Extra Extra : October 2006

Bond scam yields profits at the expense of the needy

William Selway, Martin Z. Braun and David Dietz of Bloomberg News exposed a phantom bond scam - over $7 billion in the past 10 years - which promise benefits for the needy (better housing, improvements to inner-city schools, etc.), yet the only ones profiting are banks, insurance companies and financiers. "The arrangements -- often called black box deals, because they're complicated and mysterious -- sometimes contain secret agreements that promise to pay the financial middlemen higher fees if none of the money from the bond offerings is used to help the public. The agencies that issue the bonds buy them back from investors ... Read more ...

Buying the bench with key contributions?

In a series by Salon.com and the Center for Investigative Reporting, Will Evans exposes a money trail that leads from the pockets of judges to coffers of prominent Republicans - including the President. "At least two dozen federal judges appointed by President Bush since 2001 made political contributions to key Republicans or to the president himself while under consideration for their judgeships, government records show." While not illegal, these contributions are ethically questionable due to their potential influence on lifetime appointments to federal courts. "[T]here must be a balance, some ethics scholars and judges say, between that right and ... Read more ...

MCCCD fraught with fraud

In a four-part investigative series, Ryan Gabrielson of the East Valley (AZ) Tribune exposes rampant misconduct in the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), the largest junior college district in the US. The Tribune reviewed audits from the last five years which revealed rampant fraud - including theft of money and property, falsified enrollment records and nepotism. (See: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

Potential exists for deceased to still vote in NY

In the lead-up to November's elections, John Ferro of the Poughkeepsie Journal exposes the potential for voting fraud in New York state. The statewide database of registered voters contains the names of nearly 77,000 deceased - including many who cast votes posthumously. "The Journal's analysis is the first to examine the potential for errors and fraud in New York's three-month-old database. It matched names, dates of birth and ZIP codes in the state's database of 11.7 million voter registration records against the same information in the Social Security Administration's "Death Master File," a database ... Read more ...

Sexual misconduct rampant with Utah peace officers

Freedom for sale in Florida

Carl Jones of Miami New Times reports on corruption in the justice system in southern Florida. The series [See:Part 1 and Part 2] explores the story behind a now disbarred defense attorney, Isreal Perez, Jr., who promised to get the prison sentences of convicted felons reduced - for a price. "If there's any truth to Perez's claims about working with rogue DEA agents, the case raises serious questions about the propriety of drug investigations and prosecutions in South Florida, and about why Perez was never charged with a crime. It could mean there is again a "For Sale ... Read more ...

Florida realtor rakes in profits

In Louisiana, Post-Katrina insurance appeals made more often by whites

Rukmini Callimachi and Frank Bass of the Associated Press report on a disparity in post-Katrina insurance claims. Based on analysis of Louisiana's insurance claims, they determined that residents of predominantly white neighborhoods "have been three times as likely as homeowners in black neighborhoods to seek state help in resolving insurance disputes." Their analysis suggests that those most in need of assistance are not aware of their options to dispute insurance settlements. "The findings surprise few on the front lines of a disaster that has reawakened issues of racial equality...Donelon, the insurance commissioner, said his department made an extra ... Read more ...

KDFW exposure of sex offenders in USPS leads to reforms

In May 2006, KDFW-Dallas reporter Rebecca Aguilar and producer Joe Ellis discovered that the U.S. Postal Service had registered sex offenders on its payroll and some of these workers were delivering mail door-to-door. After confronting a few of these registered sex offenders on the job they took the issue to local Postal officials and higher ups in Washington D.C. Officials admitted they had no idea they had registered sex offenders working for them. These were employees who became registered sex offenders after they were hired for the government. Immediately the U.S. Postal Service launched a nationwide investigation ... Read more ...

Detroit: "The Quality of Urban Life"

A 2-day series by Greta Guest and Victoria Turk in the Detroit Free Press examined the state of grocery stores in the city of Detroit. While the housing market in downtown Detroit is experiencing growth, a lack of desirable grocery store options is a "nagging problem in terms of the city's quality of life." Difficulty in attracting chain grocery stores to Detroit is linked, in part, to "a high number of residents on public assistance, which creates a monthly boom-and-bust cycle...About 25% of Detroit households receive cash public assistance or food stamps, compared with 11% in Chicago, 14 ... Read more ...