Date:Feb. 9, 19, March 20, Aug. 20, 22, Oct. 12-13, 19, 31, 2003
When Oscar Corral of the Miami Herald began questioning the location of parking lots being built by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), he quickly realized something was "seriously awry with the CRA's management." The nearly year-long investigation that followed centered on Overtown, one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods -- and discovered "a pattern of mismanagement, questionable spending decisions and failed projects. The result: The community has virtually nothing to show for $70 million in spending over the past decade," and the neighborhood "remains a near-wasteland of poverty and substandard housing." The primary program charged with "revitalizing the neighborhood" spent millions of dollars, but "completed only five of 36 proposed projects and has not pushed a single housing initiative." What's more, back-door dealings resulted in dubious contracts being awarded, some of which were never fulfilled despite the CRA paying for them -- and the nepotism even included the hiring of a former prostitute and thief to run errands for the CRA chairman. More than 50 interviews with frequently elusive sources, along with numerous documents and computer-assisted analyses of databases including enforcement cases, delinquent loans, property records and building demolitions, went into getting the stories -- which resulted in city, state, and FBI investigations into the CRA.