Extra Extra : January 2007

Sports "doctor" under investigation

Mike Fish of ESPN.com reports that Mack Henry "Hank" Sloan, who runs an Atlanta clinic with a clientele of sports stars, is under investigation for allegedly practicing medicine without a license. "The 36-year-old Sloan calls himself a naturopath, a practitioner of a medical discipline that emphasizes holistic approaches to enhance the body's innate ability to recover. Naturopathy is licensed in only 14 states, but not Georgia." Fish reports that some high-profile patients were not aware that "Dr. Sloan" is not a licensed physician. Sports medicine experts also question Sloan's treatments to speed athletes' recovery.

Lottery sales slow in North Carolina

The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer analyzed North Carolina lottery data and found that fewer outlets and lower prizes accounted for the slow sales in the new state lottery. J. Andrew Curliss and news researcher Paulette Stiles found "the number of outlets for every resident in North Carolina is significantly behind the saturation levels of the nation's best-selling lottery states." They also noted fewer players in areas that would not receive substantial benefits from lottery revenue distributed to schools.

California Department of Justice Hid Millions in Contracts

Michael R. Blood of the Associated Press found that the California Department of Justice improperly concealed tens of millions of dollars worth of contracts with lobbyists, consultants, legal firms - even couriers and parking garages - in violation of its own confidentiality rules. "An internal agency review, conducted at AP's request, found information on scores of contracts, many of them no-bid, was erroneously labeled "confidential" and omitted from computerized state records, shielding it from public view." Among the wrongly classified contracts included two no-bid contracts, worth as much as $489,000, for Washington lobbyists The Ferguson Group, more than $1 million ... Read more ...

NFL On A Diet

Thomas Hargrove of Scripps Howard News Service found that the average weight of NFL athletes dropped more than a pound last year, reversing a 20-year trend in which pro football's behemoths steadily gained bulk at the rate of more than a pound per man per year. According to the Scripps Howard News Service study of the official rosters of 1,739 active players, 19 of the NFL's 32 teams are lighter than they were a year ago. "The total number of really big players who weigh 325 pounds or more has dropped from 95 in 2005 to 85 ... Read more ...

Wisconsin judges hear cases despite conflicts

Geoff Davidian of Milwaukee Magazine identified Wisconsin judges who frequently try cases involving companies in which they hold investments. Davidian analyzed all civil cases in Milwaukee from the beginning of 2004 through the first eight months of 2006 and checked them against the financial interest statements filed by the judges with the Wisconsin Ethics Board. The results show 202 cases in which judges had a financial conflict, including 54 cases involving Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Dwyer.

Probation Officers Overworked in Douglas County

Ron Knox of The Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World reported that probation officers in Douglas County were among the most overworked in the state - and by far the most overworked in similar judicial districts, based on his analysis of a state probation caseload database. Knox compared the number of adult and juvenile cases with the number of probation officers in each district to show that Douglas County probation officer manage "twice what the average probation officer around the state has to manage

Dodging Doomsday

Sam Roe of The Chicago Tribune exposes the story of America's efforts to recover uranium that the U.S. government distributed to other nations in its Cold War-era "Atoms for Peace" program. The enriched uranium, suitable for making bombs, still circulates in politically unstable countries. "Today, roughly 40 tons of the material remains out of U.S. control--enough to make more than 1,400 nuclear weapons," Roe reports. He gained exclusive access to archives and interviews with an Argonne National Laboratory scientist who led the recovery efforts for decades. The stories also draw on congressional testimony, previously classified records ... Read more ...

Iowa drivers dodge high fines, license penalties

The Des Moines Register used data on driving-related offenses in Iowa to identify 78,000 people who owe at least $500 in fines. Reporter Lee Rood and data analyst Michael Corey found "The outstanding debt that all Iowans owe for everything from overdue speeding tickets to drunk driving fines to law enforcement surcharges is at a record high: $438.7 million." With stiff state penalties, the rate of sanctions against drivers' licenses have nearly doubled in 10 years. The online package also includes video and a searchable database of drivers who owe fines.

License to Carry

In a four-part series, Megan O'Matz and John Maines of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel examined Florida's concealed weapons law and found that licenses have been issued to hundreds of people who, due to their criminal histories, wouldn't stand a chance of getting them in most other states. Courts have found them responsible for assaults, burglaries, sexual battery, drug possession, child molestation - even homicide. The newspaper obtained a database of 443,425 names of licensees before the state passed a privacy law last July 1 closing the records.

Migration patterns mapped

The Charlotte Observer and charlotte.com published stories and interactive maps that show county-to-county migration in North Carolina and across the U.S. The report highlighted the trend of upstate New Yorkers moving to the Charlotte region. An accompanying map is based on the most recent five years of IRS county migration data. Click on any county, and you get a table and a thematic map of county flows to or from that county.