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Latest from Russell Mills

    UPDATE: TPD lead homicide detective Sgt. Brandon Watkins confirms that police have a suspect in custody, suspected of killing one person and injuring three others in the shootings at Red Fox Apartments. He tells KRMG the TPD warrants unit tracked down the suspect. No names have been released yet. Police were called to an apartment complex near 15th and Memorial Dr. around 1:30 Monday afternoon for a homicide. Officers on the scene tell KRMG that one person was killed. Three others were taken to the hospital with injuries.One victim was apparently in critical condition; witnesses said that person had been shot in the head. Officers were called to the scene at the Red Fox Apartments at 1:20 p.m. TPD Capt. Walter Busby told KRMG at the scene that they had developed some information indicating that the shootings evolved out of a domestic dispute of some kind. No word yet on the identity of the victims.
  • The novel “The Outsiders” remains a classic of young adult literature, widely taught in schools around the world, and banned at others for depictions of teens smoking, drinking, and engaging in violence. A movie based on the book was shot in Tulsa in 1982 and released the next year, featuring a strong cast of up-and-coming actors including Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, and Ralph Macchio. Saturday, Macchio will be the keynote speaker at “The Brunch,” an annual fundraising event for Arts Alliance Tulsa. Todd Cunningham, Executive Director of AAT, describes the organization as a “United Way for the arts” which “provides supplemental funding to 40 arts organizations in town so that they can do everything from pay their rent, to hire a grant writer, to just do things that help them make their organizations better.” [Arts Alliance Tulsa Executive Director Todd Cunningham speaks with KRMG's Russell MIlls] Macchio will also participate in a panel discussion with “The Outsiders” author S. E. Hinton, a lifelong Tulsan who wrote the book while still in high school. Cunningham tells KRMG the pair’s talk will focus on five of the most important or relevant scenes from the film. Tickets for “The Brunch” are still available. The event is Saturday, May 18, beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Tulsa.
  • Expo Square has announced plans to rebuild the main entrance to the county fairgrounds, including improvements to the iconic Golden Driller statue. Plans call for reconfiguring the plaza, adding lanes for quick drop-offs and pick-ups of passengers, and moving vehicle traffic further away from the building. “Our front door, our very front door at 21st (Street) and Pittsburgh (Avenue) where our driller stands, that hasn’t been taken care of or repainted since 1966, when it was first put together,” Expo Square CEO and President Mark Andrus told KRMG Monday. He says the new configuration will look better, and work better, as well as being safer for visitors. The driller statue will get new lighting, some kind of kiosk or other signage with information about its history and statistics, and areas set aside for people to safely and easily get photos. Money for the project will largely come from Vision Tulsa funds approved by county voters, he said, and he estimates it will cost between $1.5 million and $1.8 million. He said work will begin in November following the state fair and the U.S. National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show, two of the venue’s largest annual events. They expect to wrap up the work by spring of 2020.
  • Friday, a space cowboy took up permanent residence along historic Route 66 in the heart of Tulsa. “Buck Atom” is the brainchild of Mary Beth Babcock, owner of Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios near 11th Street and Peoria Avenue. “Here he is!” she exclaimed happily as Buck took up residence outside her small store. “He landed here today to help revitalize Route 66!” [KRMG's Russell Mills speaks with Mary Beth Babcock, owner of Buck Atom's Cosmic Curios on Route 66 in Tulsa] She’s been a fan of Route 66 and roadside attractions for many years, and did her research on “muffler men,” giant fiberglass statues that became iconic in the 1960s and 70s. Buck Atom was built using the mold of the very first “muffler man,” a statue of Paul Bunyan that stood outside a café in Flagstaff, Arizona along - you guessed it - Route 66. Saturday, Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell and Mayor G.T. Bynum will attend the Space Cowboy Launch Party to officially welcome Buck to his new home. [See several photos of Friday’s installation HERE]
  • A Tulsa teacher who learned almost by accident that she faced imminent death due to heart disease will be one of the keynote speakers at the American Heart Association’s annual Go Red for Women luncheon in Tulsa Friday. Krystal Rogers tells KRMG she had felt lethargic and suffered from migraines for months before she finally went to an urgent care facility. [Krystal Rogers tells her story to KRMG’s Russell Mills] The doctor told her he was going to send her to an emergency room to get scans of her head and neck, but the bottom of the scan captured part of her heart. “The doctor came in and said ‘your head and neck scan came in great, we don’t see anything - but what we did find is a heart aneurysm, a very large one,” Rogers told KRMG Thursday.  She was told that had she not sought help, she may well have died within three months. Five days later, she had open heart surgery at the Oklahoma Heart Institute, where they also discovered she had a leaky valve (since replaced by a mechanical valve) and a hole in her heart. Her younger sister also learned subsequently that she had the same congenital heart defects. Rogers says it all feels miraculous to her, “because when I did an initial CT scan of my brain and neck, that’s all they were looking at, and the person doing the scan clipped the top of my heart, and found my very large aneurysm.” She had no prior health issues, and no family history of heart disease. She’s back to teaching and raising her three sons, and wants to share her story with other women - as well as offer some advice: “Listen to people around you, and your body, and if you need to go to the doctor, go. Of course, don’t be fearful, but be proactive.” The Go Red for Women luncheon is Friday, May 10 at the Hyatt Regency downtown. The other keynote speaker is Jill Donovan, founder of Rustic Cuff. Doors open at 10:00 a.m. for registration, health screenings, a silent auction, sponsor booths and giveaways. Lunch will be served at 11:30, the event is scheduled to conclude at 1:00 p.m.
  • The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has offered free testing of water samples from privately-owned wells in areas that have flooded during the recent storms. “The real concern we have is for those people who have a private water well that has been submerged in flood water,” DEQ spokeswoman Erin Hatfield told KRMG Wednesday, “because obviously flood water has a lot of things in it that you might not want in your drinking water.” She tells KRMG the free offer expires May 31st, so the agency urges people to act quickly. Hatfield also warns that if the water is contaminated, the well’s owners need to take immediate action. “If your well - your private water well - has been submerged in the flood water, we recommend that you don’t drink the water until you disinfect your well,” she said. The process isn’t complicated, and basically involves using common laundry bleach as a disinfectant. Of course, it is important to use the right amount, and the right kind, of bleach. You will find an explanation of that process on the Oklahoma DEQ website. Residents in 55 Oklahoma Counties qualify for the free testing if their wells were submerged by flood water. That includes Tulsa, Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Rogers, and Washington Counties. Get disinfection and sampling instructions and supplies by calling DEQ at (800) 522-0206.
  • Recent statistics indicate historically low unemployment rates in the US, the best in half a century.  So employers have to compete to attract workers, and for manufacturing companies, that can be especially challenging.  The solution, many believe, is to get young people interested in science, technology, and engineering - STEM - and then show them a path to a well-paying career which can be pursued without necessarily racking up huge amounts of student debt.  AAON, based in Tulsa, builds heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for customers all over the country.  [IN-DEPTH: KRMG’s Russell Mills speaks with AAON’s Mark Fly and Stephanie Cameron] Stephanie Cameron is community relations director for AAON, and part of her mission is to reach out to young people to promote STEM. “Work force is the number one challenge for manufacturers,” she told KRMG recently. “The average age of a high-skilled worker is 56, and so we don’t have enough people interested and familiar with skilled trades to fill those positions.” She's promoting STEM every chance she gets, and tells KRMG AAON is offering some real opportunities, including paid internships and support for continuing education. HVAC may sound boring to some, but AAON's building a one-of-a-kind research and testing facility called the Norman Asbjornson Innovation Center. It's run by executive director Mark Fly, who tells KRMG an associate's degree in HVAC, or even just an affinity for working on cars, was once enough to get into the trade.  'Today, I have to have’em with computer skills,” he told KRMG. For example, “this whole innovation center has hundreds of thousands of data points, all networked together on computers.”  And as Cameron points out, they need workers with a wide range of technical, physical, and even literary skills to operate. As of this writing, their website indicates they have a number of openings: Professional: Managers, Engineers, Warranty, Parts Distribution, Accounting/Credit, Sales and Marketing, and Office Support Staff Skilled Trades: Maintenance Technicians (Mechanical/Electrical), Brazers, Welders, HVAC Technicians, Wirers, Forklift Drivers, and Painters Entry Level Positions: Machine Operators, Assemblers, Warehouse, and Shipping
  • Over the next several weeks, roughly 181,000 Oklahoma voters will receive address verification cards from the state election board. The action is mandated by state law, which requires election officials to try to purge unverified, redundant, or potentially fraudulent registrations. Late last month, the board removed nearly 90,000 voters from its rolls. Misha Mohr, Public Information Officer for the Oklahoma State Election Board, tells KRMG that the process of removing voters begins with the address verification card. She says there are seven specific reasons the board would mail such a card to a voter, including duplicate registrations, or a record of voting inactivity over the course of four years. Fortunately, it’s easy not to be placed on the inactive list. One can simply fill out the address verification card and mail it back, or visit the election board website and use the online voter tool. Inactive voters can also simply cast a ballot in an election to be removed from the inactive list. And to be clear, inactive voters are still considered to be registered, and can still vote. Voters who do not respond to the current mailing, and do not vote by the 2022 general election, would be purged from the rolls after the that election.
  • An operational audit of the Oologah-Talala Emergency Medical Service District has uncovered apparent mismanagement, unlawful procedures, and violations of the state constitution. For starters, the audit found that “Negligent oversite (sic) at every level of management resulted in financial mismanagement of taxpayer funds.” The district illegally took out bank loans to fund services that were supposed to be paid for by ad valorem taxes, and in doing so, took on debt that made the financial situation even worse, according to the report. [State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd speaks with KRMG's Russell Mills about the Oologah-Talala EMS audit] Credit cards were used to pay for membership fees for the National Gun Owner Association, and purchases at several retail stores which appear to be personal in nature. The district was unable to provide a copy of its own bylaws, and a number of crucial bank records were lost - or never generated at all, according to State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd. Beside taxpayer money spent and accounted for in a questionable manner, customers of the ambulance service may also have been victimized. “One of the problems that we found is whenever they went into an executive session, they did not keep minutes of those, which is required by law,” Byrd said.  Asked if any of the issues involved criminal behavior, she said that’s not up to her office to determine.  “That would have to be determined by a court of law. We have some questionable expenditures made that we have no proof that those were made for a reasonable operating expense of the EMS district. Some of them appear personal. So, it does not look good.” She said the district attorney and the state attorney general will both receive copies of the audit, and determine whether to investigate further.
  • The statistics on veterans committing suicide have grabbed national headlines, and many vets also struggle with a combination of PTSD, depression, or substance abuse. That’s the impetus behind a campaign launched in conjunction with Mental Health Month, called “The Moment When.” [KRMG’s Russell Mills speaks with David Lucier and Dr. Christopher Loftis about “The Moment When”] David Lucier served with the Green Beret, a U.S. Army Special Forces unit, in Vietnam. '(I) came back, got engaged, started school, and started a job,” he told KRMG. But he had real trouble connecting with people, and struggled for decades with nightmares, PTSD, and for a time with alcohol abuse. He says young men and women who enter the military get basic training, and advanced training, before they’re assigned a mission. 'Young men and women coming out of the military need that basic training coming out. They need that advanced training,” Lucier said. “Just like when the military helps you transition in, you need to transition out.” But all too many veterans have a hard time with that transition. For him, the “moment when” was a conversation he had with his sister. “Had one of my younger sisters grab me, and told me very quietly, sincerely and gently that it didn’t have to be this way,” Lucier said. Dr. Christopher Loftis is the National Director for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs/U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Mental Health Collaboration within the Veterans Health Administration Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. “Veterans in particular struggle with, I think, isolation and a fear of reaching out and being vulnerable about some of their issues,” he told KRMG Tuesday. “So that’s why this campaign is so inspiring, is it’s got hundreds of stories of veterans and their family members talking about how to reach out, talking about what they’re going through, talking about where to go, what to do.” He tells KRMG the VA knows that many veterans have never connected with the agency, but hopes they will take the opportunity to connect to one another. The website is called “Make the Connection.” It also provides information on services available to vets and their families.
  • 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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  • Governor Kevin Stitt today amended an executive order declaring a State of Emergency for all 77 Oklahoma counties impacted by flooding and severe storms.  Flooding is causing big problems on on area roads and Highway. KRMG Traffic Anchor Chase Thompson put together a list of some of the major road closures and alternative routes as of 4pm Friday. OPENHwy 11 is back open from Avant – to Skiatook – to Sperry (it was closed from 156th St N to 76th St N) Hwy 20 is back open between Skiatook and Hwy 75  76th St North is open West of Hwy 169 in Owasso (it was closed from Memorial to Main St in Owasso) CLOSED Riverside Drive – Closed from SW Blvd to near 15th Street (Ark River has left the banks right there) ALT: Riverside diverted at Houston Ave – Use Houston to access 12th St – Use 12th St to access SW Blvd  Mohawk Blvd – Closed to the West of Mingo (may know it as 56th St North to the East of Hwy 75) Elwood Ave – Closed from W 36th St to W 51st St (industrial area on West bank of the river) Mingo Road – Closed from 76th St North to 66th St North (Bird Creek area) Hwy 51 – Closed just West of Hwy 97 in Sand Springs ALT: Use Hwy 412 and Hwy 151 (Keystone Dam) to access Hwy 51 (West of the closure)  Hwy 62 – Closed between Ft. Gibson and Muskogee (this cuts off access to Tahlequah and Eastern OK) ALT: Use Hwy 69 to Wagoner – Use Hwy 51 from Wagoner to Tahlequah Note: Hwy 69 may flood North of Muskogee – Use Musk Tpke to Hwy 51/Coweta exit Hwy 72 – Closed just South of Coweta ALT: see Hwy 104 below Hwy 104 – Closed just East of Haskell   ALT: For both 104 and 72 - Use Hwy 64 from Haskell to Hwy 62 just South of Haskell – Use 62 to Hwy 69 which then drivers can use Hwy 69 to Hwy 51-B just South of the Muskogee Tpke – Use 51-B to Porter, Coweta  Note: Hwy 69 may flood North of Muskogee – Use 62 through Muskogee to access Musk Tpke Hwy 16 – Closed between Muskogee and Okay  Note: The town of Okay is essentially cut off – Locals will use local/country roads to get around Hwy 16 – Closed just NW of Okay  Note: The town of Okay is essentially cut off – Locals will use local/country roads to get around Ft. Gibson Lake Hwy 80 – Closed 4 miles West of Hulbert (near Wildwood area of Ft Gibson Lake – known to flood) Hwy 80 – Closed just below Ft. Gibson Dam (near Canyon Rd area) Note: 251-A across the dam is OPEN  Grand Lake Hwy 82 – Closed at Grand River bridge just South of Langley (due to heavy release from Pensacola dam) Tune to NEWS102.3 and AM740 KRMG for the latest on road closures and the severe weather threat.
  • A banker who prosecutors say tried to buy himself a senior post in President Donald Trump’s administration by making risky loans to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded not guilty Thursday to a financial institution bribery charge as his lawyer said he’s done nothing wrong. Stephen M. Calk, 54, was released on $5 million bail after making a brief appearance in Manhattan federal court. Calk, who lives in Chicago where The Federal Savings Bank is headquartered, was told by Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman to have no contact with bank employees except for his brother until prosecutors next week submit a list of individuals he cannot communicate with. The small bank where Calk was CEO when he allegedly carried out the scheme said in a statement that Calk already had no involvement with the bank and is on a leave of absence. In a statement, Calk attorney Jeremy Margolis said Calk will be exonerated on the “baseless isolated charge.” He called the arrest a “travesty.” He said the bank his client founded and Calk were “victims of Mr. Manafort’s ongoing fraud. Mr. Calk did not commit any offense with him.” Another defense lawyer, Daniel Stein, said outside court: “These loans were simply not a bribe for anything.”
  • If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, apparently you’re not alone. No less an authority than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says people frequently confuse the two holidays. >> Read more trending news Make no mistake about it: Both are incredibly important holidays, with their common focus on Americans who’ve served in the military. The key distinction: Memorial Day “is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle,” the VA says. While Veterans Day also honors the dead, it is “the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime.” Here’s a guide to each holiday: Memorial Day When it is: This year, it is on May 27. Its original name: Decoration Day. Initially, it honored only those soldiers who’d died during the Civil War. In 1868, a veteran of the Union Army, Gen. John A. Logan, decided to formalize a growing tradition of towns decorating veterans’ graves with flowers by organizing a nationwide day of remembrance on May 30 Logan also served in Congress from Illinois and in 1884, unsuccessfully ran for vice president on the Republican ticket. During World War I, the holiday’s focus expanded to honoring those lost during all U.S. wars. When it became official: In 1968, Congress officially established Memorial Day, as it had gradually come to be known, as a federal holiday that always takes place on the last Monday in May. Its unofficial designation: Memorial Day is still a solemn day of remembrance everywhere from Arlington National Cemetery to metro Atlanta, where a number of ceremonies and events will take place on Monday. On a lighter note, though, many people view the arrival of the three-day weekend each year as the start of summer. One more thing to know: In 2000, Congress established the National Moment of Remembrance. It asks all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day each year to remember the dead. Veterans Day When it is: Nov. 11 every year.  Its original name: Armistice Day. The armistice or agreement signed between the Allies and Germany that ended World War I called for the cessation of all hostilities to take effect at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year in 1918. One year later, on Nov. 11, 1919, the first Armistice Day was celebrated in the U.S.  When it became official: In 1938, a congressional act established Armistice Day as an annual legal holiday. In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks first proposed the idea of expanding the holiday to one honoring veterans of all U.S. wars. In 1954, the holiday legally became known as Veterans Day. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan presented Alabama resident Weeks with the Presidential Citizenship Medal in recognition of his efforts in creating Veterans Day. Its temporary relocation: In 1968, the same congressional act that established Memorial Day moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October every year. That law took effect in 1971; just four years later, in 1975, President Gerald Ford -- citing the original date’s “historic and patriotic significance,” signed a bill that redesignated Nov. 11 as Veterans Day every year. One more thing to know: Despite much confusion over the spelling, it’s Veterans Day, plural, and without any apostrophes. That’s according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which explains on its website: “Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an ‘s’ at the end of ‘veterans’ because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.”    
  • Memorial Day is Monday and with it comes the unofficial beginning of summer.  To honor those who died in service of their country, federal and state government offices close. To kick off the summer season, department stores stay open. Here’s a list of what will be open and what will be closed on Memorial Day. Department stores open on Memorial Day Some stores may have different hours, but most stores are open regular hours. Bed Bath & Beyond: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Best Buy: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dick's Sporting Goods: 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Gap: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. IKEA: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Kohl's: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Lowe's: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Macy's: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Marshalls: 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Old Navy: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pottery Barn: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sephora: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Home Depot: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. T.J. Maxx: 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Ulta: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Grocery stores open on Memorial Day Dorothy Lane Market: All stores will be open normal business hours. The Oakwood store is open 24 hours and the Washington Square and Springboro stores will be open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aldi: Most stores are open for limited hours. Kroger: 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday Sam's Club: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Save a Lot: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Target: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Trader Joe's: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Walmart: Most are open 24 hours. Other locations are open for normal hours. Whole Foods: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Closed: Costco is closed on Memorial Day Restaurants open on Memorial Day Applebee’s: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday. Arby’s: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Bob Evans: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Bonefish Grill: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Buffalo Wild Wings: 11 a.m. to midnight. Burger King: 6 a.m. to  midnight. Carrabba's Italian Grill: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Chick-fil-A: 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Chili's: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Chipotle: 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cracker Barrel: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Domino’s: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday. Five Guys: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Golden Corral: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. KFC: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Longhorn Steakhouse: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. McDonald’s: 6 a.m. to midnight. Olive Garden: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Outback Steakhouse: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Panera Bread: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Papa John’s: 10 a.m. to midnight. P.F. Chang’s: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pizza Hut: 11 a.m. to midnight. Potbelly: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Red Lobster: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sonic Drive-In: 6 a.m. to midnight. Starbucks: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Subway: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Taco Bell: 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday. The Cheesecake Factory: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wendy’s: 10 a.m. to midnight. Movie theaters open on Memorial Day Most theaters are open regular hours on Memorial Day. Here is a list with links to their website so you can check if your neighborhood cinema is open. AMC Theatres  Cinemark Theatres  Regal Cinemas  Showcase Cinemas  What is closed? Here is what will be closed on Monday: Banks Courts Federal buildings Post offices Schools The stock market  
  • British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation Friday morning. >> Read more trending news In an announcement from 10 Downing Street, May said her resignation would become effective June 7. May had been under pressure to resign after a backlash by her own party against her latest Brexit plan, the BBC reported. This is a developing story.

Washington Insider

  • With June 4, 2019 marking the 100th anniversary of the approval by Congress of a constitutional change which guaranteed women the ability to vote in the United States, a look back at the final debates in the House and Senate showcased dire predictions that giving women the franchise would bring a rush to socialism in American and spur racial problems in the South. 'It will not only add to the growth of socialism, but will likewise contribute to the upbuilding of femininism and Bolshevism in America,' thundered Rep. Frank Clark, a Florida Democrat who bitterly opposed the women's suffrage amendment. 'Every Socialist and every Bolshevist throughout the land wherever you find him is an ardent advocate of woman suffrage, and he wants it by Federal amendment,' Clark said on the House floor, as he also warned the change would stir racial troubles in the South.  'Make this amendment a part of the Federal Constitution and the negro women of the Southern States, under the tutelage of the fast-growing socialistic element of our common country, will become fanatical on the subject of voting and will reawaken in the negro men an intense and not easily quenched desire to again become a political factor,' said Clark, who led opposition to the constitutional change. While Clark's arguments did not sway the debate, there were clear sectional differences, as the House voted 304-90 in favor of the proposed constitutional change to allow women to vote. As debate concluded in the House on May 21, 1919, supporters said it was simply time for women to be allowed to vote in every state of the Union. 'I want to congratulate the good women who fought the good fight all these years, and who now see the dawn of the day of final victory,' said Rep. Frank Mondell, the House Republican Leader from Wyoming, a state which allowed women to vote when it was still a territory. 'When I came here the voice of the suffragist was like that of John the Baptist crying in the wilderness,' said former House Speaker 'Champ' Clark, a Democrat from Missouri. 'I think my wife and my daughter are as capable of voting as most men in this country are,' the Democratic Leader said to applause. But for others, what would ultimately become the 19th Amendment - referred to in debate as the 'Susan B. Anthony Amendment' - was not something to celebrate, as many southern lawmakers eyed the effort with derision and suspicion, with the Civil War, Reconstruction, and states' rights bubbling in the political background. 'Is suffrage such a question as should be snatched from the control of the States and lodged in a rapidly centralizing government?' asked Rep. Eugene Black, a Democrat from Texas, as a number of lawmakers in both parties said the individual states should decide who votes, and who does not. 'Under the fifteenth amendment, not only the negro, for whom it was adopted, but the sons of every other race under the sun may vote in any State in the Union, provided they or their ancestors have once been naturalized,' argued Rep. Rufus Hardy, a Democrat from Texas. 'What evils may yet come of the fifteenth amendment only the future may unfold,' Hardy said, as he drew applause in advocating states' rights, and denouncing federal decisions about who could vote. 'It is a privilege to be granted or withheld at the pleasure of the States,' said Rep. Clark of Florida. But some urged southern lawmakers to reconsider, asking the 'gentlemen of Dixie' to give their mothers a chance to vote for them. Several weeks later, as the Senate vote on the 19th amendment approached in early June, the debate became more testy - more focused on race - and the right of states to determine who can vote. 'When it says that there shall be no restriction of the suffrage on account of sex, it means the female sex, and means the millions upon millions of Negro women in the South,' said Sen. Ellison Smith, a Democrat from South Carolina. The argument from southern Senators was simple - the states should decide who votes, not the federal government.  It was a preview of the battles to come during the Civil Rights era. 'Mr. President, it is not a question today as to whether the women of American should have the right to vote,' said Sen. Oscar Underwood, a Democrat from Alabama.  “It is a question of whether, in the end, our Government shall live.” Supporters of the amendment openly acknowledged that black women in the South probably would not be allowed to vote by southern states - precisely in the same way that hurdles had been placed in the way of black Americans voting in the states of the former Confederacy - a charge that left southern Senators like Smith aggravated. 'I have heard it flippantly remarked by those who propose to vote for this amendment, 'You found a way to keep the Negro man from voting and you will find away to keep the unworthy Negro woman from voting,' Smith said on the Senate floor, as he denounced how the South had been 'deluged by an alien and unfit race.' “You went specifically after the Negro men in the fifteenth amendment,” Smith said in Senate debate.  “Now you go specifically after the Negro and white women in this amendment.” On the floor, Smith and other opponents of the amendment pushed back hard on the race question, as Senators sparred over old wounds and scars left by the Fifteenth Amendment and Reconstruction. 'Those of us from the South, where the preponderance of the Negro vote jeopardized our civilization, have maintained that the fifteenth amendment was a crime against our civilization,' Smith said. 'The Senator knows full well that the fifteenth amendment embodied the color question,' said Sen. Irvine Lenroot, a Republican from Wisconsin, 'the Senator knows just as well that there is no color question at all embodied in this amendment. It relates only to sex.' 'The discussion here upon the floor yesterday makes it perfectly apparent that in part at least, in a certain section of this country, this proposed amendment will be a dead letter,' acknowledged Sen. James Wadsworth, a Republican from New York. Wadsworth and others were proven correct, as it took many years for black Americans to get around the poll tax and other means of stopping them from voting. “Oh, the white man votes because you are careful to apply tests which do not apply to the white man,' Senator William Borah, a Republican of Idaho, said to Senators from the South. 'You pick out those tests which exclude the Negro and write them into your law, and that excludes the Negro.' In an exchange with Senator John Williams, a Mississippi Democrat, Borah said, “the Negro does not vote (in the South) because he is black. That is the only crime which he has committed.” Just before the final vote in the Senate, Democrat Edward Gay of Louisiana rose on the Senate floor, making one last call to allow the states to have the final say on whether women should vote. 'I predict that there are 13 States that will never ratify the amendment which the Congress of the United State is about to present to the American people,' Gay said. Gay was wrong, as the amendment was ratified 14 months later in August of 1920. But it took years for many southern states to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution: + Virginia - February 21, 1952 + Alabama - September 8, 1953 + Florida - May 13, 1969 + South Carolina - July 1, 1969 + Georgia - February 20, 1970 + Louisiana - June 11, 1970 + North Carolina - May 6, 1971 + Mississippi - March 22, 1984
  • Victims of Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters will have to wait into next month for Congress to give final approval to a $19.1 billion relief bill, as final passage of the plan in the House was blocked on Friday by a lone Republican lawmaker, forcing a delay until Congress returns for legislative business in the first week of June.   “I respectfully object,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a more conservative Republicans who stayed in town after the House had completed its legislative business on Thursday, and came to the floor Friday morning to object to acting on the plan without a full roll call vote.   The House had approved $19.1 billion in disaster aid in early May; the Senate on Thursday amended the plan with the backing of President Trump – but it wasn’t good enough to get unanimous consent for approval in the House. “If I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present here in our nation’s capital,” Roy said on the House floor, forcing a further delay on the disaster aid measure. One of Roy’s objections was that no money was included in the plan for the immigrant surge along the southern border - President Trump had backed off of that in order to secure a deal on Thursday. Roy’s maneuver drew the scorn of fellow Republicans from states which are need of aid - like Georgia - where farmers suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Michael. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) tweeted that “our farmers need aid today,” as this move by his GOP colleague will delay that process into June, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fellow Republicans with farmers in need of assistance.   Democrats were furious. “House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  “Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need,” Pelosi added in a statement. “This is a rotten thing to do,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who noted to reporters that Roy was blocking aid for his own home state of Texas. “We should have passed this months ago,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), who asked for approval of the measure on the House floor. “I am beyond fed up. This is wrong,” said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA).  “This bill is about helping people – not about playing Washington politics.” “Republican politicians are playing games while people’s homes are literally underwater,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).   Unless Republicans relent next week, the House would not be able to set up a vote on the disaster aid measure until the week of June 3. “There are people who are really hurting, and he’s objecting,” Shalala said.  “He’s holding hostage thousands of people.”  The House has two ‘pro forma’ meetings scheduled for next week - on Tuesday and Friday.  Republicans could object to passing the bill at those times as well.
  • Ending months of wrangling over billions of dollars in aid for victims of hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, Congress struck a deal Thursday with President Donald Trump on a $19.1 billion aid package, which includes extra relief money for Puerto Rico, but not several billion for border security efforts sought by the President. 'We have been working on this package for several months, and I am pleased to say that help is finally on the way,' said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), as the Senate voted 85-8 to approve the plan, and send it back to the House for final action. The plan includes $600 million in food aid for Puerto Rico, along with an additional $304 million in housing assistance for the island, as President Trump backed off his opposition to extra aid for the island. 'Puerto Rico has to be treated fairly - and they are,' Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer told reporters. The compromise plan also includes over $3 billion to repair military bases in Florida, North Carolina and Nebraska which were damaged by disasters, and over $3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair damaged waterways infrastructure. The details of the final agreement were just slightly different from a disaster aid package approved earlier in May by the House - that $19.1 billion plan was opposed by President Trump and a majority of GOP lawmakers. 'Now, let's get this bill to the President's desk ASAP,' said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), whose home state has been hit hard by flooding. Ironically, the vote took place in the Senate as a severe storm rolled through the city, setting off alarms inside the Capitol, as police told tourists, reporters, and staffers to shelter in place. After the vote, Republicans praised the agreement, and the work of the President.  “For Florida, this is a big day,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), as the bill included $1.2 billion to help rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base, which was leveled last year by Hurricane Michael. “I just want to tell you how grateful I am to the President,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), as Republicans repeatedly said Mr. Trump had 'broken the logjam' on the disaster bill. Democrats saw it much differently, as they argued if the President had stayed out of the negotiations, the disaster aid would have been agreed to long ago. “He's an erratic, helter-skelter, get nothing done President,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.   “If he stays out of it and lets us work together, we might get some things done.” The eight Senators who voted against the bill were all Republicans - Blackburn (TN), Braun (IN), Crapo (ID), Lee (UT), McSally (AZ), Paul (KY), Risch (ID), and Romney (UT). The bill would also extend the life of the National Flood Insurance Program, giving lawmakers several more months to consider reforms to the program, which has run up close to $40 billion in losses in the last 15 years. The bill also has specific language to force the Trump Administration to release $16 billion in already approved funding for disasters, but which has been withheld by the White House for months - it includes $4 billion for Texas, and over $8 billion for Puerto Rico. The compromise bill still needs a final vote in the House - that could take place either on Friday, or might have to wait until early June when lawmakers return from a Memorial Day break, as the House had already left town when the disaster deal was struck.
  • In the midst of an escalating trade fight with China which has caused financial pain for many American farmers, the Trump Administration announced on Thursday that $16 billion in trade relief payments would be given to farm producers starting this summer, to help farmers deal with economic impacts of foreign retaliation for U.S. tariffs. 'The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners,' said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The $16 billion would be in addition to $12 billion in trade relief offered last year by the President to U.S. farmers, who have endured lost markets, lower commodity prices, and financial losses as a result of China and other countries retaliating against tariffs authorized by President Trump. Perdue said it would be better to have a trade agreement with China to remove the need for these trade payments, but such an agreement does not seem to be on the horizon. 'We would love for China to come to the table at any time,' Perdue said, adding that President Trump will meet with the Chinese Premier in June. 'It's really in China's court,' Perdue added. The funding for the latest farm bailout would come through the Commodity Credit Corporation, but Perdue and other USDA officials said the increase in revenues from tariffs would offset the cost. 'The President feels very strongly that the tariff revenue is going to be used to support his program, which will come back out and replenish the CCC,' Secretary Perdue said. Those tariff duties are not paid by China - but rather by companies in the United States importing items from the Chinese, as those businesses can either eat the extra import costs, or pass them on to American consumers. Democrats in Congress have grabbed on to the issue of rising costs for consumers in criticizing the President's trade policies - even though many Democrats do support the idea of being much more tough on Beijing over trade matters. Caught in the middle are farmers, who have been more readily - and publicly - voicing their concerns in recent months with the President's trade policies. 'The Farm Bureau believes in fair trade,' said American Farm Bureau Federal chief Zippy Duval. 'Eliminating more tariffs and other trade barriers is critical to achieving that goal.”  A recent poll by the Indiana Farm Bureau found 72 percent of farmers surveyed in that state felt a 'negative impact on commodity prices' because of the current trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Farm County is also mainly Republican - and the continuing pressure on farmers has filtered through in recent polling. The collateral damage for U.S. farmers could increase even more in coming months if there's no deal between the U.S. and China. President Trump has already threatened to raise tariffs on an additional $325 billion in imports from China, which could draw even more trade retaliation from Beijing - with U.S. agriculture being the most obvious target.
  • For the second time in three days, a federal judge rejected arguments by lawyers for President Donald Trump, refusing to block subpoenas issued by a U.S. House committee for financial records held by U.S. banks which did business with the President's companies. 'I think the courts are saying that we are going to uphold the rule of law,' said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, which has subpoenaed information from the Mazars USA accounting firm. Wednesday's ruling from federal Judge Edgardo Ramos, put on the bench by President Barack Obama, related to subpoenas by two other House panels to Deutsche Bank and Capital One, for records related to Mr. Trump's businesses. Lawyers for the President, the Trump Organization, and Mr. Trump's family had asked that the subpoenas be quashed - the judge made clear that wasn't happening, and also rejected a request to stay his ruling to allow for an appeal. As in investigative matters involving the President's tax returns, and other subpoenas from Democrats, Mr. Trump's legal team argued that there is a limit on the investigative power of the Congress. 'Congress must, among other things, have a legitimate legislative purpose, not exercise law-enforcement authority, not excess the relevant committee's jurisdiction, and not make overbroad or impertinent requests,' the President's lawyers wrote in a brief filed last week. But as with a case in federal court in Washington earlier this week, that argument failed to sway Judge Ramos, who said Deutsche Bank can turn over in the information sought by the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. In the halls of Congress, Democrats said the legal victories were clear evidence that the resistance of the White House to Congressional investigation could only succeed for so long. 'The White House has attempted to block Congressional oversight, but the law is on our side,' said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT). And Democrats also were pleased by the quick action of both judges this week, amid worries that multiple legal challenges by the President could cause lengthy delays. 'We should not be slowed down in our work simply by a clock that goes through judicial processes,' said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA). The legal setback for President Trump came several hours after he cut short a White House meeting with top Democrats on infrastructure, saying he would not work with them on major legislation until the House stopped a variety of investigations. 'Get these phony investigations over with,' the President told reporters in the Rose Garden. Mr. Trump seemed especially aggravated by statements earlier on Wednesday by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who accused the President of resisting subpoenas and other document requests for a reason. 'And we believe the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up, in a cover-up,' Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol.