Extra Extra : July 2012

One photo highlighted international web of child pornography network

In a report filed The Boston Globe, it has been revealed that "federal agents working out of Boston, are heading an investigation into child pornography that so far has resulted in at least 40 arrests around the world and the discovery of 140 children who were sexually exploited. And it all began with a single photo sent by a Milford, Mass man."

Staff at The Globe have put together a map of how the cases are all linked.

Is food-safety oversight keeping up with the surge in farmers markets?

"As the number of farmers markets has surged questions arise about whether food-safety oversight has kept pace. The USDA and the FDA set federal guidelines, wbut jurisdiction over farmers markets falls to a dizzying welter of state or local health or agriculture departments"

"In a spot check of 29 markets scattered among 10 states and the District of Columbia, reporters for E.W. Scripps Co. found that nearly two-thirds (18) had not been inspected within a year. And a third (10) lacked hand-washing facilities, a sanitation basic."

Polluters stick taxpayers with multimillion dollar clean-up bill

"State officials in Missouri talked tough with previous owners of a polluted site, but when it came time to do the cleanup, Missouri taxpayers were stuck with almost the entire bill--$12 million--, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation has found."

"In addition to not holding the polluters to account, the state and city allowed a single firm to award most of the remediation work to itself without competitive bidding."

Gaming boom now a bust for small town

"As a tough economy wrecked municipal budgets across the country, North Kansas City seemed to be above it all, able to afford well-kept parks, a modern community center and even a community fiberoptic network."

However, a Kansas City Star report has revealed that the once affluent community of about 4,000 residents is now facing a budget shortfall of about $10 million. With FOI filings and the help of computer-assisted reporting, Steve Everly and Allison Prang look at what faces the small town next.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/07/14/3721992/long-spending-spree-is-bad-memory.html#storylink=cpy

More wasteful spending discovered from the GSA

Investigating Texas' public pension fund investments

"As part of its ongoing examination of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, The Dallas Morning News investigated the shadowy world of pension fund placement agents -- the middlemen hired by private firms to solicit public capital."

"The article focused on one man, a politically connected Houston investment manager, and how his work as a placement agent served as a hidden link between public fund officials and the private firms that manage -- for significant fees -- the investment of these public dollars."

--IRE members can email extraextra@ire.org to read the full story.

SBA contracts sometimes go to huge corporations

An investigation by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit has "discovered hundreds of millions of dollars set aside for small business contracts, instead go to huge corporations."

"Mining the GSA’s Federal Procurement Data System the investigation revealed at least 24 companies since 2009 either based or with major offices in the Bay Area received at least 299 contracts labeled “small business” totaling $77 million", yet several of those companies do not qualify as a small business.

Reviews of child abuse deaths not always completed in KY

"A Herald-Leader analysis of 41 child fatalities in 2009 and 2010 found at least six cases where the Cabinet for Health and Family Services did not do an internal review even though there were previous reports involving the family before the child died."

"The reviews are supposed to examine the cabinet's actions in a case to see if there were missteps, and to identify needed improvements and training that could prevent future deaths."

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/07/22/2266544/watchdog-report-reviews-of-child.html#storylink=cpy