LaToya Dennis

News Reporter

LaToya Dennis joined WUWM in October 2006 as a reporter / producer. LaToya began her career in public radio as a part-time reporter for WKAR AM/FM in East Lansing, Michigan. She worked as general assignment reporter for WKAR for one and a half years while working toward a master's degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. While at WKAR, she covered General Motors plant closings, city and state government, and education among other critical subjects.

Before coming to public radio, LaToya interned at the CBS affiliate in Lansing, Michigan. She also took part in NPR's 2005 Next Generation Radio Project in Kansas City, Missouri as well as NPR's summer 2006 Next Generation Radio Project in Indianapolis, Indiana.

LaToya holds both a Bachelor's degree and a Masters degree in journalism from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. Dennis is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Ways to Connect

Getty Images News

There’s been a lot of talk lately about guns and gun laws in the U.S.

Last week, a man opened fire, killing 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

This week, Congress decided not to pass several bills that would have reformed the country’s gun laws.

On the same day, a Connecticut judge upheld that state’s ban on assault weapons. Connecticut acted after gunman there killed 20 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

LaToya Dennis

Summer has arrived. And for people in Milwaukee who every winter ask themselves why they stay, summer is often reason enough. Beautiful weather, lots of hiking and swimming and camping. Basically, the opportunity to reconnect with nature. There’s a new group in town hoping to forge stronger relationships between black people and the great outdoors.

So there’s this long held stereotype that black people, especially in the north, don’t “do” the outdoors. There’s no interest in hiking, water sports are out and camping, forget about it.

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Car thefts have been all over the Milwaukee news lately, and with good reason. Data point to an 11 percent increase last year, and numbers continuing to grow in 2016. The jump is one reason why the city’s Public Safety Committee has scheduled a half-dozen special meetings.

 Members are also concerned about homicides. They are tracking below 2015, but it was a violent year. The Wisconsin Department of Justice was the latest on Monday to testify on why the state’s largest city is seeing a surge in certain crimes.

The topic of crime in Milwaukee has taken center stage this week, as a legislator from Menomonee Falls warned that she would take action. GOP Representative Janel Brandtjen said she would push to cut state funding for Milwaukee, if the city is not able to curtail crime. 

Tomah VA Medical Center, Facebook

The Tomah VA is once again in the limelight. In 2014, the federal government launched an investigation there after a veteran died of what’s called “mixed drug toxicity.” The probe found that not only were some medical providers over prescribing narcotics, but that many people had reported the problem and nothing ever came of those reports. On Tuesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held its second hearing in Tomah. Fingers of blame were pointed in several directions.

The Blood Center of Wisconsin has issued an urgent call for O negative blood. We caught up with Fay Spano to talk about the need.  At the time, Spano said the center only had about a half day supply of O negative blood left. She says they usually stock at least three day’s worth. 

LaToya Dennis

Over the past decade, Milwaukee has experienced a 54 percent drop in its teen birth rate, bolstered by dramatic decreases in both the African American and Hispanic populations. 

The United Way and city officials announced the statistics, a few days ago.

To find out what messages are getting through to some young women these days, WUWM’s LaToya Dennis headed over to Carmen Northwest High School to speak with Kenya Brown, Asia Perry, Nyla Clarke, Taylor McCloud and Katelyn Brown.

Former Muslim employees at the Ariens Company in Wisconsin have filed a complaint alleging religious discrimination.

The group acting on behalf of the former workers is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR. CAIR says the company has refused to make accommodations for prayer breaks.

The problems between Muslim employees and Ariens management started earlier this year, according to Maha Sayed, a civil rights attorney for CAIR.

LaToya Dennis

News broke this week that the employees at Leon's Frozen Custard were only allowed to speak English to customers, even if they could be best helped in Spanish. Since then, the owner of the iconic custard stand on Milwaukee's south side has reversed his English only policy. 

While a few groups were calling for a federal investigation into labor law violations, not everyone was swayed by allegations of discrimination.

LaToya Dennis

The home improvement store Menards could soon lose business. The immigrant advocacy group Voces De La Frontera is calling or a boycott of the chain. Members hope to spur the company to stop supporting Governor Walker.

People using bullhorns and carrying signs urging shoppers to take their business elsewhere slowed traffic on Miller Parkway in West Milwaukee on Monday in front of Menards. Menards has been in the news lately for violating worker rights, but this call for a boycott is political. Omar Barberana is one of the picketers.

Milwaukee Housing Authority

This week’s Bubbler Talk is all about buildings--round ones.

Wendy Necklet asked WUWM: What's the deal with all the round buildings? 

Well, for this story what better place to start than one of the city’s most iconic hotels, the Pfister.

Peter Mortensen is the concierge and the unofficial hotel historian. He’s worked here for about 30 years and believe me when I say he’s a really, really smart guy. “I’ve never run across an obscure fact I didn’t like,” he says.

Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Update: On Friday, The U.S. Treasury Department notched a victory for more than 200,000 retired Teamsters across the country, who had been promised a comfortable pension. The Department rejected a plan from Central States Pension Fund that would have cut pensions by more than 50 percent in many cases.

Central States argued it had been hit hard by the Great Recession. The ruling impacts about 15,000 retired truck drivers and dock workers in Wisconsin, who belong to the Teamsters union.

Coalition for Justice

On Saturday, the family of Dontre Hamilton will celebrate his life. It will mark two years since Hamilton was shot and killed by Milwaukee police officer, Christopher Manney. He was later fired for not following department protocol when he attempted to pat down Hamilton and an altercation occurred leading Manney to shoot Hamilton 14 times. Hamilton was schizophrenic.

Hamilton’s death came before that of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, but protests here didn’t heat up until after the Mike Brown case.

Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images

Vehicles sold across the world are becoming more eco-friendly. Technology that turns off your engine at stop lights was first introduced in Europe about a decade ago. Not only does it cut down on emissions, it saves gas and money. Now, start-stop technology is gaining popularity in the states.

So back when I was learning to drive, and no, I’m not going to tell you just how long ago that was, my grandmother always told me that a car uses more gas being turned off and back on, then by just allowing it to run…

The family of Dontre Hamilton on Wednesday filed a federal civil rights lawsuit over his death. A Milwaukee police officer shot Hamilton 14 times, killing him in Red Arrow Park downtown in 2014. The Hamilton family says that while the suit will not bring back their beloved brother and son, it could cast light on harmful police practices.

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