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Secrecy and Power vs. The People, head injuries force football retirement, hate crime, lead poisoning, unsafe elevators, illegally shipping turtles and salamanders

Of note: This week we kick off our series, Undemocratic: Secrecy and Power vs. The People. The stories were written by University of Wisconsin-Madison students under the direction of the Center’s Dee J. Hall. The first story explored the recent history and potential future of redistricting in Wisconsin as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on the legality of the state’s 2011 Republican-drawn maps. The rest of our picks for this week are stories that follow up on topics the Center covered in previous reports, including hate crimes, childhood lead poisoning, sports concussions, elevator safety and exotic animal trafficking.

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Dee and Andy Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Andy is the executive director and Dee is the managing editor.

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High stakes for elections — and democracy — as U.S. Supreme Court nears decision on Wisconsin redistricting case

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism — June 1, 2018

The Center offers the first installment in a new series, Undemocratic: Secrecy and Power vs. The People. The initial stories examine the effects of gerrymandering and previews the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Wisconsin redistricting case. Read the other new story in the Undemocratic series: Public, politicians pushing Wisconsin to enact nonpartisan redistricting to strengthen democracy

Milwaukee failed to protect lead-poisoned children by massive neglect and missteps

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — May 31, 2018

A state Department of Health report found Milwaukee’s lead poisoning prevention program has failed to take even some of the most basic steps to protect the city’s children. More than 90 percent of the lead-poisoning cases examined were closed before the amount of lead in kids’ blood had dropped to levels deemed safe. Some of these children still had high lead levels.  

Former Badgers fullback Austin Ramesh retires due to head injuries

Wisconsin State Journal — June 1, 2018

Former University of Wisconsin fullback Austin Ramesh announced he is retiring from football after dealing with negative effects of head injuries. “Throughout the last couple years, I have been dealing with some of the negative effects of head injuries,” Ramesh said. “After a lot of thought and conversation, I know that it is in my best interest to hang up the pads.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also recently published concussion-related coverage: These Badgers walked away from football after concussions and University of Wisconsin part of major study on concussions in sports. Earlier from WCIJ: Countering Concussions

Junction City man, 81, sentenced for hate crime after he shot at Hmong victim

Stevens Point Journal — June 1, 2018

Henry M. Kaminski pleaded no contest to and was found guilty of second-degree recklessly endangering safety as a hate crime and one count of child pornography possession after he fired a gun at his Hmong neighbor Mai Houa Moua. Earlier from WCIJ: Documenting Hate

Trapped: Neglected elevators put Chicago’s public housing residents at risk

Better Government Association/WBEZ — June 4, 2018

A Better Government Association and WBEZ investigation exposed unsafe elevators, shoddy record keeping and failed oversight at the Chicago Housing Authority — where many elderly tenants live in fear of their own buildings. Earlier from WCIJ: State workers punished after curbing non-union elevator shop

La Crosse man pleads guilty to illegally transporting turtles, salamanders

La Crosse Tribune — June 4, 2018

Markos Diderrich pleaded guilty to a felony Lacey Act violation for transporting illegally taken wildlife across state lines. “It’s important for the public to recognize that reptiles and amphibians are vital to ecosystems and that a substantial black market exists for this wildlife,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent in Charge Gregory Jackson said. “This is a case where, due solely to greed, a man was willing to exploit salamanders and rare turtles for his own commercial gain.” Earlier from WCIJ: Wisconsin one of five states where ‘dangerous’ exotic animals can be pets

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.