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 [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "public records" ...

  • Below The Radar

    Mario Diaz exposed several of air traffic controllers returning to FAA towers or control centers with little or no accountability shortly after being a contributing factor to a deadly crash. As detailed in the series of “Below The Radar” reports, these crashes resulted in 104 deaths. The litigation produced from several of these crashes came at a steep price to American taxpayers. Diaz uncovered public records (Department of Treasury and Federal judgements) indicating that the Federal Government made either verdict or settlement payments in excess of $100-million dollars to the estate of the victims --- including the estate of the pilots involved in these crashes.
  • Police Informants

    The NYPD released, for the first time, data about how much it pays police informants and for what sorts of crimes. The original public records request and appeal was outright rejected by the NYPD and the writer was unable to finance a court action as a freelancer, so she applied for legal assistance via a pro bono clearinghouse operated by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The media law firm Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz agreed to take up the case and filed a lawsuit against the NYPD on her behalf, resulting in an out-of-court settlement for the data she sought, more than two years after filing her original records request.
  • 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.
  • Payday California

    After California taxpayers discovered the tiny town of Bell had been paying enormous and illegal salaries to officials there, many people asked: How did we miss this for so long? That’s when The Center for Investigative Reporting set out to create the most comprehensive database in the country of local government salaries. Although these salaries are public records, most taxpayers know little about whether the paychecks for city and county officials are fair. No statewide standards govern how local pay is set, leaving the public in the dark about whether their city managers, for example, are paid appropriately for the job and the community. With Payday California, CIR skillfully put into context the $40 billion a year that California cities and counties spend on their employees.
  • Boeing’s Lobbying Campaign

    “Boeing’s Lobbying Campaign" uses public records to trace how The Boeing Co.’s lobbying killed a long-overdue correction to an obscure but important formula used to determine how much water pollution is allowed under the Clean Water Act. The lobbying by a Boeing senior executive, InvestigateWest showed, reached all the way to Gov. Christine Gregoire. After the Washington Department of Ecology had withstood challenges to its plans to tighten the water-pollution rules from the powerful timber and business industries during the 2012 legislative session, Boeing had the juice to quietly short-circuit those plans a few months later. The company went around Ecology to the governor, as InvestigateWest’s timeline of documents and emails made clear. Our reporting was carried in newspapers around the state, sparking reporting and editorials by other news organizations on the previously low-profile issue. Environmentalists also cited the series in a lawsuit against the EPA. Because we elevated this issue into public consciousness, reporters were all over the story when Boeing again tried to delay the changes in the 2013 legislative session, nearly causing a government shutdown. A new draft rule tightening the standards is due out in March 2014.
  • Mello-Roos: The tax you choose

    This multi-media, interactive series is about a special tax Californians pay without thought or question. It amassed $200 million last year in San Diego County. There are loose spending guidelines, but it is a virtual ATM for local governments. The Mello-Roos tax -- named after the two legislators who created it -- takes a vote of one person, most often a developer, to enact. Accountability is almost nonexistent. inewsource spent a year peeling back the layers of Mello-Roos in a way that had not been done in the 30 years that the tax existed. We gathered tax data on nearly one million properties in San Diego County, mapped it and made it interactive so homeowners could participate in the quest for accountability. We pored through thousands of pages of invoices to follow the spending. We filed dozens of public records requests. Our investigation revealed mistakes in tax bills (some homeowners paying as much as $6,000 a year too much), systemic inequities and lack of oversight. Our work launched a city audit (ongoing), exposed a school district’s inappropriate use of funds, and prompted that same district to launch a website for homeowners so they could verify the accuracy of their tax bills. Most importantly, the series spurred homeowners to take action, demanding answers and transparency from their elected officials.
  • DCS Under Fire

    DCS Under Fire is a collection of stories representing WREG’s coverage of problems at the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Our team began an in-depth investigation into the child welfare agency more than a year ago. The very agency charged with protecting the state’s most vulnerable had kids dying on its watch. We exposed unexplained deaths, questionable actions by case workers as well as failed technology and policies. Our continuous coverage raised concerns from parents, advocates and lawmakers. Since the start of our investigation, and later a court battle for access to public records, DCS has overhauled its staff and changed a number of policies and procedures to better protect children in its care.
  • Lifting a Cloak of Secrecy

    The Los Angeles Times and Californians Aware waged a successful, year-long battle to pry loose public records surrounding the fate of the taxpayer-owned L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
  • Money, Power and Transit

    This ongoing inewsource investigation into a public transit system that serves 12 million passengers a year by bus and rail exposed perils to public safety, mismanagement of millions of public dollars and perhaps most egregious: enduring bureaucratic arrogance in the face of public scrutiny. Over the course of a year, inewsource produced more than 30 stories, radio broadcasts, TV features, and interviews. We experimented with new levels of transparency in our reporting and storytelling. We spent thousands of dollars pursuing public information and battling regular retraction demands. The series drew from a multitude of inside sources, leaked documents, hard-fought public records, emails, and other materials to unearth the truth about what’s going wrong inside the San Diego’s North County Transit District. Our stories have drawn intense fire from the district’s legal department — all the while those responsible to the taxpayers and the transit riders have consistently refused to respond to interview requests or to answer specific written questions.
  • Public Service, Private Benefit

    This two-year-long investigation by AP reporter Mike Baker focuses on a Washington state retirement system for law enforcement officers and firefighters, exploring how some retirees managed to spike their pension values with late raises, how exorbitant medical expenses in the system are hampering local governments, how extreme numbers of disability retirements are costing the government tax revenue, and how some have been able to secure retire-rehire deals despite state efforts to stop such arrangements. The series is based on more than 100 public records requests, many dozens of interviews, the analysis of more than 30 government datasets and the review of thousands of pages of government emails, meeting notes, contracts and actuarial reports. Lawmakers, state officials and a pension oversight board have all taken action in response to the AP series, and the state Legislature is expected to consider alterations to the system during the 2014 session. Leaders in the state retirement system have conducted a variety of audits targeting the cases identified in AP’s stories and are now seeking to collect overpayments and recalculate benefits for some of those former workers. State officials believe they can collect or save nearly $1 million as a result of investigations completed so far, and the state expects to announce additional enforcement actions in the coming months.