

The Oklahoma City-based charity announced Thursday the appointments of Michael Dinkins of Frisco and Michael Hogan of Grapevine to the board.

Dinkins is the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Greatbatch, which designs and builds medical devices. Hogan is an executive vice president at GameStop, one of the world's largest video game retailers.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
2:53 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Regulator Will Respond To Risk of Injection Well Earthquakes With Suggestions, Not Rules Or Laws

Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy
Credit Provided / State of Oklahoma

Geophysicists have linked Oklahoma’s largest earthquake to an injection well used by the oil and gas industry, and there is growing concern among many seismologists that underground disposal of oilfield waste fluid can trigger quakes or make it easier for faults to slip.

Wastewater disposal wells have been linked to quakes in a half-dozen other states. Oklahoma’s regulatory response has been more passive than most, StateImpact reported in May.

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The Salt
2:24 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Taking Down Big Food Is The Name Of Chipotle's New Game

Chipotle Mexican Grill launched The Scarecrow, an arcade-style adventure game for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
Business Wire

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 2:22 pm

Chipotle Mexican Grill prides itself on the fact that it serves only "responsibly raised beef, pork and chicken." That means the meat it buys comes from animals raised outside or in comfy pens, who are never given antibiotics and are fed an additive-free, vegetarian diet.

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Here & Now
1:21 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Oklahoma Public Schools Still Struggling To Recover From Recession

Credit Lexie Flickinger / Flickr

new study out today from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that more than two-thirds of states are spending less per child on schools than they were five years ago.

Listen to Meghna Chakrabarti's conversation with Michael Leachman, director of state fiscal research with the State Fiscal Policy division of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and lead author of the report.

The report analyzed inflation-adjusted figures from Fiscal Year 2008 to 2014, and finds Oklahoma is spending nearly 23 percent less per child on schools than five years ago. 

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12:14 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Drugs: Part III Of Sports Illustrated's Report On OSU Football

Lead in text: 
Sports Illustrated publishes the third of its five-part series on allegations of misconduct in Oklahoma State University's football program.
  • Source: Cnn
  • | Via: George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans
At around 5:30 a.m. on Feb. 8, 2009, Stillwater police executed a search warrant at the off-campus residence of Oklahoma State junior wide receiver Bo Bowling. An ex-girlfriend, whom police officers found inebriated outside Bowling's home, had told them that Bowling had marijuana in his possession.
StateImpact Oklahoma
11:18 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Q&A: Oklahoma’s New Secretary Of Energy And Environment

Now-retired Col. Michael Teague commanded the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tulsa District, which includes Lake Eufaula, a lake that illustrates the delicate balance of different water needs in Oklahoma.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Traditionally, Oklahoma’s governor has relied on advice from separate officials representing energy and the environment.

But in July, Gov. Mary Fallin moved to combine the two offices into one. “Strong energy policy is strong environmental policy,” Fallin said in a statement accompanying an executive order creating the new Secretary of Energy and Environment cabinet secretary post.

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ProPublica
8:28 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Public Universities Ramp Up Aid For the Wealthy, Leaving The Poor Behind

Shauniqua Epps was accepted to three public colleges, but none gave her any aid. Increasingly, public universities have been shifting their aid away from the poor, leaving students like Epps with few options.
Credit Andrew Renneisen / ProPublica

This story from ProPublica was co-published with The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Shauniqua Epps was the sort of student that so many colleges say they want.

She was a high achiever, graduating from high school with a 3.8 GPA and ranking among the top students in her class. She served as secretary, then president, of the student government. She played varsity basketball and softball. Her high-school guidance counselor, in a letter of recommendation, wrote that Epps was "an unusual young lady" with "both drive and determination."

Epps, 19, was also needy.

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Open Records
8:26 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Tulsa Refuses 911 Audio Records Release

The Tulsa World is pushing for release of 911 audio recordings under the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
Credit James Cridland / Flickr Creative Commons

The city of Tulsa is refusing to release 911 recordings under the state's open records law.

The Tulsa World reports that the city denied its request last week for any emergency calls regarding a Sept. 1 police-involved fatal shooting at the Best Budget Inn. The newspaper says its request was denied even though it'd previously received 911 calls through open records requests.

Assistant City Attorney Shelton Benedict says the open records law doesn't specifically say that audio must be provided — just the radio logs.

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OneSix8
8:00 am
Thu September 12, 2013

Entertaining the Hours of Your Week: Performance Previews

Disney on Ice comes to the Oklahoma State Fair September 12-22.
Credit HarshLight / Flickr Creative Commons

This week’s OneSix8 brings performances of three different kinds: some State Fair entertainment, a classic Shakespearean work, and a 1939 comedic play. 

The Oklahoma State Fair returns to Oklahoma City beginning this Thursday with opening ceremonies at 5:00 p.m. The annual event includes the classic fair food, carnival rides and wacky reptile exhibits, but the State Fair also brings a team of talented performers to entertain attendees.

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Code Switch
6:34 am
Thu September 12, 2013

'Baby Veronica' Custody Battle Continues

Veronica, the child at the center of an adoption dispute, smiles in the bathroom of the Cherokee Nation Jack Brown Center in Oklahoma.
Mike Simons/Tulsa World AP

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 6:19 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court may have decided almost three months ago the case known as Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl. But the young Native American girl known as "Baby Veronica," who turns 4 years old on Sunday, is still stuck in legal limbo.

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