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Of note: This week we highlight a story by the Press Times of Green Bay about how Brown County is mobilizing to address homelessness — a problem increasingly visible due to the COVID-19 pandemic and often driven by mental health issues. In 2021, the Brown County Health and Human Services Department served 175 people who identified as homeless, reports Heather Graves. She reported the story for the NEW (Northeast Wisconsin) News Lab reporting collaboration. 

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Until recently, Madee was sleeping under a tarp near some railroad tracks in downtown Green Bay, Wis. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and history from St. Norbert College, but debilitating pain from a broken leg and mental health issues sent his “pretty good existence” off the rails, leaving him unhoused. Josh Staloch / The Press Times

‘You cannot ignore it anymore.’ Pandemic spotlights homelessness in Brown County, fueling push for solutions

The Press Times — February 15, 2022

Using a tarp as his roof, 49-year-old Madee sought to protect himself from the elements. Until recently, the college graduate called a bush near the railroad tracks in downtown Green Bay “home.” Scouring the area for a place to live was nothing new for Madee, because he’s spent the better part of the past three years on the streets. A broken leg not fully rehabbed, which led to long-term, debilitating pain, and emerging mental health issues, sent Madee’s “pretty good existence” off the rails, leaving him homeless. A drop in temperatures prompted Madee to seek shelter at St. John’s Homeless Shelter, where he has stayed on and off since early November. He is among possibly hundreds of people in Brown County who are or have experienced homelessness — including seven who have died on the streets over the past seven years.

The Journal Times — February 17, 2022

During a meeting Wednesday night at a Racine bar hosted by a conservative watchdog group, Bob Spindell passed out green sheets of paper. At the top of the page, underlined in bold font, was the headline “Thirteen Ways the 2020 Election was Rigged in Wisconsin.” While speaking and answering questions for more than an hour, Spindell, one of six members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, made clear that he believes the 2020 election was “legal.” But he also asserted that Democrats successfully “rigged” the election to defeat incumbent Donald Trump. In other words, Spindell believes President Joe Biden won a legally “rigged” election in Wisconsin.

Here the Wisconsin State Capitol is seen on June 11, 2020. Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Assembly passes bail measure requiring court officials to factor in a crime’s severity, while Senate passes COVID, gun bills

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — February 15, 2022

Lawmakers in the state Assembly passed legislation Tuesday that would require judicial officials to take into consideration a crime’s severity when determining bail amounts. The resolution was proposed by Republican Rep. Cindi Duchow of the Town of Delafield in response to a deadly attack by a Milwaukee man who ran over dozens of people in a Waukesha Christmas parade. The incident occurred while he was out of jail on $1,000 bail despite being accused of running over a woman with the same vehicle. The Assembly passed the measure 70 to 21, with all Republicans and some Democrats voting for the measure.

Previously from Wisconsin Watch: Wisconsin debates cash bail changes in wake of Waukesha parade tragedy — as some states ditch system entirely

Report: Warming climate threatens Wisconsin way of lifeWisconsin State

Journal — February 12, 2022

Wisconsin’s climate continued to get warmer and wetter over the past decade, according to a new report that says today’s records will be the new average by mid-century. The report, issued Thursday by the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, found that, since 1950, statewide average temperatures have warmed by 3 degrees — a number beyond any natural variability — while annual precipitation increased 17%. The past two decades have been the warmest on record, and the 2010s the wettest, with sharp increases in extreme storms that have led to loss of life and property and disrupted economic activity.

Isaac “Bubba” Solis Jr., who died in 2019, had a passion for working on cars. Photo provided by the family

Father launches ‘One Pill Kills’ social media campaign after son’s overdose death

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service — February 17, 2022

Isaac Solis, 45, has a warning for parents and others. “It only takes one fake pill with fentanyl in it to lose someone you love,” said Solis, whose son, Isaac Jr., died in 2019 after taking what he thought was a prescription Percocet. The pill that Isaac Jr., whom they called Bubba, bought on the street was actually a counterfeit pill laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can kill in trace amounts and is often used as a cutting agent by drug dealers. It’s a phenomenon that’s driven an increase in overdose deaths across the country, including in Milwaukee County. In 2021, an all-time-high 607 drug overdose deaths were recorded, surpassing the previous high of 545 set last year. 

Previously from Milwaukee NNS: City struggles to find solutions to slow the high pace of drug overdose deaths

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