How we did it
In preparing this series, the Times examined thousands of pages of personnel records, workers' compensation files, pension board minutes and other records pertaining to the disability retirement claims of hundreds of police officers and firefighters in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Largo.
In November, the Times' parent company, Times Publishing Co., sued the city of Largo for failing to release records that the newspaper believes are open to the public because they deal with matters involving taxpayers' money.
The lawsuit also alleged that a Largo city administrator violated Florida's Public Records Law by refusing to state in writing why the records were being denied.
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Fred Bryson appointed a special master to delete identifiable information from medical records, which he then turned over to the Times. The newspaper's lawyers have filed exceptions to the special master's work, contending he deleted more information than the court ordered him to.
The city of Largo was represented by attorney James B. Loper, who also is the attorney for the Tampa police and firefighters pension board.
Working with data in personnel and medical records from the four cities, the Times used a computer to determine the types of injuries most likely to lead to disability retirements as well as the average amount of workers' compensation paid for each type of injury. The computer work was done by computer-assisted reporting editor Brad Goldstein and computer-assisted reporting specialist Connie Humburg.
Brad Goldstein, 34, graduated from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1985 with a degree in Spanish literature. He joined the Times as the computer-assisted reporting editor after completing a 1995 Nieman fellowship at Harvard University. He previously worked at the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, Boston Magazine and The Middlesex News.
Katherine Shaver, 26, graduated from Princeton University in 1991 with a major in political science. She has covered police and fire departments in Hillsborough and Pasco counties since joining the Times in 1993. Previously, she covered Congress for States News Service in Washington, D.C.
Thomas C. Tobin, 37, graduated in 1981 from St. Louis University, where he majored in English and political journalism. Before joining the Times in 1988, he was a reporter for the Tampa Tribune, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat. He has covered the city of Clearwater since 1994.
Also contributing to this project were researchers Kitty Bennett and Barbara Hijek and computer-assisted reporting specialist Connie Humburg. The project was designed by Gage Church and edited by Deputy Managing Editor Susan Taylor Martin.
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