Extra Extra : Government (federal/state/local)

Iowa state senator’s National Guard service not the only reason she missed votes

United States Senate candidate and state senator Joni Ernst has cited her National Guard duty to rebuff criticism for missing more than half of the votes in the Iowa Senate this year.

In a WHO-TV interview posted on April 7, the Red Oak Republican acknowledged that National Guard service wasn’t the only reason she’s missed votes, but she said that only “a few of those votes were due to other activities.”

However, a review by The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) shows very little overlap between Iowa Senate votes and her National Guard service.

Read the story here.

Felons, fugitives bought guns amid backlog

More than 300 people banned from owning guns were able to buy them last year because the state police were overwhelmed with background check requests, police said Wednesday.

People with histories of mental illness or convictions for violent misdemeanors, felons and fugitives were able to obtain and keep guns for three months or longer before state police reviewed the sales, according to records released by request to The Baltimore Sun.

Documents show Iowa offered hush money to ex-employee

The Iowa Department of Administrative Services explicitly offered $6,500 to a former state employee last year in exchange for her secrecy, according to documents obtained by the Des Moines Register.

The documents include a March 6, 2013, e-mail in which Department of Administrative Services attorney Ryan Lamb writes to an attorney representing former employee Carol Frank: "I am agreeable to changes you propose and offer $6,500 for additional term," referring to a stipulation that the settlement be kept confidential.

Read the story here.

Unchecked irrigation threatens to sap Minnesota groundwater

Crop irrigation has boomed in Minnesota in the past few years, increasing land values and raising yields for corn, soybeans and other crops. But hundreds of Minnesota farmers appear to be irrigating cropland without the state permits required to use large volumes of public water, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.

Of roughly 1,200 crop irrigation wells drilled from 2008 to 2012, more than 200 likely are operating without a permit, a Minnesota Public Radio News investigation of public well records found. In addition, nearly 200 others operated without a permit until the past year or so.

Click to ...

Read more ...

Extra Extra Monday: Accident reports, deportations and school finances

Jail Crunch | Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project

OCCRP reporters filed freedom of information requests to prison authorities across Eastern Europe. The interactive visualization is a compilation of the data received from each prison authority, organized to demonstrate similarities and differences between prison demographics and crime categories across the region.

OCCRP journalists conducted dozens of interviews with convicted criminals throughout Eastern Europe. The videos are an extension of the Jail Crunch visualization and provide a personal window into how crime works in the region.

 

Drivers pay for accident reports | Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A private company that sells vehicle accident reports for ...

Read more ...

VA pays out $200 million for nearly 1,000 veterans’ wrongful deaths

In the decade after 9/11, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $200 million to nearly 1,000 families in wrongful death cases, according to VA data obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting.

In that time, CIR found the agency made wrongful death payments to nearly 1,000 grieving families, ranging from decorated Iraq War veterans who shot or hanged themselves after being turned away from mental health treatment, to Vietnam veterans whose cancerous tumors were identified but allowed to grow, to missed diagnoses, botched surgeries and fatal neglect of elderly veterans.

Read the story and view ...

Read more ...

US secretly built 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Agency for International Development was behind the creation of a “Cuban Twitter,” a social network designed to undermine the communist government and push Cubans toward dissent.

The project – called ZunZuneo – drew tens of thousands of subscribers in the more than two years in operated. American contractors were able to gather personal data on users.

According to the report, “The AP obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents about the project's development. It independently verified the project's scope and details in the documents through publicly available databases, government sources and ...

Read more ...

Extra Extra Monday: The billion-dollar trophy deer industry, election spending, missing radon tests

Trophy deer industry linked to disease, costs taxpayers millions | Indianapolis Star

In less than 40 years, a relatively small group of farmers has created something the world has never seen before — a billion-dollar industry primarily devoted to breeding deer that are trucked to fenced hunting preserves to be shot by patrons willing to pay thousands for the trophies.

An Indianapolis Star investigation has discovered the industry costs taxpayers millions of dollars, compromises long-standing wildlife laws, endangers wild deer and undermines the government's multibillion-dollar effort to protect livestock and the food supply.

More than 100 publicly funded charter schools fail ...

Read more ...

Detroit landlords cash in on rent aid, ignore tax bills

A Detroit News investigation found about 1 in 4 Detroit landlords paid to rent to poor families through the state’s Housing Choice Voucher program collectively owe the city at least $5 million in back taxes and probably much more. Federal and state guidelines for the rental assistance — known as Section 8 — don’t require that all landlords pay.

Read the entire story here.

Government computer glitch left thousands in N.C. without food stamps

Thousands of people went without food stamps in North Carolina last year after government computers across the state crashed, according to the Huffington Post.

According to the report:

"The food stamp delays can be traced to troubles with a computer system designed by Accenture, one of the world’s largest consulting firms. The company is among a small group of politically connected technology contractors that receive government business across the country despite previous criticism of their work.

Accenture won the North Carolina contract after spending thousands of dollars on political contributions and lobbying in the state. North Carolina hired Accenture ...

Read more ...