blow the whistle
$show the love

DJJ: Investigation clears guards of inciting fights at youth jail

DJJ: Investigation clears guards of inciting fights at youth jail
March 14, 2012 --

State officials have cleared three guards of accusations that they incited violence among girls held at a Rome juvenile detention facility. One of the guards was fired, though, for failing to prevent a Dec. 7 attack, and the other two were disciplined for unrelated policy violations. Some girls in the facility said they believed guards were complicit in some violence, but officials said the guards passed polygraph exams and “the totality of witness statements and information” did not support the charges.

Little back-up found for waste charges leveled at ethics panel

Little back-up found for waste charges leveled at ethics panel
February 17, 2012 --

Rep. Ed Rynders charged the state ethics commission last week with wasteful spending even though he and House budget officials knew little or nothing about some of the details, interviews with state officials show. Nevertheless, the agency’s critics did not retreat, while acknowledging that they really didn’t know enough in some cases to render an opinion. “Until you have the detail, it’s kinda hard to say whether it was a good or bad management decision,” House Budget Director Martha Wigton said.

Join the Georgia Transparency Project

Join the Georgia Transparency Project
December 12, 2011 --

State legislators say they welcome transparency regarding their personal finances — corporate and real estate holdings, government contracts and the like.But who decides what constitutes transparency? Who checks whether they’re telling us all that we’re entitled to know? They do. Just as war is too important to be left to the generals, transparency is too important to be left to the politicians.

$28.7M Oaky Woods deal OK’d; appraisals remain secret

$28.7M Oaky Woods deal OK’d; appraisals remain secret
December 13, 2010 --

State officials today agreed to pay $28.7 million for a 10,000-acre bear habitat in middle Georgia but still won’t release the appraisals used to determine that value. Houston County values the land at $1,165 an acre for tax purposes. The sellers, who paid $1,600 an acre six years ago before the real estate market collapsed, are selling it to the state for $2,875 an acre. Officials released appraisal summaries that say the property is worth that much, but declined to disclose the full appraisals until the deal is closed.

Nov. 23

November 23, 2010 --

State budget hijacks dedicated user fees DeKalb schools move construction suit to federal court State officials broaden CRCT investigation

Budget cuts cripple ethics enforcement against non-filers

February 22, 2010 --

Hundreds of state officials — legislators, department heads, members of boards and commissions — haven’t submitted financial disclosures that were due last July. Countless politicians also failed to report campaign finances on time — or at all. But the State Ethics Commission, crippled by budget cuts, usually does nothing more than e-mail them a reminder. Says Tom Plank, interim executive secretary of the commission: “We can’t even mail them a letter.” Read my Ethics Watch column online here in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

23 states ignoring stimulus welfare fund

23 states ignoring stimulus welfare fund
September 8, 2009 --

New York state put hundreds of dollars in federal stimulus money into food stamp accounts, causing a literal run on the bank last month. Families of about 800,000 low-income children qualified for the one-time payments — $200 per child for back-to-school supplies and clothes. Critics said the state bungled it by attaching no strings to how the money could be spent. But equally problematic, 23 states haven’t applied for these stimulus dollars yet, many because they can’t afford to appropriate the 20 percent matching funds that are required.

APS: No ‘concrete’ evidence of cheating on 5th-grade tests at Deerwood

August 21, 2009 --

Atlanta’s public school system has found no “concrete, non-statistical evidence” of cheating on fifth-grade CRCT tests last year at Deerwood Academy. State officials in June said a disproportionate number of erasures suggested Deerwood students’ answers had been changed improperly. But attorney Penn Payne, hired to investigate the case for APS, blamed the discrepancies today on “negligence in record keeping, lack of energy and diligence in following the rules, and supervisory failure.” Read on to download the full report.

State flagged test score improvements at 18 schools

July 14, 2009 --

Eighteen Georgia schools improved fifth-graders’ CRCT scores enough in 2008 to trigger suspicions of cheating, the Augusta Chronicle reports. State officials last week threw out four schools’ scores for apparent cheating and have dropped investigations into two others. The state found 18 schools with statistically remarkable improvements in retest scores. The list includes Slater Elementary […]

GBI Report: Witness protection files left unprotected

GBI Report: Witness protection files left unprotected
May 22, 2009 --

The head of Georgia’s Vital Records unit was fired after co-workers found unsecured files from the federal witness protection program in his office. State officials had said Richard Wheat (right), 43, was let go last month for “gross mismanagement.” They provided no specific explanation for his dismissal. Wheat was on leave in April when other […]

Regent sold $76 million in cars to state — $9.8 million to universities

Regent sold $76 million in cars to state -- $9.8 million to universities
April 3, 2009 --

Car dealer Allan Vigil (right) has sold $9.8 million of cars and trucks to the University System of Georgia, which he oversees as a member of the state Board of Regents, since 2002. That figure represents just a fraction of his dealerships’ $76 million in sales to state agencies in the past seven years, according […]