Latest Stories

State workers punished after curbing non-union elevator shop

Cheryl and Scott Peterson in an elevator service room in Jackson, Wis., on Jan. 29, 2015. Cheryl Peterson’s complaint to the state that her company was being unfairly targeted led to a probe that nullified a restriction on Scott Peterson’s ability to service elevators, and to disciplinary action against the state workers who imposed it.

The employees said they acted to protect public safety in restricting the contractor’s ability to service a particular elevator model. But the state Department of Safety and Professional Services, responding to complaints filed with an office created by Gov. Scott Walker to assist small businesses, accused the employees of violating workplace rules and nullified this restriction. Continue Reading

Republicans seek Medicaid audit of all family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood

State auditors say two family planning clinics overbilled Medicaid for $3.5 million, largely for birth control; the providers say the state is using the wrong reimbursement rate. Now Republican legislators are seeking an audit of all such clinics in Wisconsin.

The 32 legislators’ action was prompted by a Center story in November about state auditors alleging that two family planning clinics overbilled Medicaid by $3.5 million, largely for birth control drugs and devices. Family planning providers say the auditors’ stance could force many clinics to close, while the state maintains it is protecting taxpayers. Continue Reading

Profiles in carnage

Candles with names attached, at a Dec. 30 memorial in Milwaukee for victims of gun violence there.

This story is the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s first report for Precious Lives, a newly launched two-year project investigating the problem of gun violence among young people, its causes, and potential solutions in the Milwaukee area and statewide. Read more about the project. Main story
Bullets exacted terrible toll on children, African Americans A Center analysis found that African Americans were more than 30 times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be murdered by guns in Wisconsin last year. James A. Witt: In January, police asked to check on the well-being of this 60-year-old resident in the village of Summit in Waukesha County found his body wrapped in a blanket; he had died from a gunshot wound. His son Shawn Witt was charged with first-degree intentional homicide and possession of heroin. Continue Reading

Frac sand news roundup: DNR ‘needs to step up … even if that means calling a statewide timeout’

The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page. A neighborhood group in the city of Prairie du Chien is planning a petition to prevent the building of a proposed $1 million frac sand loading facility. The petition is in response to a century-and-a-half-old loophole which allows Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Co. to go ahead with the facility even though the city denied it a zoning permit. December 19 SW News 4U

Citing environmental mishaps and permit lapses in 2014, an editorial from a paper in the heart of frac sand country calls for the DNR to “step up its game” on regulating the industry. December 28 Leader-Telegram

The Houston County Board of Commissioners in Minnesota says concerns over possible mining in Houston County took up most of its time in 2014. And despite potential ordinances on the table to impose strict regulations if mining should occur, some residents aren’t convinced it will work. December 30 Post-Bulletin, January 2 Winona Daily News

When it comes to fracking, air quality concerns took center stage in 2014. Continue Reading