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 "local governments" ...

  • WSJ: When Wall Street Flips Municipal Bonds, Towns and Schools Pay the Price

    A yearlong investigation uncovered how Wall Street firms profit and local governments often lose out when they sell bonds in the municipal market. The Wall Street Journal combined sources to create an unprecedented database of municipal bond trades to show how the securities firms governments pay to sell their debt routinely underprice those bonds, unload them with very little risk, then often buy them back at higher prices. Those not bought back also run up in price as other securities firms snap them up and resell them.
  • 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.
  • The New Food Economy and The Intercept: Amazon employees and the safety net

    As food stamps go online in the coming years, Amazon is poised to collect a large proportion of sales from the $70-billion program. Yet our investigation found that in at least five states, the company's own employees are disproportionately reliant on the program to feed their families. We framed these findings in contrast to the vast subsidies states and local governments provide the company in exchange for "good" jobs. Months before the conclusion of Amazon’s HQ2 search prompted mainstream outlets to wonder whether or not the company’s presence really benefits the communities that compete to host its operations, our reporting revealed that taxpayers subsidize Amazon's expansion every step of the way. It remains to be seen whether or not those investments pay off.
  • The Journal by KLC: Ogallala Aquifer

    This 7,000-word story by investigative reporter Karen Dillon outlines why it's so difficult for farmers, state officials and local governments to slow the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, a vital economic resource for western Kansas. It is based on water-use data acquired through a state open records request. The information helps illustrate the scale of aquifer's depletion and who is most responsible. The Journal is the first publication to our knowledge that has used public records to detail the 150 largest users of the aquifer's groundwater over the past 13 years. This list serves an important public interest since groundwater belongs to the people of Kansas under state law.
  • The Center for Public Integrity: Wireless Wars: The Fight Over 5G

    One of the largest deployments of wireless technology in decades is occurring as telecommunications companies erect a new network of small cells to support the next generation of wireless communications called 5G. The problem, however, brings these small cells into neighborhoods and business districts, unlike the larger towers seen along highways and in fields far from centers of population. And with it, resistance from citizens. The clash pits telecoms, which want to ease regulations to reduce costs, against local governments and their residents, who want to control the look and placement of the cells and defend revenue and public property rights. The Center reports on how the telecoms are relying on money and tried-and-true relationships with politicians and regulators to get their way. And they are winning.
  • Shrinking Shores

    The Naples Daily News explored the state of Florida’s beaches, and how little the state invests in this important asset at a time when development is allowed at a rapid pace. The project found the lack of investment has resulted in much of the state’s coastline receding and local governments are burdened with managing erosion. Even though beaches generate billions annually for the state in tourism-related sales taxes, Florida's lawmakers and governors typically return less than $1 to the shore each year for every $100 they take. Part 1: http://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/special-reports/2016/11/11/shrinking-shores-how-florida-leaders-failing-states-famous-beaches/92052156/
  • Immigrant Children Uncounted

    Japanese local governments fail to track school enrollments of more than ten thousand children with foreign nationality, while Japanese-national counterparts were fully cared to attend school, Kyodo News investigation found. Although all uncounted children are not necessarily out of education, the figure alarms that the government's discriminatory treatment of immigrant children violates the International Human Right Law.
  • Tobacco Debt: How Cash From Big Tobacco Went From Boon to Burden

    A landmark 1998 settlement with Big Tobacco awarded states billions of dollars a year to offset the health-care costs of smoking. But what seemed like a boon quickly became a debt trap for many state and local governments when they used it to promise investors billions in the future in exchange for cash advances.
  • BOOM - North America's Explosive Oil-by-Rail Problem

    Emergency orders, safety alerts and sweeping regulatory proposals gave the public the sense that Washington responded appropriately after a train filled with North Dakota oil killed 47 and destroyed the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic in July 2013—but the report shows that 18 months later little has changed and the regulatory process has failed. The story documents the extent to which the regulation of train cars is left almost entirely to the industry. And it matters now because of the massive increase in explosive cargo from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That fuel is rich in volatile natural gas liquids. If a railcar ruptures—and if some of the gas comes into contact with the outside air and a spark occurs—the railcar will explode and act as a blow torch on the car next to it. With each car carrying roughly 30,000 gallons of oil, a single, 100-car train can haul as much as 3 million gallons of oil. Among the key findings about the lack of federal regulation: not enough government inspectors; little oversight of railroad bridges; state and local governments can’t independently assess the condition of local rail infrastructure; and meager penalties.
  • An Inside Track

    A groundbreaking investigation by Dallas Morning News reporters Ed Timms and Kevin Krause exposed questionable practices by a nonprofit agency created by local governments in part to avoid public scrutiny of the certification process for minority- and woman-owned businesses.. The reporters and their newspaper fought a lengthy legal battle for more than a year that resulted in a strong legal precedent that may deter other governments from trying to circumvent open records law by forming nonprofits. The investigation revealed that the local governments had relied on a temporary employment firm had operated the nonprofit agency for more than a decade. Employees of that private firm certified their own company as a minority-owned business, even as it won millions in contracts from those same governments. The employees also decided whether their company's competitors and subcontractors got certified. It also disclosed that the company, and other contractors, failed to adequately screen temporary employees provided to Dallas County.