Extra Extra : Government (federal/state/local)

Extra Extra Monday: Florida law allows troubled charter operators to keep running schools

Shuttered: Florida’s Failed Charter Schools | Naples Daily News

As charter schools have boomed in Florida — 622 operated in 2013-14, up from 257 in 2003-04 — many have also busted. Since charter schools were first permitted in 1996, 269 out of nearly 900 opened charter schools have closed, a failure rate of about 30 percent. That tally includes six schools closed in Lee County and two closed in Collier County.

To better understand Florida’s charter school failings, the Daily News undertook a first-of-its-kind task, examining all charter schools that have closed since 2008. The newspaper reviewed hundreds of closure documents ...

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San Diego school district gets armored vehicle through 1033 Program

Why did the San Diego Unified School District acquire an armored vehicle? According to inewsource, when the mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP) became available through the Department of Defense’s Excess Property Program, or 1033 Program, the district jumped at the opportunity.

School officials said they wanted the armored vehicle to use for rescue operations. If there’s an active shooter, an earthquake or a fire, the school could use the MRAP to rip down a wall, a police captain told inewsource.

Students in a high school auto collision and refinishing program painted the MRAP, and the division plans to ...

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Flares in Eagle Ford Shale wasting natural gas

Using the state's own records, the San Antonio Express-News found that natural gas flares burning across the Eagle Ford Shale oil field incinerated enough gas over four years to supply every household that uses the fuel in San Antonio for a full year.

Analyzing more than 80 million oil field production records, the newspaper also found that the flares are emitting more pollution than all six oil refineries in Corpus Christi, and they are pouring out more ozone-creating compounds than 24 Texas oil refineries.

Despite the tremendous waste and pollution, seven of the 20 largest flaring operations escaped state ...

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Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes

They were pulled over for a minor traffic violation and, instead of getting just a ticket, they had their money confiscated by police. An aggressive brand of policing has led to the seizure of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash from American motorists and others not charged with crimes. It’s a largely hidden side effect of the government’s push to have the police become the eyes and ears of homeland security on highways since the 9/11 terror attacks.

In a three-part series, The Washington Post examines how thousands of people have been forced to fight legal ...

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Missouri swore it wouldn't use a controversial execution drug. It did.

Missouri is using the same controversial drug to execute inmates on death row that has been used in a number of botched executions this year, a St. Louis Public Radio investigation has found. Use of Midazolam as a sedative in those botched executions prompted questions earlier this year to Missouri Department of Corrections officials, who said under oath that the drug would never be used.

But documents obtained by St. Louis Public Radio show that the drug has been administered in each of the state’s last nine executions. After refusing comment before the story ran, a Corrections spokesperson eventually ...

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With veto power, Rick Perry influenced, targeted and vexed

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s history shows his recent and controversial use of the veto isn’t the only time he’s used the power for political reasons.

Perry, who faces pending charges over his veto threat to a district attorney after her drunk driving arrest, has a long and complex history with the veto, according to a story in The Austin American-Statesman.

In Virginia, thousands of day-care providers receive no oversight

Day-care providers existing on the unregulated side of Virginia’s two-pronged child-care industry operate largely in an environment short on rules. By keeping their operations to five children or less, providers avoid licensing and regulations, training requirements, inspections and background checks.

The result: Of the at least 60 children who’ve died in Virginia child-care homes since 2004, 43 were in unregulated establishments.

Read the full story from The Washington Post here.

Reports to child protection agencies overlooked in Minnesota

A flawed system of investigating suspected child abuse and neglect has contributed to a disturbing statistic in Minnesota. Since 2005, 54 children have died from maltreatment despite reports to child protection agencies indicating that the kids could be in danger, according to a special report from the Star Tribune.

The story follows the case of Eric Dean, who died at age 4 after various daycare workers and others had filed a combined 15 reports of suspected abuse, only one of which was shared with local authorities.

Data breach mystery leads from Arizona counterterrorism site to China

Lizhong Fang, a Chinese national and computer programmer, had access to a variety of sensitive information during his short time at the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center in Phoenix. His work on facial recognition software allowed him to view the Arizona driver’s license database as well as law enforcement records.

Fang disappeared in 2007, and those responsible for hiring him say the privacy of up to 5 million people has been compromised. Officials never disclosed the possible privacy breach.

Read the story by The Center for Investigative Reporting and ProPublica.

Politicians' food tab takes $14.5M bite from donations

House members and candidates have spent at least $14.5 million of their donors' campaign contributions on food since Jan. 1, 2011, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The expenses range from thousands of dollars to underwrite big fundraising lunches in their home districts to meal tabs at country clubs, glitzy New York hotels and Washington steakhouses. Politicians and their aides also spent donors' money at far less glamorous destinations, such as Dunkin' Donuts and Five Guys Burgers and Fries.