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 "fees" ...

  • WUFT: Cost of Sunshine

    Public record requests of various county and local governments were made in an effort to determine the number of public record requests received by each governmental unit, the cost to provide access to the requested records, the fees recovered from requestors, and copies of agency public record access policies. Those governmental units not audited received a survey designed to obtain the same information sought in the public record requests. Public record requests included all county constitutional officers in nine Florida counties as well as the city clerk in the county seat. County constitutional officers include the state attorney; sheriff; clerk of court; tax collector; property appraiser; supervisor of elections; public defender; and school superintendent. Counties were chosen based on geographic and population diversity. Six state agencies were also included: Executive Office of Governor, Attorney General,Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Department of Financial Services, Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
  • Texas Observer: Access Denied

    The Texas Public Information Act is under attack. The law, which ensures the public’s access to government records, has taken a beating from state Supreme Court jurists, lawmakers and state agencies since it was passed in 1973. Once a shining example of government transparency, the law has been eroded by a growing list of loopholes for everything from ongoing police investigations and the dates of birth of government employees to information related to executions. Journalists are well aware of this problem, but it had never been presented to the public in a deep-dive feature until now. “Access Denied” reveals that government officials can delay, derail and deny requests by slow-walking them or charging exorbitant fees. This piece was reported over six months and included interviews with dozens of government officials, investigative journalists, citizen activists and researchers.
  • Fox45: What Transparency Looks Like

    Baltimore is a city in crisis. Its murder rate is the highest in the nation. Its school system is among the lowest performing. For decades, its government has hidden behind a culture of secrecy and corruption. More than one year ago, Fox45 decided it had enough and challenged the status quo. On behalf of students, parents and taxpayers, Fox45 took the drastic step of suing Baltimore’s $1.4 billion school system - one of the nation’s largest. In the fall of 2017, when City Schools denied the entirety of a Project Baltimore public records request concerning the results of an internal grade changing investigation, Fox45 sued the school board. That internal investigation stemmed from a series of Fox45 reports which exposed a culture of grade fixing and pushing students through a broken school system. To date, Fox45 has accrued more than $100,000 in legal fees. But, so far, City Schools has been forced to capitulate. Bit by bit, over the year, they have handed over more than 10,000 pages of documents. And our fight is not over yet. The trial is scheduled for February 11. When it concludes, Fox45 will take another drastic step and send a strong message by filing a motion to recuperate our legal fees from Baltimore City Public Schools. “What Transparency Looks Like” was produced by Project Baltimore, a team of Fox45 journalists committed to a long-term investigation into Baltimore area schools.
  • CBS News: National Flood Insurance Mismanagement

    Our EXCLUSIVE six-month CBS News investigation uncovered serious fiscal mismanagement in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA. Today, that program is 25 billion dollars in the red. We found that as storm victims struggle to rebuild, much of FEMA’s money that could pay homeowners claims actually goes to private insurance companies and legal fees to fight flood victims’ claims. Based on a review of thousands documents related to claims, lawsuits and FOIA requests, private government contractors are getting rich at the expense of desperate flood victims.
  • California Prosecution Fees

    The Desert Sun uncovered how residents of three cities in the Coachella Valley were being billed massive fees that paid for private attorneys the city had contracted to go after the residents' for minor city code violations. Petty offenses, like having a messy yard or hanging a Halloween decoration on a street light, led to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars being demanded of the residents. If they couldn't pay, liens were assessed. Following the reporting, the cities stopped the practice, state lawmakers made it illegal in California and a class-action lawsuit led to at least one city refunding the residents.
  • It Doesn't Make Cents: Hidden 529 Fees

    A tiny number can make a huge difference in how much you "pay to save" using government-sponsored 529 college savings plans. The D.C. government scrambled to completely overhaul its 529 program after the News 4 I-Team found D.C. residents pay thousands more in fees than parents in neighboring states. The team created a special "529 Calculator" that lets parents type in the age of their child, how much they make and where they live to see a side-by-side comparison of how much they could save in each 529 plan in our region...and how much they end up paying in hidden fees. The seemingly simple mobile-friendly design belies an incredibly complex back-end formula, making it the only calculator of its kind available anywhere on the internet. This calculator helped the team definitively show D.C. parents were getting a raw deal - prompting the D.C. Treasurer's office to fire the plan's administrator and award a new contract less than six weeks after the initial investigation aired - saving D.C. parents hundreds of thousands of dollars previously wasted on hidden and unnecessary fees. Story #1: http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Avoiding-High-529-Fees-Navigating-College-Savings-Plan-Pitfalls-397010181.html Story #2: http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/DC-Council-Demands-Action-on-College-Savings-Plans-After-I-Team-Report-401179346.html Story #3: http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/DC-Announces-New-Administrator-for-College-Savings-Plans-407522785.html
  • Bonds & Fees

    Amarillo had a November election that included seven bond issues. The city council also decided to increase water fees over a five-year period. This story explores the total cost to tax payers if all the bonds pass and all the water fees go into effect.
  • Amarillo Economic Development Corporation Travel Expenses

    This series looks at travel expenses from the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) during a three-year period. The AEDC is mostly funded with taxpayer money with the Amarillo city council approving the almost $2 million operating budget. The findings include luxury hotel expenses, purchases of alcohol, meals at high-end restaurants, late check-out fees and rounds of golf. Some receipts were hand-written, unreadable or not itemized. There is little to no oversight of these expenses either by the organization or the city. The AEDC has no “written” policies on travel and the president approves his own expenses. Many of the meals, trips and rounds of golf are considered an investment, but there is no record of who attended because the AEDC says the deals are confidential. The organization has existed for 26 years but has brought in 34 businesses during that time to Amarillo.
  • Robin Hood in Reverse

    An investigation of Ohio’s eight largest public universities found that with one exception, trustees and administrators imposed hidden fees on thousands of working-class students to subsidize money-losing athletic departments while allowing academic spending to nosedive.
  • Smoked Out

    A CBC Edmonton investigation revealed the process for selecting a legal consortium to represent the province of Alberta in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against the tobacco industry had been manipulated. The lawsuit, the largest in the government’s history, is worth potentially billions of dollars to the province’s coffers and hundreds of millions of dollars in contingency fees for the legal consortium. The manipulation allowed now-former premier Alison Redford the opportunity to choose a consortium to which she had close personal and political ties.