45 FOIA News Stories in 2011
“New Prize in Cold War: Cuban Doctors,” The Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2011, Saturday, at A1.
Documents obtained through FOIA by The Wall Street Journal showed that the Cuban Medical Professional Parole immigration program allowed some Cuban doctors and health workers to enter the U.S. as refugees.
“Medicaid pays more, kids get less, audits show,” The Daily News Leader (Staunton, Virginia) January 23, 2011 Sunday, by David Ress/staff.
Documents obtained through a FOIA request identified $14.9 million of questionable payments in 70 insurance providers' 2008 operations. The state attorney general's office prosecuted three cases involving more than $4.6 million of fraud. Children were not properly assessed and treated by the qualified staff.
“A murder probe gone awry; Report rips handling of investigation into Riley Fox slaying Chicago Tribune January 25, 2011 Tuesday, at C 7, By Kristen Schorsch, Steve Schmadeke contributed reporting.
A report by a security firm, Andrews International, obtained through a FOIA request of Chicago Tribune showed that Will County Sheriff's Police made mistakes in Riley Fox murder investigation including mismanagement and “highly questionable evidence. Detectives wrongly pinned Riley’s murder on her father, Kevin Fox. Riley’s parents, Kevin and Melissa Fox, eventually won $8 million in a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.
“DPS ID system raises concerns” The Detroit News (Michigan) January 27, 2011 Thursday, at A8, by Jennifer Chambers.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Detroit Public Schools regarding screening system in certain Detroit Public School. The new security system instantly scans driver’s licenses and state ID cards, then cross-checks the information with sex-offender registries in the United States and Canada. The DPS started using this program without parental or school board input.
“Nine judges in region get both salary, pension,” The Journal News (Westchester County, New York) January 30, 2011 Sunday at AWPR1, by Joseph Spector, Sean Lahmanand Jonathan Bandler.
Documents obtained by a FOIA request from the state Comptroller's Office showed that nine New York judges received double compensation. They collected public pensions and salaries simultaneously. In response, state lawmakers suggested ways for eliminating these legislative loopholes.
“Report finds fraud in AmeriCorps,” Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City) February 7, 2011 Monday, by Gregory Korte USA Today.
Documents obtained through a FOIA request showed that inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service had found several cases of fraud in AmeriCorps, the national service program. In some cases, the alleged fraud involved the misuse of more than $900,000.
“Baxter County sheriff's deputy fired” The Baxter Bulletin (Mountain Home, Arkansas) February 8, 2011 Tuesday, by Josh Dooley.
According to documents obtained through FOIA, Baxter County sheriff's deputy, Aaron Brown was fired after a series of incidents which resulted in disciplinary actions against him. Brown was placed on administrative leave a total of three times and was forced to take three weeks of remedial training.
“AP finds few states follow mental health gun law,” The Times of Trenton (New Jersey) February 18, 2011 Friday, at A07, by Greg Bluestein.
According to records obtained by the Associated Press through FOIA, fever that half of US states comply with a post-Virginia Tech shooting law that required them to share the names of mentally ill people with the national background-check system to prevent them from buying guns.
“Conclusions on Yucca lacking” Las Vegas Review-Journal (Nevada), February 18, 2011 Friday, at 8B, by Steve Tetreault.
Documents obtained through a FOIA request showed that The Nuclear Regulatory Commission scientists were evaluating whether tunnels carved in Yucca Mountain could safely hold radioactive particles from decaying nuclear fuel for up to a million years.
“Traffic-pix tix blitz –Stoplight cams nail more than 1M Drivers,” The New York Post February 27, 2011 Sunday, at 2, by Reuven Blau.
FOIA documents obtained by the New York Post showed that for the first time ever, New York City ticketed more than 1 million vehicles for running red lights and getting caught on camera. The city's 150 secret cameras - 50 were installed in 2009 - nabbed an average of 2,741 drivers a day in 2010.
“FAA Moves to Limit Blockout System Hiding Private Jet Flights,” ProPublica, March 7, 2011, 12:12 p.m.
FOIA documents obtained by ProPublica, showed that The Federal Aviation administration was blocking private flights from real-time tracking data made available to the public. According to the ProPublica investigation, a number of individuals and companies requested the FAA not track their flights after receiving bad publicity. Among them was a televangelist facing a congressional inquiry, governors questioned about personal trips on state planes and Fortune 500 companies that had received government bailouts.
“24 at SEC dealt with over porn Documents show workers at seven regional offices, including Denver's, were ``counseled or disciplined,'' The Denver Post, March 9, 2011, Wednesday, at A-01, by Andy Vuong.
According to documents obtained through a FOIA request, twenty-four U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission employees at seven offices, including Denver's, were counseled or disciplined for accessing pornography sites on government computers.
“Overtime pay climbs. Top earners took in close to 8M in 2010,” Daily News (New York) March 12, 2011 Saturday, at 17, by Adam Lisberg.
Documents obtained by the Daily News through a FOIA request showed that the top 100 overtime earners in city government collectively raked in $7,961,400 in 2010, 6.8% more than in 2009. They were routinely working an extra two to four hours a day, every day - plus working full shifts on Saturdays or Sundays.
“Group warns EPA ready to increase radioactive release guidelines,” The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee) March 16, 2011 Wednesday, by, Anne Paine.
The EPA was preparing to increase the standards of permissible radioactive releases in drinking water, food and soil in March, 2011. Documents obtained through FOIA showed that those relaxed standards were opposed by public health professionals inside EPA.
“Wood Dale mayor ran up tab with city; for 2 years, leader repeatedly failed to pay for his health insurance coverage,” Chicago Tribune, March 20, 2011 Sunday, at C7, By Bill Ruthhart.
Records obtained through FOIA showed that from June 2008 until September 2010, Wood Dale Mayor Ken Johnson failed to pay for his health insurance, without informing the City Council. His debt grew as high as $9,283.
“Probe into ethics panel looks at director's time sheets Newsday (New York) March 31, 2011 Thursday, at A06, by Sandra Peddie.
According to documents obtained through a FOIA request executive director of the Suffolk county Ethics Commission had not worked full time since 2005 and had an arbitration business.
“The Antisocial Network,” Popular Mechanics April 1, 2011, at 58 Vol. 188, by Caren Chesler.
According to documents obtained through FOIA by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, The Internal Revenue Service monitored social media. The Internal revenue Service’s 38-page training manual outlines "Internet tools and searches that will be useful in locating taxpayers and determining their online business activity."
“TB in elephants called ‘a gray area’; animal-rights group says circus elephant is a danger,” The Baltimore Sun, April 7, 2011 Thursday, at 2A, by Laura Vozzella.
FOIA documents obtained by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals showed that an elephant performing in Baltimore with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus posed a health risk to the public because she has tested positive for tuberculosis.
“New trucking firm, same violations, Logbook problems uncovered during audit of JTL,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin) April 17, 2011 Sunday, at D1, by Rick Romell.
According to records obtained through a FOIA request, the trucking firm, Franklin's JDC Logistics Inc. was fined for logbook violations totaled about $155,000 from 2004 into 2006.
“Hospitals’ overtime overboard; County's nurses stretched thin, raising risk to patients,” Crain's Chicago Business, April 18, 2011, at 1 Vol. 34.
FOIA documents obtained by Crain's Chicago Business and the Better Government Association showed that nearly $40 million a year is routinely spent on overtime pay by Cook County hospitals and health clinics. 182 county health staffers worked more than 624 overtime hours in 2010.
“Special Report: Calhoun County teachers' pay trails state average,” Battle Creek Enquirer (Michigan) April 18, 2011 Monday, by, Justin A. Hinkley.
According to documents obtained by The Battle Creek Enquirer, the average Calhoun County teacher and the average Calhoun County superintendent were paid below the state average in 2009-10 school year. The average Calhoun County teacher salary was $52,218 in the 2009-10, about 9 percent less than the $57,327 the National Education Association said was the state's average salary.
“Opponents criticize Tomblin spending; Records show acting governor's outlays for signage, travel, other items total $64,000,” Charleston Daily Mail (West Virginia) April 19, 2011, Tuesday, at P7A, by Rivarr, Daily Mail Capitol reporter.
According to documents provided by the governor's office in response to a FOIA request, West Virginia has spent at least $64,000 paying stationery and signage costs as well as travel expenses for acting governor Earl Ray Tomblin, first lady Joanne Tomblin and their security detail.
“Pentagon clears general over profile in magazine,” The New York Times April 19, 2011 Tuesday, at A16, By Thom Shanker; Elisabeth Bumiller contributed reporting.
According to a document obtained by the New York Times through a FOIA request, an inquiry by the Defense Department inspector general into a Rolling Stone Magazine profile of General McChrystal has found no proof of wrongdoing by McChrystal, his military aides or his civilian advisers.
“City defends staff salaries; Citizen suggests cuts are in order,” Mukilteo Beacon (Washington) May 4, 2011, by Sara Bruestle.
Records obtained through a FOIA request showed that Mukilteo, city of about 20,000 had been spending $11 million on salaries and benefits. A majority of the city's salaried employees and all of the management positions were at or above the maximum of their pay ranges. Six in management were getting paid above their defined ranges.
“Eight lawmakers signed a letter for Renco,” Sunlight Foundation, By Keenan Steiner, May 04 2011
According to documents obtained by the Sunlight Foundation through FOIA, eight members of Congress signed on to a letter asking the heads of the Treasury and State Departments to take measures to intervene on behalf of Renco Group in the middle of a controversial dispute with Peru. Renco Group is owned by billionaire mining magnate Ira Rennert, who has spent more than $300,000 lobbying Washington politicians.
“Lawyer's career unravels in wake of broken pledges” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock) May 8, 2011 Sunday, at front section, by C.S Murphy.
FOIA documents obtained by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette showed that Former Little Rock attorney Elgin Clemons promised the Arts Center a $500,000 gift from a client, architectural company, Al Abbar. The Arts center faced a financial crisis in the spring of 2010 when the Alabbar donation didn't materialize.
“Let’s quit fed program that ousts immigrants,” Daily News (New York) May 8, 2011 Sunday, at 34, by Albor Ruiz.
Records obtained through a FOIA request showed that nearly 79% of individuals deported nationally through the Secure Communities program from October 2008 through June 2010 had no criminal record or were arrested for minor offenses.
“Release the Iranian 'hostages'; Obama's sanctions against PJAK are unjustified gift to Tehran regime,” The Washington Times May 9, 2011 Monday, at B4, by Kenneth R. Timmerman.
A memorandum obtained by the lawyer of “Free Life Party of Iranian Kurdistan” (PJAK) in response to a FOIA request showed that the Treasury placed PJAK on its list of international terrorists only because the group was allegedly "controlled by the KGK" - another name for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
“Larcomb says evaluation was late, not signed,” The Marion Star (Marion, Ohio) May 10, 2011 Tuesday, by, Kurt Moore.
Documents obtained through a FOIA request showed that Pleasant Local Schools' board evaluated its superintendent and put on indefinite paid leave. The documents indicated that the school board perceived the superintendent as “weak.”
“State's raises for 17 follow frugality talk; Transit unit says duties changed” The Boston Globe May 13, 2011 Friday, at 1, By Noah Bierman.
FOIA documents obtained by the Boston Globe showed that two months after state Transportation Secretary Jeffrey B. Mullan said the economy was too weak to increase salaries for public sector executives he began handing out raises to 17 managers in his department.
“New Study Casts Light On SEC 'Revolving Door' Claims,” Dow Jones Business News, May 13, 2011 Friday, By Jessica Holzer.
According to FOIA documents obtained by Project on Government Oversight over the past five years, 219 former the Securities and Exchange Commission employees sought to represent clients on issues before the commission after leaving the agency. The former employees filed 789 notices with the agency on their intent to represent various clients.
“US State Department sued for pipeline lobbyist documents,” Reuters News, May 18, 2011 Wednesday, By Ayesha Rascoe.
A lawsuit was filed by green groups after the State Department denied a FOIA request. Green groups were requesting communications regarding a planned $7 billion TransCanada oil sands pipeline between Paul Elliott, who was national deputy director for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, and the State Department. Groups were seeking the communications which could expose whether Elliott's ties to Clinton had resulted in bias in the permitting process.
“Des Plaines police officer gets $125,000 in settlement,” Chicago Daily Herald May 18, 2011, Wednesday, C3 Edition, at 3, by Madhu Krishnamurthy
Documents obtained through FOIA showed that Des Plaines paid veteran police Sgt. Matthew Hicks $125,000 to leave the police force and drop all claims of wrongful discharge against the city.
“Oil spill in Greer creek more extensive than thought, DHEC reports,” The Greenville News (South Carolina) May 19, 2011 Thursday, by, Anna Lee Staff Writer.
Records obtained through a FOIA request showed that the spill into a tributary of Frohawk Creek was more extensive than cleanup officials had originally estimated. According to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, 10,000 gallons spilled. The city engineer and an EPA coordinator first estimated that between 1,000 to 1,500 gallons had leaked.
“Police escorts not limited to dignitaries, records show,” Washington Post May 19, 2011 Thursday, at Metro, B06, by Eric Tucker.
Records obtained by the Associated Press through a FOIA request showed that Washington, D.C. police escorts mostly intended for top government officials and foreign dignitaries have been provided to celebrities, including Charlie Sheen.
“Nursing home abuse, neglect up 33 percent; Government report shows violence, sleeping on the job” Chicago Sun-Times May 21, 2011 Saturday, at 13, by Carla K. Johnson.
FOIA documents obtained by Associated Press showed that across Illinois in 2010, more than 130 cases of abuse and neglect were investigated and confirmed in group homes for adults, a 33 percent increase from 2006.
“What price, jobs? Illinois tax incentive packages growing larger,” Associated Press, May 21, 2011 Saturday, at 1 by David Mercer
Documents obtained through a FOIA request showed that Illinois’ government agreed in 2010 to give $272.7 million in tax breaks and other incentives to 67 companies that had received invitations from other states to move jobs elsewhere.
“Report: Securities and Exchange Commission broke procurement law,” Washington Post.com, May 27, 2011 Saturday, at A16
SEC Inspector General’s report released in response to a FOIA request by Reuters showed that the agency violated procurement law in 2008 when, without proper testing, it spent about $1 million buying computer equipment from Apple. The SEC violated federal regulations by awarding the contract without competitive bidding and by telling Apple its budget in order to tailor its offer precisely to the budgeted amount.
‘Statehouse beat; Resigned experts of panel have a lot to say,” Charleston Gazette (West Virginia) May 30, 2011, Monday, at P5A, by Phil Kabler.
FOIA documents obtained from the governor's office showed that expert members of the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission found themselves exasperated that their efforts and vision for the anniversary were being undermined by the state officials on the panel.
“Sarah Palin’s e-mails show her going to bat for state-owned creamery,” Washington Post, June 11, 2011, by T.W. Farnam.
Emails of former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin obtained by FOIA show that she fought to use government funds to keep an Alaskan creamery open after it racked up $1.5 million in losses and was forced to close. More than 13,000 emails were released.
“Student visa program: New rules, same problems,” Associated Press, June 20, 2011, by Holdbrook Mohr.
A FOIA request by the Associated Press shows that the Department of State did not begin tracking complaints about the exploitation of students in the United States on the J-1 visa program until 2010. An AP investigation found abuse of hundreds of students with J-1 visas in more than a dozen states.
“A style guide for spooks,” Washington Post, June 23, 2011, by Lisa Rein.
Governmentattic.com used the FOIA to win the release of the National Security Agency’s style guide. The266-page manual which listed the meaning of acronyms such as “lnu” (last name unknown), “nfi” (no further information), and “FROG” (Free Rocket Over Ground).
“FBI records show late Gov. Ned McWherter never entangled in corruption cases,” Associated Press, June 26, 2011, by Erik Schelzig.
The 217-page FBI file on the late Tennessee Governor Ned McWherter shows that “at no time was a subject, witness, or a target in the Rocky top investigation." Rocky top was an investigation into widespread abuse of gambling licenses in Tennessee which led to the arrest of several state politicians. The report was released under FOIA.
“Report: Feds downplayed ICE case dismissals; Documents show agency had approval to dismiss some deportation cases,” Houston Chronicle June 27, 2011, by Susan Carroll.
A Freedom of Information Act request by the Houston chronicle shows that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s chief counsel in Houston prioritized deportations of illegal immigrants who were a danger to public safety or national security.
“FOIA docs expose DHS agency irradiating Americans cover-up,” Washington Examiner, 29 June 2011, by Deborah Dupre.
Documents obtained through FOIA by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) show that Transportation Security Administration employees working enclose Proximity to radiation-firing devices may have higher risk of developing cancer strokes, and heart disease.