Oklahoma Watch http://kgou.org en Auditing The Storm: Cities, State Scramble To Spend Community Storm Grants http://kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-cities-state-scramble-spend-community-storm-grants <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">More than half of the federal disaster funds being offered to Oklahoma for recovery from the violent storms of 2013 are in the form of community development grants.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">But that cash aid comes with strings attached. And those strings have state and local officials scrambling to figure out how to spend the money effectively and whether they can meet federal deadlines in spending all of the grant funds, totaling $146 million. Whatever is not spent will be left on the table.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved two rounds of community development block grants tied to Disaster 4117, which covers the severe tornadoes and storms that struck in 21 counties between May 18 and June 2 last year. These grants can be used for housing, economic development, infrastructure and prevention against future damage.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The state of Oklahoma was awarded $93.7 million, to be distributed to local governments; Moore received two direct awards totaling $52.2 million.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">One of the biggest challenges in spending the money is a requirement that more than half of the grant funds be spent to benefit low- to moderate-income people or areas affected by a disaster. Low to moderate income is defined as those living at or below 80 percent of a metropolitan area’s median income level. In Oklahoma City, that equated to $48,000 for a family of four in 2013.</span></p><p> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:30:00 +0000 Oklahoma Watch & Clifton Adcock 33939 at http://kgou.org Auditing The Storm: Cities, State Scramble To Spend Community Storm Grants Q&A: How ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings Could Affect Oklahoma http://kgou.org/post/qa-how-obamacare-court-rulings-could-affect-oklahoma <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought </span>“Obamacare”<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.</span></p><p><strong style="line-height: 1.5;">I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?</strong></p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 23:31:43 +0000 Oklahoma Watch & Warren Vieth 33936 at http://kgou.org Q&A: How ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings Could Affect Oklahoma Oklahoma City Schools Sign Presidential Education Pledge http://kgou.org/post/oklahoma-city-schools-sign-presidential-education-pledge <p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5;">Oklahoma City Public Schools is among&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.cgcs.org/cms/lib/DC00001581/Centricity/Domain/4/Males%20of%20Color%20Initiative--Press%20Release_Pledge.pdf" style="font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(53, 135, 212);">60 of the nation’s largest districts</a><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;throwing their support behind a presidential initiative meant to ensure more students of color are succeeding academically.</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5;">While promoting his initiative Monday,&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/21/education/obamas-my-brothers-keeper-education-program-expands.html" style="font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(53, 135, 212);">President Barack Obama said 60 districts</a><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;signed a pledge to participate in the initiative called&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper#section-about-my-brothers-keeper" style="font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(53, 135, 212);">My Brother’s Keeper</a><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5;">. Obama first unveiled the program in February.</span></p><p style="margin-bottom: 24px; font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The goal of the initiative is to improve graduation rates among black and Hispanic male students, improve academic performance and ensure students are ready for college or the workforce.</p><p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 01:20:59 +0000 Oklahoma Watch & Nate Robson 33857 at http://kgou.org Oklahoma City Schools Sign Presidential Education Pledge Auditing The Storm: Hazard Funds Don’t Always Go To Damaged Areas http://kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-hazard-funds-don-t-always-go-damaged-areas <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">As a massive tornado bore down on Moore on the afternoon of May 20, 2013, residents scrambled to find shelter.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Some retreated to safe rooms at home or in buildings. Many hid in closets, bathrooms or hallways.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Meanwhile, in Stillwater, people were also on alert because a tornado watch had been issued that day. But the city received only a light rain and no wind damage, according to the National Weather Service.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The destruction and deaths caused by the Moore tornado led many people in the city to believe that a residential storm shelter was essential.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">But after the May 20 tornado, when the federal government began approving cash aid for projects like shelters to prevent the future loss of life and property, Moore was shut out of the program, according to data analyzed by </span><em style="line-height: 1.5;">Oklahoma Watch</em><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> in a joint project with </span>KGOU<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> Radio/The Oklahoma Tornado Project.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Stillwater, on the other hand, has so far gotten the largest share of federal “hazard mitigation” funds released under the presidential disaster declaration, records show. Stillwater will spend about $1.9 million, most of it federal money, to help pay for more than 700 safe rooms in residents’ homes. The same program will allow Oklahoma State University there to spend $73,000 to install a lightning detection and warning system, needed partly for sporting events.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Moore has not been left out in the cold.</span></p><p> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:39:00 +0000 Oklahoma Watch & Clifton Adcock 33777 at http://kgou.org Auditing The Storm: Hazard Funds Don’t Always Go To Damaged Areas Auditing the Storm: Hazard Mitigant Projects http://kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-hazard-mitigant-projects <p></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="1000" scrolling="yes" src="http://oklahomawatch.github.io/projects/hazard/projects/" width="100%">&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Your browser does not support iframes.&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;</iframe></p> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:37:38 +0000 Oklahoma Watch 33778 at http://kgou.org UPDATE: Fallin's Office Says Barresi Will Not Be Secretary Of Education http://kgou.org/post/update-fallins-office-says-barresi-will-not-be-secretary-education <p><em><strong>This post was updated at 12:36 CDT&nbsp;</strong></em></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5;">Gov. Mary Fallin’s office has offered its strongest rebuke yet to rumors that Superintendent Janet Barresi could be the state’s next secretary of education.</span></p> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:15:40 +0000 Brian Hardzinski & Oklahoma Watch & Nate Robson 33566 at http://kgou.org UPDATE: Fallin's Office Says Barresi Will Not Be Secretary Of Education Auditing The Storm: Thousands Of Disaster-Aid Requests End In Rejection http://kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-thousands-disaster-aid-requests-end-rejection <p>Although millions of dollars in federal aid money began pouring into Oklahoma shortly after the spring 2013 storms, not all who asked for help received it.</p><p>The Oklahoma National Guard sought $22,074 for taking Gov. Mary Fallin on a helicopter survey of the damage from the May 20 tornado, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the request.</p><p>Mid-Del Public Schools had seven of its requests denied for roof repairs and other projects — the most rejected among applicants as of early June — because inspectors found the damage was unrelated to the storms.</p><p>The most dramatic rejection trend was for individuals: Of the 13,714 people who &nbsp;were referred for help by FEMA under its “Individuals and Households Program,” nearly three-fourths were denied.</p><p>State and FEMA officials say the denials don’t necessarily mean FEMA was acting carelessly or callously. The agency encourages disaster victims and other groups to apply for funds even when it’s likely their requests will be rejected or scaled back because damage to their properties or belongings is mostly covered by private insurance. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:30:00 +0000 Oklahoma Watch & Clifton Adcock 33431 at http://kgou.org Auditing The Storm: Thousands Of Disaster-Aid Requests End In Rejection Auditing The Storm: Disaster 4117 - Moore Public Schools http://kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-disaster-4117-moore-public-schools <p>The smell of freshly cut lumber rides a south breeze to the front of the steel and concrete skeleton rising out of red clay. Construction workers and machines move about.</p><p>The new incarnation of Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children died in the May 20, 2013, tornado, is set to open this fall. And in front on this day stand Mikki Davis and family members, there for a rally calling for the state to help pay for safe rooms in schools. Davis holds a picture of her 8-year-old son Kyle, one of the seven children who died.</p><p>“I didn’t want him taken (from life),” Davis said. “I expected to come here (on May 20) and find him looking for mama to pick him up.”</p><p>Returning to the site brings back memories and emotions. But knowing that the new school will have a safe room gives Davis some consolation.</p><p>“If my son’s life was taken so that others in the future could be saved in the future, then that makes me proud to be his mom,” Davis said.</p><p>The inclusion of safe rooms in the three schools damaged or destroyed in last year’s tornadoes is part of the FEMA disaster aid enabling the district to&nbsp; rebuild. The assistance covers three-fourths of the cost of what is not paid for by insurance and donations.</p><p> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:30:00 +0000 Oklahoma Watch & Clifton Adcock 33372 at http://kgou.org Auditing The Storm: Disaster 4117 - Moore Public Schools After 32 Years And A Wrongful Conviction, New Suspect In Rape Is Charged http://kgou.org/post/after-32-years-and-wrongful-conviction-new-suspect-rape-charged <p style="margin-bottom: 24px; font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The Cleveland County District Attorney's Office has charged a suspect in a 32-year-old case of rape for which another man was wrongfully convicted and spent more than 13 years in prison.</p><p style="margin-bottom: 24px; font-size: 19.552px; line-height: 1.5; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The suspect, Gilbert Duane Harris, 58, of Biloxi, Miss., was identified after an&nbsp;<em>Oklahoma Watch</em>&nbsp;inquiry last year caused the Norman Police Department to request a national DNA database check related to the 1982 rape of a University of Oklahoma student. That check, sought by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, matched Harris' DNA with DNA evidence from the rape, but authorities say it took months to verify and follow up.</p><p> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 11:31:27 +0000 Oklahoma Watch & Shaun Hittle 33398 at http://kgou.org After 32 Years And A Wrongful Conviction, New Suspect In Rape Is Charged Auditing the Storm: Disaster 4117 - The Long Road http://kgou.org/post/auditing-storm-disaster-4117-long-road <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">In 2007, Oklahoma was blitzed by a series of deadly storms, including an ice storm in January that engulfed most of central and eastern Oklahoma and killed 32 people.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Nearly seven years later, three of those federally declared disasters remain on active status. A handful of projects and audits have yet to be completed.</span></p><p> Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:45:17 +0000 Oklahoma Watch & Clifton Adcock 33297 at http://kgou.org Auditing the Storm: Disaster 4117 - The Long Road