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Extra Extra Monday: Political influence, disregarded data, costly inmates
Welcome to IRE's 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.
The Investigative News Network
Big Political Donors Give Far and Wide, Influence Out-of-State Races and Issues
The focus on billionaires’ and corporations’ contributions to Super PACs this year has highlighted the impact of the rich and powerful on the presidential campaigns. But an analysis by the Investigative News Network of contributions by wealthy individuals in seven states shows that their giving is greater than any one cause or race reveals -- with millions flowing into state, federal and even local campaigns, parties and committees far and wide.
The Florida Times-Union
Records show FSCJ trustee discussing Wallace's employment with attorneys
Florida Times-Union reporters went through about 300 emails that show what board members for Florida State College at Jacksonville were saying about the potential ouster of the college president. The piece is a follow-up on the two reporters’ five-month investigation into the president’s spending and other leadership issues.
The Columbus Dispatch
Debt deception: Some collection agencies drown consumers in bad credit reports as a way to leverage payments they don’t owe
In its ongoing coverage of the broken credit-reporting system in the U.S., The Columbus Dispatch looks at the impact rogue debt collectors have on the issue in a three-day series. Credit reports have become a powerful weapon for some debt collectors who coerce Americans into paying debts that are invalid, erroneous or fraudulent. State laws on statutes of limitations and local courts also are complicit because all debts – and proof of them – are treated equally.
Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers
Cost of Florida's death row easily exceeds $1M per inmate
During a three-month investigation, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers reviewed the appeals and case files of death row prisoners convicted of first-degree murder in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties to see why it takes dozens of years for some inmates to complete their appeals and be executed — and at what cost to taxpayers. The tab for taxpayers can exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars and housing death row inmates costs millions more.
The Des Moines Register
How much bullying? State doesn't know
Iowa law requires reports of alleged bullying, but some districts have turned in none. The data aren't credible, and the state is starting over. The article is the latest in the newspaper’s ongoing coverage of school bullying.
The Tampa Bay Times
Florida drug database intended to save lives is barely used by doctors
Since Sept. 1, 2011, more than 48 million prescriptions have been written in Florida -- 2.5 million for every man, woman and child in the state. A database known as the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program was created to help prevent prescription drug abuse, but a Times analysis revealed doctors checked the database before writing just 2 percent of prescriptions. Fewer than one in 12 doctors has ever used the database.
Also in the Tampa Bay Times this weekend was more of its coverage of Florida’s “stand your ground law” and its uneven application in the court system, the newspaper most recently found that not everyone with a claim takes advantage of the law in court. Some have gone to prison while serial criminals, drug dealers and feuding gang members have avoided prosecution.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Two Rochester schools, two different results
Continuing its “Rescuing Rochester’s Children” series, the newspaper highlights the vast differences between True North Rochester Prep Elementary School and School 30, just a mile down the road: “The huge gap in performance between the charter school and city schools, each educating essentially the same group of kids, raises an important question — one that could potentially offer solutions for improving the city schools. Two school systems. One city. Dramatically different outcomes. How did that happen?”
The Houston Chronicle
HISD employees cash in millions for unused time off
Employees who have left the Houston Independent School District since 2008 racked up $24 million worth of extra vacation, sick and personal days, with hundreds eligible for five-figure checks as the district struggled to balance its budget amid state funding cuts, a Houston Chronicle analysis found.