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Must reads: Texas watchdog journalism roundup for August 16, 2017

San Antonio cancels ShotSpotter gunshot detection system

Investigative stories across Texas that uncovered hidden facts and held officials accountable.

San Antonio police cut pricey gunshot detection system | San Antonio Express-News

San Antonio police officers have made only four arrests and confiscated seven weapons that can be attributed to an expensive, highly touted gunshot detection system called ShotSpotter. That’s $136,500 per arrest. Read more …

Meet Chris Lykins, the funny weather guy at the Express-News

Chris Lykins, Comedic Genius Behind Weather Updates

If you read weather updates on Facebook from the San Antonio Express-News, then you’re keenly aware that it’s summer and the forecaster is not happy about it. “There is no weather,” a typical forecast reads. “There is only this. Always this. Unchanging. Eternal. Forever. This.” Then there was this gem: “It’s mostly sunny and almost … Read more

Must reads: Texas watchdog journalism roundup for July 23, 2017

Gilbert Flores shot by Bexar County deputies

Investigative stories across Texas that uncovered hidden facts and held officials accountable.

Decision to ‘end this’ after 12-minute standoff left Gilbert Flores dead | San Antonio Express-News

After a 12-minute confrontation with a belligerent, knife-wielding man who said he wanted to die, two Bexar County sheriff’s deputies turned to each other and agreed on “ending this,” according to their sworn civil depositions obtained by the San Antonio Express-News. But the deputies decided to open fire moments after the man, Gilbert Flores, raised his arms in apparent surrender. Read more …

How to find and analyze tax records of charities: The IRS 990 form explained

Texas Highway Patrol Museum

The Texas Highway Patrol Museum was a weird place. It used to sit on a busy street corner near downtown San Antonio. Yet whenever I drove by, I hardly ever saw anyone inside. More than once I wondered, what’s the deal? I found the answers in the IRS Form 990 — the publicly available tax … Read more

Must reads: Texas watchdog journalism roundup for June 25, 2017

Ticket to the Top

Investigative stories across Texas that uncovered hidden facts and held officials accountable.

Ticket to the Top | San Antonio Express-News

“How tiny St. Anthony Catholic High School got involved in a questionable recruiting pipeline that included the University of the Incarnate Word, a talent scout and a booster to land star Nigerian basketball player Charles Bassey, one of the top big men in the country.” Read more …

Must reads: Texas watchdog journalism roundup for June 18, 2017

Apartments owned by David Starr

Low-income landlord David Starr gets tax breaks despite allegations of poor living conditions | San Antonio Express-News

“Over the last 25 years, Starr has used property tax breaks, state tax credits and tax-exempt bonds to build a real estate empire throughout Texas and in Florida, Illinois, Kansas and other states. Most of his local complexes have been financed through two nonprofits he runs: American Opportunity for Housing and American Agape Foundation. Those nonprofits have a long history of allegations of poor and sometimes dangerous living conditions, according to court filings, complaints filed with the city of San Antonio and interviews with more than a dozen current and former residents. Read more …

Interactive map: How the major candidates fared in the 2017 San Antonio mayoral election

Campaign workers at Huebner Elementary in the May 2017 election

After every election, Bexar County officials release voting-precinct data that make for interesting reading for anyone who wants to know how their neighborhood voted or how each candidate fared in different parts of the community. For the 2017 mayoral race in San Antonio, here’s how the results look in an interactive map we made based … Read more

Interactive map shows how Bexar County voted in the 2016 presidential election

Election Day in Bexar County

Hillary Clinton lost the election — but not in Bexar County. We can see which parts of the county and San Antonio supported Clinton or GOP presidential winner Donald Trump thanks to the Bexar County Elections Department, which releases precinct-level voting results after every election. This interactive map we created from the data follows a … Read more

How shoe-leather reporting uncovered a bizarre bankruptcy tied to Senator Carlos Uresti

Patrick Danner story about Carlos Uresti

Earlier this year, Express-News business writer Patrick Danner set out to write a story about the rising number of oil and gas companies going bust in South Texas. What he found instead was a bizarre saga about a bankrupt company accused of fraud and its hidden ties to Texas state Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio. … Read more

How to check safety inspections for any elevator or escalator in Texas

View from the Tower of the Americas

The elevators at the Tower of the Americas in San Antonio look like something out of the Jetsons. Yet every once in a while, the futuristic contraptions get stuck, stranding people hundreds of feet in the air. Last week it happened again. Firefighters rescued 14 people, including two children, who were trapped inside a stalled … Read more