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Whistleblowers across the VA have been filing record claims of retaliation this year. They have been instrumental in highlighting problems at the agency that administrators and senior leaders have tried to keep hidden. Daphne Ivery is the president of union at the national Health Eligibility Enrollment Center in Atlanta started wearing a whistle this summer to show support for those speaking out. BEN GRAY / BGRAY@AJC.COM

VA misled public, vets on health care backlog

Senior VA officials pushed untrue and misleading information to veterans, the public and Congress to blunt a potential scandal involving a backlog of hundreds of thousands of applications for access to VA health care, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation has found.The misinformation came from top officials at the VA’s national Health ...

Cpl. John Lowe of the Doraville police department writes a speeding ticket for a driver he clocked at 51 mph in a 35 zone. On a per capita basis, Doraville generates the highest revenue from traffic tickets of any jurisdiction in metro Atlanta.

Atlanta's ticket traps: slow down or pay up

As he drives west on I-285 toward his job in Cobb County, Jason Bell often sees Doraville police cruisers lying in wait for speeders. On May 4 they caught him — 79 in a 55. He says he was just going with the flow of traffic at 7:30 a.m. on ...

DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer postured herself as a fiscal watchdog. She now faces up to two years in prison for schemes that bilked DeKalb taxpayers, but her felony conviction will not affect her county pension. Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

Ex-DeKalb commissioner Boyer will get full pension benefits

After apologizing to DeKalb County taxpayers for fleecing them through fraud schemes, ex-commissioner Elaine Boyer hit them up for more money. Boyer has applied for her county retirement payments, and DeKalb’s pension board will grant her full benefits. That means the crooked former politician, who is 58, will collect tens ...

Moha Mechanical Services was hired to install a new air conditioning system inside the DeKalb County animal shelter. Instead, it cleaned and insulated the air ducts already in the building, then submitted what a consultant deemed a suspicious bill. A company official has since been charged with theft by deception. KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

DeKalb County woes go far beyond Ellis

A mechanical services company from Snellville made $85,000 off DeKalb County taxpayers last year — by doing the wrong work and handing in a suspicious bill.An outside consultant urged county officials to dig deeper, warning that the bill included suspect fees and charges for materials that the company couldn’t back ...

The 26-story Post Alexander II, at 600 Phipps Boulevard, in Buckhead is among the luxury apartment projects granted tax breaks by Fulton County’s development authority. The new tower is next to the existing Post Alexander community, which features a resort-style pool with sundeck, clubroom with billiards table and units with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, according to the Post Properties website. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Fulton grants tax breaks for luxury apartment projects

Developers of luxury apartments in wealthy neighborhoods have received tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks the past two years from a Fulton County incentive program envisioned for corporate expansions and relocations. For that public investment, the posh towers and complexes in Midtown, Buckhead and other Fulton development hot ...

Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee observes the singing of the National Anthem during the official, Sept. 16, groundbreaking for the new Braves stadium. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Memo to Tim Lee: Never stiff a million-dollar lawyer

Cobb County Chairman Tim Lee has demonstrated an impressive set of skills during his campaign to woo the Atlanta Braves to Cobb, including one rarely seen before.Was that skill keeping a multi-hundred-million-dollar, public-private deal top secret?No.Was it springing a complex stadium plan on his fellow elected commissioners and then persuading ...

'Trust system' allows Georgia doctors to omit black marks on records

The public profile for Dr. Rose Horne posted online by the Georgia Composite Medical Board shows she has been convicted of a felony. It also includes a brief description of the crime — or at least the version Horne remembers. “Offense associated with my spouse nearly annihilating me,” her description ...

Dr. Yiu Fei Shih operates a walk-in clinic in Doraville.

Doctor’s troubles began in Tennessee, continued in Georgia

After a decade operating clinics in small Tennessee towns, Dr. Yiu-Fei Shih found himself under scrutiny from that state’s medical board. The board accused the physician of gross over-prescribing of addictive drugs to 15 patients without proper documentation to justify the amounts. “If each patient was not addicted to drugs ...

Chris Riley, 45, has worked for Nathan Deal since college and rarely leaves the governor’s side. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

For Deal and Riley, loyalty is the tie that binds

On many weekends, arguably the second most powerful person inside the Georgia Capitol can be found up to his elbows in manure. Chris Riley calls caring for his two dozen cows “pure therapy,” an escape from the politics that rule his days in Atlanta as chief of staff to Gov. ...

This is the police mug shot of Dr. Armando Sanchez, who pleaded no contest in Texas in 2002 to solicitation of capital murder.

Georgia board licenses doctors other states won’t

In a building that once housed a taxi service, Dr. Armando Sanchez plies his trade. “Abierto Los 7 Dias” — open seven days — reads the sign out front at the Sanchez Medical Clinic, wedged among the auto insurance agents and pawn brokers on Windy Hill Road in Smyrna. Sanchez, ...

University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby in August launched a task force to examine student safety at Georgia Tech, pictured here, and the state’s 30 other public institutions. The committee will focus on the safety training and performance of campus officers, along with consistency and quality of reporting under the Clery Act. Georgia Tech, in the heart of Atlanta, makes lighting students’ walkways a priority for campus safety. JASON GETZ / AJC FILE

At many Ga. colleges, reports of sex assault rise

The 18-year-old freshman was discovered by fellow students, passed out in a men’s shower stall at a University of Georgia dormitory wearing only an oversized T-shirt that wasn’t hers. Curled up in the fetal position, a dark bruise ran the length of her neck. The last thing she remembers: a ...

The five members of the state ethics commission rarely meet together as a group for meetings, and instead call in to a conference telephone in the commission’s state offices in downtown Atlanta. CHRIS JOYNER / cjoyner@ajc.com

Ethics panel’s woes rooted in poor hiring, oversight

When the state ethics commissioners gathered earlier this month to fire their executive secretary they didn’t gather at all. Instead, staff attorneys set up a speakerphone, which the media dutifully encircled with microphones and waited for the appointed board members to dial in remotely. The farcical scene was too apt. ...

The state ethics commission, officially known as the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, has an office in the Sloppy Floyd government building in downtown Atlanta. Phil Skinner pskinner@ajc.com PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

Ethics backlog undermines transparency

Lawton Jordan has been on the state ethics commission for nearly a year, but Tuesday’s scheduled meeting will mark a milestone for the Decatur attorney: his first opportunity to actually settle an ethics complaint. The body officially called the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission has been in such ...

Former DeKalb procurement chief Kelvin Walton testified in front of the Board of Shame, listing the tawdry details of how he came to snitch on former boss Burrell Ellis.  BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

Just got back from the Ellis trial. Anybody got hand sanitizer?

A visit to DeKalb County court this week was a jaunt to government’s seamy underbelly. There at the front of Judge Courtney Johnson’s courtroom, his countenance dour, sat one Kelvin Walton, a well-dressed, sad-eyed plug of a man. Strategically positioned behind Walton, the star witness in the corruption case against ...

Retaliation claims rise sharply at VA

Complaints of retaliation against whistleblowers at the Department of Veterans Affairs more than doubled in recent months, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis, and one of the highest profile VA whistleblowers claims he and the chief witness in his case have been subjected to retaliation in Atlanta. The new claims ...

The remnants of an ammunition point remains fenced in at Fort Gillem.

EPA: Army must move faster on Fort Gillem contamination

It’s been more than a month since the U.S. Army tested the air in Chad Partin’s Forest Park home for toxic chemicals and known carcinogens seeping off nearby Fort Gillem, a now-closed base where Army personnel regularly dumped solvents into the soil. Partin still hasn’t been told the results. And ...

The Medical Association of Georgia hosted an all-expenses paid retreat for Georgia lawmakers July 26, 2014, at the Jekyll Island Club. Legislators exempted such junkets from limits on lobbyist spending. The truck of state Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, is pictured in the foreground. Contributed.

Georgia legislators hit the beach

The General Assembly’s decision to carve out a sun-splashed exception to limits on big-money lobbyist spending resulted in a hectic beach convention season for lawmakers this summer. There was plenty of mingling, beach time, golf and cocktails to go around, even though many lawmakers were also busy running for re-election. ...

Lottery retailer Kip Wise of Griffin used to sometimes buy winning lottery tickets at a discount from his customers. People often sell tickets at a discount to avoiding paying back taxes, child support or other money they owe the state. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Lottery lets players collect 100-plus prizes. Is something fishy?

How do certain people win the lottery several times in a single day, and not just piddling sums, but prizes of $600 or more? How does someone win prizes of that size at an average pace of more than once a month for a decade? How can at least 134 ...

It wasn’t until DeKalb County officials saw this magazine cover that they figured out that a key administrator was simultaneously working for another government agency. The administrator, Patrick Jackson, then resigned on the spot, officials said. He now is accused of public corruption, allegedly taking bribes to steer a contract.

Another DeKalb official bilked taxpayers, feds allege

For six years, Patrick Jackson drew full-time salaries at taxpayers’ expense from both the DeKalb County government and the Georgia World Congress Center — and neither agency noticed the two-timing. Nor did they figure out, until years later, that his former employer was landing lucrative janitorial contracts with each agency, ...

State Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, is considering legislation to increase transparency at the state parole board.

Lawmaker mulls more openness for parole board

State Rep. Kevin Tanner was a Dawson County deputy sheriff when Keith Evans was beaten and shot to death in 1991. Tanner says the case stuck with him as he and others waited — for one decade, then two, then more — for the execution of one of Evans’ killers, ...

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