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Latest from Russell Mills

    In the end, monolithic opposition by Democrats coupled with opposition from the far right doomed Friday’s vote on the American Health Care Act, the GOP bill that would have repealed and replaced the law commonly known as “Obamacare.” GOP leadership decided to pull the bill, realizing that it could not pass. The Trump administration made it clear early Friday that negotiations were over, and the president wanted an up or down vote Friday. House Speaker Paul Ryan went to the White House to report he didn’t have the votes to pass the bill; President Trump had previously said win or lose, Rep. Ryan should keep his position as Speaker. The GOP plan (AHCA) would have ended the mandate that all Americans pay for health insurance, replacing it with a plan where the federal government would give Americans tax credits, based on age. That would have saved taxpayers billions of dollars, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, but would have left  24 million additional Americans without health coverage within the next decade. Many governors, including some Republicans, also had serious concerns about the additional burdens passed on to states under the AHCA.
  • Tulsa police Thursday released video of an incident in which an officer used his patrol car to end a gunfight. Madison Dickson was the suspect in a string of violent crimes that spanned nearly a week when she was spotted in a vehicle near 91st and Harvard last Saturday. She tried to run, and gunfire is heard on the video, which officers say was directed toward them. The officer swerves left as she points the gun at him, then veers right and runs her over as she attempts to flee. Additional videos released to media by TPD indicate an officer also used a Taser on Dickson after she was down, because she still had the gun and wasn’t responding to commands. “She might not be able to, hang on,” one officer says as others are yelling at her to show her hands. EMSA arrived on the scene a few minutes later, but Dickson died from her injuries.
  • Conservative Republicans opposed to the health care reform bill offered by their leadership have forced a delay in a vote on the measure, which was expected to happen Thursday. House GOP leadership announced they will push the vote back about 2:30 Central Time after a flurry of meetings between Republican members of the Freedom Caucus, moderates pushing the plan, and the White House. The delay is seen as a rebuke of the Trump administration, which has brought pressure to bear in an attempt to bring those more conservative members on board. Those Republicans opposed to the bill in its current form generally want deeper cuts in spending on the program. Some have called it “Obamacare Light,” and say it doesn’t offer enough substantial changes to current law. Those in favor of the bill argue it eliminates the mandate, and puts choice back in the hands of consumers. There’s no official announcement on when House Speaker Paul Ryan might try to reschedule a vote.
  • When Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler talks about the Latwon Goff investigation, one can hear the frustration in his voice. Goff made the list of Tulsa’s Most Wanted at the age of 16 for a string of armed robberies. He was caught, arrested, and convicted after entering guilty pleas on eight counts in February of 2015. But shortly after he turned 18, and under Oklahoma law as a youthful offender, he received a judicial review of his case. That’s when Tulsa District Judge Sharon Holmes, acting on the advice of the Office of Juvenile Affairs, ordered that his guilty pleas be expunged, that he be allowed to change those pleas to not guilty, and that the charges against him be dismissed. And that, according to Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, came as something of a shock. “To just somehow think that he magically changed what was probably a lifetime of bad decisions, I just found it hard to comprehend that we can just take the word of somebody like that, and cut somebody like that loose without any monitoring,” he told KRMG Wednesday. Goff was arrested after a pursuit in Tulsa Wednesday on suspicion of two armed robberies earlier in the day. But police were already looking for him in connection with a murder in Dallas. Investigators there named him as a suspect in the killing of Jason Eli Edwards, 39, in February. That was just two months after Judge Holmes ordered his release. [CLICK HERE to see the online court records of Goff’s 2015 case] But apparently it didn’t take him even that long to find more trouble. He reportedly told Tulsa detectives he committed an armed robbery within four hours of his release from custody last December. Kunzweiler tells KRMG his office argued strenously against turning Goff loose. “Of course now, he’s accused of committing a horrible offense,” Kunzweiler said. “If he is in fact the person responsible for the death of that person, our system up here failed that family.” He added that he will work with prosecutors in Dallas to determine the best course of action now that Goff faces charges in both jurisdictions.
  • A man police say has a history of running from police led them on a long chase Tuesday which ended in a crash on the Muskogee Turnpike. OHP Trooper Dwight Durant tells KRMG the pursuit began in Okmulgee after 911 calls came in about a Dodge Charger passing people on the shoulder and making other reckless manuevers. Troopers monitoring the local police bands started toward the suspect, and an Okmulgee officer initiated the pursuit. Police in Glenpool tried using stopsticks as the chase moved north, but the suspect managed to get around them. Durant told KRMG the driver was doing 90 MPH on Jenks streets before getting on the Creek Turnpike and heading east. He continued to US 169 northbound, then headed east again on the Broken Arrow Expressway. Shortly after entering the Muskogee Turnpike, a trooper managed to deflate the suspect’s right rear tire with stopsticks. That led to a crash, after which the man was taken into custody after what Durant described as a “scuffle.” Police say the same suspect has been involved in a half dozen pursuits, including one as recently as Sunday. They have not released his name; he was taken to the hospital but Durant didn’t know if his injuries resulted from the crash, the fight with arresting officers, or both.
  • A Tulsa man shot in the chest at a northside convenience store Monday afternoon has died. Police responded to a home on N. Vandalia Avenue shortly after 3:00 p.m. They learned the man had run to that location after someone shot him at a nearby convenience store, the Apache Food Mart near Apache Street and Yale Avenue. Witnesses say the man approached a maroon car after coming out of the store, and someone inside the car opened fire. Police haven’t released any additional details about a possible motive, or descriptions of the vehicle or its occupants. It’s the second shooting in the area today. A little after 11:00 a.m., another man was shot three times in the driveway outside his duplex. The suspect vehicle in that case was described as a maroon SUV. The location of the first shooting was roughly two or three miles southwest of the fatal incident. Police have not indicated they think the two shootings are related.
  • A federal jury has ruled in favor of the estate of Elliot Williams, an army veteran who died in the jail in 2011 after suffering a broken neck and receiving little or no medical treatment. The ruling came Monday after weeks of testimony which detailed how Williams spent days lying on the floor of his cell while guards and medical personnel ignored his cries for help. They tossed food into the cell, and put water just out of his reach, because they apparently thought he was faking his injuries. The jury ruled that the county must pay $10.2 million in damages, and former Sheriff Stanley Glanz an additional $250,000. The last 51 hours of Williams’ death were captured by the jail’s own video surveillance system. Dan Smolen, the attorney for Williams’ estate, told KRMG the case was unprecedented, in his experience. “It’s the only case that I’m aware of, not just here locally in Tulsa but really nationally, dealing with people held in a detention setting where the records depict one thing happening, but the reality of what's truly happening is caught on film over such an extended period of time,” Smolen said. Jail records indicated Williams was eating, and receiving medical attention, when the video shows that was clearly not the case. “We believe that this prolonged and reckless neglect, in the way that they treated Elliot Williams in the Tulsa County jail, really constitutes one of the worst civil rights violations in U.S. history,” Smolen told KRMG. Plaintiffs had asked for $51 million in compensatory damages - a million dollars for every hour of that video showing Williams lying on the floor of his cell with a broken neck. Additional punitive damages against former Sheriff Stanley Glanz and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, were at the discretion of the jury.
  • A Tulsa man was rushed to the hospital after he was hit several times by bullets Monday. Police say they received a 911 call about a man down in a driveway screaming he’d been shot about 11:00 a.m. Officers say he was hit in the arm, stomach, and buttocks. Early reports indicate he’s not been cooperative with investigators trying to identify the suspects. Police say he gave them a vague description of two, possibly three, white male suspects in a maroon SUV. They’ve given no update on the man’s condition as of early Monday afternoon, though reporters were told EMSA was “concerned” about the man’s injuries.
  • The search for a suspect in gun-related incidents, including two shootings, has died after a confrontation with officers in south Tulsa. TPD confirms that Madison Dickson was killed by officers near 91st and Harvard Saturday afternoon. Police had been hunting Dickson after several incidents in which she fired a gun either in the general direction of, or directly at, people beginning a week before Saturday’s incident. The latest shooting left a man critically injured Thursday night. Police have said they believed her alleged assaults were random in nature, and that she wasn’t targeting anyone in particular. They thought they were close to catching her on Friday, but she eluded them.  Tulsa police said Dickson shot at officers and they shot back. It is believed Dickson was not hit by gunfire, nor were any officers. We’re told Dickson died after being hit by a patrol car.
  • Friday is the 50th day of the presidency of Donald J. Trump. KRMG marked the occasion with a special program, reuniting some of the voters who participated in live focus group broadcasts during the presidential campaign. CLICK HERE to hear Tracking Trump: Taking the Pulse of Tulsa, hosted by KRMG’s Russell Mills. You can also right-click and choose “save link as” to download the file to your computer. We also asked listeners to submit questions by phone, by text, or by using the “Open Mic” feature on the KRMG app.  Tulsans voted overwhelmingly for the Republican presidential candidate, so KRMG wanted to know if they’re happy with what he’s done so far. If you missed the show, or we couldn’t get to your comment, please feel free to text your thoughts to 95920, use the Open Mic on the free KRMG app, or visit the KRMG Facebook page and leave your comments there.
  • Russell Mills

    Anchor/Reporter

    Russell Mills came to Tulsa in 1991 with an AA degree in Broadcast Journalism and a new family. He worked in local television for more than 20 years as a show producer, assignment editor, and online content director. He built one of the first television news websites in the country and helped pioneer streaming audio and video, especially as it related to weather and live news coverage on the Internet. Russell says working for KRMG fulfills a longtime dream. "I worked in newsrooms for a long, long time before finally getting the chance to get out and cover the news in person. I can't tell you how much I love doing just that -- driving toward the big story to talk to the people involved gets my adrenaline going like almost nothing else in life." Russell grew up in Bozeman, Montana then spent several years as an "itinerant musician and restaurant worker," living in Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and California before finally starting college at 28 and discovering broadcasting as a possible career path. He is married to Shadia Dahlal, a nationally-known Middle Eastern Dancer and instructor, and has two stepchildren. You can connect with Russell via TwitterFacebook, or Linked In

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  • After the collapse of health care reform legislation in the House on Friday, Republicans in the Congress and President Donald Trump now must decide what’s next on their respective agendas, as the GOP tries to pick up the pieces from a very public legislative failure over an issue that had been their central political focus for the last seven years. Here’s the look from Capitol Hill. 1. The first big setback for the Trump agenda. You can try to downplay what happened, but there was little positive to take from this health care debacle in the House. “I will not sugarcoat this; this is a disappointing day for us,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan after the vote was canceled. President Trump tried to blame Democrats, but that rang hollow since the White House had done no serious outreach to the other party. With this setback, it’s even more apparent how little has been done so far by the GOP Congress with respect to the Trump Agenda. Other than approving a series of plans to reverse specific regulations of the Obama Administration, no bills of any import have been passed. Infrastructure, jobs bills, tax cuts, cutting government – all of that sounds good – but so far, no action. And Trump wrote 'The Art of the Deal' — Bill Mitchell (@JerseyGuy_Bill) March 25, 2017 2. Trump allies turn their sights on Speaker Ryan. It wasn’t hard to hear the low rumbling of some supporters of President Trump, as they used the Friday health care debacle to immediately try to make Speaker Ryan the scapegoat. Ann Coulter bluntly said, “Ryan is not on Trump’s side.” Pro-Trump websites like InfoWars and Breitbart immediately attacked Ryan as well, with some conservatives urging the House Freedom Caucus to help dump Ryan, arguing that he is the perfect illustration of the Republican Establishment that needs to be excised from Swamp of Washington, D.C. Paul Ryan is not on @POTUS' side – https://t.co/QVOHBDIKiT #KilledTheBill #FunFactFriday — Alex Jones (@RealAlexJones) March 24, 2017 3. Full repeal of Obamacare needs 60 votes in the Senate. If Republicans couldn’t muster a majority in the House – how are they going to get 60 votes in the Senate to really change the bulk of the Obama health law? The answer – they’re not going to do that any time soon. But full repeal was still the mantra from a number of Republicans as the House GOP health care bill went down the tubes on Friday. “I remain committed to repealing Obamacare and replacing it with conservative reforms,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN). “Congress should take its time and pass a good bill that actually repeals ObamaCare,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). But the truth is, unless Republicans get 60 votes in the 2018 elections, an Obama health law repeal bill faces a difficult road in the Congress. I applaud House conservatives for keeping their word to the American people. I look forward to passing full repeal https://t.co/ftyj6sCw0v — Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) March 24, 2017 4. This fight on health care is already over? It seems hard to believe that Republicans are just going to drop the issue of health care reform, especially after making it such a central part of their political message in recent years. But President Trump seemed to send the signal that he is going to focus his political capital on other issues, like tax reform. “That one is going to be fun,” the President said earlier this week, as his Treasury Secretary predicted a final tax bill would on the President’s desk by early August. The last time Congress approved major tax reform was 1986. There’s a reason it hasn’t happened in over 30 years. It is not easy. And the lobbyists of Gucci Gulch will be ready. President Trump says tax reform is the next item on his agenda https://t.co/dLNduSPgl6 — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 24, 2017 5. This wasn’t really much of an effort. The White House said the President “left everything on the field” to get a health care bill. But it doesn’t look like that at all. Go back eight years, and Democrats were just launching their 13 month effort to forge what would become known as Obamacare. It went through the spring, summer, fall, winter, and then into the next spring of 2010, before being achieved. By contrast, the GOP introduced its health care bill on March 6 and gave up on March 24. Back in 2009 and 2010, Democrats struggled to keep their side together, but managed to get 60 votes for their package in the Senate. The GOP couldn’t even get a majority in the House. There is still time to go back to the drawing board. But it takes more than 18 days of work. Remember when Republicans promised they would try to fiddle with Obamacare for a few weeks and then give up? — Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) March 24, 2017 6. Let the Republican finger pointing begin. One of the biggest immediate targets was the Freedom Caucus, the group of more conservative lawmakers which for years has been very good at holding out against the GOP leadership, but has done almost nothing in the way of substantive legislating. Some of that ire was aimed at Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the head of the Freedom Caucus. “Mark Meadows is more interested in being on the TV than solving problems,” fumed Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), who then aimed some more barbs at Meadows and pointedly made sure to tell a reporter – “You can quote me on that.” Exactly right. GOP & Trump own this,but @freedomcaucus & @Heritage_Action & others caused it. They are the pie-in-the-sky caucus. https://t.co/9tMcfk45ox — Brit Hume (@brithume) March 24, 2017 7. Don’t downplay the importance of this setback. Yes, it’s just one bill. Yes, it’s not the end of the world. But this failure was a big deal. Republicans have been talking for years about how they would repeal and replace the Obama health law. Donald Trump said he would do it right away. But for years, I have been reporting – and taking flak for saying – that while the GOP had lots of ideas, they didn’t have consensus on any plan. And that was obvious as they desperately tried to stitch together deals at the last minute to keep the bill moving. It’s pretty easy to lob verbal grenades at the other party – it’s a little different to offer substantive legislation and pass it. Humiliating defeat for GOP after years to prepare. Real blow to their argument that they could govern if only given the chance. — carl hulse (@hillhulse) March 24, 2017 8. This was not a good week for President Trump. It started Monday with the FBI Director publicly confirming that not only was there an investigation of how Russia meddled in last year’s election, but also a probe of any links between the Trump Campaign and Moscow. The FBI chief also made clear there was no evidence to back up Trump’s claim that he had been wiretapped in 2016. And the NSA shot down talk that British Intelligence had helped with surveillance on Trump Tower. Meanwhile, the Trump travel and refugee ban stayed on hold the courts, despite Mr. Trump’s declaration that judges were overstepping their authority. Then the week ended with a health care thud. Tomorrow's cover: Trump forced to cancel health care vote in stunning blow https://t.co/53Po4iXVbM pic.twitter.com/lEQe5Qc22g — New York Post (@nypost) March 24, 2017
  • Unable to convince GOP lawmakers to get on board with a plan to overhaul the Obama health law, Republicans in the House decided not to even force a vote on the measure, a major setback for both President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. “This bill is dead,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who played a central role in cobbling together this plan. 'This bill is dead,' House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Walden says — Cristina Marcos (@cimarcos) March 24, 2017 The bill never even came to a vote, as it became obvious that Republicans had nowhere near a majority of lawmakers ready to vote for it. Democrats were more than happy to pile on the GOP legislative debacle. #ObamaCare 1 – #Trumpcare 0. — Rep. Hank Johnson (@RepHankJohnson) March 24, 2017
  • In the end, monolithic opposition by Democrats coupled with opposition from the far right doomed Friday’s vote on the American Health Care Act, the GOP bill that would have repealed and replaced the law commonly known as “Obamacare.” GOP leadership decided to pull the bill, realizing that it could not pass. The Trump administration made it clear early Friday that negotiations were over, and the president wanted an up or down vote Friday. House Speaker Paul Ryan went to the White House to report he didn’t have the votes to pass the bill; President Trump had previously said win or lose, Rep. Ryan should keep his position as Speaker. The GOP plan (AHCA) would have ended the mandate that all Americans pay for health insurance, replacing it with a plan where the federal government would give Americans tax credits, based on age. That would have saved taxpayers billions of dollars, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, but would have left  24 million additional Americans without health coverage within the next decade. Many governors, including some Republicans, also had serious concerns about the additional burdens passed on to states under the AHCA.
  • The Pawhuska woman recently accused of exposing herself to a classroom of students was arrested this week on accusations of stealing a purse.  According to the arrest report, Lacey Sponsler allegedly stole a purse while at the Broken Arrow Lanes bowling alley near 111th and Elm last Thursday.   The report states that witnesses saw her acting suspiciously and looking at people’s belongings. One witness saw her grab a purse and asked if it was hers. She said it was not.   A witness then reportedly saw Sponsler walk into the game room and return wearing different clothes. Police were called and found her in the bathroom.   Sponsler was arrested in February for doing a cartwheel in front of students at a Pawhuska school. She was not wearing anything under her dress and exposed herself to the students.
  • Authorities in Ohio arrested three people after they discovered the badly decomposed body of a 71-year-old Vietnam veteran in a home, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news Deputies with the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office found the body of Bob Harris, 71, after learning that his Social Security debit card was being used despite the fact that he hadn’t been seen for months, WJW reported. The body had decomposed to the point where the remains were mostly skeletal, lying in the living room of a home in Wainwright. The body was kept a short distance from where the home’s residents slept, according to WJW. “It’s a horribly graphic case,” Sheriff Orvis Campbell told TimesReporter.com. He said Harris’ body was found in some “of the most deplorable conditions we can describe.” Trash and animal waste was found near the body. Harris was living with a married couple and their daughter, according to TimesReporter.com. The family had spread stories about Harris moving to Stark County and allowing them to use his Social Security benefits, Campbell said. Authorities arrested Brian and Stacy Sorohan on charges of abuse of a corpse and theft of a credit card, according to The Associated Press. The couple’s 18-year-old daughter was charged with abuse of a corpse. Deputies said the circumstances surrounding Harris’ death were not immediately clear. An autopsy will be performed to determine whether his death involved foul play, according to TimesReporter.com.