It’s cold and windy this morning outside OPUBCO HQ, but at least the sun is shining. Here’s what you might have missed over the weekend:
–Watchdog reporter Randy Ellis got a tip recently that illegal immigrants were working on Vance Air Force Base in Enid. He checked it out, and it turned into an interesting story about who is allowed on base in the post-9/11 era. You can read more here.
–In case you needed more evidence of just how serious the state budget crisis is, Sonya Colberg took a look at how cuts are affecting mental health treatment centers.
–The Dallas Morning News took a look at the murky accusations between competing Amazon fishing tour operators, including one based in the Dallas area. Allegations of sex tourism and underage Brazilian girls taken on the fishing trips are still being investigated by authorities, but is it nothing more than bad blood between the tour operators? Far down in the story is a reference to our own governor, whose trial-lawyer friend arranged a 2007 trip with one of the operators, Wet-A-Line. It should be noted that nothing has tied Gov. Henry’s trip to any of the accusations that the Dallas paper raised:
According to e-mails provided to The News by a third party, Marsteller has maintained a steady and zealous campaign with U.S. authorities, peppering them with information on Wet-A-Line. Some people have been surprised to learn that their names have turned up in Marsteller’s correspondence, such as the governor of Oklahoma.
A Marsteller e-mail to an agent for Immigration and Customs Enforcement noted that Gov. Brad Henry and his party of 22 had been Wet-A-Line clients in Brazil.
Henry took a trip in September 2007 with aides, friends and lawyers. Paul Sund, the governor’s spokesman, said a friend of the governor arranged the trip.
No one has said that the governor or anyone in his entourage engaged in illicit activities on this trip.
State police investigators made advance inquiries with Brazilian authorities and the U.S. Embassy about Wet-A-Line, Sund said. “Nobody raised a red flag or said, ‘Watch out, this guy may be under investigation,’ ” Sund said.
Only after their trip, Sund said, did the governor’s office learn of Marsteller’s accusations against Wet-A-Line. “It was a big shock to us,” he said.
–After a year of stories looking into alleged cheating on Georgia’s standardized tests by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, state officials have admitted that there is a problem. An analysis of erasure marks on test booklets could point to systematic cheating in almost one-fifth of the state’s school districts.
–A federal database that is supposed to track the disciplinary records of hundreds of thousands of health care workers is incomplete. Hospitals were expected to start using the database in March, but the missing information may hinder the efforts to perform thorough background checks. The revelations come from a joint investigation by ProPublica and the Los Angeles Times.