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Author: Wisconsin Watch

Many Wisconsin renters have nowhere to go as evictions soar and emergency aid falls short

Milwaukee’s Black neighborhoods hit hardest as evictions eclipse pre-pandemic levels, and a state aid program has been unable to keep up to match the level of assistance needed. Kelli Walton waited four weeks to hear whether she qualified for state emergency rental assistance. When the news came, it was too late. By the time the Social Development Commission, which distributes the aid, told her she was on a waiting list with thousands of others, Walton’s landlord had already issued a five-day notice — kickstarting an eviction. The mother of two from Milwaukee said before the pandemic, she was paying...

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Kenosha Militia leader claims police intended to herd protesters toward them on night of deadly shootings

A militia member patrolling the streets of Kenosha on August 25 claimed that police on the scene told him they planned to herd demonstrators toward the armed men, and then leave. In a widely shared video from that fateful evening when two people were killed, Ryan Balch, who said he served a “tactical advisement role” among the armed citizens, is seen telling protesters: “Do you know what the cops told us today? They were like, ‘We’re gonna push them down by you, because you can deal with them, and then we’re going to leave.’ ” It remains unclear to...

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Postal errors and ballot delivery delays in Wisconsin signal alarm about national voter suppression

The U.S. Postal Service is not meeting goals for on-time mail delivery, a worrying sign as millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail in November. Based on its own performance measures — and the loss of hundreds of Wisconsin ballots on their way to voters this summer — the U.S. Postal Service has its work cut out for it before Election Day. Among the 13 postal districts serving key presidential battleground states, four failed to meet any on-time service goals handling first-class mail between April 1 and June 30, and six districts achieved only one. The laggards...

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COVID-19, Protests, and a Budget Crunch: How shifting funds can improve the quality of life in Milwaukee

Milwaukee activist Annia Leonard wants a safe community without police, and she draws from her own experience when thinking about what that could be: like the time a conflict at her grandmother’s house ended peacefully in a garden — without anyone in handcuffs. When an argument escalated earlier this summer, one person in the house called Milwaukee police, Leonard said, and someone else called 414LIFE — a team of community “violence interrupters” who are trained to intervene. With her adrenaline pumping, Leonard said she was already in “fight mode” when the officers arrived, and their response only antagonized those...

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More testing needed as spread of coronavirus makes significant impact across Wisconsin communities

Wisconsin has bolstered its testing capacity during the pandemic, but not everyone is using it and challenges loom. In the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic, a shortage of testing supplies and staff at laboratories left Wisconsin and other states struggling to quickly identify infections and isolate contagious people. Four months after Governor Tony Evers declared the outbreak a public health emergency, the state has dramatically expanded its testing capacity. But experts say too few Wisconsinites are showing up — potentially thwarting efforts to neutralize a virus that killed at least 831 people in the state as of July...

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Contact tracers across Wisconsin battle the coronavirus and dangerous conspiracy fallacies

Health experts call contact tracing essential for slowing COVID-19, but misinformation is circulating in Wisconsin and its negative impact is exhausting some local officials. Having posed a series of increasingly paranoid-sounding questions about the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Appleton City Council member William Siebers cleared his throat, preparing for the most outlandish yet. “I’ve got to be serious,” he said. “Are there going to be any cameras situated in the city of Appleton that (are) going to supervise anybody who is quarantined or isolated in their homes, to make sure they don’t leave their homes?” Siebers’ question...

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