December 2020 Archive

Timber Tax Cuts Cost Oregon Towns Billions. Then Polluted Water Drove Up the Price.

Rural communities in Oregon paid millions of dollars for clean, safe drinking water because the state didn’t protect their watersheds from logging-related contamination.

Hawaii Officials Promise Changes to Seawall Policies That Have Quickened Beach Destruction

Seawalls erode Hawaii’s beaches, but the state has been lax about approving them and disorganized about enforcing the law. Officials now pledge action, after a Honolulu Star-Advertiser and ProPublica investigation.

Officials Let Hawaii’s Waterfront Homeowners Damage Public Beaches Again and Again

Everybody knows that seawalls cause beach loss, and Hawaii law forbids building them. But Honolulu County officials have granted exemptions to 46 homeowners over the past two decades even as a quarter of Oahu’s beaches have disappeared.

Alaska Requires DNA Be Collected From People Arrested for Violent Crimes. Many Police Have Ignored That.

By failing to collect DNA samples when they arrest people as the law requires, Alaskan law enforcement left the state’s DNA database with crucial gaps, allowing at least one serial rapist to go undetected.

“Those of Us Who Don’t Die Are Going to Quit”: A Crush of Patients, Dwindling Supplies and the Nurse Who Lost Hope

Almost a year into the pandemic, supply shortages remain so severe that nurse Kristen Cline reuses her N95 for several shifts while her hospital buckles, patients suffer and folks nearby socialize maskless as if the pandemic were already over.

After 3 Years and $1.5 Million Testing Rape Kits, Alaska Made One New Arrest

In the state with the highest rate of sexual assault in the nation, testing the backlog of rape kits may not be enough. Many were from cases where the identity of the suspect was already known, or were opened only to find no usable DNA.

These Cities Tried to Tackle Disinvestment. Here Are Lessons From What Happened.

Local governments have made efforts to revive commerce in neglected Black neighborhoods around the country. It hasn’t always worked. But Chicago can learn from their experiences.

Hawaii’s Beaches Are Disappearing

Major islands have lost nearly a quarter of their beaches in the last century. The culprit? Seawalls and other barriers erected by wealthy homeowners.

After a Violent Crime, Arizona Promised Reforms for People With Developmental Disabilities. It Has Yet to Deliver.

After a woman with developmental disabilities was raped and gave birth to a child in a state home, a task force recommended changes to improve care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable residents. Only a third of them have been fully implemented.

Hawaii’s Big Fix to Its Housing Shortage for Native Hawaiians? A Casino.

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is pushing a plan to build a casino on ancestral land to raise money for more housing. This happened just after the Star-Advertiser and ProPublica found chronic problems in the state’s native land program.

She Noticed $200 Million Missing, Then She Was Fired

Alice Stebbins was hired to fix the finances of California’s powerful utility regulator. She was fired after finding $200 million for the state’s deaf, blind and poor residents was missing.

Inside Trump and Barr’s Last-Minute Killing Spree

Private executioners paid in cash. Middle-of-the-night killings. False or incomplete justifications. ProPublica obtained court records showing how the outgoing administration is using its final days to execute the most federal prisoners since World War II.

The Justice Department Sues Walmart, Accusing It of Illegally Dispensing Opioids

Two years after the Trump administration walked away from charging Walmart criminally for its role in the opioid crisis, the DOJ is back, making the same claims but seeking softer penalties.

A Temp Worker Died on the Job After FedEx Didn’t Fix a Known Hazard. The Fine: $7,000.

FedEx workers at the Memphis World Hub said they were pressured to work faster than they felt was safe. The company faces its busiest season ever, but experts worry about safety practices after the “extremely preventable” death of a temporary worker.

The Trump Administration Keeps Awarding Border Wall Contracts but Doesn’t Own the Land to Build On

The government’s strategy of awarding contracts before acquiring titles to land in Texas has led to millions of dollars in costs for delays. Things could get even more complicated if President-elect Joe Biden stops border wall construction.

The Trump Administration’s Final Push to Make It Easier for Religious Employers to Discriminate

Last-minute policies on religious freedom clear the way for employers to hire on the basis of faith. Some of the changes won't be easy for Biden to undo.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Gave Top Doctor $1.5 Million After He Was Forced to Resign Over Conflicts of Interest

Dr. José Baselga resigned as chief medical officer after payments he received from for-profit health care companies came to light in 2018. Then, Memorial Sloan Kettering quietly gave him a $1.5 million severance package, according to IRS documents.

Calls Increase for NYPD Commissioner to Be Stripped of Absolute Authority Over Officer Discipline

Recently released documents show that NYPD commissioners have used their authority to reject the civilian review board’s recommendations and even guilty pleas from officers themselves.

Judges Are Locking Up Children for Noncriminal Offenses Like Repeatedly Disobeying Their Parents and Skipping School

Michigan’s juvenile justice system is archaic. Counties act with little oversight, and the state keeps such poor data it doesn’t know how many juveniles it has in custody or what happens to them once they’re in the system.

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