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AM NewsBrief: Apr. 3, 2024

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, Apr. 3, 2024.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Hears Catholic Charter School Case

The nation’s first taxpayer-funded religious charter school is set to open in Oklahoma this fall. The Oklahoma Supreme Court could halt its progress before that happens. The court heard arguments Tuesday about allowing the school to open.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond argues the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School should not open its doors. The school’s very existence blurs the lines between church and state.

"I appear today as the state’s chief law officer to defend the separation of church and state, which a state-created and state-funded public religious school would all but eradicate," Drummond said.

But Phil Sechler, an attorney for the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, which approved St. Isidore to open next school year, argues the state cannot bar an institution from participating in a public program on the basis of religion.

"Any time the state decides to open up a program to private organizations, as it has here, it can’t then draw a line and say, 'but if you’re religious, you don’t qualify,'" Sechler said.

Justices asked pointed questions of both sides. They will eventually make a ruling to determine the fate of the nation’s first religious charter school at a later date.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Tulsa Race Massacre Case

The last two survivors of the 1921 Race Massacre made their reparations case to the state’s highest court Tuesday.

During oral arguments at the Oklahoma Supreme Court attorneys argued the city of Tulsa and the state were complicit in the massacre.

They say the massacre created an ongoing public nuisance in the historic neighborhood of Greenwood that lasts to this day.

Tulsa resident Consuelo Scott Miles says the lawsuit is long overdue.

“It should have been settled many, many years ago. Reparations should have been given many, many years ago," Miles said.

Attorney Keith Wilkes, representing the Tulsa County Sheriff, says Greenwood was rebuilt after the massacre so the nuisance is no longer relevant.

“For the men and women who survived and stayed, the end of the massacre was also the beginning of another story," Wilkes said.

Attorneys for the survivors want their case to go back to trial after it was dismissed by a Tulsa County District Judge last year. The city says it does not bear complicity.

Viola Fletcher and Lessie Benningfield Randle, the two remaining survivors, are both more than 100-years old.

Election Results

Voters across Oklahoma went to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots on school bonds, school board races and more.

In Norman, voters decided Matt Peacock will remain on the city council. Peacock was forced to run for the Ward 2 seat after redistricting pushed him out as the Ward 8 representative. He defeated Russell Rice in the runoff election.

In Enid, a city commissioner who attended a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia alongside neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan, was ousted. Judd Blevins will be replaced by Cheryl Patterson for the remainder of a term he started last year. The race had drawn national headlines.

Guthrie voters overwhelmingly green-lit a 15-year continuation of a sales tax. The money from the tax will be focused on water and sewer improvements, increasing A-D-A accessibility in the city and more.

In Piedmont, voters approved a more than $100 million dollar bond package. That will lead to a new elementary and intermediate school in the growing community northwest of O-K-C. It also will result in a continuation of an existing property tax there.

Canoo Faces Financial Struggles Despite State Incentives

Electric vehicle company Canoo set up shop in Oklahoma last year, when it opened a manufacturing plant in Oklahoma City and a battery facility in Pryor. A new regulatory filing shows the company is on a bumpy financial road, even with millions of dollars in state incentives.

Canoo generated nearly $900,000 in revenue in 2023. A chunk of that came from the state of Oklahoma, which purchased the first three Canoo vans manufactured here.

But even after factoring in those sales, Canoo lost nearly $800 million dollars over the last two years and expects QUOTE “continuing losses for the foreseeable future.” That’s according to the company’s required 2023 financial report to federal regulators.

Those filings also say Canoo’s expenses have included millions of dollars in private jet flights for its CEO.

Canoo has been promised $115 million in incentives from Oklahoma City, the state government and the Cherokee Nation.

Canoo says it’s created more than 100 jobs in Oklahoma, which is home to about one-fifth of the company’s total workforce.

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