Sacramento Bee editors have selected here some of the key investigative stories from 2015 that resonated with readers, exposed behavior of public officials and, in some cases, resulted in affecting change.
Published Sept. 20, 2015 – Reported and written by Sam Stanton and Denny Walsh
Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Paul “Scotte” Pfeifer, a 14-year veteran, has won numerous awards in his career, been lauded for bravery, honored by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and the Carmichael Elks Lodge for helping address the transient problem in the area, feted by the Sacramento chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and recognized by the California Peace Officers’ Association. He also has been accused in court of using excessive force at least three times since 2009. The Sacramento Bee obtained exclusive video of the second incident.
Published May 29, 2015 – Reported and written by Alexei Koseff and Jim Miller
California Senate officials earlier this year hired two part-time employees to provide late-night and early-morning rides for members while they are in Sacramento, a 24-hour service that follows high-profile drunken driving arrests involving lawmakers in recent years. After the story, the Senate discontinued the practice.
Published Nov. 28, 2015 – Reported and written by Jon Ortiz
For more than a year now, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Cal Fire has been climbing out from a scandal that started with the murder of an academy instructor’s mistress and ballooned into a wide-ranging investigation of academy activities. The latest trouble, laid out in hours of recorded witness interviews, is concern about rampant cheating by instructors and cadets at Cal Fire's firefighting academy.
Published Oct. 15, 2015 – Reported and written by Ryan Lillis
Four months after a former city employee accused Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson of sexual harassment, a law firm hired by the city wrote in a confidential memo that Johnson should “be advised as to how his actions (i.e. hugging and being flirty) are being perceived” by some city employees, and that he should “refrain from hugging or touching anyone” at City Hall or at city-related events.
Published Oct. 11, 2015 – Reported and written by Phillip Reese
Violent crimes – murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – are up sharply this year in Sacramento. The increase mirrors a trend in cities across the United States and comes on the heels of a decline in violent crime that culminated in 2014 when the city saw the fewest violent crimes in decades.
Published June 13, 2015 – Reported and written by Marjie Lundstrom and Phillip Reese
Over the last decade, Los Angeles businessman Shlomo Rechnitz has become the state’s largest nursing home owner. He now controls about 1 in every 14 nursing home beds in California, giving him an outsized influence on quality of care in the state. In the past year, multiple alarms have been raised about this relative newcomer to the industry and the care provided in some of his homes.