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Audit shows Miss. rural water association plagued by financial problems

An audit of the North Lee County Water Association in Mississippi turned up widespread financial management problems, including violations of several state and federal laws, the Daily Journal (Tupelo, MS) reports.

The audit, which is likely “the most rigorous examination ever” of the nonprofit cooperative's financial records, comes on the heels of a $1.2 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Administration.

While copies of the audit are required to be available for public inspection, the water association did not comply with state law.

The association has been plagued with problems, according to the Daily Journal.

Rust-colored water and frequent boil notices have been part of North Lee’s water quality problems for years. In October 2011, all board members resigned amid allegations of misconduct and falsifying water reports. Former North Lee manager Dan Durham pleaded guilty in federal court in 2012 to falsifying the water reports and received probation.

Read the story here.

“Six nonprofit groups arose on the Bering Sea shore, and they have invested mightily in ships, real estate and processing plants. Over two decades, the groups amassed a combined net worth of $785 million. But the results on the ground, in rural community and economic development, have been deeply uneven, and nonexistent for many people who still gaze out to the blinking lights of the factory ships and wonder what happened," reports Investigate West.

Readers can search information about the ownership of more than 100,000 offshore entities in tax havens and discover the networks around them in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists' Offshore Leaks Database.

Millions of dollars in questionable contracts, public funds used to pay for work that was apparently never completed and a high ranking state employee signing off on the whole sordid mess in violation of Virginia law.”

CNN Senior Investigative Producer Scott Zamost and Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin reveal that money spent on a $54.5 million anti-violence program in Chicago paid for teens to hand out fliers, go to museums, yoga class and march in a parade with the governor. The program was announced the month before Quinn was elected.

Welcome to IRE's roundup of the weekend’s many enterprise stories from around the country. We’ll highlight the document digging, field work and data
analysis that made their way into centerpieces in print, broadcast and online from coast to coast.

Did we miss some? Let us know.  Send us an email at or tweet to @IRE_NICAR. We’ll add it to the list and spread the word.

Uncounted Casualties
The Austin American-Statesman
Scores of recent Texas war veterans have died of overdoses, suicide and vehicle crashes, a six-month Statesman investigation finds.

Majority of third-strike inmates are addicts, records show
Center for Investigative Reporting 
Convicts imprisoned under California’s three strikes law are no more inclined to high-risk "criminal thinking” than other inmates, but are far more likely to be addicted to drugs and alcohol, according to data from the state prisons department. 

A Betryal of Trust
The Arizona Republic
In more than 400 instances, victims of sexual assault turned to the Maricopa County Sherriff's Office, trusting detectives with wrenching details in pursuit of protection and justice. In some cases, the Sherriff's Office did little or nothing. Only now is the full impact of that inaction coming to light, as The Republic reveals what victims characterize as a betrayal of trust.

Port Authority: What's a port authority, anyway?
Investigative Newsource
Developers have drooled for years over the Port of San Diego’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. But each new idea — most with a football stadium attached — has been beaten back by those who believe a rare, deep water port should remain — just that.Today, Port Authority, the latest I-Newsource/KPBS investigation, tackles the question: Are we getting the biggest bang for our considerable bucks at that terminal?

Lax controls leave Michigan's ex-cons free to kill 

The Detroit Free Press
As the Michigan Department of Corrections searches for ways to manage its nearly $2-billion budget, it is releasing ex-cons into the community who are
committing a growing number of violent crimes, a Free Press investigation found.

Joseph Merlino: The mobster next door
The Miami Herald
A Mafia icon from Philadelphia has settled in Boca Raton, fresh out of prison. Miami Herald reporter Julie K. Brown examines what he might be up to now.

High-stakes tests, low-level security
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The latest installment of the paper’s coverage of school’s reveals that more cheating scandals are most likely inevitable, because states cannot ensure the integrity of their tests.

How clout keeps court cases secret
The Chicago Tribune
Cook County judges routinely have hidden hundreds of cases from public view since 2000, sealing lawsuits involving a famous chef, millionaire businessmen and even other judges

Blue Line protects off-duty cops behind the wheel
Buffalo News
Police also call it ‘professional courtesy’ - forgiving the infractions committed by one of their own. It typically involves speeding, but officers can get a pass for erratic or impaired driving as well. Professional courtesy can extend to the close relatives of police officers, and to the prosecutors, judges and politicians who are part of the system.

Agent Orange’s Lasting Effects
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Chemical still damaging lives of those exposed, their families

Home, Foreclosed Home
Salem Statesman Journal
The ripple effect in our community from the housing market collapse affects local residents in traditional and unexpected ways that will linger for years. The Statesman Journal examines those effects in a five-part series.

Elusive Evergreen State Professor Found In Chile
KUOW Puget Sound

A former Evergreen State College professor in Washington State has evaded efforts to collect the $120,000 fine against him.  KUOW found the man, Jorge Gilbert, working for Universidad ARCIS in Santiago, Chile.

"An investigation by Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) in the Upper Turgeau region of Port-au-Prince discovered that about 100 “transitional shelters” ­­– often called “T-Shelters” –were donated to earthquake victims and built in places where, prior to the 2010 catastrophe, there were trees, bushes, or at the very least, no houses."

"Today, thanks to the donations of the 12-by-18 square meter wooden shacks, an illegal slum has grown, and the slopes above Port-au-Prince are even more denuded."

"Taxpayers in Colorado's largest school districts have spent more than $5.8 million during the past five years to subsidize the activities of local teachers unions.

The expenses resulted from years of agreements that require tax money to pay for everything from full-time union leaders' salaries and benefits to providing leave for some teachers to attend union conferences, a Denver Post analysis of the 20 largest school districts with collective-bargaining contracts found."

Two women who worked for the Department of Workforce Services conspired to create a list of undocumented immigrants who were receiving state assistance. Leah Carson was reluctant at first but was eventually convinced by her co-worker, Teresa Bassett to help create the list. Bassett's intent was to hand the list over to immigration officials. The women were caught and fired after the list was released. Carson stepped forward to work with investigators and admitted her mistakes. Bassett has been less willing to cooperate.

This report by The News Leader reveals that the Valley Community Services Board offered top dollar to a job candidate with no mental health experience. The board was facing a $1.8 million budget gap, though still wanted to pay $162,000 to hire an executive director. The proposed salary is just slightly less than "the head of the state's biggest community services board," as revealed through a Freedom of Information Act request. The VCSB chairwoman, who is married to Waynesboro Mayor Frank Lucente, recommended the new executive director. The community of Waynesboro also "contributes to Valley CSB's budget."

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