WI cranberry growers fear tariffs, Racine may miss Foxconn boom, DNR fast-tracks project, state targeted by shadowy ads, and Paul Ryan early exit as speaker predicted
Of note: Donald Trump’s tough talk on trade helped get him elected president. Now, WUWM reports, some parts of Wisconsin that voted for Trump could bear the brunt of threatened Chinese tariffs on cranberries. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Racine residents, traumatized by years of economic and other woes, may be ill-suited to fill the tens of thousands of jobs promised by Foxconn. Citing public records and an interview with a former Department of Natural Resources supervisor, Wisconsin Public Radio reports that DNR staffers were pressured to quickly approve permits allowing destruction of rare wetlands for a planned frac sand facility in western Wisconsin. Channel 3000 reports on research by a UW-Madison journalism professor who found that many of the anonymous Facebook ads aimed at influencing the 2016 election targeted people in Wisconsin.
Investigative reporting about WI reveals hidden impacts of environmental, medical, tax and gun laws and lack of affordable dental care
Of note: This week we highlight some strong investigative reporting about Wisconsin by news outlets here and elsewhere. The Wisconsin State Journal’s Steve Verburg reported on the alarm of former Department of Natural Resources experts to a proposal to let one company destroy valuable wetlands. Jonathan Anderson, reporting for the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, found that large tax breaks for manufacturers are translating into big property tax increases for others in some Wisconsin communities. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s John Fauber, with help from MedPage Today, found 500 doctors disciplined for malpractice in one state moved to another state to practice — with sometimes tragic consequences. The Chicago Tribune traces a gun used to kill a Chicago police commander to a Cross Plains gun shop.
Hate groups proliferate, WI rape kits reveal suspects, MKE hospital accused of unneeded surgeries, and court decisions could change political landscape in WI and beyond
Of note: This week we draw your attention to the tracking of hate by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which identified a big increase in hate groups in the past three years, and Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism stories that documented such groups operating in Wisconsin. Also: Long-delayed DNA testing of rape kits is yielding suspects, the Appleton Post-Crescent finds. A whistleblower says in a lawsuit that the Medical College of Wisconsin hired and retained a surgeon accused of performing unnecessary surgeries in part because of the revenue he generated, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report. And National Public Radio lays out the three pending lawsuits that could change Wisconsin’s and the nation’s political landscape. WisconsinWeekly is produced by Andy and Dee J. Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
Dairy farmers in New England offered suicide help, WI gun victim struggles for compensation; MN touts immigrants; ‘red light roulette’ endangers MKE drivers
Of note: This week we offer stories from Wisconsin and beyond that resonate in our state. New England Public Radio reported that one dairy co-op is so worried about farmers in this era of low milk prices that it distributed a suicide hotline number with the milk checks. The Trace finds that crime victims such as Milwaukee shooting victim Claudiare Motley — featured in a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report about the high cost of gun violence — routinely have a hard time accessing state compensation funds. The Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports on the spike in deadly crashes caused by drivers running red lights. And MinnPost highlights a state report that reveals that Minnesota needs immigrants to keep its economy healthy — a message that runs counter to political debate heard in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
Hits to the head, and hits to taxpayers
Of note: This week we highlight one of our own stories, which examines the mounting evidence of the danger of brain injuries in contact sports, including football, and Wisconsin’s central role in this national controversy. Luke Schaetzel, reporting for the Center, found many University of Wisconsin-Madison football players push aside fears about concussions in order to play. In related news, the Washington Post reports that the NFL saw an increase this season in reported concussions; the wife of former NFL player Rob Kelly writes poignantly in The New York Times about her husband’s mental and physical deterioration; and former Green Bay Packer Sam Shields says he is ready to get back in the game, despite suffering five concussions. Our final story has nothing to do with head injuries but it is a bit of a head scratcher. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jason Stein found the $2.85 billion state subsidy to Foxconn amounts to $200,000 per job — eight times higher than other similar job-creation deals — and nearly four times higher than the minimum average salary of $53,000 that Foxconn promises to pay.
Explosive allegation withdrawn; experts evaluate alternatives to partisan redistricting; farm families face physical and financial perils
Of Note: This week we highlight national stories with Wisconsin angles, including PolitiFact Wisconsin’s exploration of how U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson alleged and then withdrew the explosive claim that there was a “secret society” in the FBI. Two stories discuss the effects of partisan gerrymandering and how difficult it could be to make the voting districts more fair as the U.S. Supreme Court mulls whether to throw out Republicans’ redrawing of Wisconsin’s map. Two more stories explore some problems unique to farmers. The New York Times features a Wisconsin family in its report on the thousands of injuries and roughly 100 deaths among children and teenagers working on farms each year. And Wisconsin Public Radio found that our state is home to the highest number of farm bankruptcies in the United States.
What to do about manure, organic labeling, vets’ class-action suit and a sulfide mine
Of Note: This week we’re highlighting news affecting Wisconsin farmers, Veterans Administration patients and members of the Menominee Tribe. State farmers may face new rules for handling manure in parts of Wisconsin where the geography makes groundwater susceptible to pollution. The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to withdraw a rule that would require certified organic meat and poultry producers to abide by stricter animal welfare standards. The VA is pushing back against a class-action lawsuit over emotional distress claimed by patients who risked exposure to HIV because of improper sterilization by a dentist at the Tomah Medical Center. And the Menominee Tribe is suing the federal government, trying to block approval of a mine across the border in Michigan that it fears will pollute the Menominee River.
You read it here first: Center stories provide crucial backdrop for this week’s news
This week we feature some stories that advance previous coverage by the Center on important topics including lead in drinking water, racial disparities in Wisconsin’s educational system and the dire effects of long-term solitary confinement on inmates. Also this week, former Center intern Abby Becker details the impact of a state bill that would pre-empt Madison’s protections for certain classes of workers. And University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism student Peter Coutu — who worked on the Center’s ongoing Broken Whistle series — writes about the lack of lawyers in rural Wisconsin, which is making it difficult to address the growing crime problem caused by the opioid epidemic. WisconsinWeekly is produced by us, Andy and Dee J. Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Andy is the executive director and Dee is the managing editor.
Former WCIJ interns breaking news all over the planet
Of note: This week we highlight recent stories from some of the interns we trained over the past nine years. They include Tegan Wendland of New Orleans Public Radio. She produced a piece for the investigative news program Reveal about the lack of government help for Louisiana residents whose homes are being swallowed by rising waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Nick Penzenstadler of USA Today continues to break news about President Donald Trump’s private businesses. Alec Luhn of The Telegraph’s Moscow bureau investigated the Russian “troll factory” thought to be a source of propaganda during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to replace problem-ridden teen prison with five smaller centers lauded — and criticized
Of note: Gov. Scott Walker announced plans to close the Lincoln Hills teen prison while opening five regional teen prisons. Lincoln Hills would be turned into an adult facility to ease crowding in adult prisons. The proposal was embraced by some Democrats who also labeled it an election-year attempt to defuse an issue that could be used against him. Thanks for reading WisconsinWeekly, a selective roundup of news for people in, or interested in, Wisconsin. WisconsinWeekly is produced by us — Andy and Dee J. Hall, founders of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
Ghost of John Does past haunts Wisconsin officials
Of note: This week we highlight the fallout triggered by Attorney General Brad Schimel’s release of a Dec. 6 investigative report calling for a prosecutor and eight other officials to be held in contempt of court over leaked documents from a closed John Doe probe into campaign activities of Gov. Scott Walker. Among the revelations in Schimel’s report was a previously undisclosed investigation by the now-shuttered Government Accountability Board into potential illegal campaigning by GOP lawmakers. We present the stories in chronological order so you can see how the controversy over the records leaked to The Guardian played out earlier this month. For background on John Doe I, which led to the other two investigations, read our 2015 story.
Worker’s compensation woes exposed
Of note: This week, we highlight one of our stories, which reports that some injured workers in Wisconsin are having a harder time qualifying for worker’s compensation after appointees of Gov. Scott Walker took full control of the Labor and Industry Review Commission, which hears such disputes. In another story, featuring photos by the Center’s own Coburn Dukehart, NPR reports that Wisconsin is among the states that do not ban evictions during cold weather months. WisconsinWeekly is produced by us, Andy and Dee J. Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Andy is the executive director and Dee is the managing editor. P.S. There are less than two weeks left to see your donation to the Center doubled by #NewsMatch.
Accusations of unwanted kissing, taxpayers fund a $75,000 settlement, but Capitol leaders try to keep the public outside
Of note: The national avalanche of sexual harassment allegations arrives at the Capitol as The Cap Times and the Wisconsin State Journal reveal previously secret sexual harassment accusations lodged against two state lawmakers. State Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee, accused of unwanted kissing by two women in 2011 and 2015, has refused to resign. Former state Sen. Spencer Coggs, a Democrat from Milwaukee, has denied allegations that he harassed his former aide, who received a $75,000 taxpayer-funded settlement in 2015. Legislative leaders told media outlets there are three other such complaints but declined to release them. WisconsinWeekly is produced by us, Andy and Dee J. Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.