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PM NewsBrief: Oct. 27, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Friday, October 27, 2023.

Former Prosecutor Headed To Prison

A former Ottawa County Assistant District Attorney has been sentenced to prison.

Daniel Thomas Giraldi, known as “Vegas G”, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and banned from practicing law in Oklahoma this week after being caught in a sting operation.

According to the affidavit written by an FBI agent, Giraldi represented a client back when he worked as a criminal defense attorney.

After becoming a prosecutor, the former client used his connection to obtain legal favors for associates, with Giraldi receiving sexual acts in return.

He was caught after an FBI informant lured him to a home under the guise of needing help with a child custody case in exchange for sex.

When he was arrested, Giraldi had controlled substances on him, including Klonopin and Oxycodone.

Giraldi has been permitted to self-report to prison.

State Superintendent Reacts To Stillwater Public Schools Letter

State Superintendent Ryan Walters says Stillwater Public Schools sent a letter to staff and families that undermines new administrative rules regarding gender designations.

Stillwater Superintendent Uwe Gordon sent a letter earlier this week providing guidance for implementing new rules from the State Board.

The rules prohibit schools from altering gender designations on prior records and require staff to report to parents if a student expresses information “reasonably expected to be important to parents.”

Despite the letter instructing how to comply with the rules, Walters gave the district words of warning at Thursday’s board of education meeting.

“We will not allow any rogue administrator to undermine these rules, and we will take that on very directly,” Walters said.

The letter acknowledges some families may react negatively - or at worst, violently - to learning certain things about their child, but students will be told that information must be shared with parents.

In a statement, a Stillwater spokesperson says the district is “somewhat confused” as to how Walters interpreted the letter.

USDA Study Shows Oklahoma Ranks High For Food Insecurity

A new USDA study shows food insecurity rates have increased since 2021.

Oklahoma is one of the top six states with food insecurity.

The USDA found almost a quarter of a million households experienced food insecurity in Oklahoma at some point between 2020 and 2022.

Chris Bernard is president and CEO of Hunger Free Oklahoma.

He said the end of many pandemic-era food programs, inflation and rising household costs are making food insecurity rise.

“We are now seeing more folks applying for SNAP because they are struggling both in our hotline and the numbers of people on SNAP. We're hearing from all of the pantry partners of food banks that we work with, that they're seeing increased demand across the board,” Bernard said.

Bernard said USDA’s report shows what his organization has been seeing - people who have not been food insecure in the past, now struggling to make ends meet.

EPA Justice Grants

The EPA is distributing $128 million worth of environmental justice grants to fund projects in the Chickasaw Nation and Oklahoma City.

The Chickasaw Nation will receive an Environmental Justice Government-to-Government grant to develop a community science stream monitoring program on the tribe’s treaty land.

The Chickasaw Nation wants this long-term project to help people engage with water issues where they live. The community-gathered data will inform solutions for watershed improvement projects within the Nation.

Another grant will go to OKC-based non-profit Open Design Collaborative as part of a second EPA Environmental Justice program.

That project will rehabilitate a public outdoor space in OKC’s historically Black JFK neighborhood on the east side of town.

The new space, Culture Park, will incorporate native plants and air monitoring to improve air quality for nearby residents.

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