Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "cellular phones" ...

  • KC Government gabfest runs up taxpayers' bill. Oversight of cell phones is lax

    The Kansas City Star found that employee abuse of city cellular phones and inadequate monitoring by City Hall is costing Kansas City taxpayers thousands of dollars. Municipal employees and council members used city cell phones to make personal calls. Using the state's Sunshine Law, the newspaper obtained a summary of city cell phone expenses.
  • Guns, Money and Cell Phones

    The Industry Standard reports that the demand for an ore called columbite-tantalite -- or coltan -- is helping to fuel the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When refined, coltan becomes tantalum, a highly heat-resistant metal powder that is a key component in everything from mobile phones to computer chips and VCR's. As the demand for these products has increased, "a new, more sinister market began flourishing in the ...Congo. There, warring groups - many funded and supplied by neighboring Rwanda and Uganda - are exploiting coltan mining to help finance a bloody civil war now in its third year." Although selling coltan is not illegal, a United Nations report in April suggested that thousands of tons of coltan had been smuggled from the Congo into Rwanda and Uganda, and may have eventually made it to the U.S. companies that use the material. For their part, these companies have no way of knowing whether the tantalum they use is helping to finance the civil war. Another side effect of the coltan trade: mining activity is especially big in the mountainous northeastern region of the Congo, where endangered gorillas live.
  • Supervisors keep in touch -- at a cost to taxpayers

    A Des Moines Register investigation revealed that Polk County Supervisors took their taxpayer-provided cell phones on vacations and used them "to make personal calls, often at the cost of $1 per minute."
  • You Pay, They Play: Computer-Assisted Reporting

    WKMG-TV shows how computer-assisted reporting can uncover misdeeds of government employees. The investigation finds some state employees used cellular phones for personal calls, abused e-mail and online privileges and sold pornography.
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    The soaring popularity of cellular phones in California is so straining on the 911 system that people who use a cell phone to report an emergency are forced to wait on hold up to 15 minutes. Tens of thousands of cell 911 callers in the Bay Area alone hang up in frustration before ever reaching a dispatcher. And motorists who use roadside callboxes fare even worse, languishing up to 23 minutes waiting for somebody to pick up the phone. (September 1, 1996)
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    The spending by the Newark City Council and city clerk are unparalleled in cities larger or smaller. They are also among the nation's highest paid elected municipal officials and their budgets provide for lavish expenses for flowers, lunches, travel and cellular phones in one of the nation's poorest cities. The Star-Ledger investigates how meanwhile, the council's legislative record is marked by missed deadlines and inaction. (Dec. 29, 1996)
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    WFTS-TV investigated cellular telephone use by Hilsborough County commissioners and employees. The investigation found certain commissioners were exteemely found of using their cellular phones. Cellular phone use by the county had exceeded budget forcasts and was much higher than even the county officials knew. (July 28, 1995)
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    Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wa.) reports on the exploding use of cellular phones by city officials; finds that taxpayers are paying for calls to pizza parlors, real estate offices and officials' families, March 28, 1993.
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    Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, Wash.) finds that the county government installed 48 cellular phones in the automobiles of employees; the phones were superfluous and expensive, with the employees using the phones for personal business; the program was not monitored or audited for misuse, Oct. 24, 1992.
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    San Francisco Chronicle reports on the secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which includes the state's Highway Patrol, Motor Vehicles, Transportation and Commerce divisions; documents his abuse of the highway patrol and his use of state tax dollars on cellular phones, lavish offices and furniture, all at a time when the state is in financial straits, September - December 1992.