Extra Extra : September 2007

CEOs of healthcare nonprofit netting top dollars

The Honolulu Advertiser examined nonprofit salaries and reported that "the largest healthcare nonprofits in Hawai'i pay their chief executive more than $820,000 on average. Large foundations and trusts in Hawai'i pay an average of $341,000 to their top manager. Executives at a sampling of service providers were paid the least, averaging $133,100." The healthcare companies say competition and job performance played a role in the high salaries, but critics say executive pay is inflating health care costs.

Poughkeepsie firms benefit from government grants

The Poughkeepsie Journal used an analysis of federal data to find that "United States government agencies paid $39.4 million through federal contracts to more than 150 local businesses, nonprofits and individuals in the two most recent fiscal years." While there has been a trend nationally of larger corporations receiving more grants at the expense of smaller companies, the Poughkeepsie area has experienced growth.

Federal contract data is available from the IRE and NICAR Database Library.

Animal shelter practices questioned

Sarah Okeson of Florida Today investigated the Brevard County animal services department after questions have been raised about how the Animal Services & Enforcement Department is being run. Allegations include one employee who has been illegally selling animals from the shelters. An audit found that the ownership records of 43 animals were changed in the department's database with no other documentation other than a sticky note, and that whereabouts of at least 29 animals are unknown.

Railroads of Neglect

A Blue Line train bounced off its track and derailed in a fire that sent 1,000 passengers running for their lives in July 2006. Jon Hilkevitch and Monique Garcia of the Chicago Tribune read thousands of pages of investigative files and transcribed interviews of Chicago Transit Authority workers after the accident. Their story describes the gross lack of management and oversight by the nation's second-largest transit system, including interviews with workers who say they wrote their concerns on the walls of the subway because their superiors did not want to hear about the hazardous conditions.

BusinessWeek tallies payoff from lobbying

BusinessWeek notes that, while scrutiny of federal earmarks and corporate lobbying has intensified recently,"no one outside the lobbying firms and corporate boardrooms has ever known just how much all those lobbyists bring in." Based on an analysis of nearly 2,000 earmarks that went to companies in fiscal 2005, the story by Eamon Javers estimates that, on average, companies generated roughly $28 in earmark revenue for every dollar they spent lobbying.

Perks grew while budgets shrank in three Florida counties

With tax cuts and the real estate bust forcing local governments to slash their budgets, Doug Sword, Anthony Cormier and Patrick Whittle of the Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, Fla.) looked at spending in three local sheriff's agencies. They found a number of questionable expenses, such as a luxury SUV for Sarasota's sheriff with upgrades like climate controlled leather seats and a $2,000 navigation system. Here are the stories for the counties of Sarasota, Charlotte and Manatee.

Officer's record leads courts to re-evaluate misconduct policies

Gina Barton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel mined court records to find ten similar cases alleging that Jason Mucha, a Milwaukee Police officer, had beaten suspects or planted drugs. Despite the claims of misconduct, Officer Mucha had never been disciplined. Instead, the department promoted him to sergeant. After reviewing the cases, a state Court of Appeal issued a groundbreaking ruling that has changed the way Wisconsin courts consider police misconduct cases.

Flex-Fuel fleet remains shrouded in secrecy

Kimberly Kindy, reporting for the San Jose Mercury News and the Sacramento bureau of MediaNews, adds more on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempts to create a fleet of environmentally friendly vehicles, which earned him international recognition but also handed a single-source contract to General Motors, a longtime political supporter. The latest story describes how the governor's administration has repeatedly refused to release documents that reveal the level of its involvement in crafting this fleet. In July, Kindy reported that the "green" cars still burn normal gasoline because they have no access to the cleaner ethanol blend, E85.

Accuracy of 9/11 health reports debated

Anthony DePalma and Serge F. Kovaleski of The New York Times explore questions about the health data reported by the Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, which has overseen the treatment of thousands of ground zero workers. While the clinic's efforts have been called "well meaning," the resources needed to track and report data have been inadequate and caused many to question the accuracy of their findings. "Researchers in this field say that the clinic's data collection was so badly planned that its usefulness may be limited. Others say that doctors at the clinic, which ... Read more ...