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Extra Extra : September 2009
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."
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.
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.
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 ...
A Gannett New Jersey 8-day investigation looks at New Jersey's property taxes which are the highest in the nation. Using tax information and census data, the series looks at the trends, disparities and impact of such high taxes.
Lewis Kamb of The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash) writes that Washington state commerce officials have launched an investigation of the Martin Luther King Housing Development Association. The probe follows News Tribune reports that exposed financial mismanagement and other problems at the nonprofit affordable housing agency.
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.
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.
"Of 2,737 lobbyists hired to promote the interests of drug companies, insurers, hospitals, health professionals, industry groups and business organizations, 1,418 -- or 52 percent -- have worked for Congress, the White House or federal agencies. That includes 55 former members of Congress." reports Jonathan D. Salant and Lizzie O’Leary of Bloomberg.com.
"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.