Investigations


Flammable cladding used on buildings in Georgia, other states

For decades, architects and developers have put cheap, highly flammable wall panels on the exteriors of multi-story buildings. A four-story drug and alcohol treatment center in Atlanta has them. So does a six-story building at California State University. The panels might be on a 15-floor federal courthouse in Florida and a 33-story Marriott hotel in Baltimore. They apparently cover a front wall and...


Auto insurance bills skyrocket in Georgia but regulator powerless

Auto insurance bills skyrocket in Georgia but regulator powerless

Georgia led the nation with the highest increase in personal auto insurance rates in 2016, according to a new analysis, but rising rates is nothing new for the state’s drivers. Georgia ranked either first or second nationally for increases in the three previous years, too. State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said there is little he can do about skyrocketing rates because...
Commissioner silent as car insurance rates soar

Commissioner silent as car insurance rates soar

A decade ago, when Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens was a state lawmaker, he backed a bill that would free auto insurers from a rigorous pre-approval process when they wanted to jack up rates. “The information we were given at that time is if you let free-market principles take effect, competition was going to drive rates down,” Hudgens said. But since Georgia passed the bill...
Atlanta feds nail more international cybercriminals

Atlanta feds nail more international cybercriminals

Some of the world’s most notorious criminals have been brought to Atlanta in recent years. Known online by such names as M.U.R.D.E.R.E.R., Kolypto, RainerFox, Gribodemon and Track2, they are  cybercriminals, involved in schemes that collectively stole hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, there’s news that two investigations out of Atlanta have ties to the takedown of...

Are Georgia judges making the courts less open?

The Council of Superior Court Judges is considering changes to the rule allowing news cameras in the state’s courtrooms, raising alarms among transparency advocates. The council is attempting to rewrite a courtroom rule known as “Rule 22,” which governs how and when news organizations and others can shoot photos and roll cameras during trials. The council...
Drug screening lab under federal investigation heads for auction

Drug screening lab under federal investigation heads for auction

A drug testing lab in Gwinnett County that had been in the center of a campaign donation bundling scandal is up for auction amid a federal investigation. Confirmatrix Laboratory in Lawrenceville was raided by the FBI last November. Two days later, the firm filed for bankruptcy, citing a drop in business tied to lower Medicare payments for urine drug screenings, its bread-and-butter lab procedure...

Atlanta wealth adviser defrauded investors, federal agency says

How do you get wealthy? Atlanta resident Arthur Toole III said he knew the way. His burning desire, his website says, is to “destroy the barriers between you and your wealth.” What he destroyed, a federal agency says, were investments by people who followed his advice. They are out more than $293,000, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Thursday...
Watchdog: Drug lab raided by feds made millions. Now it’s for sale.

Watchdog: Drug lab raided by feds made millions. Now it’s for sale.

In November, federal agents raided a Lawrenceville toxicology lab, serving warrants and taking away boxes of papers. Two days later, the lab filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Next month it heads for the auction block after years of Medicare reimbursements at one of the highest rates in the nation, according to one study. The firm is Confirmatrix Laboratory, and if that name sounds at all familiar it&rsquo...
AG’s consumer case: When the hot air balloon ride you booked doesn’t happen

AG’s consumer case: When the hot air balloon ride you booked doesn’t happen

Be careful when you search online for that next big adventure outing — a hot air balloon ride, a sky diving trip or a helicopter tour. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr filed an action on Wednesday to stop Marvelay LLC  — a company operating online under the names “Spot Reservation” and “Rushcube” — which he said was defrauding...
Georgia adviser to star athletes heading to federal prison

Georgia adviser to star athletes heading to federal prison

Dozens of NBA stars once turned to Charles Augustus Banks IV for guidance on their investing their wealth. Wine lovers also looked to Banks, who owned prestigious vineyards and wineries. Now, the UGA graduate is heading to federal prison for wire fraud in connection with an investment scheme said to have duped former San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan...
Lucrative drug discount program gets attention of Congress

Lucrative drug discount program gets attention of Congress

A lucrative drug discount program that is a lifeline for charity hospitals and a money-maker for some health systems will be the subject of a congressional hearing next week. The 340B program requires drug makers participating in the Medicaid program to give deep discounts on outpatient drugs to hospitals that treat low-income patients. The program was created in 1992...
Gun was main concern when Atlanta hospital suspended surgeon, court says

Gun was main concern when Atlanta hospital suspended surgeon, court says

An Atlanta plastic surgeon reportedly said she was the reincarnation of ax murderer Lizzie Borden. She may have said the military wanted to hire her for her psychic powers, and that the government may be after her because she removed a microchip implanted in a patient in the federal witness protection program. But those statements aren’t the primary reason that Northside...
Georgia assisted living homes in limbo after SEC case settled

Georgia assisted living homes in limbo after SEC case settled

In 2014 and 2015, an eager businessman named Dwayne Edwards made the rounds in Georgia and Alabama, talking up his plans to buy and renovate assisted living facilities to serve frail elderly people. Before long, Edwards got what he was seeking from local officials: almost $62 million in bond financing that allowed his companies to buy and renovate nine assisted living homes...
Owner of The Intercept assisting accused NSA leaker’s legal defense

Owner of The Intercept assisting accused NSA leaker’s legal defense

The arrest of a National Security Agency contractor on an espionage charge last month had the world asking, who is Reality Winner? Court documents have shown how her identity became known in the first place: In trying to confirm a top-secret NSA report on the Russian government’s attempts to hack into U.S. election systems, a news outlet essentially led federal investigators to her as the source...
Too good to be true? Covington company’s health claims draw federal scrutiny

Too good to be true? Covington company’s health claims draw federal scrutiny

Does a company in Covington, Georgia have the secret to stimulating sexual energy, reducing wrinkles, spider veins and menopause symptoms, slowing the aging process, enhancing breasts, treating depression, improving sleep, increasing the size of lips, restoring thinning hair and decreasing body fat? On its website, Covington-based Star Health and Beauty made such claims for...
Prisons profit by ‘gouging’ poor families for calls

Prisons profit by ‘gouging’ poor families for calls

Advocates for prison reform say a federal court decision last month on the costs of prison phone calls hurts poor families. “The felons aren’t the ones paying the bills. It’s the families,” said Paul Wright, executive director of the Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center. “It’s just exploitation. It’s just gouging people.&rdquo...

$2.4 million settlement ends Atlanta hospice lawsuit

Another hospice serving Georgia patients has agreed to a multi-million-dollar settlement as a result of a lawsuit filed by whistleblowers. In the latest case, Compassionate Care Hospice Group agreed to pay $2.4 million to resolve allegations that its subsidiary, Compassionate Care of Atlanta, paid kickbacks to five physicians to get them to refer patients and...
Watchdog: Court decision penalizes inmate families

Watchdog: Court decision penalizes inmate families

A federal court’s decision last month to strike down caps on inmate phone call charges allows one of the more corrupt government programs to continue in Georgia and around the nation. If you aren’t aware of how this scam works, state prisons and local jails contract with a small group of companies to provide phone services for inmates, usually selecting the company that agrees to kick...
Foreigners own 1 million+ acres of Georgia ag land

Foreigners own 1 million+ acres of Georgia ag land

Georgia is among nine states where foreign interests own more than 1 million acres of land deemed agricultural, according to a recent report by The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. The roster of foreign owners shows companies or individuals from at least 39 countries own Georgia crop, pasture, timberland or other land. Companies from tiny Liechtenstein own 6,398...
Suit accuses boarding school of turning ‘blind eye’ to sexual abuse

Suit accuses boarding school of turning ‘blind eye’ to sexual abuse

A group of former students from the Darlington School, a private boarding school in northwest Georgia, filed a lawsuit late Friday claiming a teacher sexually abused them for years and that administrators did nothing in response. “Darlington turned a blind eye to the pain and suffering of its students,” according to the lawsuit, filed in Floyd Superior Court in Rome, where the school was...
VA’s $500 million technology project faced ‘catastrophic failure’

VA’s $500 million technology project faced ‘catastrophic failure’

A costly VA program to track medical equipment and prevent patient infections has been delayed a year because of troubled implementation, the Austin American-Statesman reveals in a new investigation. The Statesman reported that the $543 million project to digitally track medical equipment faced “catastrophic failure” for a host of problems implementing ...
Blurred lines and a tolerance of sex abuse at Georgia boarding school

Blurred lines and a tolerance of sex abuse at Georgia boarding school

One summer day in 1988, as he prepared to return to boarding school, Timothy Lee broke down crying. He refused to go back. Then he begged his mother not to tell anyone why. Lee’s mother called the Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, anyway, and repeated what her son had told her: A teacher named Roger Stifflemire had sexually abused him for the previous two years. This was at least the...

Two Atlanta doctors joining colleagues in federal prison

When William Richardson and Nevorn Askari report to federal prison for their roles in a pill mill operation, the two former Atlanta-area doctors could find themselves in some familiar company. At least a dozen other Georgia-licensed physicians have been sentenced to federal prisons since 2014 for violations involving opioids or other addictive substances. The AJC’s Becca Godwin wrote earlier...
Dancer drops racketeering claims against Cheetah; other suits remain

Dancer drops racketeering claims against Cheetah; other suits remain

A former exotic dancer has dropped a racketeering lawsuit against her former club, The Cheetah in midtown Atlanta, a move the club’s attorney says undermines her claims that the club fostered an atmosphere of sexual violence against its dancers. Cheetah attorney Kevin Ward called the lawsuit, filed in February in federal court, “nonsense and unsupportable, both under the law and based...
Historian: Civil War debate is about ‘who controls history’

Historian: Civil War debate is about ‘who controls history’

The demotion of Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, following his decision to distribute to colleagues an article challenging that slavery was the root cause of the Civil War raises an interesting question. Why did he do it? After all, the Civil War ended more than 150 years ago. Why is a Georgia state legislator so bent out of shape about its causes? “All of this is...
Watchdog: What does the Civil War have to do with us?

Watchdog: What does the Civil War have to do with us?

When House Speaker David Ralston punished fellow Republican Rep. Tommy Benton last week, stripping him of his committee chairmanship and removing him from a study committee on civics education, it came after nearly two years of provocative political acts. But it was the distribution to his House colleagues of an article from the magazine “Confederate Veteran” that triggered Ralston&rsquo...
Elderly at Johns Creek assisted living homes given unneeded physical therapy in billing scheme, feds say

Elderly at Johns Creek assisted living homes given unneeded physical therapy in billing scheme, feds say

In a wide-ranging scheme, SunDance Rehabilitation Corp. bilked U.S. taxpayers out of millions of dollars by billing Medicare for unnecessary physical therapy, a federal whistleblower lawsuit charged. On Friday, the government announced that the parent company of SunDance would pay $5.3 million to resolve the case. Georgia resident Teresa McAree filed the lawsuit in 2012, accusing SunDance of harassing...
Court rules feds can’t stop massive charges for many prison phone calls

Court rules feds can’t stop massive charges for many prison phone calls

A federal appeals court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to block phone companies from charging as much as $14 for a one-minute phone call on in-state prison phone calls, according to a recent report. Advocates for inmates have complained for more than a decade that a handful of private phone companies charge such high fees that the cost of calls can add up to thousands...
Hospitals chase lucrative drug discounts

Hospitals chase lucrative drug discounts

At Grady Memorial Hospital, where Atlanta’s poor and uninsured are welcomed, the pharmacy charges most patients $5 or less for outpatient medications that treat everything from diabetes to cancer. One reason Grady can offer patients such a good deal on costly pills and treatments is a little-known federal program called “340B.” That program, which saved Grady $29 million last year...
Ala. cities sue Georgia manufacturers over polluted water

Ala. cities sue Georgia manufacturers over polluted water

Centre, Ala., has become the latest to sue over drinking water allegedly polluted by Georgia’s carpet industry. At issue are the chemical compounds perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluoroctane sulfonate, known as PFOA and PFOS, which were used for decades to make carpets resistant to stains. They also were used in a variety of consumer goods from cookware to fast food...
Watchdog: Toxic chemicals in water prompt lawsuits, health concerns

Watchdog: Toxic chemicals in water prompt lawsuits, health concerns

Odds are that you have never heard of PFOA or PFOS, but you’ve most certainly been exposed to them. The acronyms are short for perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluoroctane sulfonate, chemicals that were widely used for everything from Teflon coating on cookware, grease-resistant fast food wrappers and stain-resistant carpet. PFOA and PFOS were popular chemicals for decades until relatively recent...

Fort Gordon hit by second scandal as Reality Winner case unfolded

As the Reality Winner case was unfolding this week, Fort Gordon found itself in a second controversy. A grand jury on Wednesday indicted Army Col. Anthony Tyrone Roper and his wife, Audra, along with an officer of a large defense contracting company, Dwayne Oswald Fulton. They are accused of taking part in a bribery scheme aimed at obtaining over $20 million in Army and private company contracts....
Why was controversial Georgia lawmaker named to civics committee?

Why was controversial Georgia lawmaker named to civics committee?

Over the past two years, State Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, called African-American slaves “property” and fostered legislation requiring the state to recognize Robert E. Lee’s birthday, Confederate Memorial Day and Confederate History Month. He also said the Ku Klux Klan “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order,” he said. &ldquo...
Watchdog: Benton appointment demeans Georgia House

Watchdog: Benton appointment demeans Georgia House

When House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, considered Rep. Tommy Benton for a seat on a civics education study committee, he apparently saw nothing other than a retired middle school history teacher. That, in itself, says something about the political culture of the Georgia House. For the better part of two years, Benton, R-Jefferson, has made a name for himself with his remarks about the Ku...
Accused leaker’s social posts not enough to shake top secret clearance

Accused leaker’s social posts not enough to shake top secret clearance

Reality Leigh Winner spent months unleashing a tirade of social media posts calling the president of the United States, among other things, an “orange fascist.” But were her political rantings enough to remove her from a position that gave her access to classified National Security Agency material? The answer apparently is no. As the security and intelligence communities try to come to...
Augusta at center of NSA leak investigation

Augusta at center of NSA leak investigation

Before her arrest in the National Security Agency leak investigation drew headlines around the world this week, Reality Leigh Winner worked here, a major hub in the government’s sprawling intelligence-gathering network. Thousands of code breakers, cyber security researchers, intelligence analysts, IT experts and other specialists — military members and private contract employees...
AMA tackles sex abuse — of doctors, by doctors

AMA tackles sex abuse — of doctors, by doctors

The American Medical Association will no longer tolerate sexual misconduct by physicians – at least if their victims are other doctors, and if the abuse occurs at an AMA event. But the association is doing nothing to crack down on predators who violate other victims: their patients. The AMA, the nation’s largest and most influential medical society, convenes its annual meeting...
Woodall meets privately with tea party, rejects demands for town hall

Woodall meets privately with tea party, rejects demands for town hall

Critics of U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall say his decision to meet quietly with a Gwinnett County tea party group Thursday, rather than hold a public town hall, ignores the wishes of a lot of his constituents. “He has an obligation to hear all points of view,” said Ilene Johnson, communications director for the Gwinnett County Democratic Party. “He is obligated to represent everybody...
Georgia medical board can’t touch doctor linked to inmate deaths

Georgia medical board can’t touch doctor linked to inmate deaths

From all appearances, it should have been a layup for the Georgia Composite Medical Board. A report from Augusta University cited one of its doctors working in the state prison system for providing substandard care to female inmates. As a direct result of that poor care, the report said, two women died. The physician should be permanently barred from treating inmates and reported to the medical...
Watchdog: Woodall holds hush-hush forum in district, ducks town hall

Watchdog: Woodall holds hush-hush forum in district, ducks town hall

When U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall took questions at a forum in Lawrenceville Thursday evening, he called most of his questioners by their first names. That’s because there are few regulars at the United Tea Party of Georgia’s monthly meeting the four-term Republican doesn’t know. What was missing was angry commentary about the health care bill passed by House Republicans last month or uncomfortable...
Metro elected official owes thousands in unpaid utility bills

Metro elected official owes thousands in unpaid utility bills

An East Point councilwoman is thousands of dollars behind in her utility bills to the city, but city officials have kept her power on even while hundreds of residents are threatened with losing theirs. Sharon Shropshire, who lives with her parents in the south Fulton city of 35,000, did not respond to multiple requests for comment, but she’s been a vocal critic of East Point’s utility...
Watchdog: Elected official runs thousands in debt to city utility

Watchdog: Elected official runs thousands in debt to city utility

The Shropshires of Delowe Avenue in East Point have not been paying their utility bills. That would hardly be news except one of the residents of the home is East Point City Councilwoman Sharon Shropshire, a longstanding and vocal opponent of how much the city charges residents for electric, water, sewer and garbage services. Despite running up close to $9,000 in unpaid bills by the end of last year...
Georgia contractor sentenced for environmental crime

Georgia contractor sentenced for environmental crime

Crews working for contractor Larry Miller of Palmetto, Georgia, were exposed to asbestos fibers during interior demolition of an historic building in the District of Columbia.
Defunct Kennesaw travel company owes groups throughout U.S.

Defunct Kennesaw travel company owes groups throughout U.S.

On Monday, a New York high school singing group was expecting to be on its way to Cuba. Instead, the students are each out a reported $2,700, the latest left stranded by Kennesaw-based Harmony International. As the AJC reported earlier this month, families of band students at four California high schools said they were out as much as $140,000 they paid for tours to Japan. Now, a New York TV station...
Watchdog: 6th District race puts voting rights groups on the street

Watchdog: 6th District race puts voting rights groups on the street

Record numbers of voters cast their ballots in Georgia last November and volunteers are scurrying around the 6th Congressional District registering scores of new voters ahead of the June 20th runoff. Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project, says increased access to the ballot has a lot to do with activist groups pushing against a state more inclined to put limits on registration...
Watchdog: 6th District runoff latest skirmish in voting rights war

Watchdog: 6th District runoff latest skirmish in voting rights war

These past two weeks have been great for shareholders in the clipboard industry as an army of volunteers canvassed Georgia’s 6th Congressional District registering voters ahead of the June 20 runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff. The last-minute push for new voters came as a result of a federal lawsuit brought against the state by a coalition of civil rights groups...
Trump’s order on churches may have unintended consequences

Trump’s order on churches may have unintended consequences

A lobbyist for Southern Baptists in Georgia is cheering President Donald Trump’s move to roll back a 63-year-old ban on churches’ direct involvement in political campaigns. Mike Griffin, lobbyist for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, the state affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the federal tax law that bars churches and ministers from direct campaigning...
Why is ‘Predator, M.D.’ still practicing? Indian court wants to know

Why is ‘Predator, M.D.’ still practicing? Indian court wants to know

Dr. Narendra Gupta has fallen under scrutiny in his home country, following revelations in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Breakdown” podcast that within months of Georgia banishing him for sexually abusing patients, he resumed practicing in India.
Group suspends campaign for justice in brutal Ga. police shooting

Group suspends campaign for justice in brutal Ga. police shooting

The Justice for Caroline Small group that sought a new grand jury to review the Brunswick mother’s 2010 brutal police shooting death announced this week its plan to scale back efforts to reopen the case. The group’s decision comes after a 20-month campaign failed to persuade Gov. Nathan Deal, Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson and other officials in Georgia to assign a special...
Watchdog: Does Trump executive order free ‘bullied’ pulpits?

Watchdog: Does Trump executive order free ‘bullied’ pulpits?

Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order following up on campaign promises to loosen restrictions on churches’ involvement in politics and chipping away at a 63-year-old federal ban on endorsements from the pulpit. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore,” Trump said the day of the signing, which corresponded with the National...
AJC Watchdog: Hapeville confronts fallout from Ruth Barr conviction

AJC Watchdog: Hapeville confronts fallout from Ruth Barr conviction

Hapeville City Councilwoman Ruth Barr has been suspended from office following her conviction last week on felony theft charges in Gwinnett County, but local residents had been calling for her to be removed for more than a year. “They knew all about Ruth Barr. They knew they could have impeached her,” said George Rogan, a member of the Hapeville Community Coalition. Not...
Georgia, Texas carried out 80 percent of U.S. executions in 2016

Georgia, Texas carried out 80 percent of U.S. executions in 2016

Georgia and Texas carried out 80 percent of the nation’s executions in 2016, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. During 2016, five states executed 20 inmates. That total was the smallest number of executions since 1991, according to the report and eight fewer executions than the number carried out in 2015. Georgia topped the 2016 charts with...
Watchdog: Did small town dysfunction keep Ruth Barr in office?

Watchdog: Did small town dysfunction keep Ruth Barr in office?

Ruth Barr’s empty chair gaped like a missing tooth at Tuesday’s Hapeville City Council meeting, a visual symbol of more than a year of turmoil and division in this south Fulton County city of about 7,000 people. “It’s not a fun time. I’ve known Ms. Barr for most of my adult life,” Mayor Alan Hallman said. “It’s a small town.” A Gwinnett County...
Dark Overlord Netflix hacker attacked Atlanta medical records

Dark Overlord Netflix hacker attacked Atlanta medical records

Before Netflix’s hit Orange is the New Black was stolen and held for ransom, an Atlanta health clinic was the victim of hackers known as The Dark Overlord. That attack put more than half a million patients in five Georgia counties at risk of having their personal information stolen, the AJC reported last year. In that case, the hackers put some batches of stolen data up for sale and threatened...
How a Georgia product was tied to rare case of liver failure

How a Georgia product was tied to rare case of liver failure

Dr. Rohit Satoskar doesn’t know Marcus Joyner or why he needed a liver transplant, but he  knows this: When healthy individuals in their 20s undergo that procedure, it usually means something out of the ordinary has occurred.
Pills and a lie lead to prison, deportation for a Decatur man

Pills and a lie lead to prison, deportation for a Decatur man

The “male enhancement” pills had names like Maxman, Rock Hard Weekend and Stiff Nights and were sold as natural dietary supplements. The hidden ingredient: the same one in prescription drug Viagra. Now, a Decatur man has been sentenced to prison and has lost his U.S. citizenship in connection with the scheme to illegally import and distribute the pills. When the pills came in from China...
AJC Watchdog: DC lawyers, liberal groups push 6th District lawsuit

AJC Watchdog: DC lawyers, liberal groups push 6th District lawsuit

With the nation’s most closely watched congressional race headed to a runoff in June, a D.C.-based voting rights advocacy group is pressing in federal court to reopen voter registration. It is the latest legal maneuver for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. The non-profit law firm dates back to the Kennedy administration, but it’s been very active in Georgia since...

Tucker company sold defective steel to nuclear waste facility near Augusta

UPDATED: To ensure that a nuclear facility would be safe, the U.S. government paid a premium to Energy & Process Corp. of Tucker to supply top-quality rebar. The company certified that it had made all quality checks. But a third of the steel rebar the company supplied for the nuclear waste plant – about 10,000 tons – was defective, the government said in a lawsuit accusing the company...
Alt-right targeting colleges, experts say. Is Georgia prepared?

Alt-right targeting colleges, experts say. Is Georgia prepared?

In March the Georgia Board of Regents adopted a system-wide “freedom of expression” policy limiting outside speakers and large demonstrations to specifically designated campus areas as a way of handling protests. But it’s unclear if that policy would provide any protection against the type of speech that roiled the Auburn University campus Tuesday when white supremacist Richard...

Safety alert: Doraville company recalls ice cream treats

Thousands of ice cream treats sold by Doraville company La Granja may be contaminated with salmonella, according to an alert from the U.S Food and Drug Administration. The company is recalling 4,000 of the mango-flavored ice cream treats, distributed in Georgia, Alabama and North and South Carolina, FDA says. A routine sampling program by the U.S Department of Agriculture discovered the issue. So...
Are Georgia colleges ready for alt-right rallies?

Are Georgia colleges ready for alt-right rallies?

White supremacist Richard Spencer had rented Foy Hall’s 430-seat auditorium for two hours Tuesday, and when time was up Auburn University officials invited those who remained to leave. For some members of Spencer’s supporters, that meant walking near hundreds of Auburn students and a much smaller number of anti-fascist protesters who had waited through the evening behind police barricades...
Secrecy of public hospital records at issue in Ga. Supreme Court case

Secrecy of public hospital records at issue in Ga. Supreme Court case

The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a high-profile case that will determine whether Northside Hospital can keep its business secret — even though it operates a hospital that is owned by the public. The case is being closely watched because it could influence the public’s ability to access the records of public hospitals across Georgia that are operated by non-profit organizations...
Opioid doctor finally loses his Georgia license, but order doesn’t say why

Opioid doctor finally loses his Georgia license, but order doesn’t say why

Now that a Georgia doctor is heading to prison, the Georgia Composite Medical Board finally has taken action on his medical license — four years after the raid on the pill-mill clinic where he worked. As of April 12, the board’s website still showed that Dr. Paul Ruble was actively licensed and had not been subjected to any disciplinary actions by Georgia. But April 13, the board signed...
Lobbyists give Georgia lawmakers a $400,000 buffet

Lobbyists give Georgia lawmakers a $400,000 buffet

Lobbyists spent more than $400,000 on group events over three months during the 2017 legislative session which ended in March. Those group expenditures ranged from large, open-invitation buffets at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot across from the Capitol to dinners hosted at some of Atlanta’s best restaurants, where entire committees were feted by special interests. While individual gifts...
What does Georgia’s savings account look like?

What does Georgia’s savings account look like?

Gov. Nathan Deal has been bragging for months about how well Georgia has rebounded since the economic collapse of the Great Recession and with good reason. Georgia surpassed $2 billion in reserve funds last year. But what does that figure mean? A new 50-state study released this week by the Pew Charitable Trusts finds that Georgia has 35 days of emergency operating expenses in reserve, down from...
Georgia lobbyists, lawmakers dine out on weak ethics law

Georgia lobbyists, lawmakers dine out on weak ethics law

Asking lawmakers at the State Capitol to give up the freebies they receive from lobbyists is like asking an alcoholic to stop drinking. They first have to admit they have a problem. In 2013, the General Assembly passed a significant lobbying reform bill, answering the loud complaints of voters across the political spectrum. With four years of perspective, I think we can admit that parts of it don&rsquo...
Is Atlanta a segregated community?

Is Atlanta a segregated community?

A new study by the Urban Institute finds that cities where residents are segregated by race and income are less prosperous than more integrated cities. To further its point, the Washington, D.C.,-based public policy center ranked the 100 most populous cities in the nation by degree of segregation. Researchers found that areas with higher levels of racial and economic segregation had negative effects...
Oversight lags as for-profit firms take on caring for the vulnerable

Oversight lags as for-profit firms take on caring for the vulnerable

Christen Gordon became a ward of the state when she was 9 months old. Disabled since birth, she would never walk or talk, never dress herself or eat on her own. She would never live a day without constant assistance. For a decade, she got that support at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. By all accounts, she thrived. But then, in 2012, the state outsourced her care to a for-profit corporation...
AJC investigation wins national recognition

AJC investigation wins national recognition

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has won another national award for its investigation of doctors who sexually abuse their patients. Investigative Reporters and Editors this week honored the “Doctors & Sex Abuse” project as the best investigative work of 2016 by a mid-sized print or online news organization. Judges noted that the Journal-Constitution unveiled system sex abuse of patients...
Here’s what you need to know before playing daily fantasy sports

Here’s what you need to know before playing daily fantasy sports

Georgia lawmakers this year shelved a bill that would have legalized online daily fantasy sports by declaring them games of skill, not chance. But if daily online fantasy sports ever does get Georgia’s OK, players should know this about the skills involved. Most winners are professionals who use automated computer “scripts” and sophisticated statistical and game theory strategies...
How Atlanta can speed up I-85 repairs

How Atlanta can speed up I-85 repairs

In the days after a spectacular tanker truck fire collapsed a busy San Francisco Bay area interchange overpass, the region braced for a traffic nightmare that California officials estimated could last months. Then a tall, brash road builder with a record of working fast stepped in with a bold plan. Eight days after the 2007 bridge collapse, C.C. Myers told the world he would beat the state-set completion...
I-85 collapse exposes vulnerability of congested city

I-85 collapse exposes vulnerability of congested city

In the shadows beneath the interstate, a chain-link fence surrounded long-forgotten construction materials. A bent gate yawned wide, enough to render a padlock securing the site all but useless. This is where two of Atlanta’s most intractable problems – traffic congestion and chronic homelessness – converged late Thursday afternoon. A fire allegedly set by a homeless man engulfed ...

Used car dealers didn’t warn buyers about possible safety recalls, FTC says

In selling used cars, CarMax, Georgia-based Asbury Automotive Group and West-Herr Automotive Group advertised how rigorously they inspected them. But the dealers didn’t adequately disclose that some of the cars needed repairs because of safety recalls, the Federal Trade Commission charged. On Friday, the three companies were ordered to mail notices to customers to let them know that vehicles...
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