- Associated Press - Monday, April 18, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Details and reaction on the winners of the 2011 Pulitzer Prizes:

PUBLIC SERVICE: The Los Angeles Times.

The newspaper was honored for its stories exposing the lavish salaries and benefits being paid to officials in Bell, a small working-class city that is among the poorest in Los Angeles County.

The series, written by Jeff Gottlieb, Ruben Vives and other Times reporters, led to criminal charges against the city administrator, Robert Rizzo, and seven other current and former officials.

The series began after Gottlieb and Vives, while reporting a story in a neighboring community, learned that Bell’s part-time city council members were being paid about $100,000 a year.

Through further reporting and examination of public records, the paper disclosed the hefty salaries and benefits being paid to several officials including Rizzo, whose annual compensation totaled $1.5 million.

The series prompted legislative action in California and calls for greater transparency in the salaries and benefits being paid to public workers.

“The real victors in this are the people of Bell, who were able to get rid of, there’s no other way to say it, an oppressive regime,” Gottlieb said.

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BREAKING NEWS REPORTING: No award.

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INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING: Paige St. John of the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune.

St. John was honored for her yearlong examination of Florida’s property insurance system in the hurricane-prone state.

St. John did something no one had done before _ followed the Florida insurance dollar, as it was paid out by consumers, shipped offshore to reinsurers, or turned into secret profits with accounting risks,” Herald-Tribune Executive Editor Mike Connelly said in his nominating letter.

St. John helped design Web and mobile applications that readers could use to analyze insurers and calculate the hurricane threat to their own homes.

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