Extra Extra : December 2005

U.S. secretly monitoring radiation levels at Muslim sites in D.C. area

David E. Kaplan of U.S. News & World Report finds the U.S. government has been monitoring more than 100 "Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C., area, including mosques, homes, businesses, and warehouses, plus similar sites in at least five other cities" since 9/11 in search of a terrorist nuclear bomb. As part of the top-secret program, investigators went "on to the property under surveillance, although no search warrants or court orders were ever obtained, according to those with knowledge of the program."

Md. oversight of doctors failing public

Fred Schulte of The (Baltimore) Sun used state records to show that "Maryland's vow to safeguard patients has been undercut by breakdowns in the state system established to oversee doctors." In a three-part series, Schulte writes that more than 120 doctors have been the subject of four or five malpractice claims and that the disciplinary process for physicians often takes four years or more. "And secrecy policies conceal the names of doctors associated with tens of millions of dollars in injury claims."

IRE Awards deadline approaches: Jan. 9

IRE reminds Extra! Extra! readers that the postmark deadline for entering the IRE Awards is fast approaching — Jan. 9, 2006. The IRE Awards recognize the best investigative reporting across print, broadcast and online categories.
Don't let your best work go unnoticed!
With recent newsroom cost-cutting efforts, it's best not to count on someone else to automatically enter your stories. Only you can make sure your work gets submitted.
Contest details and entry form can be found on our Web site. If you have questions, please contact Beth Kopine, 573-882-6668.

Gulf Coast homeowner loans lagging

Leslie Eaton and Ron Nixon of The New York Times used federal data to show the pace of homeowner loans in the Gulf Coast is lagging. “The Small Business Administration, which runs the federal government’s main disaster recovery program for both businesses and homeowners, has processed only a third of the 276,000 home loan applications it has received. And it has rejected 82 percent of those it has reviewed, a higher percentage than in most previous disasters.” The loans that have been approved have been going to higher-income neighborhoods.

Bonus costing county millions

Ron Fonger of The Flint Journal used Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act to show that Genessee County employees who qualify for additional pay based on length of service “cost county taxpayers $1.89 million” in the past fiscal year. “That’s extra pay on top of negotiated across-the-board raises or individual ’step’ raises that also come with seniority.”

Multifamily housing hit hardest by Wilma

Brittany Wallman and Jeremy Milarsky of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel analyzed hurricane damage reports to show that in Broward County, “condos and apartments were hit the hardest, accounting for 55 percent of the buildings declared uninhabitable. Mobile homes made up 28 percent of seriously damaged structures. Houses fared the best. Only 42 were deemed uninhabitable, barely 1 percent of all severely damaged buildings.” Low-income areas had the most buildings declared unlivable.

Children die in spite of Okla. abuse reports

Ziva Branstetter, Curtis Killman, Nicole Marshall, Omer Gillham and Ginnie Graham of the Tulsa World report in a three-part series on Oklahoma's failure to save at least 30 children who died from abuse and neglect in the past five years. The series detailed cases in which the Oklahoma Department of Human Services had prior reports of abuse and neglect involving children yet the children were not removed from the home and ended up dying from abuse and neglect. The paper also found the state had paid out at least $1 million during that time to settle lawsuits involving child ... Read more ...

Taxpayer money used to defend city official

David Josar of The Detroit News used records obtained under Michigan's Freedom of Information Act to find that "Detroit City Clerk Jackie Currie has spent more than $100,000 in taxpayer funds on a team of private lawyers and advisers to defend her in a lawsuit that accuses her of mismanagement and fraud in the handling of city elections." Typically city attorneys defend the clerk's office in legal proceedings, but Currie dismissed Detroit's own legal counsel and instead hired her own, submitting bills under the threshold required for a city council vote.

Secrecy hides those who prey on children

Andrew Wolfson of The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal reports that "Kentucky shrouds its juvenile courts behind some of the strictest secrecy laws in the nation, requiring the public to accept on faith that it is being protected from dangerous children — and that innocent children are being protected from dangerous adults."