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 "pensions" ...

  • Driven Into Debt

    This ongoing series of stories — which started at ProPublica Illinois and later was produced in collaboration with WBEZ — exposed how the city of Chicago’s aggressive and unequal ticketing practices, combined with punitive collections measures, have pushed tens of thousands of mostly black motorists into Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The stories have also examined Chicago’s cottage industry of bankruptcy attorneys who profit off consumers with ticket debt, even as their clients often sink even deeper into debt; the racially disparate consequences of license suspensions for unpaid tickets; and an ill-fated decision to hike the price of what was already one of the most expensive tickets in the city.
  • WAFB: No Apologies Necessary

    A look into the management of the Baton Rouge Police Department under it's current leadership.
  • State Police Troopers, Supervisors Charged in Overtime Scandal

    Dozens of respected members of the Massachusetts State Police are suspended, so far ten have been criminally charged, and the investigations by federal and state prosecutors are continuing with more arrests expected in 2019. All of this is the result of a massive overtime scheme that was uncovered by 5 Investigates, the investigative team at WCVB in Boston. This is a precedent setting scandal that has unfolded in Massachusetts since our initial investigation. The work of 5 Investigates began in 2017 with dozens of public records requests and our first story in October that revealed supervisors and troopers who appeared to be earning thousands of dollars in overtime they never worked. By early 2018, we began to see significant developments -- suspensions, arrests for theft of taxpayer money, and a response from the Governor that resulted in some of the largest reforms within the State Police that Massachusetts has ever seen.
  • ProPublica Illinois: Driven Into Debt

    This series of stories — which started at ProPublica Illinois and later was produced in collaboration with WBEZ — exposed how the city of Chicago’s aggressive and unequal ticketing practices, combined with punitive collections measures, have pushed tens of thousands of mostly black motorists into Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The stories have also examined Chicago’s cottage industry of bankruptcy attorneys who profit off consumers with ticket debt, even as their clients often sink even deeper into debt; the racially disparate consequences of license suspensions for unpaid tickets; and an ill-fated decision to hike the price of what was already one of the most expensive tickets in the city.
  • L.A. Times: Gaming the System: How Cops and Firefighters Cashed In on L.A.’s Pension Program

    More than a thousand aging first responders joined a highly unusual retirement program and then took extended leaves – hundreds were out longer than a year – at twice their usual pay.
  • BuzzFeed News: The NYPD’s Secret Files

    BuzzFeed News reporters Kendall Taggart and Mike Hayes broke open one of the most closely guarded secrets in US policing: how the NYPD, the largest department in the country, allows officers who commit serious offenses to keep their jobs, their pensions, and their immense power over New Yorkers’ lives.
  • How Cash Sent the Portland Housing Market Spinning

    Cash is king in red-hot Portland real estate, representing a full one-third of single-family home sales in 2014. Lee van der Voo’s seven-part series on the Portland housing market has uncovered in stark outline the often-obscured influence of cash from developers, foreign buyers and Wall Street in driving affordable housing from the city. Twenty-six investors who purchased more than 10 homes for cash in the listed market in Multnomah County through the recession. Average Black and Native American households priced out of the city. A publicly traded company that is renting out more than 200 Portland-area homes in a new twist on the asset-securitization that drove the Great Recession. The pension funds of teachers and police officers invested in cash-rich Wall Street landlords who compete on the housing market with the very middle-class professionals whose pensions they hold. With van der Voo’s reporting, an economic crisis that everyone in town talked about but no one could explain was given names, faces and numbers — and a hope of being fixed.
  • Pension Crisis

    Jacksonville’s Police and Fire Pension Fund is in crisis. The fund has about 43 cents available for every dollar promised to its retired police officers and fire fighters. Now $2.88 billion, the multiplying city debt is threatening the city’s financial stability. Bond ratings have been downgraded. City projects have been scuttled. Bankruptcy is feared. The recent recession isn’t the only thing that crippled the fund. Deals done in secret, deals hidden for more than a decade and sweetheart deals that allowed a select few to skirt regulations and retire from public service jobs with hundreds of thousands of extra dollars they weren’t entitled to are also to blame.
  • Guessing Pensions: San Jose's Fuzzy Math

    This year-long investigation exposes the Mayor of San Jose’s repeated use of an exaggerated pension projection to sell a fiscal emergency to voters and negotiate reform with unions. NBC Bay Area uncovered, for nearly a year Mayor Chuck Reed used $650 million as the future projection for city retirement costs. NBC Bay Area reviewed thousands of internal city emails and public documents and uncovered there was no calculation to back up the number. The figure was used to induce deep concessions from union members. NBC Bay Area followed the paper trail and found numerous instances where the number was used in negotiations and instances where the Mayor quoted that projection in national and local newspapers, magazines, speeches and press releases, touting the exaggerated figure as representative of the city’s dire need for pension reform, to avoid fiscal meltdown. As a result of our investigation, The city’s retirement services director abruptly retired. Mayor Reed stopped using the false projection, and a State audit confirmed what NBC Bay Area uncovered. This is part one of more than a dozen reports, focusing on multiple ethics complaints against Mayor Reed and other city officials, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, as well as the developments in the State audit.
  • Brando Beach

    Some of the best investigative stories begin with a question. Public radio journalist Austin Jenkins wondered, why is the Washington State Investment Board contracting with a global security firm to protect its account managers? That led to weeks of digging and sifting through difficult-to-obtain documents. What Jenkins found is that this "under the radar" state agency maintains holdings worth millions of dollars in emerging (and sometimes dangerous) markets all over the world. They include housing projects and shopping centers in Brazil, beach properties in Vietnam, warehouses in Eastern Europe, cement plants in India and grocery stores in Romania. Jenkins found that the state of Washington spent $200 million to build a resort on Marlin Brando's private island in Tahiti. All these exotic investments came about because the Washington State Investment Board is responsible for funding the pensions of 400,000 public sector workers and retirees. The task is so big that a traditional mix of stocks and bonds won't do. So Washington, like a lot of states, seeks out higher risk strategies that can return higher rewards. Washington is now a leader in private equity investments. But Jenkins found that the state agency has few limits on these investments. Critics, including some pensioners, say Washington is chasing profits at the expense of social values. Even leaders at the Investment Board admit that, with $85 billion in assets, the agency doesn’t have the staff to police every investment.