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. 

Read more
The Two-Way
6:29 am
Wed July 31, 2013

As Sentencing Phase Begins, Manning Could Face Decades In Prison

Former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, found guilty of espionage and theft Tuesday, could face a lengthy prison sentence. A penalty hearing for Manning begins today.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 9:57 am

As the sentencing hearing for former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning begins today, he faces the possibility of spending many decades in prison. Manning was found guilty Tuesday of 19 counts for giving thousands of classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks.

Manning, 25, was acquitted of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge against him, which would have put him in jeopardy of a life sentence. He was found guilty of other serious charges, from theft to espionage, for his role in the largest leak of U.S. secrets in history.

Read more
Politics and Government
6:01 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Company Laying Off Workers Received Taxpayer Dollars To Create Jobs

State Representative Mike Reynolds
Credit www.okhouse.gov

The decision last week by Spirit AeroSystems to lay off 360 employees from its facilities in Kansas and Oklahoma is causing one lawmaker to question economic incentives the company receives from the state.

Representative Mike Reynolds says he is “disgusted” that the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program would give millions of taxpayer dollars to Spirit for job creation at the same time the company is reducing its workforce.

A news release from Reynolds says the aircraft parts manufacturer received two payments through the program for more than 2-million dollars.

Read more
State Capitol
3:21 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

No Democrats To Challenge Republican Incumbents?

GOP Elephant and Democratic Donkey
Credit Donkeyhotey / Flickr.com

After a Republican steamroll in Oklahoma in 2010 flipped every statewide elected office to the GOP, very few strong Democratic candidates are emerging to take on entrenched GOP incumbents like Gov. Mary Fallin and others.

With the 2014 elections a little more than one year away and a key campaign finance filing deadline at midnight on Wednesday, most of those on the OklahomaDemocrats' already thin political bench appear to be taking a pass on 2014.

Read more
The Two-Way
3:16 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

On Twitter, Scott Simon's Long Goodbye To His Mother

Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon documented his mother's final days to his more than 1.2 million Twitter followers.
Stephen Voss NPR

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 4:22 pm

Fans of NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday no doubt noticed the absence of longtime host Scott Simon in recent weeks. What started as a well-earned vacation took a somber turn, as Scott told his Twitter followers on July 16 that his mother was in need of an emergency operation. "I can't talk. I'm surrounded by handsome men," he quoted her as saying while she was prepped for surgery.

Read more
2:40 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Oklahoma City In Top 5 "Hot" U.S. Cities

Lead in text: 
Coming in at number four in a list from "The Daily Beast," Oklahoma City finds itself seven spots in front of Dallas, and below top contenders including Austin, TX, New Orleans and Houston.
A city at its best, wrote the philosopher Rene Descartes, provides "an inventory of the possible." The city Descartes had in mind was 17 th century Amsterdam, which for him epitomized those cities where people go to change their circumstances and improve their lives.
StateImpact Oklahoma
2:34 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Oil Billionaire Harold Hamm To Lead AG Pruitt’s Re-Election Campaign

Harold Hamm is a major Republican donor, and he served as candidate Mitt Romney’s chief energy adviser during the 2012 presidential race.
Credit Continental Resources

Oil billionaire Harold Hamm, the CEO and Chairman of Oklahoma energy giant Continental Resources has been tapped to lead state Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s re-election campaign.

The Associated Press reports:

Pruitt described Hamm as a “dedicated businessman, visionary, and icon here in Oklahoma.”

Read more
Private Prisons
1:54 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Looking At A Half-Decade Of Private Prison Growth In Oklahoma

How the number of Oklahoma inmates in private prisons has grown over the years.
Credit Oklahoma Watch

At the July Oklahoma Department of Corrections board meeting, officials announced the approval of moving 310 more Oklahoma inmates to the Cimarron Correctional Facility, a private prison in Cushing.

The move was just the latest in a recent shift of state inmates to three private prisons in Oklahoma. Since July 2008, the number of Oklahoma inmates in private prisons has grown by 32 percent, from 4,264 to 5,625 in July 2013.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:51 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Investigators: Train Conductor Was On Phone During Spain Crash

Flowers pay tribute to the victims of the train that crashed in northwestern Spain last week. The driver of the train was on the phone and traveling at nearly twice the speed limit, according to court papers.
Rafa Rivas AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 3:18 pm

The driver of a Spanish train that derailed and killed 79 people was speaking on the phone and had taken the train to nearly twice the speed allowed on the stretch of track where the crash occurred, according to court investigators who reviewed the train's "black box" recorders.

After reaching speeds of 119 miles per hour, train conductor Francisco Jose Garzon Amo tried to slow the train down "seconds before the crash," according to an Associated Press report on the court's preliminary findings, which were released Tuesday.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:43 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Bradley Manning Not Guilty Of 'Aiding The Enemy'

Army Private Bradley Manning, center, leaves the courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland, on Tuesday.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA /Landov

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 5:47 pm

This post was last updated at 6:42 p.m. ET.

Bradley Manning, the former intelligence analyst who perpetrated the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history, has been acquitted of the most serious charge against him.

Col. Denise Lind, the military judge presiding over the case in Fort Meade, Md., found the Army private not guilty of aiding the enemy, when he released hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. The charge carried a possible punishment of life in prison.

Read more
State Capitol
10:33 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Oklahoma Speaker On Israel Trip

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon
Credit Oklahoma House

House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) was among a group of U.S. delegates and state legislators to visit Israel last week organized by the group the American Israel Friendship League.

According to the nonprofit’s website, the AIFL is “dedicated to promoting and strengthening the relationship between the people of the United States and Israel.”

Read more

Pages