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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Special Session Called
5:20 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Fallin Ends Suspense And Calls Special Session

Oklahoma State Capital Building
Credit rutio / Flickr.com

Governor Mary Fallin finally ended the speculation that a special session would be called by issuing an executive order today for the Oklahoma Legislature to meet beginning Tuesday, September 3. The executive order calls on lawmakers to re-institute components of House Bill 1603, a comprehensive lawsuit reform package signed into law in 2009.

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Prison Overcrowding
4:20 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Lawmakers Want Prison Funding Discussed In Special Session

Prison Window
Credit Jelle Vancoppenolle / Flickr.com

Some Oklahoma lawmakers with state prison facilities in their districts are asking Gov. Mary Fallin to include corrections funding in any special legislative session she calls.

Nine state senators and 12 members of the House have signed a petition calling for corrections funding to be addressed if a special session is called by the governor.

Fallin is considering calling a special session to consider restoring laws overturned by the state Supreme Court that were designed to cut businesses' legal liability costs.

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Drugs And Narcotics
1:37 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

State’s Marijuana Arrest Rates Slightly Higher Than Nation’s

Oklahoma’s arrest rate for marijuana possession is slightly above the national rate, and arrest rates vary considerably among counties, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis of 10 years’ worth of FBI data.

Click on a button to see a county’s rate of arrests for marijuana possession. Each button is placed on a county seat. The red buttons denote the counties with the highest rates.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
1:16 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Sierra Club Sues OG&E, Claims Coal Boiler Mods Violated Federal Clean Air Act

The first page of the Sierra Club's lawsuit against OG&E.
Credit Provided / The Sierra Club

The Sierra Club has filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., the state’s largest electric utility, alleging the company violated the federal Clean Air Act by modifying a coal burner at its Muskogee power plant without “planning for increased levels of air pollution and failing to obtain a permit from state regulators.”

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Moore Tornado
12:40 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Moore Schools To Reopen After Devastating Tornado

Gov. Mary Fallin leads Gen. Frank J. Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau through the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., where seven students were killed during the May 20th, 2013 tornado.
Credit The National Guard / Flickr Creative Commons

Officials at Moore Public Schools welcomed teachers to a new school year following a devastating tornado that destroyed two schools and damaged many others.

Superintendent Robert Romines spoke to more than 1,400 Moore Public School teachers Monday morning – 84 days after a massive tornado struck the community. He says about 750 new students enrolled in Moore Public Schools during the 2013-2014 school year.

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Native American
11:57 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Dusten Brown Turns Himself In To Oklahoma Authorities

Credit Cherokee Nation

The father of a Cherokee Indian girl at the center of an adoption dispute has turned himself in to authorities but refused extradition to South Carolina.

Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart says Dusten Brown turned himself in about 10 a.m. and appeared before a judge but refused extradition without a governor's warrant.

Brown was charged over the weekend with custodial interference after failing to appear at a court-ordered meeting in South Carolina.

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The Two-Way
10:01 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Rodeo Clown In Obama Mask Sparks Outrage, Apologies

A photo taken of the clown who wore a mask resembling President Obama during a rodeo at the Missouri State Fair on Saturday.
Jameson Hsieh AP

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 10:42 am

"It was feeling like some kind of Klan rally."

That's the reaction of spectator Perry Beam to Saturday's appearance at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, Mo., of a rodeo clown wearing a mask meant to look like President Obama and what happened during his performance.

Videos that Beam took show some of the scene and capture some of what the rodeo announcer and another clown were saying. The Kansas City Star has posted two of the clips on its YouTube channel.

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Native American
9:47 am
Mon August 12, 2013

South Carolina Couple Wants FBI To Intervene In Adoption Dispute

Credit Dave Newman (newmanchu) / Flickr Creative Commons

The Charleston-area couple trying to adopt a Cherokee girl wants federal law enforcement to help them bring the child to South Carolina.

Matt and Melanie Capobianco on Monday called on the FBI to help them bring the 3-year-old named Veronica to live with them. Matt Capobianco says he'll go toOklahoma himself to retrieve Veronica if that request is denied.

A South Carolina court has finalized the couple's adoption. But Veronica has been inOklahoma since 2011, when courts said federal law favored her being raised by her biological father because of his Cherokee heritage.

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Native American
9:42 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Cherokee Court Considering Adoption Case

A hearing is set for the biological father of a 3-year-old Cherokee girl who is the subject of an adoption dispute.

A Cherokee Nation spokeswoman says Dusten Brown is due in tribal court in Tahlequah at 9 a.m. Monday.

Spokeswoman Amanda Clinton said the hearing was requested by the attorney for Brown's daughter, Veronica. A phone call to the attorney, Angel Smith, went unanswered.

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It's All Politics
9:26 am
Mon August 12, 2013

For Democrats And Republicans, It's Happily (N)ever After

Political discord tends to lead to disharmony in relationships.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 7:53 am

Amanda Northrup would never do it again.

She's dated Democrats in the past, but she found their acceptance of abortion heartbreaking and their support of President Obama nearly as off-putting.

"He was going off to celebrate Obama becoming president, and I felt betrayed and like he didn't understand me," recalls Northrup, who is 30 and works in real estate in Chattanooga, Tenn. "I think that's why eventually the two can't be together. It's such a big difference."

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