The dregs of the year that was 2020 are upon us.
It has been a wild ride.
At the beginning of this year (which feels like roughly five years ago), I was writing about how the mortgage company founded by Gov. Kevin Stitt was awarded state economic incentive funds and a court ruling that found Oklahoma’s water board was ignoring anti-water pollution requirements.
In March, we began to see the first embers of the pandemic land in Oklahoma, as businesses scrambled to deal with the situation and early mandated business closures, even as major Oklahoma retailer Hobby Lobby urged workers to pray for health rather than closing its doors (the retail giant eventually closed temporarily).
On the heels of the arrival of COVID 19 in Oklahoma, there was a spike in state unemployment not seen since the Great Depression, followed by those trying desperately to get unemployment assistance from a system that was in no way prepared for the surge that eventually led to the resignation of the head of the unemployment agency.
By June, my fellow Frontier reporter Kassie McClung and I were being tear gassed as we covered the civil unrest that had spread to Tulsa from the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. That was followed weeks later by more heated confrontations in the streets of Tulsa as President Donald Trump rebooted his re-election campaign with a rally here.
Halfway through the year, The Frontier was the first to report that businesses owned by two of Oklahoma’s congressmen were among the largest recipients of federal business aid they had voted to approve in response to the pandemic, and that many of the businesses that received those federal taxpayer dollars reported retaining no jobs or laying off workers despite the injection of funds.
And, of course, there were the 2020 elections that were a continuous live-wire running through just about everything.
Meanwhile, I found that confusion regarding a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that found Congress never disestablished the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation was causing American Indians who had been arrested and put in the Tulsa County jail to be held for weeks without being offered bond or even access to an attorney.
Finally, I was able to finish a project I had been working on since the beginning of the year — criminal convictions that relied on expert medical testimony about Shaken Baby Syndrome, which some experts question and say has resulted in numerous wrongful convictions.
None of this could have been covered and uncovered this year without you, our readers, who we rely for our support.
And now is the perfect time to donate to ensure this kind of journalism continues to survive — when you make a donation to The Frontier any time between now and the end of the year, NewsMatch will match your new monthly donation 12x or double your one-time gift, all up to $5,000.
Your donations make it possible to shine a light on the important issues that face all Oklahomans. Thank you for helping make the coming year a little brighter.