2017 8News investigations prompt action and get results

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — January 2017, it was a new year and Virginia students were fresh off a winter break. But 8News found many students were returning to classrooms still led by substitute teachers.

That got us at 8News curious. We started digging and uncovered a statewide education emergency- Virginia was short more than 4,000 teachers.

“That’s horrific, that is a huge number,” said Dave Saba, Chief Development Officer for Teachers Of Tomorrow. It’s an alternative certification program helping states hire teachers.

Since that report, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive directive giving state colleges for the first time the ability to offer an undergraduate major in teaching.

Delegate Richard Bell has just proposed a bill to fast-track teaching licenses for military spouses.

In March, 8News exposed taxpayers have been funding painful dog experiments at McGuire VA Medical Center. 

Justin Goodman with the taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project told us this, “They force heart attacks on them, force them to run on treadmills until they collapse.”

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs calls it medical research. Whistleblowers call it, animal abuse.

“To see dogs that distraught, it’s hard,” said McGuire employee Todd Woessmer.

“They were seeing them in pain, distress,” said Jennifer Marshall, a Union Representative for McGuire employees.

Since our series of reports, on Capitol Hill, The House voted to defund the dog testing.

At the General Assembly, lawmakers have introduced legislation that would prohibit state funds for any medical research harming dogs or cats.

Senator Glen Sturtevant who co-sponsored the bill told us, “I think most Virginian’s would tell you that they don’t want their taxpayer dollars going to fund the maximum pain experiments.”

8News also exposed a 2017 scandal inside City Hall involving Richmond’s City Auditor Umesh Dalal.

The man in charge of investigating waste, fraud and abuse resigned amid accusations of verbally abusing and bullying his staff. We also found that scandal costs taxpayers big bucks, $25,000 dollars for an independent review on top of Dalal’s nearly $400,000 severance package.

That’s not all we discovered Richmonders are paying for. We found cracked and uneven City sidewalks, neglected for years, are hurting Richmonders physically and financially.

“I spent two days in the hospital,” said Jimmy Strickland about a trip he took on a City sidewalk.

We also exposed several big lawsuits costing taxpayers big bucks.

City Council recently set aside surplus funds for repairs.

This year we were hot on trail of tax delinquents, exposing millions of dollars in lost revenue for the City schools or police. And we uncovered City leaders have been turning a blind eye to it for years. We exposed nearly 300 property owners had been getting away with not paying their taxes for at least two decades.

Since our investigation, the City is cracking down on delinquents. Officials are moving more properties to the auction block.

Another tax delinquent auction is set for February.

A year-long investigation revealed inefficiency at the state level.

We uncovered more than a million dollars in court-ordered restitution owed to crime victims. We found it was the Commonwealth was holding the cash.

That investigation caught the eye of Delegate Rob Bell. He is now working on bill to put someone in charge of locating the victims and getting them the money their due.

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