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This just in: A night in the lives of D-FW's late night newcasts (Fri., Nov. 11)

WFAA8's Byron Harris stacks up some evidence. Photo: Ed Bark

Still frisky after all these years, WFAA8 investigator Byron Harris began the week on the receiving end of a hard shove and ended it in safer surroundings behind two disparate piles of paperwork.

The guy's a marvel. And while some of his probes fall a little short, he stood out on a relatively quiet Veterans Day night.

Harris' lengthy story, positioned in the mid-section of his station's Friday 10 p.m. newscast, targeted some questionable practices by the mammoth Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS), which he termed "a virtual assembly line of claims processing."

He began with "angry parent" Ellis Beam, who's not happy about paying thousands of dollars for his son's braces while other kids with crooked teeth are getting taxpayer-paid rides via Medicaid payments authorized by ACS.

A former ACS employee, shown only in silhouette, said that the company's "activity-based compensation" program emphasizes quantity over quality in claims processing.

"The more work it can squeeze out of its employees, the more profits the company makes," said the ex-employee. So the impetus allegedly is to rush Medicaid claims through whether or not they're justified. Or as Harris' source put it, "Get it in, get it out the door so I can get paid."

The above picture illustrates the bigger piles of paper-pushing now required to earn $200. ACS does not allow any of its employees to do on-camera interviews, Harris said. The company instead issued a generic 48-word printed response in its defense, which in fairness is 48 more words than WFAA8 management will offer in regard to just about any questions related to its personnel.

That's not Harris' problem, though. He keeps on digging and delving, whether the subjects of his stories literally push back or simply stiff him. Station management commendably still makes room for his efforts, with Harris devising visual aids when necessary to help bring his stories home.

CBS11's Jay Gormley had more built-in pictures at his disposal during a story on soon-to-be completed street and sidewalk construction in the Lowest Greenville business district. Merchants for the most part welcome the improvements. But the readily visible mess has been slowing customer traffic to a crawl, they say. A bar owner told Gormley that monthly revenues have decreased from $90,000 to $20,000, making it next to impossible to make ends meet during the ongoing renovations. It was an interesting piece.

Reporter Tracy Kornet followed with what had been a heavily promoted "Manopause" story that focused on a beefy young guy whose energy and sex drive had gone south while he also found himself weeping while watching Seabiscuit. Not only that, his man-breasts were hurting on occasion.

It turned out that the poor guy's testosterone level was way too low -- a malady that turned out to be easily treated, Kornet said.

"As for the romance, it's back," she added as the man and his wife dutifully kissed on camera. Her story was fine. Still, imagine the subsequent banter on WFAA8 had weatherman Pete Delkus and sports anchor Dale Hansen been presented with comedy gold of this magnitude. But puckish CBS11 co-anchor Doug Dunbar rebuffed any impulse to riff while desk mate Karen Borta gave him a look, a laugh and a signal to move on.

NBC5 led its 10 p.m. edition with Ellen Goldberg's report on a little boy recovering from multiple rattlesnake bites he received at his school, Seibert Elementary in Eastland. The eight-year-old had to be airlifted to Fort Worth's Cook Children's Medical Center after he reached into a supply cabinet at his school and found a rattler lurking within. Maybe this isn't a lead story, but it's definitely a talker. And NBC5 was the only station that had it on Friday's late edition.

The station also had the best told Veterans Day tie-in, with new reporter Ben Russell spotlighting Pearl Harbor survivor James R. Kanaman, who was grand marshal in the annual city of Dallas parade. He's now 92, and nearly 70 years removed from the attack.

Fox4 halved its usual one-hour 9 p.m. newscast to make room for a 9:30 p.m. salute to veterans. None of its pre-special stories were anything out of the ordinary, with most of them also reported on one or more rival stations Friday night.