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Tulsa Promenade mall's mortgage holder seeking foreclosure

The holder of the Tulsa Promenade mall’s mortgage is seeking to foreclose on the loan, according to documents filed with Tulsa County District Court last month.

Ready Capital Corp., the original lender and current holder of the loan, alleges in court filings that the mall’s owner — a Delaware limited liability company — has defaulted on the loan by failing to make payments since March.

Ready Capital Corp. also alleges that its collateral interest in the property is diminishing as a result of the mall owner’s failure to maintain the property and a suspected failure to direct all rents to the designated “lock box.”

Court filings claim the property’s value has seen a three-year plunge from $25.9 million in a 2016 appraisal to $4.5 million per a recent estimation by NAI Farbman.

According to the lawsuit, a property inspection in March revealed that substantial deferred maintenance remains incomplete, including items that were flagged for immediate repair in 2016 in addition to “significant deferred maintenance arising from normal wear and tear or neglect.”

The mortgage holder also states that it holds $1.4 million in repair and replacement reserves that the borrower has available, yet the borrower had only requested $165,000 in 2017 for parking lot repairs.

The March inspection, in addition to showing that roof, landscaping and parking repairs flagged in 2016 remained incomplete, found that the central elevator was out of order, several escalators were out of order, fountains were not functioning, worn seating was patched with duct tape and HVAC repairs were needed in several storefronts.

The mortgage loan is structured so that all rents paid are deposited directly into a “lock box” account and then dispersed.

The mortgage holder claims in the court documents that the mall owner failed to provide operating statements or rent rolls for January through May this year.

In a sworn affidavit in support of the mortgage holder’s motion for appointment of receiver, an asset manager for KeyBank Real Estate Capital, a loan service for the mortgage holder, stated there are more than $1.18 million in deficiencies when comparing the budgeted revenues and the lock box deposits between January and June.

The mortgage holder has since revoked the mall owner’s ability to collect any rents from the property, according to the filings.

Court filings also show the mall’s occupancy rate decreased from 90% in 2015 to 68% in June.

The property owner is seeking a total of $7.64 million as well as nearly $200,000 in various interests and fees.

The mall’s ownership filed a two-week extension on July 10 stating it “has the ability and desire to obtain capital sufficient enough to pay the subject loan in full, thus mooting this case.”

Since the first of the year, several national retail brands have left Promenade. The list includes Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, Charlotte Russe, Lids, and Kay and Zales jewelry stores.

Hollywood Theaters Palace 12, which was owned by Regal Cinemas, also closed this year.

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His brother's WWII death was a mystery for 75 years. Now a Bartlesville man has answers from a new book and a new friend.

BARTLESVILLE — As the troop train started rolling forward, leaving behind the packed station platform, Tug Baughn’s brother stuck his head out one of the windows.

“The crowd was so heavy, he’d overlooked me in saying his goodbyes,” Baughn said, adding that he jumped when he heard his older sibling call his name.

Addressing his little brother from the train window, he said: “Tug, I want you to make that high school basketball team.

“And,” he went on to add, “I don’t want you doing any smoking or drinking. Do you hear what I say?”

Baughn was still nodding as the train pulled away.

In the 75 years since World War II, Baughn, now 85, has often replayed that exchange in his mind.

That was the last time he saw his brother Richard, who was killed in action soon afterward. The memory of that day is always accompanied by unanswered questions.

“I knew practically nothing about how he died,” said Baughn, a longtime Bartlesville resident. “I had tried to find out more but with no luck.”

Recently, that luck changed in a surprising way.

In June, Baughn was shocked to learn that not only were the details of his brother’s death known, but they are chronicled in a new best-selling book.

“Spearhead” by Adam Makos, the story of a tank crew, hit No. 2 on the New York Times nonfiction list after its release earlier this year.

Upon learning about the book and his brother’s mention in it, Baughn reached out to one of the interviewees — a 96-year-old Auburn, Alabama, man named Buck Marsh. Marsh, as it happened, was the one who provided the details about Richard’s death.

How did he come by the information?

He’d been at Richard’s side when it happened.

Role model

Tug Baughn, who grew up in Beggs where his family ran a general store, was one of 11 siblings. But the one he looked up to most was Richard, 13 years his senior.

“He was my role model,” Baughn said of his brother, an accomplished athlete and musician at Beggs High School. “I wanted to be just like him.”

Until recently, Baughn, who every Memorial Day visits his brother’s grave in Beggs, had largely given up on finding out any more about his death. He knew the date, March 7, 1945. And a few years ago, he was able to obtain Richard’s medals, including his Purple Heart.

But there was little information available to go with them.

That remained the case until about four weeks ago, when Baughn got a phone call.

“It was a friend of mine,” he said. “He knew I’d lost a brother in the war, and he said, ‘Tug, was your brother’s name Richard?’ ”

That was how Baughn came to learn about “Spearhead.” The popular book, which his friend was reading, included among its contents a play-by-play of what happened to his brother, he said.

It was just a couple of pages, but it was enough.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Baughn said. “I’d prayed for this.”

And “the most unbelievable” part of the whole thing was still to come, he added: connecting with one of Richard’s comrades.

‘I’m hit!’

Serving with their respective 32nd Armored Division tank crews, Buck Marsh and Richard Baughn knew each other for several weeks.

“Buck said he saw him every day, up until he was killed,” Tug Baughn said.

It happened near Cologne, Germany. Under fire from a sniper, they took cover inside an empty house. But the sniper’s bullet found Richard anyway.

“He called out, ‘I’m hit!’ and fell to his knees,” Baughn said.

Marsh cared for him until he could be evacuated.

“He’d been hit in the neck, but he could still talk and answer questions,” Baughn said. “He was praying constantly, Buck told me.”

Richard, 23, died a few hours later. He was buried in Belgium initially before being returned to the family.

He left behind a wife and a daughter. The wife, who married again, is deceased. His daughter, who never knew him, lives in the Tulsa area, Baughn said.

Baughn has read all of the book and shared it with family members.

“I feel like I’m in a haze,” he said. “Like when I had a heart bypass a few years ago. It doesn’t all seem quite real. To think that 74½ years after his death this would be happening.

“It’s surreal — especially to talk to someone who was with him. I’ve talked to Buck four or five times since.”

Baughn said he often thought about his brother as he was growing up. In some ways, it was like he was still there.

Like Richard had instructed, Baughn went out for the high school basketball team in Beggs. He not only made it, but he excelled, going on to receive 12 scholarship offers. Later, he’d carry on his love for athletics as a referee, earning a place in the Bartlesville Athletic Hall of Fame.

His brother’s other parting instructions also made an impression.

“To this day,” Baughn said, “I’ve never had a drink of alcohol.”

Richard may not have had the chance to see him grow up, he added, or know the impact he had on him, but he believes he’d approve of the life he has lived.

And as for Richard’s status with Baughn, the new details he’s learned have only cemented it.

“He’s my hero,” he said.

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Deal sealed on federal budget, ensuring no shutdown, default

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and congressional leaders announced Monday they had struck a critical debt and budget agreement. The deal amounts to an against-the-odds victory for Washington pragmatists seeking to avoid politically dangerous tumult over the possibility of a government shutdown or first-ever federal default.

The deal, announced by Trump on Twitter and in a statement by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, will restore the government’s ability to borrow to pay its bills past next year’s elections and build upon recent large budget gains for both the Pentagon and domestic agencies.

“I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck,” Trump tweeted, saying there will be no “poison pills” added to follow-up legislation. “This was a real compromise in order to give another big victory to our Great Military and Vets!”

The agreement is on a broad outline for $1.37 trillion in agency spending next year and slightly more in fiscal 2021. It would mean a win for lawmakers eager to return Washington to a more predictable path amid political turmoil and polarization, defense hawks determined to cement big military increases and Democrats seeking to protect domestic programs.

Pelosi and Schumer said the deal “will enhance our national security and invest in middle class priorities that advance the health, financial security and well-being of the American people.”

They claimed credit for winning more than $100 billion worth of spending increases for domestic priorities since Trump took office.

Nobody notched a big win, but both sides view it as better than a protracted battle this fall that probably wouldn’t end up much differently.

However, it also comes as budget deficits are rising to $1 trillion levels — requiring the government to borrow a quarter for every dollar the government spends — despite the thriving economy and three rounds of annual Trump budget proposals promising to crack down on the domestic programs that Pelosi is successfully defending now. It ignores warnings from deficit and debt scolds who say the nation’s fiscal future is unsustainable and will eventually drag down the economy.

“This agreement is a total abdication of fiscal responsibility by Congress and the president,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington advocacy group. “It may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history, proposed at a time when our fiscal conditions are already precarious.”

A push by the White House and House GOP forces for new offsetting spending cuts was largely jettisoned, though Pelosi, D-Calif., gave assurances about not seeking to use the follow-up spending bills as vehicles for aggressively liberal policy initiatives.

Fights over Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, other immigration-related issues and spending priorities will be rejoined on spending bills this fall that are likely to produce much the same result as current law. The House has passed most of its bills, using far higher levels for domestic spending. Senate measures will follow this fall, with levels reflecting the accord.

At issue are two separate but pressing items on Washington’s must-do agenda: increasing the debt limit to avert a first-ever default on U.S. payments and acting to set overall spending limits and prevent automatic spending cuts from hitting the Pentagon and domestic agencies in January.

The threat of the automatic cuts represents the last gasp of a failed 2011 budget and debt pact between former President Barack Obama and then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that promised future spending and deficit cuts to cover a $2 trillion increase in the debt. But a bipartisan deficit “supercommittee” failed to deliver, and lawmakers were unwilling to live with the follow-up cuts to defense and domestic accounts. This is the fourth deal since 2013 to reverse those cuts.

Prospects for an agreement, a months-long priority of top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., became far brighter when Pelosi returned to Washington this month and aggressively pursued the pact with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin , who was anointed lead negotiator instead of more conservative options like acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney or hardline Budget Director Russell Vought.

Mnuchin was eager to avert a crisis over the government’s debt limit. There’s some risk of a first-ever U.S. default in September, and that added urgency to the negotiations.

The pact would defuse the debt limit issue for two years, meaning that Trump or his Democratic successor would not have to confront the politically difficult issue until well into 2021.

Washington’s arcane budget rules give each side a way to paint the numbers favorably. Generally speaking, the deal would lock in place big increases won by both sides in a 2018 pact driven by the demands of GOP defense hawks and award future increases consistent with low inflation.

Pelosi and Schumer claimed rough parity between increases for defense and nondefense programs, but the veteran negotiator retreated on her push for a special carve-out for a newly reauthorized program for veterans utilizing private sector health care providers. Instead non-defense spending increases would exceed increases for the military by $10 billion over the deal’s two-year duration.

In the end, non-defense appropriations would increase by $56.5 billion over two years, giving domestic programs 4% increases on average in the first year of the pact, with a big chunk of those gains eaten up by veterans increases and an unavoidable surge for the U.S. Census. Defense would increase by $46.5 billion over those two years, with the defense budget hitting $738 billion next year, a 3% hike, followed by only a further $2.5 billion increase in 2021.

Trump retains flexibility to transfer money between accounts, which raises the possibility of attempted transfers for building border barriers. That concession angered the Senate’s top Appropriations Committee Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who said he has “many concerns” with a memorandum outlining the agreement that promised there will also be no “poison pills,” new policy “riders,” or bookkeeping tricks to add to the deal’s spending levels.

The results are likely to displease many on both sides, especially Washington’s weakening deficit hawks and liberals demanding greater spending for progressive priorities. But Pelosi and McConnell have longtime histories with the Capitol’s appropriations process and have forged a powerful alliance to deliver prior spending and debt deals.

The measure would first advance through the House this week and win the Senate’s endorsement next week before Congress takes its annual August recess. Legislation to prevent a government shutdown will follow in September.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Lankford says decision on housing immigrant children at Fort Sill not likely until fall

Officials might not know until fall whether immigrant children will be sent to Fort Sill, U.S. Sen. James Lankford said Monday.

“Based on trends, I would think it would be September or October,” Lankford said during a conference call. “About 50,000 fewer people a month are crossing now than there were earlier.”

Lankford, R-Okla., said illegal border crossings typically drop during the summer heat, so whether Fort Sill is needed likely will depend on whether traffic picks up again in cooler weather. There have also been reports that measures taken by the U.S. and Mexican governments may be having an effect.

Lankford said he visited U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s South Texas Rio Grande Valley Sector, based in McAllen, Texas, on Sunday. The sector is the busiest on the southwest border, accounting for roughly 40 percent of illegal crossings, he said.

Lankford said cartels are orchestrating many of the crossings by flooding one zone with families attempting to cross the border and then sneaking single men and drugs through other crossings while Border Patrol officers are occupied with the first group.

He said the large number of families with children being detained also diverts Border Patrol officers to “humanitarian work,” leaving fewer for apprehensions.

Lankford said the facilities he visited were crowded but generally well-run and were stocked with supplies such as toothbrushes and soap.

Most, though, were designed for processing, not long-term detention. He said this includes the “kids in cages” facility that has gotten much attention in recent months.

He said the facility was built in 2015 to process unaccompanied minors. “The challenge they have is that there are a lot more adults. In 2014 1% of the men that crossed into the United States had children. Now it’s 50%. There are no … facilities for men with children.”

Many of those arriving at the border are turning themselves in and asking for asylum. Lankford said he saw about 50 asylum-seekers, most of them individual adults, half from Venezuela and half from Cuba.

“That station has seen 63 nationalities cross the border in the past year,” Lankford said.

Last week he and several other Congress members urged the administration to begin making preliminary asylum decisions at the border. Essentially, the lawmakers want authorities to separate those with potentially valid claims from those with obviously invalid ones and to send the latter group back to their home countries.

Monday, Lankford said Immigration and Customs Enforcement needs more money to handle the influx of immigrants and relief from the so-called Reyes decision, which requires adults arriving with minors to be released within 20 days.

The ruling, Lankford has said, encourages adults to bring unrelated children along simply as a means of getting into the U.S. Also, he said Monday, 20 days is not long enough for U.S. authorities to complete background checks on many of the adults.

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