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
Education
6:21 pm
Sun July 13, 2014

Oklahoma Common Core Lawsuit To Be Heard Tuesday

Credit Gerd Altmann / http://pixabay.com/en/users/geralt/

A lawsuit challenging the Legislature's repeal of Common Core education standards for English and math is being scrutinized by Oklahoma's highest court just one month before public school students are scheduled to return to the classroom.

The Court may have the last word in whether the state will retain the Common Core stands after Justices hear oral arguments Tuesday.

Read more
Politics and Government
10:43 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Bridenstine Tours Immigrant Children's Shelter At Fort Sill

U.S. Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK)
Credit Congressman Jim Bridenstine / Facebook

As hundreds of immigrant children stay at a temporary shelter at the Fort Sill Army Post near Lawton, some Oklahoma leaders says they are concerned a broad agreement on the nation's immigration policy won't be reached this year.

Oklahoma's Fort Sill has become a temporary home for unaccompanied Central American children flowing into the country. The immediate crisis is prompting President Barack Obama to push for $3.7 billion in emergency funding, a request that has gotten a cool reception from Oklahoma's all-Republican delegation.

Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cole says he doesn't see the current situation serving as an impetus for broader immigration reform and is joining a growing GOP call for faster deportation.

Representative Jim Bridenstine toured the Fort Sill temporary shelter on Saturday with Representative Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee.

KRMG reports Bridenstine said he was pleased with the care provided to the children but the influx of undocumented children was a result of President Obama’s immigration policies.

Read more
Energy
9:39 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Corporation Commission Will Ask For Public's Input On Wind And Solar Issues

Oklahoma Corporation Commission Chairman Bob Anthony
Credit Oklahoma Corporation Commission

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission plans to seek the public's input in the placement of wind farms and the regulation of rooftop solar panels.

The commission's public utility division held the second of two meetings last Friday that lay the groundwork for issuing a notice of inquiry on wind and solar issues.

Read more
Oklahoma News
8:40 am
Sun July 13, 2014

Oklahoma Correctional Officers Concerned About Prison Overcrowding

Credit mikecogh / Flickr Creative Commons

A group that represents Oklahoma correctional officers says state prisons could end up dangerously understaffed if proposed cost-saving measures take effect.

In a letter to Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton, the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals says it has "grave concerns" about plans to eliminate 12-hour shifts by reducing the number of officers required on security posts.

Read more
The Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:01 am
Sun July 13, 2014

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.

Read more
Oklahoma News
4:47 pm
Sat July 12, 2014

Multiple Earthquakes Rattle Central Oklahoma

Credit Ray Bouknight / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Geological Survey says at least four earthquakes have rattled central Oklahoma, including a 4.3-magnitude temblor near Langston.

The earthquake struck shortly after noon Saturday about five miles southwest of Langston. Earlier, a 3.2-magnitude quake was recorded about 6:30 a.m. in about the same area near Langston. No damage or injuries were reported following either quake.

Read more
Indian Times
4:30 pm
Sat July 12, 2014

The Advantages Of SoonerCare For Native Americans And Other Stories

Credit Susan Shannon

SoonerCare Can Give Indian Health Care Services An Added Advantage

SoonerCare is Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. The tribal relations associate for SoonerCare is Katie Carden. Carden says more Native Americans and native veterans need to sign up because not only are there more services available for them to take advantage of, it will pay their tribal clinics for services received. In fact, SoonerCare is the third largest payer to Indian Health Service.

Katie Carden, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, wants Native Americans to sign up for SoonerCare.

Read more
Education
8:00 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Online Resource Site For American Indian Education

Oklahoma Indian Education Resource
Credit Oklahoma Department of Education

Many people packed into the State Department of Education board room Friday afternoon to see the unveiling of the Oklahoma Indian Education Resource website.

The website hosts an abundance of materials to aid teachers in educating students about the Indian heritage and history.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi said the site is “the result of the diligence of quite a few people over many, many years.”

Read more
All Services Are Free
7:48 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Remote Area Medical Clinic August 15 And 16

Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps
Credit Remote Area Medical

On Saturday, August 16, and Sunday, August 17, Remote Area Medical (RAM) will provide care to as many people as possible at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City.

Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis regardless of income or immigration status.  Patients are encouraged to bring a list of any medications they take.

At this event, professionals will be providing free dental care - mostly cleanings and extractions, but a limited number of fillings will be done for some patients.

Read more
Public Hearing August 15
6:52 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Ethics Commission To Consider Amendments To Rules That Take Effect In January 2015

Cathy Stocker, Chair of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission
Credit Oklahoma Ethics Commission

The Ethics Commission will consider a series of proposed amendments to its new rules during upcoming meetings that will be submitted to the Legislature for consideration in 2015. 

The commission held a series of public meetings in 2013 before submitting a completely rewritten version of its rules to the Legislature at the start of the 2014 session. Those rules were adopted when the Legislature did not take action to disapprove or amend them before adjourning sine die. These new rules, largely, do not take effect until Jan. 1, 2015, to allow the current election cycle to be completed under one consistent set of guidelines.

"I think we are going to need to consider some amendments to those rules to be considered in 2015," Ethics Commissioner Executive Director Lee Slater told the commissioners during their meeting Friday.

Slater said several specific issues had been brought to his attention, including the treatment of political parties, the commission's abilities to assess fees and possible punishments for those who commit mid-level rules infractions.

Read more

Pages