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.

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Farm Land

Wisconsin may soon allow foreign investors to purchase large parcels of land here. For more than 100 years, the state has limited foreign interests from owning more than 640 acres. However, Governor Walker’s proposed budget removes the cap, including for corporations. The Wisconsin Realtors Association asked for the change, according to spokesman Thomas Larson.

Mark Sardella, Flickr

In less than a week, contract negotiations will begin at Caterpillar in South Milwaukee. The talks will be the first since the company took over former Bucyrus International in 2010.

The rent-to-own industry has been working for years to change the way Wisconsin governs those shops. It now appears Gov. Walker is on board with change. As WUWM’s LaToya Dennis reports, he has included in his budget a provision bringing Wisconsin in line with most other states. His plan will certainly reignite a battle here between consumer advocates and an industry insisting it provides an option some shoppers need.

Three Milwaukee police officers could face charges of failing to render aid. An inquest jury on Thursday recommended those charges, related to the death of Derek Williams in summer of 2011. WUWM’s LaToya Dennis was at the Courthouse when the jurors delivered their opinion. It is advisory.

School Desks

On Monday, Gov. Walker released a proposed expansion of the Wisconsin Choice or voucher program, and his plan includes the creation of a school voucher program for students with special needs. A group called Stop Special Needs Vouchers Wisconsin announced Monday that it will to fight the proposal. As WUWM’s LaToya Dennis reports, there are strong opinions on both sides, just as there have been with the state’s flagship voucher or choice program.

While Wisconsin remains among the states yet to take formal steps toward creating a health care exchange, Chris Murray, a lecturer at Marquette University's Les Aspin Center for Government in Washington, describes opposition to the Affordable Care Act as waning.

We conclude our Project Milwaukee series Friday on the skills gap. One solution some business people have suggested is immigration reform. For instance, a company owner told WUWM’s LaToya Dennis that he would have an easier time filling jobs, if the U.S. would grant permanent residency to skilled immigrants, including the students educated here. Milwaukee Attorney Jose Oliviera told LaToya that there is no fast or simple way for immigrant workers to remain here, even if employers need them.

Businesses in Wisconsin have been adapting to the fact they cannot always find the qualified employees they need. The skills gap has been affecting industries from manufacturing to health care. In today’s installment of our series Project Milwaukee: Help Wanted, WUWM’s LaToya Dennis visited several companies to learn about the impact the skills shortage is having on them.

Over the past 15 years, the number of black and Hispanic businesses in Milwaukee has doubled. However, only 10,000 of the more than 112,000 companies in metro Milwaukee are minority-owned.

Whether you are in the process of paying back student loans or just beginning to figure out how to pay for college, there is no question it is expensive. The average cost of attending a four-year UW system school, including tuition, fees, room and board and books totals around $17,500 a year. The number of loans students have taken out over the past decade has tripled, and now account for more than a trillion dollars former students must repay. WUWM’s LaToya Dennis has learned about one specific factor that adds to the cost of a college education - students graduating with more credits than needed.