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" ...

  • The brief reign of Frederico Talley at Frederick Community College

    On Jan. 3, 2013, Frederick Community College first black president, Frederico "FJ" Talley mysteriously departed the post he'd held for only six months. As one of the highest paid educators in the county, Talley's role at the college was an important one as the county--on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.,--continues to transition from a rural outpost to an economic contender for jobs and industry.
  • Chronic Condition

    Parkland Memorial Hospital is one of the largest public hospitals in the nation and the safety net for thousands of poor and minority patients in North Texas. But a multiyear investigation by The Dallas Morning News revealed systemic patient harm and prompted a federal crackdown that threatened to close Parkland.
  • Labyrinth: Reardon staff linked to harassment, surveillance

    Our stories traced a maze of social media attack sites and anonymous public records requests to staff in the Snohomish County (Wash.) Executive's Office. It took us three years of reporting to reach that point. Our initial investigation and subsequent stories revealed a scheme of political payback against perceived rivals of the executive, the county's top elected official. A week after we published our first story, the executive announced he would leave office. He stepped down a few months later.
  • Going Postal – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap

    CBRE Group. Inc. is a commercial real estate corporation which is chaired by Richard C. Blum, who is the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. In 2011, the United States Postal Service (USPS) awarded CBRE an exclusive contract to sell off postal real estate in cities and towns across America. Based upon examining hundreds of public records, Going Postal reported that CBRE has sold more than $200 million worth of post office real estate at under fair market values, often to the firm's clients and business partners. CBRE's contract with the USPS requires the company to obtain fair market prices for properties that it brokers on behalf of the public and to avoid such conflicts of interest.
  • Failures in the Golden State

    The Department of Toxic Substances Control oversees or has some part in regulating everything from nail polish ingredients to oil refineries, radioactive waste to metal recycling in California. At the heart of our series is the story of a department that’s divided, dysfunctional, and ineffective in fulfilling its mission to protect public health and the environment of the Golden State. We sifted through hundreds of pages of reports, memos, reviews, manifests and legal claims. We also analyzed thousands of records in the department’s hazardous waste tracking system to find out that more than 40% of the hazardous waste manifests in the DTSC’s database contain inaccurate information or are missing key details. Our reporting has held leaders accountable at the DTSC and compelled state lawmakers to call for an investigation of the department, including a legislative hearing this month (January 2014). Through a series of public records requests, we found out some of the department’s top leaders were investing in companies the DTSC oversees. Our reporting into the potential financial conflicts of interest prompted an investigation into deputy director Odette Madriago by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Ms. Madriago resigned from her position six weeks after our report aired. The FPPC investigation remains ongoing.
  • 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.
  • Spotlight on Shaken-Baby Syndrome

    The Medill Justice Project, through the hard-hitting reporting of student journalists, has taken on a largely overlooked and misunderstood area of the criminal justice system: shaken-baby syndrome. Scores of mothers, fathers, day care workers and other caregivers throughout the United States are being accused of violently shaking children, despite an emotionally charged debate in medical circles about the accuracy of the diagnosis. Our relentless examination of this issue—through published investigative articles, breaking stories, fight for public records, motions in federal court, multimedia features and other stories—has provided a deeper, nuanced understanding of this complex subject. Our groundbreaking investigations into shaken-baby syndrome have uncovered revelatory information, influenced criminal justice proceedings, impacted public policy and challenged government agencies to abide by the First Amendment.
  • Going Postal – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband sells post offices to his friends, cheap

    CBRE Group. Inc. is a commercial real estate corporation which is chaired by Richard C. Blum, who is the husband of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. In 2011, the United States Postal Service (USPS) awarded CBRE an exclusive contract to sell off postal real estate in cities and towns across America. Based upon examining hundreds of public records, Going Postal reported that CBRE has sold more than $200 million worth of post office real estate at under fair market values, often to the firm's clients and business partners. CBRE's contract with the USPS requires the company to obtain fair market prices for properties that it brokers on behalf of the public and to avoid such conflicts of interest.
  • Police Cell Phone Surveillance

    The National Security Agency isn't the only government entity secretly collecting data from people's cellphones. The joint USA TODAY Network investigation found that local police are increasingly scooping it up, too. Armed with new technologies, including mobile devices that tap into cellphone data in real time, dozens of local and state police agencies are capturing information about thousands of cellphone users at a time, whether they are targets of an investigation or not, according to public records obtained by USA TODAY and Gannett newspapers and TV stations across the U.S. The records, from more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, reveal about one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a "tower dump," which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones. We also found that at least 25 police departments own a Stingray, a suitcase-size device that costs as much as $400,000 and acts as a fake cell tower. The system, typically installed in a vehicle so it can be moved into any neighborhood, tricks all nearby phones into connecting to it and feeding data to police. In some states, the devices are available to any local police department via state surveillance units. The federal government funds most of the purchases, via anti-terror grants. Police mostly didn’t want to talk about the tactics, though privacy advocates and state and federal lawmakers expressed serious concerns about the ability of local police to scoop up large amounts of data on people who weren’t under investigation and typically without the same protections, and checks and balances, afforded by a search warrant.
  • Watching Tony Die

    Wendy Halloran first requested public records from the Arizona Department of Corrections (“ADOC”) in the fall of 2010, shortly after Anthony Lester died at the Manzanita Detention Unit in Tucson. As she investigated the incident, Halloran learned that ADOC officers who responded to the call in Lester’s prison cell retrieved a video camera to document the incident. The resulting video depicted the officers’ response to Lester’s suicide attempt. In June 2011, Halloran first requested that ADOC make a copy of the video available for inspection and copying. However, ADOC denied her request, citing the privacy interests of Lester’s surviving family members, who had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against ADOC alleging that ADOC’s officers stood by and refused to render first aid to Lester as he bled to death in his cell. Halloran continued reporting on Lester’s death, but without the aid of the video that showed what happened. In July 2012, Halloran renewed her public records request for the video. ADOC again denied the request, citing only the privacy concerns of Lester’s family. Halloran then contacted the attorney representing Lester’s family, who informed Halloran in early September 2012 that the family did not object to disclosure, provided that two small sections of the video in which Lester was partially clothed were redacted. Upon learning that the family did not oppose disclosure, Halloran renewed her public records request on September 6, 2012 with ADOC for the video. Despite Lester’s family voicing no objections to disclosure, ADOC again denied Halloran’s request, now inexplicably citing Lester’s privacy interests. Three days after denying her request, ADOC offered to allow Halloran to view the video, but continued to refuse disclosure of a copy of the video -- despite no distinction in the Arizona Public Records Law between the rights of inspection and copying. On September 20, 2012, Halloran viewed the video. She renewed her request for a copy of the video on September 24, and narrowed her request, seeking only the first 12 minutes of the video that involved ADOC’s response to Lester’s injuries. ADOC again denied Halloran’s request, citing only Lester’s “personal privacy” interests – a dubious legal proposition because courts rarely recognize privacy interests of the deceased. Having exhausted all attempts to convince ADOC to comply with the law and release the video, KPNX and Halloran filed a Special Action against ADOC on October 2, 2012. ADOC continued to resist disclosure of the video, first requesting that the case be transferred to the judge who was presiding over the Lester family’s wrongful death lawsuit, and then filing two separate responses to the lawsuit. In its responses, ADOC asserted for the first time that disclosure of the video could pose a threat to prison safety and security, and prejudice the jury pool in the civil case. In addition, the agency continued to cite the privacy interests of Lester and his family to oppose disclosure of the video – even though Lester’s family did not object to disclosure. On November 21, 2012, Arizona Superior Court Judge David M. Talamante ordered ADOC to produce the video to KPNX and Halloran, finding that ADOC failed to meet its burden to withhold the video under the Arizona Public Records Law. Judge Talamante rejected all of ADOC’s arguments, and suggested he was inclined to grant KPNX’s request for attorneys’ fees. ADOC later agreed to pay more than $26,000.00 in attorneys’ fees to KPNX as a result of its wrongful denial of Halloran’s public records requests.