Extra Extra : October 2005

Pentagon program results in inflated prices

Lauren Markoe and Seth Borenstein of Knight Ridder Newspapers conducted a computer database analysis to show that a Defense Department purchasing program called prime vendor is costing taxpayers 20 percent more than the previous system. " Run by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the program is based on a military procurement strategy to speed delivery of supplies such as bananas and bolts to troops in the field." The database analysis consisted of a comparison of prices charged by a small segment of prime vendors and prices for the same items purchased from companies outside the prime vendor program. A total of ... Read more ...

FEMA awards millions in extra payments after Katrina

Sally Kestin, Megan O'Matz and John Maines of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel continue their investigation into waste and fraud swirling around Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster aid, this time focusing on Hurricane Katrina. In three Louisiana parishes, FEMA issued more $2,000 aid checks than there are households, at a cost to taxpayers of at least $70 million. And in 36 parishes and counties in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, FEMA awarded $102 million to at least 51,000 more applicants than local officials said were displaced by the storm. " In Mobile, Ala., residents coached each other on the ... Read more ...

Stabbing investigation uncovers budding gang activity

Stephanie Hooper of The Telegraph examined records obtained from the Nashua Police Department, as part of their six-day "Gangs of New Hampshire" series, to show the budding gang activity in Nashua and southern New Hampshire. The report that comes in three installments, unraveled the workings of a local chapter of one of the nation

Suburbs pay for St. Paul's mayoral race in Minn.

Tim Nelson and MaryJo Sylwester of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press analyzed nearly 12,000 campaign contributions to show that St. Paul, Minn., suburbs are paying for most of the mayoral race. According to the analysis, suburban residents have made 52 percent of the campaign contributions to the two general election candidates so far whereas donations from St. Paul residents now account for only 31 percent of the contributions. "All told, nearly 60 percent of the money for the mayoral candidate's re-election comes from the suburbs and just 26 percent of it is from St. Paul. " Experts contend that ... Read more ...

CEO salaries soar at disabled workers' expense

Jeff Kosseff and Bryan Denson of The Oregonian found that executive pay has soared at nonprofits that often give disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage. "In Texas, one of the biggest nonprofits paid $4.6 million to a management firm founded by its CEO. In Baltimore, another charity's top executive earned more than $700,000 in cash and benefits. And a Tennessee nonprofit boosted its CEO's pay and benefits eightfold over four years to $500,000. " The newspaper found more than 100 executives earning six-figure pay and benefits at the 50 most active nonprofits in the ... Read more ...

Patient care neglected at Texas jail

Jennifer Autrey, with contributions from Bill Teeter, of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reviewed documents of JPS Health Network, the organization that runs the county's public hospital and jail health-care system, to show that with the inmates' health care, nightmare medical experiences happened all too often. The investigation revealed that administrators overlooked numerous telltale signs of the medical crisis. "One teen-ager with a known heart defect was given Pepto-Bismol for chest pain, only to collapse and die from a split heart valve. " The jail doctors, who work for a physicians group through a contract with JPS, reported that they were ... Read more ...

Private foundation sponsored international travel of congressman

Bob Williams of The Center for Public Integrity and Steve Henn of Marketplace examine the organizational structure and business activities of the International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, or the IFCNR in their "Power Trips" series. IFCNR has alienated mainstream environmental groups and its tax documents show its major financiers include the Japan Whaling Association, the International Fur Traders Association, Monsanto and a company whose president was convicted of smuggling and violating endangered species protections. The report shows that "Congressman [Richard] Pombo is chairman of one of the most important environmental committees in the House of Representatives. He ... Read more ...

Lobbyist Abramoff used aide, attacks to influence Congress

Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi, with contributions from Alice Crites and Julie Tate, of The Washington Post report that lobbyist Jack Abramoff used an aide to Tom DeLay and attacks on allies to defeat the anti-gambling bill. Details of that campaign, reconstructed from dozens of interviews as well as from e-mails and financial records obtained by The Washington Post, provide an account of how one of Washington's most powerful lobbyists leveraged his client's money to influence Congress. A senior aide to Tom DeLay, Tony C. Rudy helped scuttle the bill in the House and, according to documents ... Read more ...

Breakdowns in equipment thwart forecasts

Debbie Cenziper of The Miami Herald used forecast verification reports to show that breakdowns in crucial weather-observing equipment are foiling forecasters at the National Hurricane Center — the nation's first line of defense against tropical weather. "Buoys, weather balloons, radars, ground sensors and hurricane hunter planes, all part of a multibillion-dollar weather-tracking system run by the federal government, have failed forecasters during nearly half of the 45 hurricanes that struck land since 1992." Records show that forecasters have predicted tracks hundreds of miles off course, anticipated weak storms that grew all powerful, and powerful storms that eventually grew weak. The ... Read more ...