Archives for April, 2010

Seven Illinois banks fail Friday

Posted: April 24, 2010 | Tags: banks, BankTracker, failed banks, FDIC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Illinois banks, TARP

Seven more Illinois banks were closed on Friday and taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Since the beginning of last year, 31 of the 197 banks that have been closed across the country have been in Illinois. Only Georgia, with 32 failures in the past 16 months, has seen more bank closings in that period.

Friday's closings bring this year's total to 57, including 10 in Illinois.

The takeovers on Friday cost the FDIC an estimated $974 million. The biggest bank to fail was Amcore Bank National Association of Rockford, which had $3.8 billion in ...

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TARP outcome: "A tale of two worlds"

Posted: April 22, 2010 | Tags: BankTracker, TARP, USA TODAY

For the past several weeks, I have been working with USA TODAY reporter Dennis Cauchon to analyze the effectiveness of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $250 billion package designed to shore up the nation's banks during the financial crisis. Today, the paper published the results based on federal banking reports the Workshop uses for our BankTracker project.

We found that, while overall lending has declined since the program began, banks that took TARP money (most of which now has been repaid) actually reduced lending more than those that didn't get federal aid. They also continued to expand ...

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Electronic medical records causing problems

Posted: April 21, 2010 | Tags: electronic medical records, Huffington Post Investigative Fund, stimulus

Problems with electronic medical records systems may have led to some deaths.

Huffington Post Investigative Fund reporters Fred Schulte and Emma Schwartz write in a new story about potential risks patients might face from electronic medical records systems.

Among their findings: "Scores of reports on file with the Food and Drug Administration detail consequences to patients when an electronic medical record system fails. Those reports, reviewed by the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, show that a central function of the record systems, known as computerized provider order entry, or CPOE, has been linked to instances in which patients died or suffered ...

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2010 bank failures reach 50

Posted: April 17, 2010 | Tags: banks, BankTracker, failed banks, FDIC, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Eight more banks failed on Friday, including three in Florida.

The largest was the Riverside National Bank of Fort Pierce, Fla., which had assets of nearly $3.4 billion at the end of December. Riverside, plus two smaller banks, AmericanFirst Bank of Clermont and First Federal Bank of North Florida, based in Palatka, were sold to TD Bank of Wilmington, Del. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. estimated that the three Florida failures will cost the insurance fund in excess of $500 million.

All together, the FDIC estimates that the bank 50 closures so far this year will cost about $7 ...

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Arizona won't wait

Posted: April 16, 2010 | Tags: Arizona, immigration, Minutemen, SB1070

Update: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the Arizona bill into law on Friday, sparking protests and stirring up a storm of political criticism around the nation.

The Obama administration, fresh from its narrow victory on health reform, is expected to tackle immigration reform this summer. But in Arizona, often considered ground zero for undocumented border crossings, the battle over immigration already has come to a head.

This week Arizona lawmakers voted on what could become the toughest immigration legislation in the United States. Senate Bill 1070 passed 35 to 21 in the Arizona House of Representatives Tuesday. The bill would ...

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A basic lesson in mathematics

Posted: April 15, 2010 | Tags: stimulus

Administration officials were on Capitol Hill yesterday to celebrate stimulus funding for green energy. However, previous Investigative Reporting Workshop articles found that as much as 80 percent of the money from a direct cash grant program that rewards developers of renewable energy facilities went to foreign companies – and they in turn were buying mostly foreign-made turbines.

But Matt Rogers, the top stimulus advisor for the Department of Energy, told members of Congress that the program has been a huge success. How huge? Cash grants totalling $3.1 billion under the program so far, he said. And, he said, the program ...

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Campaign finance disclosures need improvement

Posted: April 15, 2010 | Tags: campaign finance, Federal Election Commission

For those who follow campaign finance, this is one of the big days of the year: First quarter contribution and spending reports are due at the Federal Election Commission, from congressional candidates and most political action committees.

Opponents, political analysts and the press will watch these numbers closely as an indicator of how this fall's mid-term elections might go.

The reports are a celebration of government openness and a comment on the absurdity of the nation's patchwork of campaign disclosure laws and rules. The disclosure system was mostly constructed in the early 1970's shadow of Watergate, before ...

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Another coal disaster and journalism

Posted: April 10, 2010 | Tags: mine, west virginia

My home state of West Virginia has been back in the news this week, and not in a good way. At least 25 coal miners died Monday in what appears to be a horrendous explosion in a Raleigh County mine. Rescue efforts are continuing for four men still missing and the outlook is not good. UPDATE: On Friday night, the bodies of the four missing miners were found.

The first big story of my career was the 1968 disaster at the Consol No. 9 mine in Farmington, W.Va. A devastating explosion and fire claimed the lives of 78 miners ...

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Recent Posts

'New Newsrooms' wins research award

The Investigative Reporting Workshop has won the Society for Professional Journalists’ Research about Journalism Award for “The New Newsrooms,” an examination of nonprofit centers for investigative journalism worldwide. The reporters who founded these centers followed the example of their colleagues in the U.S., where this model has thrived for the past two decades.

'Business of Disaster' finalist in IRE awards

“Business of Disaster,” the PBS FRONTLINE program about ongoing housing problems more than three years after the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, was a finalist in the IRE awards this year in both the large broadcast/video category and also in the large radio/audio category. 

The back-story behind Workshop's first data project on banks

In BankTracker, our long-running series that debuted in March 2009, we analyzed publicly available data to report on the financial health of the nation’s banks and credit unions. Though the project met with resistance from the banking association at the time, the updates continue to be welcomed by readers.


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