As 2012 draws to a close, CJR writers brainstormed the year’s best reads in their beats.

Border town edges into absurdity — Extorting a mayoral opponent by secretly filming a lap dance, and other moments of political intrigue from Sunland Park, NM

Billionaire vs. Park Ranger — The ranger targeted by bureaucrats for protecting trees from the owner of the Washington Redskins writes a tell-all memoir

Palin-tied AK conservation director illegally kills bears — “He lacks a college degree and his prime professional association with wildlife has involved killing rats and foxes in the Aleutian Islands.”

Beware of comptrollers with expensive habits — Rita Crundwell, DIxon, IL comptroller, embezzles $20 million, buys hundreds of horses, names one “I Found a Penny”

Government in-fighting in Quartzsite, AZ — “It’s an embarrassment to our town,” said Paul Winer, the nudist owner of Reader’s Oasis bookstore.

20-year-old newspaper reporter takes down corrupt KY sheriff — With help from his 27-year-old editor

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Michael Meyer is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter at @mcm_nm.