Extra Extra : September 2011

Data shows mayor hyped crime claim against Hispanic-owned business

When the mayor of Mount Vernon, Wash., requested that a liquor license be denied, he claimed it had to do with the proposed location of the business. However, when Kate Martin, of the Skagit Valley Herald checked with the local police department, the numbers didn’t add up.

“Too many 911 calls have been made from that location, he said. But an analysis of information from the Mount Vernon Police Department does not support the mayor’s claim. Since 2000, police have responded to 16 calls at 517 S. First St., the proposed location of Calle Tacos Tequila. Conversely, police ...

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Rise in prescription drug overdose hitting unlikely community

At age 52, no one would think a mother and wife, with a roof over her head, would die from a drug overdose. However, after hurting her shoulder more than a decade ago, Myrtle Bailey died of a hydrocodone overdose. Unfortunately for her and many others, doctors are treating symptoms instead of actual problems. “Bailey was one of six people in Madison County to die of drug overdoses within a four-day span in June 2010. She was also one of 62 to die of a drug or alcohol overdose last year in the county, by far the county’s highest ...

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Two year investigation into misleading insurance co. leads to million dollar payout

Jeremy Finley, chief investigative reporter for WSMV in Nashville and 2010 IRE breaking news award winner, uncovers the truth about one Tennessee company that misled thousands of people.

“In May 2009, the Channel 4 I-Team first exposed tactics of employees of United Benefits of America to try and mislead and scare customers into buying what many thought was full coverage insurance, but instead ended up being discount cards that saved them little money.”

Due to Finley’s investigation, United Benefits of America was shut down by state troopers and the “Tennessee Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission sued the ...

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Major increase in spending leads to concerns over health care costs

There’s no doubt that every city should have a children’s hospital, but what about three? Gilbert Gaul with Kaiser Health News, in collaboration with McClatchy, takes a hard look at why Orlando and other cities are building multiple children’s hospital,  and who’s behind the push.

The leading independent children’s hospitals are nonprofits, but you wouldn’t know that looking at the bottom lines of many of them – and at the million dollar salaries paid to CEOs. They’re pouring billions of dollars into new buildings, adding beds and equipment and staff at the same time ...

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Suspected Texas serial killer confesses nearly 40 years later

In 1978, Edward Harold Bell shot and killed a man in front of the victim’s mother. He was subsequently sent to prison for murder. However, it wasn’t the first time he had killed, he claims. Bell, now in his 70′s, has confessed to the string of murders that occurred in the Houston area from 1971 to 1977.

“In disturbing letters sent to Harris and Galveston county prosecutors in 1998 – but kept secret for 13 years – Bell claimed to have killed seven girls, including two Galveston 15-year-olds shot as they stood tied up and half naked in the ...

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State legislators earning pension before retirement

It may be surprising to learn that after legislators in South Carolina passed a law that would allow them to collect their pension, while still working for the state full time, their annual incomes have nearly tripled.

Thomas Frank, of USA TODAY, investigates the disturbing, yet legal, actions our legislators are taking. “More than 4,100 legislators in 33 states are positioned to benefit from special retirement laws that they and their predecessors have enacted to boost their pensions by up to $100,000 a year, a USA TODAY investigation found. Even as legislators cut basic state services and slash ...

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Computer assisted reporting used to show slips in income around wealthy DC area.

Carol Morello and Ted Mellnik of the Washington Post use computer assisted reporting techniques to show how the once wealthiest counties in the Washington D.C. area are also feeling the pains of a shrinking economy. “According to census data being released Thursday, the median household income in Montgomery County fell to $89,000 in 2010, about $4,500 below the figure a decade earlier using inflation-adjusted dollars. Fairfax County lost $3,000 from its median income, ending the decade at $103,000.” Morello and Mellnik include easy to read maps and graphs to show what neighborhoods took the biggest ...

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El Dorado sheriff buys helicopter; officials worry about costs to taxpayers

The El Dorado County sheriff John D’Agostini surprised county administrators when a helicopter appeared as a new tool for the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department. KCRA3 reporter Dave Manoucheri reveals that D’Agostini failed to alert county officials that a chopper was in the works, which raises risk management and liability concerns. Although the sheriff says his budget is his to spend, officials worry about possible costs to taxpayers.

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Stimulus money for Florida school districts misused

President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package granted “millions of federal dollars” to public school districts in Florida. As part of the President’s vision “to accelerate improvement in schools,” the money was meant to provide a means to improve low performing schools and prevent teacher layoffs. However, this investigation by Mc Nelly Torres of the Florida Center for Investigative Reportingreveals that the money was not being spent in the way that it was intended.

” … with the aid of federal waivers, school districts were allowed to divert money from education reform to patch holes in general operating budgets. In ...

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Public safety at risk in Champaign County, IL.

In most towns across Illinois and the U.S., the Public Health Department publicizes any health code violation so that consumers can be aware of the risk they are taking by eating at a restaurant. However, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department chooses not to share the roughly 1,300  inspections done in a year. Many in the restaurant business don’t find this a problem, citing that once the violation is corrected, it should not matter. Unfortunately, there are repeat offenders; “Geovanti’s Bar & Grill on Green Street failed its restaurant inspections five times from September 2008 through February of ...

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