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Must reads: Texas watchdog journalism roundup for Feb 5, 2018

Luxury condos in San Antonio received tax incentives
Luxury condos in San Antonio received tax incentives.

Welcome to the latest installment of the Texas watchdog journalism roundup, a series that showcases hard-hitting investigative stories in Texas that uncovered hidden facts, held officials accountable and demonstrated why journalism matters.

City of San Antonio awards developers $10 million in incentives for luxury condo tower — $173,400 for each unit | The San Antonio Express-News

A city program to encourage people to live in downtown San Antonio is spending $10 million in tax incentives and fee waivers on the Arts Residences and Thompson San Antonio hotel, a 20-story luxury tower of hotel rooms and condos. One City Council critic calls it a “ludicrous” amount of money to spend on housing that few residents can afford. Story by Richard Webner

Standoff: How the Dallas SWAT team cornered and killed the July 7 police shooter | The Dallas Morning News

Hours of interviews with Dallas SWAT officers revealed new details about how police cornered and eventually killed gunman Micah Xavier Johnson, who was on a mission to kill police on July 7, 2016. Told in a narrative that puts readers in the shoes of SWAT officers engaged in a deadly, close-range shootout with Johnson, the story shows what they dealt with and how they came up with the idea to put a bomb on a remote-controlled robot to take out Johnson. Story by Jamie Thompson

Caught on Camera: TxDOT dumping roadkill, waste and more | KXAN-TV

A hidden-camera investigation by KXAN revealed that Texas Department of Transportation employees used state equipment to dump roadkill and debris near a state highway. KXAN also discovered oily sludge seeping into the soil and running down the back of the dump into a drainage area within the sensitive Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. The station’s findings sparked an inquiry by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Story by David Barer, Jody Barr and Josh Hinkle

‘They’re just setting those babies up for the penitentiary’: How minor offenses feed overcrowding at Houston youth jail | The Texas Tribune

Kids across Texas are getting in less trouble with the law — yet Harris County is locking up more juveniles. The Texas Tribune analyzed county data and found that a rising number of offenses were for minor violations that shouldn’t have landed kids behind bars in the first place. Story by Neena Satija

Sheriff media consultant works without contract | The Victoria Advocate

The Victoria County Sheriff’s Office paid media consultant William Ward Wyatt more than $68,000 in fees without any contract or document laying out his duties. The payments occurred during a period when the sheriff’s office failed to get timely information to the public about serious crimes. Story by Jessica Priest

Assisted living facility hit with violations after Trouble Shooters begin investigating | News 4 San Antonio

State officials investigated Amber Oaks, an assisted living community for the elderly in San Antonio, after New 4 San Antonio obtained photos and video from inside the facility. The TV station learned that a rat had bitten one resident, and another elderly woman had resorted to squashing bed bugs herself. Story by Jaie Avila

Dallas City Council candidates accepted $78,000 from people tied to bus agency bribery case | The Dallas Morning News and KXAS-TV

The FBI is investigating a company that pumped $78,000 into the campaigns of 15 Dallas City Council candidates, some of whom said they didn’t know who was writing the campaign checks. Story by Miles Moffeit, Tristan Hallman and Holly K. Hacker

New Details Alleged in Scheme to Make Millions Off First Border Wall in Texas | The Texas Tribune and ProPublica

Court records are revealing new details about a $232 million project to build a fence on the Texas border and rehabilitate aging levies — while paying companies tied to Godfrey Garza Jr., Hidalgo County’s drainage director. Story by Kiah Collier and T. Christian Miller

Did I miss a good story? Contact me or leave a comment below. Don’t forget to sign up for blog updates and check out more watchdog journalism from the great state of Texas.

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