Stories

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

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "city leaders" ...

  • Information Roadblock

    This story outlines the push-back we received from city leaders when we tried to obtain emails that might explain why and how a city council member tried to closed off a public street at the request of a Homeowners Association in an affluent neighborhood without notifying, or getting any input from the residents in the adjoining subdivision. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiZO3Ctg-0M&feature=youtu.be
  • Stolen Wages

    In the last eight years both the Washington Legislature and the Seattle City Council passed laws to address wage theft, which happens when employers withhold wages or deny benefits rightfully owed to an employee. It’s a misdemeanor under city and state law. And yet in hundreds of cases annually, InvestigateWest learned, Washington fails to retrieve workers’ shorted wages. Meanwhile, the city ordinance has yet to bring about even a single prosecution of employers who withhold pay. The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has sped up wage complaint investigations over the past several years, yet four in 10 cases take longer than the legally mandated 60 days. And the department collects less than $6 out of every $10 it says workers are owed, an analysis of state records by InvestigateWest found. These shortfalls reported by InvestigateWest threaten to undermine a flagship achievement of worker advocates and Seattle city leadership: the new $15-an-hour city minimum wage that will begin to go into effect this year.
  • At Your Discretion: KCRA Investigates City Spending

    What if you were given permission to spend money however you wanted with little oversight? A KCRA investigation found that Sacramento's city council and mayor were given permission to do just that to the tune of millions of dollars through their elected terms. KCRA asked under the Public Records Act for discretionary spending accounts for the city of Sacramento's leaders. What we found instead was that the council and mayor have no line item budgeting. Instead they are given hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to spend on whatever they want, from personnel to face painting in the park.
  • Homes for the Taking: Liens, Loss and Profiteers.

    In the nation’s capital, predatory investors took hundreds of homes from the elderly and poor over tax debts as small as $44 in a devastating series of foreclosures unchecked by city leaders. In 2013, The Washington Post launched an unprecedented investigation of the District of Columbia’s century-old tax-lien program, finding investors who routinely tacked on thousands in fees to tax bills, turning $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts and making it impossible for families to save their homes. A 95-year-old church choir leader lost her house while she was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. So did a flower shop owner in a coma. “Homes for the Taking” outraged the District like few other scandals in years, with city leaders immediately approving reforms to protect the city’s most vulnerable homeowners.
  • Waldo Canyon Fire tragedy

    On either June 22 or 23, the Waldo Canyon Fire ignited on U.S. forest land a few miles west of Colorado Springs. On June 26, it surged into the city, killing two people and destroying 345 homes. In print stories and blog posts between July 4 and Dec. 19, the Colorado Springs Independent delved into how city government responded to the fire — first as a threat, then as a crisis. Our findings suggest that an event city leaders have often described simply as unpredictably “epic” was actually made more dangerous and devastating by their own shortcomings of preparation and organization.
  • District of Columbia tax office scandal

    The District of Columbia struck an unprecedented number of deals behind closed doors this year with prominent commercial property owners who had appealed their tax assessments, reducing the city's tax base by $2.6 billion. The settlements were kept from the public for months until The Washington Post started mining public records and filing FOIAs, which the city routinely denied until the newspaper's lawyers got involved. The Post also learned that city leaders had kept critical internal audits about the tax office in "draft" format to prevent their release under FOIA. Through sources, The Post obtained the undisclosed reports -- along with a dozen other audits that had been kept from public view -- and published the findings for the first time. The series prompted the City Council to change the law to require the tax office to immediately make public all of its reports -- bringing a new level of transparency to a once secretive agency. The Securities and Exchange Commission also launched a probe to see if the city had kept critical findings from audits used to determine bond ratings. The inquiry is ongoing.
  • Crime Data Investigation

    The initial story in the crime data investigation found that from 2009 to early 2012 the Milwaukee Police Department misreported more than 500 aggravated assaults as lesser offenses not counted in the city’s violent crime tally. More than 800 additional cases followed the same pattern but couldn’t be verified with available records. Subsequent stories found police underreported aggravated assaults even when their own officers were severely injured; police clerks routinely changed dangerous weapon codes to generic ones in a way that allowed violent assaults to be underreported — and escape FBI scrutiny; the FBI’s crime auditing process is a fig leaf — metro police departments are rarely audited, and even then the sample sizes are too small to draw meaningful conclusions; Milwaukee police knew they misreported rapes and robberies, but didn’t mention this to city leaders or the public; high-ranking department officials raised red flags internally for years that there were problems but the public only heard a drumbeat that crime was down. In addition to these major installments, Poston and Diedrich wrote nearly two dozen follow-up stories that documented the fallout.
  • D.C. Tax Office Scandal

    The District of Columbia struck an unprecedented number of deals behind closed doors this year with prominent commercial property owners who had appealed their tax assessments, reducing the city's tax base by $2.6 billion. The settlements were kept from the public for months until The Washington Post started mining public records and filing FOIAs, which the city routinely denied until the newspaper's lawyers got involved. The Post also learned that city leaders had kept critical internal audits about the tax office in "draft" format to prevent their release under FOIA. Through sources, The Post obtained the undisclosed reports -- along with a dozen other audits that had been kept from public view -- and published the findings for the first time. The series prompted the City Council to change the law to require the tax office to immediately make public all of its reports -- bringing a new level of transparency to a once secretive agency. The Securities and Exchange Commission also launched a probe to see if the city had kept critical findings from audits used to determine bond ratings. The inquiry is ongoing.
  • Phoenix Kidnappings: Uncovering the truth

    "For years Phoenix has been called the kidnapping capital of the U.S. Police, city leaders and politicians blamed it on the border, citing 2008 statistics that claimed there were 358 kidnappings that occurred in the city. However, KNXV's investigation uncovered the statistics used were inaccurate."
  • New Visions of Vine Street

    Investigation of how city leaders and concerned citizens are trying to revitalize the urban core of Cincinnati, Ohio. The investigation began in 2001 following race riots in Cincinnati. An hourlong documentary aired in 2001 sparked changes and initiatives to revitalize Vine Street. This new documentary shows what has happened in the past five years.