Riots near Disneyland. A nuclear plant radiation leak. The meltdown of the county government’s leadership in the wake of sexual assault charges against a top county executive with ties to the county Republican Party.

Voice of OC was front and center on a host of stories in 2012:

RIOTS IN ANAHEIM: Longstanding tensions between working-class Latinos and City Hall boiled over into full-blown civil unrest this summer after police officers killed an unarmed man and broke up a community demonstration. Voice of OC probed what city leadership could have done differently.

COUNTY SEX SCANDAL: Voice of OC led news coverage of the July arrest of county executive Carlos Bustamante for sexual assault against female employees, which revealed a culture of fear within county government and forced a sobering re-examination of its complaint process.

THE POLITICAL INFLUENCE OF DISNEY: During the November elections, Voice of OC showed a side of the Happiest Place on Earth that most don’t see by exposing how Disneyland Resort wields influence at City Hall and local political action committees.

OFFICIALS HIDING RECORDS: Whether it’s emails showing political favors or a legal claim alleging retaliation, sometimes local officials just prefer to not hand over public records. Voice of OC regularly challenges municipal authorities on First Amendment access issues.

KELLY THOMAS BEATING CASE: In May, Voice of OC’s YouTube channel provided the public its first glimpse of a graphic surveillance video of the beating death of Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man, at the hands of Fullerton police. Several officers have been fired over Thomas’ death, and three councilmen were recalled, largely over their handling of the incident. A trial is expected next year.

TURMOIL AT CALOPTIMA: Voice of OC has led coverage of the unfolding drama at the county’s health plan for 400,000 low-income, disabled and elderly county residents. The agency has faced a mass exodus of executives since county Supervisor Janet Nguyen gave hospital corporations and other providers a stronger voice on its board.

SAN ONOFRE RADIATION LEAK: Voice of OC has led news coverage of the small radiation leak in January that has spelled major trouble for the future of the plant that provides 20 percent of Southern California’s electricity.

WELL-CONNECTED CONSULTANTS: Voice of OC continues to shine a light on lobbying efforts across the county.

DISTRICTS FIGHTING FAMILIES WHO SEEK SPECIAL ED: A Voice of OC special investigative series delved into an obscure but powerful public agency that confronts parents who want special education services for their children.

QUESTIONS OF POLITICAL FAVORITISM IN COUNTY GOVERNMENT: Voice of OC also focused reporting coverage on how government executives, elected officials and staffers influence public spending on themselves.

SAFETY CONCERNS OVER AMBULANCE COMPANY: While Los Angeles officials accused Shoreline of jeopardizing a patient’s health, a Voice of OC investigative series examined how the firm sailed through approvals in Orange County.

QUIRK-SILVA’S UPSET WIN: Voice of OC was among the first news agencies to connect the state’s new Democratic supermajority to Orange County this past November, delving into the nuts and bolts of Sharon Quirk-Silva’s upset win in the North County’s 65th Assembly District.

$158-MILLION HOTEL SUBSIDY: Voice of OC broke the story that Anaheim officials were planning a tax giveaway to hotel developers. The ensuing community reaction included an unsuccessful ballot initiative and a successful lawsuit that has blocked the deal … for now.

CONTROVERSIAL WATER DEALINGS: In a multibillion-dollar industry notorious for backroom deals, local water districts were investigated by Voice of OC in a series of reports.

COUNTY TO RECOGNIZE HARVY MILK DAY: Voice of OC led news coverage as Orange County supervisors grappled with recognition of Harvey Milk Day.

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