Selected Stories

Prostitution Decriminalized:Rhode Island’s Experiment: Aired/published on WHYY’s “The Pulse”. For several years, ending in 2009, indoor prostitution such as in massage parlors, strip clubs and online escorts, was not a crime in this tiny New England State. The whole thing happened somewhat unintentionally. But at the time, it fueled a heated public debate about sex, crime and health. Years later, some are revisiting the lessons learned. Read More

Behind the Blue Line: an eight part series on the business of policing in America. Aired/published nationally on Marketplace and internationally on the BBC. When you have an emergency, you’re supposed to call 911, but for some Americans, calling the police can seem just as scary as the situation they’re trying to get help with. Read More

California’s Pension Crisis: a multi-platform collaborative series with Calmatters.org, Capitol Public Radio and the Los Angeles Times.  Aired/published  across California.  As California’s public-employee pension crisis grows—with taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars, and no clear plan for how to pay—other states are facing similar problems, and have lessons to teach.  Read More

First Cut: a multi-platform collaborative series with the Tacoma Tribune on Washington’s newest high value crop – Marijuana.  Aired/published across the Northwest. Figuring out how to maximize yields on legal marijuana in Washington state will be tricky, and not every licensed farmer will survive the competition and the tight margins. Read More   

Cross platform series on high c-section rates in maternity care.  Aired/published across the Northwest.  Public health officials across the U.S. say the number of cesarean sections being performed has gotten way out of hand. It’s a life-saving surgery for complicated births, but today nearly a third of pregnancies end up as a C-section. Read More                                                                                                      

How Electro Convulsive Therapy’s Troubled Past Has Colored Its Modern Use.  Aired/published on WHYY’s “The Pulse”. Electroconvulsive therapy, widely known as shock therapy, or ECT, has been an icon for medical abuse in the public mind. It’s one of the most polarizing treatments in medicine. Read More

As Baby Boomers Age, Alzheimer Research Picks Up.  Aired on Colorado Public Radio.  Chances are you know one of the 5.3 million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, you may know a few more. By then, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data, that figure is expected to triple as baby boomers age. Read More

How Dentists Are Contributing To The Opioid Crisis.  Aired/published on WHYY’s “The Pulse”.  Dentists, oral surgeons and endodontists have long occupied a rather overlooked position when it comes to addressing pain. While general practitioners and primary care doctors have taken the spotlight, especially in the last year, dentists are also frequent prescribers of immediate- release opioids like Vicodin and Percocet. Read More

Depressed While Pregnant – To Treat Or Not To Treat.  Aired/published across California with Capitol Public Radio.  A pregnant mother has a lot of choices to make. Hospital, birthing center, or home birth? Natural birth or epidural? Breastfeed or formula? But a pregnant woman with depression has one more huge decision to make for her health and the health of the fetus.  Read More

Toxi Algae Blooms Along The West Coast.  Aired/published nationally on Marketplace.  Unusually warm water and sunny weather this spring contributed to a giant bloom of algae that releases a toxin known as domoic acid which is wreaking havoc on the region’s multi-million-dollar Dungeness crab industry.  Read More

Amid water shutoffs in Detroit, residents struggle.  Aired/published nationally on Marketplace.  When these mass shutoffs started last summer, it made national news, then international news – at one point even the United Nations got involved. Read More

Fancy Japanese Toilets Coming To A Store Near You.  Aired/published nationally on Marketplace.  There’s really no other way to describe them: The toilets of Japan are fabulous. In Japan, toilets come with remote controls. Read More

The Arms Race Between Sports Brans For The College Brand.  Aired nationally on Marketplace.  We got details this week on the biggest apparel deal in college sports history: Nike will pay the University of Michigan $169 million to be the school’s official athletic brand. Read More

The Naked Nirvanna Baby.  Aired/published nationally on NPR.  Imagine if millions of people had seen you naked before you were old enough to say “embarrassing.” That’s the story of Spencer Elden, whom you may know as the little baby floating toward a dollar bill on the cover of Nirvana’s 1991 album, Nevermind.  Read More

Black Banks Are Dying.  Aired/published nationally on Marketplace.  Just three years ago, Chicago had four black-owned banks. Now there are two, and regulators have told one of them — Illinois Service Federal Savings and Loan— to raise more capital or risk a shutdown.  Read More

Arizona Training Hospital Uses Fake Patients.  Aired/published nationally on NPR. Hospital errors account for more deaths in the United States than car wrecks and breast cancer. And those mistakes cost money. One health care provider wants to reduce that cost — and make patients safer in the process — by training doctors and nurses with fake patients. Read More

Teen Mayor Takes Charge of Oregon Town.  Aired/published nationally on NPR. At just 18 years old, Kyle Corbin was recently inaugurated as mayor of Union, Ore. Voters hope that Corbin’s fresh young face will end years of political bickering among senior-citizen-age city council members. Read More 

Are Music Festivals A Bubble Waiting To Burst?  Aired/published nationally on Marketplace. Forget sweltering clubs and concert halls. Summer tours for some bands are now a matter of hopping from one grassy lawn to another. The number of multi-day music festivals in North America has gone from a handful to hundreds. Read More

In Vegas Going Green Could Cost Nevada Millions.  Aired nationally on NPR. A Nevada state assemblywoman had an idea in a flash: Encourage green building in Las Vegas by offering a tax break. How much of a break? Oh, say 50 percent – to make it attractive. Three years later, the break has proved too attractive. The “flash of inspiration” could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Read More

Rewriting The Recipe For Healthy Fast Food.  Aired/published nationally on Marketplace.  Fast food restaurants see the writing on the wall. The U.S. consumer is obsessed with food. Local. All-natural. Organic. So Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway and others have been changing up their menus. They’re removing artificial ingredients. Chipotle Mexican Grill just completed the process of getting rid of most genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. But are these moves making the food any more, you know, better for you? Read More

Bubble Bandits Defy Dishwashing Soap Ban.  Aired/published nationally on NPR. Spokane County, Washington, became the first place in the country to ban the sale of high-phosphate dishwasher soap — which includes most popular brands. And that’s meant a boom in trafficking of “illegal” diswasher soap from nearby Idaho. Read More

In Illegal Immigration Debate, To Hire Or Not?  Aired/published nationally on NPR. American families who hire illegal workers to trim yards, clean toilets and paint walls are helping fuel the underground economy that attracts some 11 million undocumented workers to the U.S. Read More

“Interrogation” Gets School Board Members in trouble.  Aired/published by Colorado Public Radio.  Grace Davis, a sophomore at Ponderosa High School in Parker, says she didn’t imagine that less than two months after she organized a school protest that she’d be standing alone at a microphone before a Douglas County Board of Education meeting, listening to board members bickering over Robert’s Rules of Order. Read More

Halal Guys Franchises A Street Food Favorite.  Aired/published nationally on Marketplace. Twenty-five years ago, three guys from Egypt opened a hot dog cart in New York City. Muslim cabbies urged them to switch to Halal offerings — food permitted under Islamic rules.  It worked like gangbusters, and not just with Muslims. The Midtown cart drew long lines and became a kind of New York landmark. Read More

Mapping Colorado’s Invisible Pipeline Network.  Aired/published by public media’s Inside Energy.  Using data from state regulators, a map of the hidden network flow lines along the front range of Colorado.  Read More   This came in the wake of a deadly explosion that killed two people in a home adjacent to a gas well.  Read More

Saltwater Spills Leaves North Dakota Farmland Sterile For Years.  Aired/published by public media’s Inside Energy.  North Dakota is in the middle of a historic oil boom, producing over one million barrels of oil each day. But it’s producing a whole lot more of something else, something that’s not valuable at all: saltwater, a waste product of drilling.  Read More

State Officials Misrepresent North Dakota’s Spill Problem. Aired/published by  public media’sInside Energy.  North Dakota state regulators produce inaccurate statistics about wastewater spills in a less than transparent reporting process.  Read More

Living On Top Of Forgotten Oil And Gas Wells: a two part series on the dangers of poorly plugged abandoned wells.  Aired/published by public media’s Inside Energy.   It came as news to Jeff Parsek that state records show there is an abandoned oil and gas well in his driveway. Parsek lives in a large, brown ranch house, right across the street from an elementary school, in a subdivision on the south side of Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s a nice neighborhood, with the new feeling of many Colorado suburbs. Read More 

In Coal Country, No Cash In Hand For Billions In Cleanup.  Aired/published by public media’s Inside Energy Using data from the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement, Inside Energy calculated that, in the top ten U.S. coal producing states, over one million acres of land has been “disturbed” for coal mining operations. Reclaiming those mines, filling them with dirt and recreating the ecosystem that once was, is expensive. As the industry-wide downturn rapidly advances, coal companies may no longer have the cash on hand to pay for billions of dollars in clean-up costs. Read More

Senseless Exposures: How Money And Federal Rules Endanger Oilfield Workers.  A two part series aired/published by public media’s Inside Energy.  Justin Bergsing was a young, fit, bull rider from Montana. On a cold night in January 2012, he climbed to the catwalk on top of a 20 foot tall crude oil storage tank on an oil well pad in North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield. His job was to pop open the small hatch on top and drop a rope inside to measure the level of oil. Just after midnight, he was found dead by a co-worker, slumped on the catwalk.  Read More

North Dakota Worst Fatality Rate for Oil And Gas Workers.  Aired/published by public media’s Inside Energy.  The oil and gas industry, amid safety improvements, is still six times more dangerous than the average American job. And, as Inside Energy reported in our Dark Side Of The Boom series, oil and gas worker safety varies widely state by state. An oil and gas worker in North Dakota is three times more likely to die on the job than an oil and gas worker in Texas.  Read More