The EPA’s “Secret Watch List,” Pesticide Drones, and Botched Bankruptcies: This Week’s Top MuckReads From ProPublica

Journalism in the public interest.
Dec. 2 2011 3:18 PM

The EPA’s “Secret Watch List,” Pesticide Drones, and Botched Bankruptcies

This week’s Top MuckReads from ProPublica.

Crime scene.
Many fatal shooting incidents involving Las Vegas police could have been prevented.

Darren Mower/iStockphoto.

Here are this week's top must-read stories from #MuckReads, ProPublica's ongoing collection of the best watchdog journalism. Anyone can contribute by tweeting a link to a story and just including the hashtag #MuckReads or by sending an email toMuckReads@ProPublica.org. The best submissions are selected by ProPublica's editors and reporters and then featured on Propublica’s site and @ProPublica.

In the wake of two controversial officer-shooter deaths last year, the Las Vegas Review-Journal went back to investigate 378 shooting incidents over two decades. The paper found an insular police department that is slow to weed out problem cops and slower to adopt policies that might protect both officers and citizens.

Contributed by @fjmccabe

Bankruptcy Filings Botched, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Bankruptcy is supposed to give people a fresh start, but those moving to file should beware of whom they hire to help. Bankruptcy judges have started to crack down on unscrupulous or incompetent bankruptcy-petition preparers, non-lawyers who often overcharge for shoddy work.

Contributed by @monicareida

It’s like California’s version of the “rubber room”—except for prison doctors. The Los Angeles Times reports that at least 30 doctors and other medical professionals accused of malpractice and incompetence in their treatment of inmates have collected six-figure salaries to perform either basic chores or no work at all while their cases wind their way through the state’s appeals process.

Contributed by @txtiamiller

D.C. council members have access to special funds that they are supposed to use to help needy constituents. But a Washington Times review of $3.3 million in payments showed that only a tiny percentage of the money went to paying power and water bills, and more was spent at sporting events.

Contributed by @JoeYerardi

The Federal Aviation Administration is working on a set of rules for the use of small drones in America’s skyways. Possible applications include police drones to spot and chase runaway criminals, utility drones to monitor oil and gas pipelines, and agricultural drones that would help spray crops with pesticides. Small drones have already found peacetime uses in Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, South Korea, and Turkey.

Contributed by @JohnMichaelEsq

In response to news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintained an internal, secret list of chronic violators of air pollution laws, the EPA has posted its September and October watch lists on its website.

Contributed by @srubenfeld

These stories and many more can be found at ProPublica. You can also subscribe to a daily #MuckReads email or follow ProPublica on Twitter. Reader submissions are key to making #MuckReads a success—please contribute!

Lois Beckett is a reporter at ProPublica.