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Extra Extra Monday: Uneven assessments, National Guard misconduct, Chicago migration myth

Across Wisconsin, uneven property assessments fly in the face of fairness | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By measure after measure, in cities, towns and villages across Wisconsin, property assessors are discounting uniformity and trampling on fairness, while officials with the state Department of Revenue do little to rectify the disparities, an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has found.

In dozens of communities, 20% or more of residential property taxes are being paid by the wrong people, according to the Journal Sentinel's analysis of Department of Revenue records for each of the state's 1,852 municipalities. The analysis considered communities ...

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Despite big job promises, incentives often fail to deliver

 North Carolina, much like other states, uses millions in taxpayer dollars to lure and retain businesses, bringing new jobs. But years after these jobs were announced by executives and state leaders, most failed to fully materialize, a WRAL News analysis found. More than 100 companies named in job announcements since 2009 have since reported no new jobs. Some have laid off workers or closed up shop altogether.

Water officials in California refuse to follow own conservation rules

In Southern California, a region in severe drought, many cities have passed rules on water usage per household per day. While the average water usage in a single-family home is now using 361 gallons per day, water conservation advocates on city councils haven’t been following their own regulations. Mike Soubirous, a Riverside City Council member who voted for new, strict rules in July, used over a million gallons in his home last year, nearly ten times the amount of the average family.

Soubirous is far from alone. According to The Center for Investigative Reporting, 25 other officials in similar ...

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Records show mistakes, questionable evidence in woman's overturned murder case

In light of the recent exoneration of Michelle Murphy, who spent 20 years in prison on a wrongful conviction for killing her baby, the Tulsa World investigated the elements that led to Murphy's 1995 conviction in the first place.

The investigation shows the state of Oklahoma relied on faulty blood analysis, the dubious testimony of a troubled 14-year-old neighbor and an unrecorded, incriminating statement to convict Murphy. All three elements were so problematic they should have been challenged in court. Also, jurors never heard other evidence that might have given them reasonable doubt about convicting Murphy.

To read the ...

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Judge 'sickened' by abuse program's failures

Minnesota law mandates that child-protection agencies investigate child abuse cases with evidence of egregious harm and substantial endangerment. Yet since 2005, more than 20,000 cases of children deemed at “high risk” for more abuse have been routed to family assessment, in which social workers don’t investigate the cases and instead try to work with families.

A Star Tribune review of more than 400 child abuse cases found family assessment was used after children were reported to have been severely physically and sexually abused or abandoned. The review showed that dozens of children were later harmed, including at least ...

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Asset seizures fuel police spending

Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear. They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.

The details are contained in thousands of annual reports submitted by local and state agencies to the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, an initiative that allows local and state police to keep up to 80 percent of the assets they seize.

The documents offer a sweeping look at how police departments and drug task forces across ...

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Massive gender gaps in Massachusetts prostitution arrests persist despite conflicting evidence

Researchers from the New England Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed police arrests in Massachusetts cities and found notable discrepancies in the number of women to men arrested in prostitution incidences. Despite a law passed in 2011 raising the punishments of sex buyers, or “Johns,” the women being hired made up over 70 percent of the total arrests from 2013.

Besides being caught in public acts with a prostitute, the only way men can be arrested in these cases is by setting up “sting” operations involving decoy women and a support group of officers to make the arrest. The city of ...

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Battered, Bereaved and Behind Bars

At least 29 states have laws that explicitly criminalize parents’ failure to protect their children from abuse, according to Buzfeed News. In Texas, the crime is known as injury to a child “by omission.” In other states, it goes by “permitting child abuse” or “enabling child abuse.” In addition, prosecutors in at least 19 states can use other, more general laws against criminal negligence in the care of a child, or placing a child in a dangerous situation.

These laws make parents responsible for what they did not do. Typically, people cannot be prosecuted for failing to thwart a murder ...

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This Is What Happens to Your Bike After It’s Stolen

The actual number of bikes stolen in Seattle last year was likely far greater than the reported 1,121, the Seattle Met reports. A study in Montreal found that while about half of the city’s cyclists had been victims of bike theft, only about a third (one-sixth of all cyclists) reported their theft to police. Here, where biking, like espresso and drizzle, is part of the city’s essence, an estimated 4.1 percent of commutes are by bike, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation.

And it’s probably going to get worse. The city is pouring as ...

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Failing to protect their children from abusive men puts mothers in prison

Looking back over the past decade, BuzzFeed News identified 28 mothers in 11 states sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for failing to prevent their partners from harming their children. In every one of these cases, there was evidence the mother herself had been battered by the man. Almost half, 13 mothers, were given 20 years or more. In one case, the mother was given a life sentence for failing to protect her son, just like the man who murdered the infant boy.