Outlet: Marin Independent-Journal
Journalist: Nels Johnson
Tags: investigative, public interest
Mobile home owners in Marin, California, may want to thank reporter Nels Johnson. His investigative reporting for the Marin Independent-Journal helped reveal that many local residents were paying property taxes for land owned by other people. Local counties and school districts are investigating more than 1,858 tax bills for 1,858 mobile home and houseboat owners with parcel tax charges have been flagged for review. This variety of public service investigative journalism directly improves people’s lives and definitely deserves a DFMie.
As one judge noted,
The research was airtight and the thorny issue was presented in a clear, concise way. This is a real scoop – something that might not have seen the light of day if not for hard work from a journalist.
Update 2/18 Following the Independent-Journal’s publication of the story, officials were set scrambling to refund $500,000 in tax payments erroneously collected by county agencies.
As one reader wrote in an email to Nels,
On behalf of all the mobile home owners and I’m sure the floating home residents, thank you for following through with this story and making it happen. It’s really a big deal in terms of the money that has to be refunded.