Extra Extra : Government (federal/state/local)

Athletes, teams donate big to political campaigns

An investigative team analyzed thousands of financial records from federal, state and local elections and discovered how sports teams, owners and athletes are contributing to political campaigns.

The 10 Investigates team from Tampa Bay and Sarasota’s 10 News found that many of the area’s major teams have contributed political funds – usually toward the state’s dominant party. The experts they interviewed suggest the money is seen as an investment to tip legislators toward passing stadium-friendly legislation.

To read and watch the full story, click here.

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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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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Landslide safety all over the map in Washington

The deadly Oso landslide in March sparked a debate over Snohomish County’s apparent failure to protect residents at the base of a known landslide zone.

But Washington state is dotted with landslide-prone slopes, and many counties and cities do less than Snohomish County to keep homes away from harm.

A joint KUOW-EarthFix investigation found that local rules vary widely around the state, leaving some communities with much smaller margins of safety than others.

Review finds flaws, inconsistencies in death investigation

NJ Advance Media investigated the six-year-old case of Kenwin Garcia, who died at age 25 under suspicious circumstances involving police. The company, which serves The Star-Ledger and NJ.com, found inconsistencies in the accounts of the day. The reporting exposes flaws that led to the determination that Garcia died of a controversial medical condition.

To read the full story, click here.

U.S. food aid program struggles to move forward

The U.S. government spends more than half of its international food aid budget transporting life-saving commodities through a tangled system of special interests and government bureaucracy – more than $9 billion in taxpayer dollars over the past decade, a Medill/USA Today investigation has found.

That makes it by far the most inefficient and expensive food assistance delivery system in the world, and one that delays or deprives sustenance to potentially millions of people who desperately need it—and in some cases, die without it, according to interviews with dozens of U.S. officials and experts, and a review of ...

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Reports on college crime are deceptively inaccurate

College crime stats are inaccurate and misleading thanks to an abused reporting system that allows off-campus crime to sometimes slip through the cracks, according to an investigation by The Columbus Dispatch and the Student Press Law Center.

The Education Department does little to monitor or enforce compliance with the Clery Act, which was enacted in 1991 to alert students to dangers on campus but often fails at its mission, according to the investigation.

To read the full story, click here.