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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Wisconsin's newest member of Congress, Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, said Thursday he didn't know if President Donald Trump incited the riot last week at the U.S. Capitol and wants a full investigation to find out what motivated the mob.

Courtesy of Samba Baldeh

Newly elected Rep. Samba Baldeh is the first Muslim member of the Wisconsin Legislature. Before becoming a representative, Baldeh, an immigrant from Gambia, served on the Madison Common Council. He now represents Wisconsin’s 48th Assembly District.

As for what Baldeh hopes to accomplish, he says he wants to expand health care programs, like Medicaid, so that struggling communities have proper access to medical care.

Criminal justice reform is also on the top of Baldeh's mind, he says, not only in terms of police reform but also in keeping people out of prison.

Courtesy of Francesca Hong

Wisconsin voters made history in November by electing the first Asian American to the state Legislature. Francesca Hong is a chef and restaurant owner, and now a state representative. She was elected to represent the state’s 76th Assembly District, which covers a portion of Madison.

Rep. Hong, a Democrat, talks with WUWM's LaToya Dennis about the work that lies ahead. She begins by explaining her feelings about being elected: “I am both incredibly motivated, grateful and terrified at the same time."

Teran Powell / WUWM

Across the country this year, including in Milwaukee, protests over the treatment of Black people has taken center stage. While the police killing of George Floyd was the catalyst, some in Milwaukee have had concerns for decades about policing and the value of Black lives here. Protests in Milwaukee have now surpassed 200 days. Still, questions remain about the progress that’s been made.

Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images

Wisconsin Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson claims that a large portion of Americans no longer trust the election system. On Wednesday, he held a hearing on what he called irregularities in the 2020 presidential election.

It was his final meeting as chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Johnson opened the hearing saying many citizens have a number of reasons to question the election results. He said they include the Democratic investigation into Russian involvement in the election four years ago.

Lauren Sigfusson / WUWM

Around 65,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine will soon be headed to Wisconsin, according to local health officials.

First responders and people who live or work in long-term care facilities will be first up to be vaccinated. As more doses become available, it’s expected that the vaccination will be offered to more people.

Courtesy of Paul Akert

Taking a photo with Santa is much trickier this year. Pandemic concerns and physical distancing have forced people wanting to see Santa to come up with alternative ways to keep the tradition alive.

For kids around the world, sitting on Santa’s lap is a sacred holiday tradition. Some families spend hours in lines waiting for their chance to see Santa, but not this year.

Erin Schaff / Getty Images

Updated Wednesday 7:53 a.m. CST

President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Wisconsin seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state's two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Joe Biden's win in the battleground state he lost by nearly 20,700 votes.

Jack Hurbanis / WUWM

Across the state, around 85% of hospital beds are occupied. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported more than 6,200 new cases of the coronavirus. That number is down significantly from the high of nearly 8,000 cases a week ago.

Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said everyone is looking for signs that Wisconsin’s numbers are on their way down.

ATJANANC / stock.adobe.com

Across the world, men and boys are being asked to help stop human trafficking by signing a pledge offered by the HEMAD program.

HEMAD is short for Human Trafficking Educators Working With Men and Boys To Stand Against the Demand. The program is run locally by the Convergence Resource Center in Milwaukee, a city that ranks sixth in the nation for human trafficking.

Michelle Maternowski / WUWM

Updated Monday 6:18 p.m. CST

The Wauwatosa Police Department is releasing additional details about the investigation into the shooting at Mayfair Mall on Friday. Eight people were injured, and a 15-year-old Hispanic teen was taken into custody Saturday night.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

The city of Wauwatosa will pay officer Joseph Mensah the equivalent of 13 months pay plus an additional $15,000, along with what he is owed for vacation and sick time amongst other benefits once his resignation becomes official at the end of the month.

Michelle Maternowski / WUWM

 

Milwaukee County leaders are struggling with ways to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. 

There have been over 53,000 cases here since the start of the pandemic. Like across the state, there’s been a surge since September. Earlier this year, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers implemented stay-at-home orders that were ultimately done away with by the state Supreme Court. Since then, businesses across the state have been opening, which some health officials say is contributing to the spread. 

Samer Ghani

With a vote of 14-4, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved a $1.2 billion budget for 2021.

While the spending plan is about $4.2 million less than this year’s, the property tax levy will increase due to a reduction in shared revenue payments from the state.

Teran Powell / WUWM

Across Wisconsin, people voted by absentee ballot in historic numbers this fall.

As of Monday, 1.9 million ballots had been either returned by mail or cast in person. Even with so many people voting early, election officials want the public to know they are ready for in-person voting Tuesday. It will mark the fourth statewide election of the year. Three have taken place since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Election officials say that polling places will be prepared with voter and poll worker health at the top of the list.

Getty Images North America

With just days left before the Nov. 3 presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden made a campaign stop in Milwaukee on Friday night. 

There were no large crowds — only around 50 or so people gathered in an airport hanger on a cold fall night. There were white socially distanced circles on the ground marking where people should sit or stand. 

Screenshots / LaToya Dennis

With the presidential election just days away, your mailbox may be filling up with campaign flyers. You might also be getting lots of phone calls. And something that’s more common this year than in previous presidential elections: text messages.

Typically during election season, there’s a lot of door knocking by people canvassing neighborhoods, encouraging you to go to the polls or cast ballots for a certain candidate. But there’s less of that this time around.

Screenshot / WUWM / Facebook

WUWM is partnering with the Milwaukee Journal SentinelMilwaukee PBS and the Milwaukee Public Library on an initiative we call Listen MKE. Its goal: help Milwaukee’s north side residents get the information they want and need. More specifically, we want to better understand what's most important to people who live in these Milwaukee neighborhoods and help fill information gaps.

LaToya Dennis

Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride says he stands by his decisions to implement a curfew and request the National Guard in the days following the Milwaukee County district attorney's decision not to charge a Wauwatosa police officer who fatally shot a black teenager.

Officer Joseph Mensah fatally shot Alvin Cole at Mayfair Mall in February. Mensah maintains that Cole had a gun and fired at officers. 

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin are spiking again. In fact, more than 40% of known cases have been diagnosed in just the past month. Wisconsin’s hospitals are under a unique strain. In some parts of the state, they’re now at capacity.

With the coronavirus surging, officials are taking an unusual measure to help free up some hospital beds.

Copyright 2020 WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR. To see more, visit WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee's NPR.

TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

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Family members and loved ones of people incarcerated in Wisconsin are growing more concerned about the spread of COVID-19.

At least three state prisons have reported outbreaks among inmates, and at least two people have died at the Dodge County Correctional Facility. The number of deaths from COVID-19 inside prisons could be higher, but the Department of Corrections doesn’t release that information due to privacy concerns.

LaToya Dennis

On Thursday, people took to the streets again to protest Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm’s decision Wednesday not to criminally charge Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah. 

Mensah fatally shot 17-year-old Alvin Cole after being dispatched to Mayfair Mall for a disturbance earlier this year. Cole had a gun and Mensah has said he believed Cole shot at officers. Cole was Black, as is Mensah. 

karagrubis / stock.adobe.com

Updated at 7:24 p.m. CT 

Across Wisconsin, election clerks have mailed out more than 1.1 million absentee ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

In Walworth County, at least one person received a ballot without enough postage to cover the cost of returning it. But Reid Magney, with the Wisconsin Elections Commission, says the postage issue shouldn’t be a problem.

“The post office will deliver your absentee ballot back to your clerk's office whether or not it has any postage on it,” Magney says. 

Lauren Sigfusson

Wisconsin is a hotbed of activity for COVID-19 right now. 

On Tuesday, the state recorded more than 2,300 cases and 17 more deaths, bringing the total to 1,300. At the beginning of the pandemic, Milwaukee County was leading the way in the number of cases, but that is not the case anymore. The majority of the spread is now being seen in other parts of the state.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Across the country, states are now looking to Wisconsin as the coronavirus outbreak here worsens. 

Per capita, the state already has one of the highest infection rates in the country. On Monday, Wisconsin recorded a one-day positivity rate of about 22%. In other words, 22% of all people tested have the disease.

“Honestly, those are numbers that we never hoped would come to Wisconsin," says Dr. Ben Weston, the medical director for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Fizkes / stock.adobe.com

The people who work at big businesses and corporate jobs in the greater Milwaukee area are overwhelmingly white. Even before protests over racial inequity and social justice began months ago, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) had set out to increase Black and brown representation at Milwaukee-area corporations.

LaToya Dennis

Vice President Mike Pence made a campaign stop in Janesville, Wis., on Monday. It was the second time this month that he’d visited the state, with President Trump expected in Marathon County on Friday. 

As the crowd chanted four more years, Pence told supporters in a hotel ballroom that Wisconsin is a must win. 

“And the road to victory runs right through Wisconsin,” Pence says.

LaToya Dennis

Dozens of people rallied outside of Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha Thursday. 

That’s where Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden held an invitation-only conversation on how to heal the community. While it was taking place inside, outside the message was simple — Black Lives Matter and police reform is necessary. 

Screenshot / WUWM / Facebook

WUWM is partnering with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee PBS and the Milwaukee Public Library on an initiative we call Listen MKE. Its goal: help Milwaukee’s north side residents get the information they want and need. More specifically, we want to better understand what's most important to people who live in these Milwaukee neighborhoods and help fill information gaps.

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