In The Know: Land Office criminal investigation launched | Tulsa Public Schools board stalemate | More

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

OSBI launches criminal investigation into Commissioners of the Land Office administration: The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has opened a criminal investigation into the Commissioners of the Land Office following a request from the Oklahoma County District Attorney. [The Frontier]

  • Commissioners of the Land Office Secretary Elliot Chambers fired the agency’s internal auditor after she questioned him about his personal investment relationship with Victorum Capital, which was being paid by the CLO as a consultant on investments. [Tulsa World]

Board stalemate on routine business leaves TPS in limbo: The absence of one board member and a 3-3 split among the remaining six over whether to approve routine business items Monday night has Tulsa Public Schools in scramble mode. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Stitt launches task force aimed at supporting families through pregnancies in post-Roe era: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt in an executive order Monday called for the formation of a task force aimed at supporting mothers and families through unplanned or crisis pregnancies. [The Oklahoman]

Long Story Short: The Dark Money in Oklahoma Primaries (audio): Paul Monies of Oklahoma Watch reports that $10 million of independent expenditures poured into Oklahoma’s primary election campaigns in June alone. [Podcast, Oklahoma Watch]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Businesses to contribute $10 million for expansion of tribe’s law enforcement: Cherokee Nation Businesses will contribute another $10 million to the tribe’s effort to expand law enforcement capabilities in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision, officials announced Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Native American Boarding School Listening Sessions Start in Anadarko: Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland visited Riverside Indian School in Anadarko on Saturday, the first stop on a tour of listening sessions to document the testimonies of boarding school survivors. The schools were mechanisms for forced assimilation – children had their long braids cut, and were punished for using Native names and speaking Native languages. Children were abused, forced to perform manual labor, and many died. Burial sites have been found at more than 50 of the schools. [Oklahoma Watch]

Economic Opportunity

Pivot plans grand opening for little houses on the prairie to help homeless teens: A program that began five years ago with three little houses on the local prairie will have a grand opening for 20 more in a variety of shapes and colors on Wednesday. Pivot Inc., has a half-century of experience providing youths facing housing insecurity with basic needs like food, shelter, education, job assistance and therapeutic care. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

In fourth year, Oklahoma cannabis industry making strides: The industry grew rapidly and exponentially in its first few years and experienced some inevitable growing pains, the panelists said. But recent changes – including a two-year moratorium on new licenses – will give businesses and regulators a chance to catch up. [The Journal Record]

Education News

‘Where is their priority?’ Legal fees cost Western Heights schools over $500,000 this year: With extraordinary resources dedicated to suing state authorities, more than half a million taxpayer dollars from Western Heights Public schools went to attorneys over the past year. The southwest Oklahoma City district of 2,700 students incurred $506,695 in legal fees from July 1, 2021, through June 14, invoice records show. Most went toward a lawsuit fighting a state takeover of the struggling district. [The Oklahoman]

‘Negative impact’: Error leads to higher property taxes in Cache Public Schools district: Community members within the Cache Public Schools district will see an unexpected property tax increase of about 15 percent this year owing to a clerical error that misstated the community’s assessed valuation by about $51 million. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

Race Massacre researchers seek DNA, family histories: The nonprofit organization analyzing DNA from a mass burial at Oaklawn Cemetery is asking for information, including genetic test results such as those from 23andme and Ancestry, that might help it identify two sets of remains exhumed from the site. [Tulsa World]

County commissioners fire back at Hochatown in Oklahoma Supreme Court filing: McCurtain County Commissioners told the Oklahoma Supreme Court in a filing this week that despite complaints to the contrary, they did follow the law requiring them to consider a petition calling for the incorporation of Hochatown, the booming Ouachita Mountains community north of Broken Bow. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Boarding school policies have touched every Indigenous person I know. Some are survivors, some are descendants, but we all carry the trauma in our hearts. My ancestors endured the horrors of the Indian boarding school assimilation policies carried out by the same department that I now lead. This is the first time in history that a cabinet secretary comes to the table with this shared trauma, and it’s not lost on me.” 

-Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland during a visit to Riverside Indian School in Anadarko as part of listening sessions to document the testimonies of boarding school survivors [Oklahoma Watch

Number of the Day

27

Oklahoma’s teen birth rate per 1,000, which is higher than the national rate of 17. [KIDS COUNT]

Policy Note

How Are Governments Using ARPA Funds? So Far, Very Slowly: How are governments using the $350 billion in the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program (SLFRF)? So far, they haven’t used most of it for anything, according to an analysis from the University of Illinois Chicago’s Government Finance Research Center (GFRC). Data released this month by the Treasury Department encompasses spending by almost 1,800 states, territories and large cities and counties as of the end of December 2021. GFRC found by that time they had obligated just 28 percent of $208 billion in the first tranche of SLFRF aid made available to them. [Governing]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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