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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The Two-Way
12:36 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

MasterCard, Visa Team Up To Improve Payment Security

Visa and MasterCard have formed an industry-wide group to improve payment security.
Damien Meyer AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 1:48 pm

Credit-card rivals Visa and MasterCard said Friday they have formed an industry-wide group aimed at improving payment security in the wake of a number of breaches that compromised customers' data.

"The recent high-profile breaches have served as a catalyst for much needed collaboration between the retail and financial services industry on the issue of payment security," Visa President Ryan McInerney said in the statement.

According to Reuters:

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The Two-Way
9:23 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Russian Lawmakers Welcome Separatist Steps By Crimea

Vladimir Konstantinov (in purple tie) is the speaker of Crimea's parliament. He was welcomed with flowers Friday during his meeting with Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament. She is at the far right of this photo.
Yuri Kadobnov AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 10:22 am

One day after President Obama condemned steps taken by Crimea's parliament to leave Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, Russian lawmakers are welcoming such a move by Crimean separatists.

"Russia's parliament gave its defiant support Friday to Crimean lawmakers who want to see their region split from Ukraine and join Russia," CNN reports from Moscow.

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Native American
9:20 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Gov. Fallin's Daughter Drawing Criticism For Native American Headdress

The Pink Pony response to the headdress controversy.
Credit Pink Pony Music / Facebook

The daughter of the governor of Oklahoma is defending herself after she posted a photo wearing a Native American headdress on social media sites.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Gov. Mary Fallin's daughter, Christina Fallin, says that with age, she feels a "deeper and deeper connection to the Native American culture."

The 26-year-old posted a photo of herself on her Instagram account and the Facebook page for her band on Thursday evening.

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The Two-Way
7:08 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Jobless Rate Ticks Up, But Job Growth Is Better Than Expected

The scene at a job fair for veterans earlier this year in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 10:14 am

This post has been updated.

The nation's unemployment rate edged up to 6.7 percent in February from 6.6 percent the month before, but employers added more jobs than expected, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

According to BLS, the number of jobs on public and private payrolls grew by 175,000 last month — about 25,000 more than economists had expected.

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The Two-Way
5:13 am
Fri March 7, 2014

U.S. Knew Of 'Imminent' Move In Crimea, Top Official Says

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month.
Lauren Victoria Burke AP

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 10:39 am

Senior U.S. officials were warned of imminent Russian military action in Crimea about a week before the troop movements that have sparked a major international crisis over Ukraine, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency tells NPR.

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Tax cuts for individual & corporate taxes
6:17 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Oklahoma House Votes For Reduction To Income Tax

Credit LendingMemo / Flickr.com

A plan to cut both Oklahoma's corporate and individual income tax rates has cleared the Oklahoma House over the objections of Democrats who contend the resulting loss of revenue will decimate critical state services like education, public safety and health care.

The House voted 57-34 Thursday for the bill that includes triggers for both cuts that would require certain revenue collections to grow by enough to offset the lost revenue to the state. Bartlesville Republican Rep. Earl Sears described it as a "modest income tax reduction."

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Bridge Back By Easter
4:16 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

A Tale Of Two Cities: Lexington And Purcell

Credit J Stephen Conn / Flickr.com

Purcell and Lexington are only about 4,000 feet apart as the crow flies, but much farther as the car drives.

Travel between the communities now requires a 45-minute trip through the Oklahoma City suburbs after an emergency closure on Jan. 31 of the James C. Nance Memorial Bridge between the communities.

The cities have partnered with the Department of Transportation to provide a shuttle, but residents say not enough is being done.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
3:17 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Oklahoma Moves Up the Ranks By Adding More Wind Energy To Its Electricity Mix

Credit Gabriel Pollard / Flickr Creative Commons

Wind energy accounted for 14.8 percent of the electricity generated in Oklahoma in 2013, an American Wind Energy analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency show.

Oklahoma now ranks No. 7 nationally, a step up from the No. 9 ranking the state earned in 2012 when wind power comprised 10.5 percent of the state’s energy mix, according to the wind industry trade group.

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Oklahoma Watch
2:02 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Limited Impact Expected In Oklahoma From Obama's Education Proposal

Credit Terrapin Flyer / Flickr Creative Commons

President Obama called for a 2 percent increase in federal education funding while unveiling his budget proposal Tuesday, but little benefit is expected in Oklahoma.

During his presentation, Obama requested $68.6 billion in discretionary education funding. The proposal included no changes in current Title 1 spending, which funds programs for students from low-income families, or special education. Both programs combined take up 39 percent of proposed federal education funding.

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State Capitol
1:15 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Ralph Ellison Portrait Unveiled Thursday

The portrait of Ralph Ellison unveiled Thursday is part of a yearlong celebration of the author's 100th birthday. He died in 1994.
Credit State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) / Facebook

One of the state's most famous writers is the latest Oklahoman to be honored with a portrait at the state Capitol.

The author of Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison grew up in the Deep Deuce area of Oklahoma City. State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) was among those leading the effort to pay tribute to Ellison. Holt says the new painting honors a man who was much more than a writer.

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