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Senate Votes Tuesday On Controversial Bill Allowing Some Wisconsin Wetlands To Be Filled

Republican Rep. Jim Steineke of Kaukauna authored the bill making it easier for landowners to fill some wetlands – not high quality systems, he says, but low-grade isolated ones. The bill passed in the Assembly last week.


After Wrangling Among City Leaders, McManus Becomes Milwaukee's Interim Health Commissioner

Mayor Tom Barrett gave Dr. Patricia McManus, head of the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin , the official green light Thursday, but the process was far from seamless. Six weeks ago former commissioner Bevan Baker stepped down after evidence surfaced that the health department had botched protocols surrounding lead testing in children. Mayor Barrett then announced his choice for interim commissioner - Paul Nannis. Some aldermen fought Barrett’s choice, and last week, the vast majority of...


City Hall Echoes With Lead Contamination Concerns

The discussion started Wednesday morning at a meeting of the Public Works Committee. Alderman Tony Zielinski has long been beating the drum for comprehensive public education on the dangers of lead. He championed changes in the health department’s outreach. Now he’s pushing a companion strategy, “Key components of the legislation include inserts going out with the water bill quarterly as opposed to semiannually and that would provide educational material about lead,” Zielinski says. But he...


County Exec Drops Proposed Parking Fee to Fund Milwaukee County Parks

Update 11:50 am: With the message "You Spoke, I Listened," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced the Pay-to-Park Initiative would be removed from the 2018 budget. Abele is now suggesting the County's rainy day contingency fund to "fully fund our Parks department for this year." Abele calls the measure a temporary fix. "I am pleased that we will be able to avoid charging visitors from paying to park their vehicles this year. But I must caution that this ia a short-term solution to...


What’s the Wind Turbine South of Downtown Milwaukee Powering?

Like many Milwaukeans, Deb Schampers of Bay View has driven past the wind turbine just south of the Hoan Bridge countless times. For years, she’s been wondering about it: Why is it there? Why only one? Who benefits? Just for fun, during her daily commutes, Deb made up her own answers -- “It was possibly helping us make Milorganite for the world... It’s heating the ovens at DiMarini’s (a pizza place a half mile from the turbine.)” Not satisfied with her made up stories, Deb reached out to...


How Tropical Vines Could Be Impacting The Pace Of Climate Change

Marquette University biologist Stefan Schnitzer spends months at a time at his lab on Barro Colorado Island in Panama. Amidst the fauna and flora, the island is home to dozens of vine species, or liana. “And what’s happening now is that the forests are changing enough that they (lianas) seem to be thriving when many trees are not,” Schnitzer says. Trees are important not simply to a balanced tropical forest ecosystem, they are vital to the planet. “What we want from these forests is that...


Milwaukee Common Council Selects Interim Health Commissioner

The Common Council voted nearly unanimously Tuesday to name Dr. Patricia McManus interim health commissioner. Just one day earlier, Mayor Tom Barrett withdrew his choice for interim health department head, Paul Nannis. The writing was on the wall. Recently the Public Safety and Health Committee grilled and rejected Nannis. Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton decided to act – drawing from a seldom used measure called emergency power – to nominate Dr. Patricia MaManus for the job....


A Mystery Tree Grows In Milwaukee

On this week's Bubbler Talk , we dig into a botanical mystery involving a 'banned' tree, stinky fruit, and the age of the dinosaurs. Listener Vanessa Radlinger noticed something out of place in Milwaukee's Third Ward: what she presumed to be a mirabelle plum tree -- which she thought was banned in the US. The mirabelle plum brought back memories for Vanessa who first saw one of the trees while growing up in Germany. Before we get into the tree's legal status, let's find out what the big...


Milwaukee Mayor Lifts Policy Prohibiting Health Dept Staff From Communicating With Elected Officials

Update, 5:54 pm Thursday: According to a press release issued by Ald Bob Baumann, Mayor Barrett today lifted the policy that required health department staff get permission before communicating directly with elected officials. The policy was discussed at Wednesday's Steering & Rules Committee where members learned for the first time of the policy's existence. Original Story: Health department employees are not allowed share concerns with Milwaukee Common Council members or the mayor,...


Milwaukee Families Share Concerns About Lead In Water

Wahkunna Smith was confused when she received a letter from the City of Milwaukee Health Department that read: “Dear Parent or Guardian, One or more of your children had a blood lead test result within the last few years…" Back in September, her son had just turned two and was diagnosed with elevated lead levels and she followed up with the WIC clinic right away. Smith was one of about 6,500 parents the health department feared might have fallen through the cracks. Because of spotty record...


Health Department Reports on Gaps in Milwaukee's Childhood Lead Program

Monday evening Mayor Tom Barrett held a last minute press conference on a troubling new report from the Milwaukee Health Department. It cites inferior training and lack of coordination. What Mayor Barrett focused on was gaps in followup. "The report does include at least two cases of children with blood levels of higher than 40 who were allowed by the department to be released that was not yet assured to be lead safe....at least two children that we know of that were allowed to return to a...


City Leaders Struggle with Solutions to Milwaukee's Lead Crisis

Update: Thursday morning, the Public Safety and Health Committee rejected naming Paul Nannis as Milwaukee's interim Commissioner of Health. The vote was 3 against, 1 abstention and 1 in favor. Mayor Tom Barrett proposed Nannis for a 120-day interim position as Milwaukee carries out a national search for former health commissioner Bevan Baker's replacement. The health department is due to provide a status report on its lead program to the Mayor and Common Council next Monday, January 29....


Common Council Quizzes Mayor and Health Department on Lead Program Glitches

As Steering & Rules Committee chair Ashanti Hamllton opened Wednesday's Steering & Rules Committee special meeting, he described the moment as pivotal to our city. He called for thoughtfulness and urgency. “The more we learn about the consequences of lead exposure, the clearer it is that the highest degree of care and caution must be given, especially to our most vulnerable communities,” Hamilton said. Members of the public and media in the room expected to be ushered out of the room. The...


Group Aims to Hold Milwaukee Officials Accountable for Lead In Water Crisis

Late last week Mayor Tom Barrett took many residents by surprise when he announced Milwaukee’s health commissioner Bevan Baker had resigned, and in the same breath, that the agency might have failed to notify families whose children tested positive for elevated lead levels from 2015 through 2017.


State Legislature Considers Ending Wolf Management

A bill making its way through committee would end the Wisconsin DNR’s monitoring of wolves. The legislation would also prohibit law enforcement officers from taking action if a wolf is poached or harmed by things like traps. At a heated public hearing Wednesday before the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage, Senator Tom Tiffany (R) of Minocqua said the bill is designed to force Congress to remove wolves from the federal endangered species list. President Barack...


Butler-Based Junk Hauling Company Aims to Give Veterans Jobs

A military veteran in Philadelphia started JDog Junk Removal & Hauling seven years ago. Business boomed so he decided to offer franchises to fellow veterans and their families. That’s where Wisconsin native Andrew Weins enters the picture. “This business allows me to take care of the environment,” he says. Andrew served in both Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “We push the fact that we’re veteran owned and operated because from a marketing standpoint it’s a competitive advantage. However,...


Wisconsinites: What Happens To Your Recycling Once It Leaves The Curb?

Greenfield resident Anah Radatz has been religiously recycling for years, and has wondered what happens to her empty milk jugs and newspapers. So, she reached out to Beats Me. _ _ “The main thing I wanted to know is do people handle this? [Is it] all conveyer belts or [do] people put plastic gloves and handle it?” Anah adds, “Because I’m really good about rinsing out everything.” Her question lead WUWM’s environmental reporter Susan Bence to Johns Disposal Services in rural Racine County....


Life's Voices: A Lifelong Creator Of Floral Beauty

Milwaukee native Will Radler’s life mission has been to share the beauty of flowers. Growing up on city’s north side, he poured over his grandmother’s rose catalogs. “I think I became a garden critic when I was in my single digit years,” Will says. His mom was an avid flower gardener. Even before he can remember she took Will to Boerner Botanical Gardens. “My mother has a picture of me in a buggy. Do you remember buggies,” Will adds with a laugh, “Yeah, I’m that old.” A garden Will would...


Six of Wisconsin’s Top Environmental Stories of 2017

As 2017 comes to an end, WUWM’s environmental reporter Susan Bence reviews some of this year’s major environmental issues, from Waukesha's water deal to the Foxconn bill.


State Legislature Considers Bill That Slashes Wetland Protection

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steinecke authored the bill and says the measure would free developers from unnecessary regulations when parcels have no environmental value. About 80 percent of the state’s wetlands are connected to surface water – streams or lakes. That 80 percent falls under the scrutiny of the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s the remaining 20 percent – often called remnant or isolated because there’s no surface water connection - that the proposed bill covers. Their...


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