Category Archives: BGA Events

Announcing 2011 Driehaus Foundation Investigative Award Winners

The BGA congratulates the winners of The 2011 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Awards for Investigative Reporting. To learn more about the Awards and to see previous winners, visit our website

First Place Award
Bob Segall, Bill Ditton & Cyndee Hebert
“Reality Check: Where are the Jobs?”
WTHR-TV Indianapolis

During the worst recession of our lifetime, Indiana’s Economic Development Corporation boasted about creating 100,000 new jobs and billions of dollars in economic development deals for the state. After the state denied records requests, three journalists at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis decided they had to see it for themselves to believe it. The crew hit the road, logging 8,000 miles visiting Indiana’s economic success stories. What did they find? Abandoned factories, empty cornfields, and laid-off workers! This 18-month investigation exposed how state leaders inflated Indiana’s job numbers, and how companies that received publicly funded tax incentives had actually laid off hundreds of workers. The investigation and the creation of a massive job-numbers database prompted reforms and demanded transparency.

Second Place Award
Mick Dumke & Ben Joravsky
“The Shadow Budget: Who Wins Daley’s TIF Game”
Chicago Reader

In Second Place, a piece about a hidden budget in Chicago worth more than $500 million dollars a year. There was no public budget for the TIF Fund. No itemized expenses. So when reporters got a tip that a secret ward-by-ward budget existed, they jumped on it. For the first time ever, the city’s secret slush fund was exposed. The Chicago Reader investigation revealed that 60 percent of the money raised through the anti-poverty TIF program was actually spent in the some of the city’s wealthiest communities.

Last year, Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader won third place for their investigation into the privatization of Chicago’s Parking Meters. This year, they take home second place for “The Shadow Budget: Who Wins Daley’s TIF Game.”

Third Place Award
Brian Brueggemann & Mike Fitzgerald
“Tax Buyers, Politicians Benefit from Tax Sales”
Belleville News-Democrat

In Third Place, the story of an elected official who allegedly cashed-in on hard times.

Imagine this, the recession hits and you can’t afford to pay your property taxes. An investor or tax buyer comes along and purchases your delinquent tax debt. You pay a penalty interest rate. The legal limit is 18 percent interest. But in Madison County, Illinois, hundreds of property owners were paying as much as 100-percent interest. In 2009, that added up to $2 million dollars in interest to tax buyers. Conveniently, those same tax buyers contributed heavily to the campaign of the man who arranged the tax sales… Madison County Treasurer, Fred Bathon. As a direct result of “Tax Buyers, Politicians Benefit from Tax Sales,” the US Attorney for Southern Illinois and the Illinois Attorney General are investigating.

Meritorious Award for Commitment to Investigative Journalism
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

For the first time, we honor a single media outlet for dedicating a significant amount of resources to in-depth investigative journalism. While many news organizations have limited or abandoned investments in investigative reporting, this year the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel submitted three notable entries by five journalists:


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Call for Entries: 2011 BGA Investigative Journalism Awards

With the support of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the BGA Investigative Journalism Awards recognize the best in government-related investigative reporting from across the Midwest region. The Better Government Association is now accepting submissions for the 2011 BGA Investigative Journalism Awards.

Judged by a rotating panel of journalists and media educators, the awards highlight the impact of investigative reports as a reform tool within the context of state and local government waste, fraud and corruption. Not only will investigative techniques be considered in the selection, but the winning entries will have made significant contributions to inform the public on issues of government corruption and to prompt reforms.

Qualified entries include newspaper, television, radio, web reports and political cartoons published from January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2010. Entries are judged on the quality of the investigative reporting and the effectiveness of the piece to prompt change, as evaluated by the following elements:

  • accuracy, clarity and completeness
  • difficulty in obtaining sources
  • resourcefulness
  • impact of piece, including legal or statutory remedies, official responses or
  • policy changes

TO APPLY: Complete the application and mail eight copies of your submission to:

Mary Frances O’Connor
Better Government Association
223 West Jackson, Suite 620, Chicago, IL 60606
o) 312.821.9026
f) 312.821.9038

Deadline for submissions: Friday, March 18, 2011.

To learn more about the Investigative Journalism awards, visit

The awards ceremony will be held in Chicago in May 2011.

Presented by the Better Government Association with the support of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

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BGA Honors 2010 Investigative Award Winners

Five outstanding Midwestern journalists won top prizes for investigative journalism in a contest sponsored by the Better Government Association through a grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. The awards were presented by Mr. Driehaus at a reception at the Arts Club of Chicago on Tuesday night.

>> Raquel Rutledge won the first-place award for “Cashing in on Kids,” a series from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Rutledge and the Journal Sentinel spent more than a year investigating the taxpayer-financed child-care subsidy program. They reviewed thousands of public documents, found whistleblowers within the system, and interviewed dozens of sources, exposing a trail of phony companies, fake reports and shoddy oversight that allowed for system-wide scamming and cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. The investigation produced more than 50 stories and continues to expose problems in the system. These stories prompted sweeping reforms, five new laws, and a crackdown on unscrupulous childcare providers — in addition to saving Wisconsin an estimated $45 million.

>> The second-place award went to Jennifer Dixon and Tina Lam for “Detroit’s Public Pensions: Shaky Deals and Globe-Trotting Trustees,” published in Detroit Free Press. Dixon and Lam discovered that the fiscal maintenance of both of Detroit’s public pension systems was grossly unmonitored and mismanaged, and that the two funds (with assets of $5.5 billion dollars) lost $90 million dollars in three failed investment deals.

>> Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke were awarded third place for their three-part series “FAIL: Chicago’s Parking Meter Fiasco,” a Chicago Reader piece which uncovered the inside story of how Chicago’s controversial and problem-plagued parking meter privatization program came about.

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation grant enabled the winners to share a cash prize of $5,000.

“Investigative reporting is the lifeblood of journalism and a key to holding elected officials accountable,” BGA Executive Director Andy Shaw said. “We deeply appreciate the commitment of Richard Driehaus and his foundation to encouraging investigative reporting by underwriting the competition and the reception.”

The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation is also the major funder of the BGA’s investigative program, which is doubling in size with the addition of three award-winning veteran journalists: Bob Reed, Bob Herguth and John Conroy. Shaw introduced the BGA’s new investigative unit at the Arts Club reception.

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