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Detroit landlords cash in on rent aid, ignore tax bills

A Detroit News investigation found about 1 in 4 Detroit landlords paid to rent to poor families through the state’s Housing Choice Voucher program collectively owe the city at least $5 million in back taxes and probably much more. Federal and state guidelines for the rental assistance — known as Section 8 — don’t require that all landlords pay.

Read the entire story here.

Craig Russell Wishnick is one of 238 residents of Dutchess and Ulster counties to die by suicide in the five years ending in 2011, 73 more than in the five years ending in 2003, according to a Poughkeepsie Journal analysis of death certificates over a 13-year period. That is an increase in harder-hit Dutchess of 62 percent and the first hike in the county rate after a quarter-century of steady and solid decline.

Today, American Indian gaming is the biggest economic engine for the Menominee, and the other 10 Wisconsin tribes.

Twenty-five licensed Class III casinos across Wisconsin generated more than $1 billion for tribes in 2011. About $52 million of that money went to the state of Wisconsin’s coffers, the latest figures from the state show. The Ho-Chunk also operate a Class II bingo-slot facility in Madison.

A KIRO 7 investigation finds that some at Seattle's schools may be violating the HR policy by paying overtime to select district managers who aren’t entitled to make extra money.

A months-long investigation reveals a radio station supervisor is the exempt manager making the most OT, banking about $70,000 in the last 2 ½ years. Plus, a little-known government benefit is costing the district millions. Many WA state workers can cash out sick leave. In 2 ½ years, Seattle Schools paid out nearly $2.5 million in sick leave payouts. Only 4% of the private sector enjoys the same benefit.

How Sunrise police make millions selling drugs | Sun Sentinel
"Police in this suburban town best known for its sprawling outlet mall have hit upon a surefire way to make millions. They sell cocaine."

How safe are Indiana day cares? | Indianapolis Star
"Indiana spends about $2.5 million inspecting and licensing more than 4,000 day cares that serve more than 150,000 children every year. Yet an Indianapolis Star investigation found that the system fails to hold many day cares accountable — even if they jeopardize the safety of children. In fact, at least 21 children have died in Indiana day cares since 2009, nine in 2012 alone, records show. And 15 of them were in unlicensed or illegal homes or centers."

Faking the Grade | Texas Tribune
A Texas Tribune investigation of a No Child Left Behind tutoring program has uncovered years of inaction by state officials while money flowed to tutoring companies, delivering few academic results.

Mugged by a Mug Shot Online | The New York Times
“Web sites are publishing arrest photos of millions of Americans and often charging fees to remove the pictures.”

Pharmaceutical firms paid to attend meetings of panel that advises FDA | The Washington Post
“A scientific panel that shaped the federal government’s policy for testing the safety and effectiveness of painkillers was funded by major pharmaceutical companies that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chance to affect the thinking of the Food and Drug Administration, according to hundreds of e-mails obtained by a public records request.”

Congressional budget crisis was months in the planning | The New York Times
“The stand by conservatives that led to the current crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort, waged by a galaxy of well-funded groups, to undo President Obama’s health care law.”

There was time to help Paul Schmidt, but county politics got in the way | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“At the time, Paul Schmidt — PJ, as he was known then — was 5, an easygoing tow-headed boy who lived less than a mile from the land where the new hospital would be built. In the years to come, he would climb apple trees and play "Ghosts in the Graveyard" there with the kids down the block. It would be years before he would begin to withdraw and make plans to kill himself. There was plenty of time to build a system that could help him.”

In Minnesota, nurses in trouble get second chances | Star Tribune
“Records examined by the Star Tribune of more than 1,000 disciplinary actions by the Minnesota Board of Nursing over the past four years show that it tolerates or forgives misconduct that would end nursing careers in other states. The board actively licenses more than 260 nurses since 2010 who have records of unsafe practice, including botched care that led to patient harm or even death. Eighty-eight nurses are allowed to practice despite having been charged or convicted of crimes such as physical or sexual assault and drug thefts — some against their own patients. The board gives nurses who admit misconduct second, third and sometimes more chances to keep practicing. Getting fired for incompetence, even multiple times, rarely means Minnesota nurses lose their licenses.”

Large hospitals enjoy revenue, borrowing advantage |
“Hospitals are confronting declining revenues and continuing investment demands from their patients and the government. These twin pressures are bringing into focus the advantages that large hospital operators hold over smaller independent ones, and why the latter might want to align with the former.” 

Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries deny, delay asbestos, hazard claims, suits, insiders allege | Scripps News
“Scripps interviewed more than 20 sources -- some confidential -- reviewed dozens of lawsuits and spoke with former insiders, who all allege the Berkshire-owned companies that handle its asbestos and pollution policies -- National Indemnity Co. and Resolute Management Inc. -- wrongfully delay or deny compensation to cancer victims and others to boost Berkshire’s profits. In multiple cases, courts and arbitrators have ruled that the Berkshire subsidiaries’ tactics have been in “bad faith” or intentional.”

Hidden cash fueled Warren campaign | Democrat & Chronicle
“Long before the term "Super PAC" entered the national lexicon of campaign finance, unauthorized committees — those acting in support of but without the expressed approval of candidates — gave donors a means to skirt limits that New York places on those donating directly to candidates.”

Drugged Driving Tough to Detect, Convict | NBC Bay Area
“An investigation into current law governing impaired driving by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit discovered large holes when it comes to regulating and determining who is legally impaired due to drug use.”

Detroit is broke, but it didn’t have to be. An in-depth Detriot Free Press analysis of the city’s financial history back to the 1950s shows that its elected officials and others charged with managing its finances repeatedly failed — or refused — to make the tough economic and political decisions that might have saved the city from financial ruin.

"In part three of Homes for the Taking, The Washington Post's Debbie Cenziper, Mike Sallah and Steven Rich found the District's tax office has risked 1,900 houses to foreclosure by mistakenly counting property owners as delinquent even after they paid their taxes, forcing them to fight for their homes in grueling legal battles that persisted for years. One mistake for $44.79 cost a 95-year-old woman her home. City leaders have offered up emergency legislation."

The series references a 2007 series of work by Fred Schulte. You can read more of Schulte's work on the topic below:

"An extensive Victoria Advocate investigation reveals a program started to promote economic development has instead been riddled with poor record-keeping, questionable loan practices, missing documents and virtually no accountability."

The Washington Post takes an in-depth look at the "black budget" which spans over a dozen agencies to make up the National Intelligence Program.

Wilson Andrews and Todd Lindeman use data visualizations to lay out what the $52.6 billion is spent on.

"According to a Los Angeles Times examination of data obtained under the California Public Records Act, Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power has paid thousands of employees a total of $35.5 million since 2010 in extra sick days under an unusual program that the utility's top executive acknowledges has been vulnerable to abuse."

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