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

Nicole Beilke

Monday marked the first day of early voting in advance of Wisconsin’s Primary on February 16th. A rally was held at city hall hoping to encourage more people to recognize the power of the vote. At the same time, voting advocates across the state are concerned that thousands of people will be turned away from polling sites. Valid photo identification is now required to vote in Wisconsin.

There was a sense of urgency flowing through Milwaukee City Hall on Monday where 20 or so people gathered to encourage residents not only to get out and vote, but to do it early. 

LaToya Dennis

Should Wisconsin restrict what fans can shout at high school sporting events? The WIAA, Wisconsin’s governing board for high school sports, reminded schools a few weeks ago to enforce the rules. They ban chants some people might perceive as taunting, while others may consider them harmless. One legislator wants to demand more transparency from WIAA so people understand the reasons for its rules. In the meantime, the reminder seems to have quieted crowds.

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

The investigation into the abuse of children at Lincoln Hills could go on for another year. So far, at least 16 staff members have been removed from their positions at the juvenile detention facility in northern Wisconsin. Milwaukee County is now exploring options other than sending local youth to Lincoln Hills.

Wisconsin's State Capitol
Ann Althouse, Flickr

Several local governments in Wisconsin are interested in issuing local identification cards to residents. One is Milwaukee County. But some state lawmakers believe the locals are overstepping their authority – so legislators are considering a bill that would prohibit municipalities from issuing local ID cards. 

More than 50 people showed up to testify at a public hearing in Madison on Tuesday; most oppose the ban.

LaToya Dennis

The city of Flint is suffering a water crisis-- high levels of lead are leaching from old pipes into the water supply. The water has been deemed unsafe to drink, and some leaders are warning parents not to even bathe their children in it. 

President Obama’s administration has pledged more than $80 million dollars to help meet the city’s needs. Aid is arriving from across the country, and a concerned group will soon depart from Milwaukee.

LaToya Dennis

On Wednesday, immigrant advocates carpooled to the state Capitol to voice opposition to several bills, including one that would penalize so-called sanctuary cities.

WUWM's LaToya Dennis met up with a group of about 20 immigrant advocates before they boarded a bus in Milwaukee to protest what they’re calling anti-immigrant legislation.

“We are all immigrants. We are not criminals like some people say," Guadalupe Gallardo says. She is originally from Mexico but has lived in the U.S. for more than 40 years. Gallardo says she got her citizenship in the late 1990s.

Martin Cathrae, flickr

Here’s something you probably did not know…in Wisconsin, it is illegal to sell homemade cookies and baked goods. While there are a few exceptions – such as occasional church bake sales, some farmers say the law is having a negative impact on them. 

A few are working to change the law on a couple different fronts.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

There were unpleasant moments on the Assembly floor Tuesday, when a Republican representative made an obscene gesture at Democratic leader Peter Barca. The initial irritant was a news release GOP Assemblyman Bob Gannon of Slinger issued last week, complaining about Milwaukee’s homicide rate and black unemployment. Democrats demanded an apology. Gannon apologized, but only for making what he called, an improper gesture in the heat of battle. Earlier in the day, members of both parties came together on several issues including four bills aimed at preventing heroin addiction.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

UPDATE: Gov. Walker has asked Wisconsin's AG to review the President's plan and to challenge it, if it appears to contain illegalities.

President Obama has found it impossible to get lawmakers to agree to tighter gun laws, so on Tuesday, with only about a year left in his final term, he announced he would sidestep Congress. Mr. Obama issued an executive order, making it more difficult for some people to purchase firearms.

We now continue our annual year-end series Life’s Voices. We present people working to improve the community, sometimes with little fanfare. Today we meet Terri Strodthoff. She’s founder and president of the Alma Center. It helps men who have committed acts of domestic violence to discover and heal from trauma early in their lives that may have led them to act violently.

ALDECAstudio, fotolia

UW-Milwaukee's Speech and Language Clinic helps transgender people literally find their voice.

For more than 40 years, Danielle says she felt like a prisoner trapped in the wrong body. “By society’s terms, I’m a transgender, but I consider myself a woman with a birth defect,” she says.

There’s dispute brewing in Madison over the state’s Unfair Sales Act. It’s also known as the minimum mark-up law. It requires retailers to mark-up what they charge for goods. The rule has been in place since the end of the Great Depression, and some lawmakers say it’s time to rethink the legislation.

In Wisconsin, for every dollar consumers spend on alcohol, tobacco and gas, about one penny is due to the state’s Unfair Sales Act.  In addition to bumping-up the cost of those items, the law also bans retailers from selling general merchandise at below cost.

FRANK JUAREZ / FLICKR

Wisconsin is one of the states that requires school districts to ask voters about paying extra property taxes. The state set the requirement as a way to control those taxes. School districts must organize a referenda - if they want to take on construction projects over $1 million or exceed the revenue limits the state has imposed. Sometimes that means special elections. Now, there is talk among Republican lawmakers of limiting such questions to certain times of a year.

Department of Corrections

Several days ago, state and federal agents swooped into the Lincoln Hills School for Boys in Irma, Wisconsin. For months, there were whispers about problems at the facility. Then last week, stories broke through of broken bones, fights and sexual assaults.

WUWM's LaToya Dennis met with the mother of an inmate. The Department of Corrections will not verify any of the accounts she shares, but says serious accusations are under investigation at Lincoln Hills.

The mother’s name has been changed to protect her minor son. He is serving a seven-year sentence.

Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Tuesday marked World AIDS day, and people were encouraged to get tested. In Wisconsin, despite all the education efforts, the number of HIV cases diagnosed annually is not dropping, but it is holding steady. 

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