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Former governor Brad Henry says current tribal gaming compact dispute ultimately 'won't be good' for Oklahoma

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that former Gov. Brad Henry does consulting work for the Chickasaw Nation but not on the gaming compact issue.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Former Gov. Brad Henry on Friday said he is concerned that a dispute between the tribes and Gov. Kevin Stitt concerning gaming compacts could wind up in court.

Henry served as Oklahoma governor from 2003 until 2011. It was his administration that negotiated the original gaming compacts that allow the state to receive fees from tribes in exchange for exclusivity rights on gaming.

“We felt like these compacts were going to be very successful in terms of bringing in a lot of money to the state of Oklahoma for education,” Henry said.

He said his administration was concerned that if the compacts were successful, the tribes might want to return and negotiate lower rates.

“We felt like it was best for the state that they could stand on the compacts and they would automatically renew,” Henry said.

Gov. Kevin Stitt is currently seeking higher rates, which range from 4% to 10%.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and tribal leaders on Monday are expected to discuss the compacts at a meeting in Shawnee.

The tribes believe the compacts automatically renew on Jan. 1, 2020. Stitt, however, disagrees.

Henry, who was intimately involved in the original negotiations, said it was very difficult to get all the interested parties and stakeholders together. Henry currently does consulting work for the Chickasaw Nation but not on the gaming compact issue.

That was because it was a difficult and lengthy process his administration didn’t really want to put that responsibility on another administration, he said.

“I am worried that the dispute may end up in court,” Henry said. “That, in my opinion, won’t be good at all for the state. I think that is the wrong direction.

“I am hopeful something good will come out of Monday’s meetings.”

Alex Gerszewski, a spokesman for Hunter, said the attorney general looks forward to a mutually constructive and beneficial dialogue with tribal leadership.

“Our members welcome the opportunity to hear from Attorney General Hunter,” said Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association. “We appreciate General Hunter’s willingness to open a dialogue with us in hopes of finding a path forward that will result in an amicable resolution.”

The tribes are committed to working together with the state to advance Oklahoma and to improve the lives of all Oklahomans, Morgan said.

“We have accomplished a lot in the past by working together,” Morgan said. “We wish to continue our cooperation and collaboration for years to come.”


Tulsa police fatally shoot man after he reportedly pulls out gun during motorist assist

Tulsa police fatally shot a man who reportedly pulled out a gun during a motorist assist call in north Tulsa, police said.

A training officer and his trainee officer about 2:30 p.m. responded to a motorist assist call after they noticed a white four-door Jeep stopped with its emergency flashers on in the right lane of the 3800 block of East Pine Street, Sgt. Shane Tuell said.

A woman in the vehicle told officers that her boyfriend was on his way to the scene to help her remove the Jeep from the street. As officers waited with the woman, a Hispanic male of unknown age — who the woman later identified as her boyfriend — arrived at the scene riding a bike, Tuell said.

“The boyfriend returned, laid the bicycle over quickly and produced a gun on the officers,” Tuell said. “Completely unexpected. We still don’t know why he produced a firearm on the officers, but up until that point, the officers thought they were assisting a motorist.”

The man reportedly turned his shoulder to the officers while reaching to his opposite hip for the weapon, Tuell said. The man possibly fired one round at officers before as many as three officers shot the man multiple times, Tuell said. No officers were injured.

Officers performed life-saving measures until EMSA paramedics arrived and took the man to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police took the woman to the detective division for questioning, but she was not under arrest, Tuell said. Officers reportedly saw what appeared to be drug paraphernalia in the disabled car, but Tuell said officers didn’t see anything that made them believe they were in a potentially deadly situation.

“Up until he arrived and produced the gun on the officers, there was nothing at that point that really alarmed the officers,” Tuell said.

The man who was shot by officers has been identified, but his name was being withheld pending notification of his next-of-kin, Tuell said.

The three officers who shot him also were not immediately identified.

Pine Street near North Marion Avenue was closed for much of Sunday afternoon while officers investigated the shooting.

Trump says U.S. forces cornered IS leader in dead-end tunnel

WASHINGTON — Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of the Islamic State group who presided over its global jihad and became arguably the world’s most wanted man, died after U.S. special operators cornered him during a raid in Syria, President Donald Trump said Sunday.

“Last night, the United States brought the world’s No. 1 terrorist leader to justice,” Trump announced at the White House, providing graphic details of al-Baghdadi’s final moments at the helm of the militant organization. “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.”

In a national address, Trump described the nighttime airborne raid in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, with American special operations forces flying over heavily militarized territory controlled by multiple nations and forces. No U.S. troops were killed in the operation, Trump said.

The death of al-Baghdadi was a milestone in the fight against IS, which brutalized swaths of Syria and Iraq and sought to direct a global campaign from a self-declared “caliphate.” A yearslong campaign by American and allied forces led to the recapture of the group’s territorial holding, but its violent ideology has continued to inspire attacks.

As U.S. troops bore down on al-Baghdadi, he fled into a “dead-end” tunnel with three of his children, Trump said, and detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and the children. “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone,” Trump said. “He died like a dog, he died like a coward.”

Al-Baghdadi’s identity was confirmed by a DNA test conducted onsite, Trump said.

Trump had teased a major announcement late Saturday, tweeting that “Something very big has just happened!” By the morning, he was thanking Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, as well as Kurdish fighters in Syria for their support.

The operation marks a significant foreign policy success for Trump, coming at one of the lowest points in his presidency as he is mired in impeachment proceedings and facing widespread Republican condemnation for his Syria policy.

The recent pullback of U.S. troops he ordered from northeastern Syria raised a storm of bipartisan criticism in Washington that the militant group could regain strength after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled. Trump said the troop pullout “had nothing to do with this.”

Planning for the operation began weeks ago, Trump said, after the U.S. gained unspecified intelligence on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts. Eight military helicopters flew for more than an hour over territory controlled by Russian and Syrian forces, Trump said, before landing under gunfire at the compound.

Trump vividly described the raid and took extensive questions from reporters for more than 45 minutes Sunday. He said U.S. forces breached the walls of the building because the doors were booby-trapped and chased al-Baghdadi into the tunnel, which partially collapsed after al-Baghdadi detonated the suicide vest. Many homes in Syria, which has been riven by civil war since 2011, have subterranean tunnels or shelters from the fighting.

Trump also revealed that U.S. forces spent roughly two hours on the ground collecting valuable intelligence. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday that the U.S.-led coalition launched at least one airstrike in western Aleppo aimed at Abu Hassan al-Muhajer, an aide to al-Baghdadi.

Trump said he watched the operation from the White House Situation Room as it played out live “as though you were watching a movie.” Trump suggested he may order the release of the video so that the world knows al-Baghdadi did not die a hero and spent his final moments “crying, “whimpering” and “screaming.”

Trump approved the operation Saturday morning after receiving “actionable intelligence,” Vice President Mike Pence told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Trump had spent Friday night at Camp David and flew by helicopter Saturday morning to golf at his private Virginia club. He then returned to the White House.

Trump said he teased the announcement as soon as American forces landed safely in a third country. An Iraqi security official confirmed the U.S. aircraft took off from the Al-Asad air base in western Iraq, where Trump visited American forces in December.

Trump said he did not follow convention in informing leaders on Capitol Hill, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., before the raid, saying he was fearful of leaks.

Pelosi said the House “must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top congressional leadership were notified of in advance, and on the administration’s overall strategy in the region.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the mission was to capture or kill the IS leader. While Trump had initially said no Americans were injured, Esper said two service members suffered minor injuries but have already returned to duty. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said a military dog chasing al-Baghdadi was seriously wounded by an explosive blast.

In his address from the White House, Trump suggested that the killing of al-Baghdadi was more significant than the 2011 operation ordered by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Trump later repeated a false claim that he predicted the threat posed by bin Laden in a book before the 2001 attacks.

He also praised Russia and the Syrian government — American foes — and defended his ban on entry to the U.S. from some Muslim-majority countries. He called European allies “a tremendous disappointment” for not repatriating foreign IS fighters.

Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said al-Baghdadi’s remains would be dealt with in accordance with Islamic law and buried at sea in the same way that bin Laden’s were.

Praise for the military operation was swift, coming from American allies and even the president’s political opponents. In congratulating the U.S. forces and intelligence officials, but not Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden warned that IS “remains a threat to the American people and our allies.”

But one counterterrorism expert said al-Baghdadi’s death is not the end of IS.

“Counterterrorism must be part of the strategy, but reducing the strategy to just special operations raids and drone targeting, as this administration seems to want to, guarantees a forever war,” said Katherine Zimmerman of the American Enterprise Institute. She said extremists’ strength and staying power lies in the support they have locally among the disenfranchised and economically deprived populations.

Al-Baghdadi’s presence in the village a few kilometers from the Turkish border was surprising, even if some IS leaders are believed to have fled to Idlib after losing their last sliver of territory in Syria to U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in March.

Iraqi officials said Sunday they passed information that helped ascertain al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts to the U.S. from the wife of an Iraqi aide to al-Baghdadi, as well as al-Baghdadi’s brother-in-law, who was recently arrested by the Iraqis. The officials weren’t authorized to publicly discuss intelligence operations and spoke on condition of anonymity. Al-Baghdadi had led IS for the last five years, presiding over its ascendancy as it cultivated a reputation for beheadings and attracted tens of thousands of followers to a sprawling and self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria. He remained among the few IS commanders still at large despite multiple claims in recent years about his death and even as his so-called caliphate dramatically shrank, with many supporters who joined the cause either imprisoned or killed.

His exhortations were instrumental in inspiring attacks in the heart of Europe and in the United States. Shifting away from the airline hijackings and other mass-casualty attacks that came to define al-Qaida, al-Baghdadi and other IS leaders supported smaller-scale acts of violence that would be harder for law enforcement to prepare for and prevent.

They encouraged jihadists who could not travel to the caliphate to kill where they were, with whatever weapon they had at their disposal. In the U.S., multiple extremists have pledged their allegiance to al-Baghdadi on social media, including a woman who along with her husband committed a 2015 massacre at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California.

With a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, al-Baghdadi was far less visible in recent years, releasing only sporadic audio recordings, including one just last month in which he called on members of the extremist group to do all they could to free IS detainees and women held in jails and camps.

The purported audio was his first public statement since last April, when he appeared in a video for the first time in five years. In that video, which included images of the extremist leader sitting in a white room with three others, al-Baghdadi praised Easter Day bombings that killed more than 250 people and called on militants to be a “thorn” against their enemies.

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

New juvenile justice center expected to open in December

Karen Keith was running for Tulsa County commissioner 12 years ago when she took a tour of the county Juvenile Bureau on south Gilcrease Museum Road.

“I was aghast,” she said Thursday. “... I thought, ‘This is something I can get passionate about.’ ”

She won her race and, years later, her passion has paid off. The dilapidated Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau facility is about to be replaced by the Tulsa County Family Center for Juvenile Justice, 500 W. Archer St. And that has Keith, who recently toured the center, singing a decidedly more upbeat tune.

“This is unbelievable,” she said, as she stepped into one of the Family Center’s courtrooms.

Unbelievable not just because the new facility, including its courtrooms, are clean, spacious and well lit, but because there are six courtrooms. The Juvenile Bureau has four cramped courtrooms — only one of which is large enough to hold a jury trial — and no jury deliberation rooms. The Family Center will have four jury deliberation rooms, one for each of the four courtrooms that can accommodate jury trials.

“I am just amazed,” Keith said. “I just can’t believe how much space people are going to have.”

The Family Center’s gym could hold about six of the Juvenile Bureau’s gyms. The Juvenile Bureau has four small classrooms and no library. The Family Center will have three classrooms, a library, a resource room, and a teachers’ space.

The Family Center — like the Juvenile Bureau it is replacing — will be home to two distinct but related enterprises: the Tulsa County Juvenile Court and the Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau, which provides state-mandated services for the court.

The 150,000-square-foot Family Center has three main components. The Juvenile Court, Juvenile Bureau and the multiple agencies that support them are in a two-story building on the west side of the property. The detention facility, with its gym, classrooms and other components, are on the east side. In between sits a courtyard and recreation area that includes a basketball hoop and sports courts.

It is more than twice the size of the Juvenile Bureau’s outdoor recreation area, which is surrounded by barbed wire.

Every turn of Thursday’s tour revealed another impressive discovery.

The Juvenile Bureau’s detention facility has 55 beds and no separate processing area where juveniles can shower. The Family Center’s detention facility has 63 beds, with a processing area and showers, and will comprise three units — one for females, one for young males and one for older males.

And should the power fail and the lights go off, juveniles will no longer be in the dark. Large hallway ceiling windows will let natural light flow into the Family Center’s detention units. And a massive generator with enough power for the entire structure will kick on.

“In the old facility, if the power goes out, it’s just totally dark,” said Anthony Taylor, training coordinator for the Juvenile Bureau. “First time that happened where you have 55 kids, it’s a little unsettling. So this is going to be great.”

The most striking difference between the 51-year-old Juvenile Bureau — it was renovated in 1995 — and the Family Center is the public entrance off Archer Street.

The Juvenile Bureau entrance is a tiny, cramped, dreary space that is in no way welcoming. Visitors to the Family Center will walk into a two-story foyer with glass-fronted offices for each agency. The courtrooms and jury deliberation rooms are upstairs.

Taylor loves the set up.

“Everybody is pretty excited about it,” Taylor said. “It has been a long time. We have seen several plans of the facility but it never happened. So it’s finally coming to fruition.”

The Juvenile Court is scheduled to begin hearing cases in its new facilities on Dec. 2. The detention center will open later in the month.

Most of the furniture in the Family Center for Juvenile Justice was made by inmates employed by Oklahoma Correctional Industries.

One of the key objectives of the $39 million project was to build a facility large enough to house all of the support agencies that interact daily with the Juvenile Court and Juvenile Bureau. That goal has been met. The Probation and Parole, and Community Intervention Center each has an office in the Family Center.

And the public won’t have to navigate crowded hallways packed with boxes to get to them.

“Right now it’s hard to get visitors to come in because we have that one secure entrance,” Taylor said of the Juvenile Bureau. “So now, with this, every department has a store front.”

The only related service that will not be in the Family Center is Phoenix Rising, the alternative school program, which has its own building.

Keith said she’s glad the people who work in the juvenile justice system will have the space and accommodations they need to do their jobs.

“They deserve this,” she said.

But, ultimately, it is a juvenile justice center serving young people and their families in times of crisis.

How will they benefit from the new facility?

“We have a building that is more respectful for them,” she said. “As kids, they are going to be able to react better. ... Just think how you can take the tension down immediately when you walk into this building.

“I can’t imagine the difference for people coming in this facility as opposed to the other one. It’s pretty exciting.”