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Extra Extra Monday: Ethics of legislature, immigrant justice, tired drivers, campus sexual assault cases
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Ethics and the Legislature: Money, secrets, power rule dome
On the floor and in the committee rooms, you can identify the most powerful lawmakers simply by checking their fundraising and lobbying totals. The cost of access to a legislator rises as he does: being promoted to chair a key committee doubles his campaign contributions and lobbyist gifts.
How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?
"The answer to the simple question in that headline is surprisingly hard to come by. So Slate and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths are collecting data for our crowdsourced interactive. This data is necessarily incomplete. But the more people who are paying attention, the better the data will be. You can help us draw a more complete picture of gun violence in America."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Immigrant justice is a revolving door in Pittsburgh
"Sentenced to time served for illegal re-entry into the U.S., Portillo-Tobar, 34, was one of 51 people charged federally in Western Pennsylvania in 2012 for immigration-related crimes. That's a tiny fraction of the volume of cases seen in southern border districts. But on top of 2011's local record of 85 immigration-related federal cases, it suggests that the revolving door of immigrant justice has come to Pittsburgh."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Rivalry drives up medical charges in Cape Girardeau
Two rival hospitals, St. Francis Medical Center and Southeast Hospital, brag about gleaming buildings, robotic surgery systems, electrophysiology labs for heart care, and cancer treatment centers. What remains unsaid is the price tag. The nonprofit hospitals’ charges are much higher than in other parts of Missouri — certain surgeries can even cost twice as much as those in the St. Louis area.
Center for Public Integrity
Notre Dame case highlights complexities of campus sexual assault investigations
The boasts of lofty moral standards have long struck other schools’ fans as a bit sanctimonious. But they are getting fresh scrutiny now, in part because the bright lights of college football’s biggest stage have brought renewed attention to a two-year-old case involving a Notre Dame player and chilling allegations of sexual assault.
Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism
Iowa’s Returning War Veterans Endure Long Waits for Benefit
“Nearly 7,000 disabled veterans overseen by the Des Moines Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office are waiting an average of 313 days on claims across the state, VA records show. That’s 18 percent longer than a year and a half ago, although records show that since 2000 there are fewer veterans in the state.”
Neighboring towns, separated by a vast divide
“The greatest income inequality in the state was in Philadelphia and Allegheny County from 2009 to 2011, according to recently compiled Census estimates that measure the gap between richest and poorest. The chasm between rich and poor can be seen near Pittsburgh in the boroughs of Fox Chapel and Sharpsburg, a wealthy bedroom community and its economically struggling neighbor.”
Are power wheelchair companies ripping off the government?
“Medicare fraud costs taxpayers an estimated $60 billion annually. One problem area is power wheelchairs, which cost the program hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Over the course of a several month "CBS This Morning" investigation, numerous people who have sold and prescribed these wheelchairs told CBS News that the industry bullies doctors, and that Medicare is writing checks that should never be cashed.”
The Chicago Tribune
Small suburbs exploit tax loophole
“Sauk Village represents yet another cautionary tale of how Illinois' loose borrowing rules can sting taxpayers and leave a town mired in debt — even in places where residents might have expected traditional safeguards to protect them.”
U.S. House panel probes SEC spending on consultants
“Reuters first reported in late February of last year that the SEC had spent millions of dollars hiring Booz Allen consultants to help streamline the agency, leading some agency insiders to question whether the SEC was getting its money's worth.”
The Denver Post
State's child-fatality reports lagging for 2012 deaths
“For children who died in 2011, the average length of time between a death and the release of the state review was 5½ months. The lag in reports comes even as lawmakers are calling for reform in the child welfare system and the legislative session opens Wednesday.”
TriMet overtime: 'Exhaustion has become part of the culture' at transit agency
“Reports of drowsy drivers, including three with multiple incidents, are just one sign that Oregon's largest transit agency is playing a game of chicken with fatigue. The newspaper's eight-month examination found that the budget-battered agency allows operators to manipulate work rules to log as many as 22 hours in a 24-hour period, filling open runs and fattening paychecks but crashing vehicles and terrifying riders along the way.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Contract for deed can be house of horror for buyers
A Star Tribune investigation of 1,330 Twin Cities real estate transactions known as contracts for deed reveals that they are beset by inflated prices, high interest rates and other terms that almost guarantee the buyer will default. In hundreds of cases, records show, sellers failed to provide mandated home inspections that would have revealed code violations and safety hazards. Some buyers said they were misled about outstanding debts attached to the properties. Others thought they were signing a lease.