Extra Extra : September 2009

Texas medical examiners plagued with problems, lack oversight

A series by Yamil Berard of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports on problems with medical examiners in Texas.  "Texas medical examiners have misidentified bodies, botched examinations and had to do a double take on cases of individuals later exonerated by law enforcement."  Critics point to lax oversight and an absence of performance standards among other issues.  Texas only requires that their medical examiners have a doctor's licenses.  They do not require "specific certification in anatomic and forensic pathology."

Felons, mentally ill live with seniors in Illinois nursing homes

A Chicago Tribune 3-part investigation by David Jackson and Gary Marx found elderly and disabled nursing home residents assaulted, raped and even murdered because Illinois has failed to manage the growing numbers of mentally ill felons admitted to nursing facilities. "More than any other state, Illinois relies heavily on nursing homes to house mentally ill patients, including those who have committed crimes." Current statistics show that mentally ill patients make up 15 percent of nursing home residents, and those convicted of felonies number 3,000.

Contaminated drinking water found in schools across the U.S.

A 10-month investigation by Garance Burke of the Associated Press has found unsafe levels of contaminants such as lead and pesticides in school drinking water in all 50 states.  "But the problem has gone largely unmonitored by the federal government, even as the number of water safety violations has multiplied." An interactive graphic allows the public to search for the thousands of schools in all 50 states that violated the Safe Drinking Water Act from 1998-2008 according to EPA data.

$11 million in FAA funds budgeted for unnecessary airstrip

A report by Dave Tobin of The Post-Standard (Syracuse, N.Y.) shows how the Federal Aviation Administration plans to spend $11 million on a rural airstrip. Eight miles from the planned airstrip, the developers are ripping up an existing airfield that was built with public money but largely unused. "The Federal Aviation Administration has already spent $2.8 million on the project for which there is no demonstrated need, which doesn’t meet the FAA’s minimum quota for air traffic, which could hurt nearby airports, and which has been opposed by local planners and the airstrip’s neighbors in ... Read more ...

Some of the worst roads bypassed by stimulus funds

Brad Heath of USA Today reports that "nearly $10 billion in stimulus aid to repair the nation's tattered highways has largely bypassed dozens of metropolitan areas where roads are in the worst shape."  Stimulus funds are intended to be spent quickly and repairs to many of the worst roads would take too much time and cost too much.

Trust Betrayed series

A sixth-month, statewide investigation into Florida’s child care centers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities by Sally Kestin, Peter Franceschina and John Maines of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found that Florida laws have often placed children and the elderly in the hands of habitual criminals. The first of a three-part series includes a database of people with criminal histories approved to work in day care.

Majority of health care lobbyists are federal government veterans

Four Wisconsin in-home child care providers match sex offender addresses

"An audit of the Wisconsin Shares program released Wednesday found four cases where the addresses of in-home child-care providers matched those of registered sex offenders," according to a report by Raquel Rutledge and Stacy Forster of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The audit was launched in response to an earlier Journal Sentinel story that showed nearly 500 child care providers in the state had criminal records.