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Extra Extra Monday: Weekend highlights
IRE is introducing a roundup of the weekend’s many enterprise stories from around the country. We’ll highlight the document digging, field work and data analysis that made their way into centerpieces in print, broadcast and online from coast to coast.
Dayton Daily News
OSU president expenses in the millions
Daily News reporter Laura A. Bischoff fought a year-long FOIA battle to get hold of Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee's expense reports, which ultimately revealed that the unviersity spends $7.7 million on Gee's expenses -- almost has much as his $8.6 million salary. The expenses include travel, parties and $64,000 on the president's signature bow ties.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Investigations lax in cheating cases
The next installment in the Journal-Constitution’s coverage of school cheating shows that many states and school districts handle cases of cheating on high-stakes achievement tests in a “haphazard manner.” Delving through 130 cases from school districts in Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis and other places where they identified possible cheating, the Journal-Constitution uncovered evidence of “a subculture of dishonesty in a noble profession: teachers who brazenly provide answers to their students, administrators who convene groups that erase and correct students’ responses, school district officials who look the other way when wrongdoing emerges.”
The illicit trafficking of Oregon medical marijuana is widespread and highly lucrative, according to The Oregonian's analysis of highway stops, police reports and federal and state court records. Exploitation of the 14-year-old program is made possible by lax state oversight and loose rules lead to the production of far more pot than a typical patient needs, the newspaper found. Nearly 40 percent of Oregon pot seized on the nation's most common drug-trafficking routes during the first three months of this year was tied to the medical marijuana program. Dozens of trafficking prosecutions involve medical marijuana cardholders with existing criminal histories, some extensive.
The Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News and Observer
Prices soar as hospitals dominate cancer market
In the latest in its Prognosis: Profits series, The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer of Raleigh found that “large nonprofit hospitals in North Carolina are dramatically inflating prices on chemotherapy drugs at a time when they are cornering more of the market on cancer care.” Hospitals are routinely marking prices on cancer drugs up to 10 times more than their typical cost, the newspaper found.
The Indianapolis Star
DCS chief James Payne fought his own agency over family matter
The Indiana Department of Child Services director, James W. Payne, fought to discredit and derail his agency’s recommendations in a child neglect case involving his own grandchildren, the Indianapolis Star reported. The story is based on the newspaper’s review of hundreds of pages of documents from DCS legal filings, investigation reports, monthly status reports submitted by guardians and therapists, as well as police and court records. After the investigation, many – including the state’s Democratic candidate for governor – are calling for his resignation.
Solving a health gap
After a report was released by Spokane’s regional health district, the newspaper mapped life expectancy for each neighborhood in Spokane – showing the differences in well-being among its many neighborhoods: People in the county’s wealthy neighborhoods can expect to live longer than those in the poorer ones, by years and years.
The paper analyzed campaign finance data and found a striking disparity between the two presidential candidates, despite being nearly identical in money raised (Barack Obama has raised $5.3 million in New Jersey and Mitt Romney has raised $5.1 million. But Obama only makes $149 off of each contribution from a total of 35,565 contributors. Romney makes $801 off of each contributor, with a total of 6,305 contributors.
Asbury Park Press
State of sexual harassment payouts
The paper reports that although New Jersey has paid millions in sexual harassment cases, little has been done to change the culture in some agencies.
San Diego Union-Tribune
An Inhumane Trade: human trafficking
A joint effort between the Union-Tribune and the International Center for Journalists, which provided funding from the Ford Foundation and the Brooks and Joan Fortune Family Foundation, examines Tenancingo, a village within the state of Tlaxcala, the state that generates as much as 80 percent of all Mexican sex traffickers: “The perpetrators include multigenerational families, town officials, neighborhood gossips and lookouts.”
Four decades after an agricultural disaster allowed the chemical polybrominated biphenyl into the food and water of nine out of 10 Michigan residents –as the state scales back monitoring of the sites and the Environmental Protection Agency gears for a multi-million dollar cleanup, many of the health risks have lingered.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Oversight board had little say in History Museum land purchase
After the Missouri History Museum spent $875,000 of its $10 million in tax dollars to purchase “a shuttered restaurant site from a former mayor,” the newspaper found via documents and museum officials that the museum commissioners, appointed by area officials to approve spending, never see purchases until after they’ve been made and never see the museum’s budget until after the fiscal year has already begun.
Medical examiner revises suspect's death ruling to homicide
After a 10-month effort for records following the death of Derek Williams in Milwaukee police custody, the Journal-Sentinel alerted an assistant medical examiner with the county, who changed the ruling of the death from natural to homicide. The records include a vidoe of Williams suffocating and pleading for help from the back of a squad car, and the Jounral-Sentinel also alerted the medical examiner of a national expert who said the 22-year-old Williams did not die naturally of sickle cell crisis.
The Des Moines Register
Iowa sees $29.6 million TV ad inundation
The Des Moines Register and eight other newspapers joined forces to gather and analyze TV political advertising spending data statewide in the 2012 presidential race. The effort revealed an unprecedented $30 million TV ad blitz that began last spring, continued through August and will pick up momentum heading into the final weeks of the race. It also documented the huge role that Super PACS are playing in reaching out to Iowa’s swing state voters.