I work on regular investigative and enterprise projects for Gannett’s 10 papers in Wisconsin. A team of three full-time reporters and four local beat reporters brainstorm story ideas, using data often obtained through open records requests to tell stories that affect every community.
My work for the GWM Investigative team includes:
Investigating ambulances in Wisconsin is a one-man job
I learned Wisconsin only has one inspector assigned to check more than 1,200 ambulances every two years – and the standards for those inspections haven’t been updated for more than a decade. I created a database of the inspection records, giving people a first look at the documents which aren’t available online through the state. A follow-up report featured a former EMT who was paralyzed in an ambulance crash, in print and in a video report.
Deeply entrenched: Proponents, opponents of Northwoods iron mine pit jobs against environment
Photographer Sharon Cekada and I spent two days in northern Wisconsin’s Ashland and Iron counties with people who are certain an iron mine will bring irrevocable changes, for better or worse, to their lives.
Additional coverage: Experts say more information needed on waste rock
Life in a land of iron: Continuing my coverage of mining, I traveled with photographer Lukas Keapproth to Minnesota’s Iron Range and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to report on decades of mining there. The trip resulted in three print packages, with additional photos and videos online.
Using the a state Department of Natural Resources database, I reported on the most common factors in deaths and accidents on Wisconsin’s waters. In a second-day report, I focused on where police and wardens issue the most tickets to boaters and what offenses they focus on. I also produced interactive graphics for online readers to explore the information and assisted with a video report.
State’s splintered oversight of mobile homes leaves residents searching for help
After municipal officials condemned homes in two central Wisconsin mobile home communities in late 2010, I requested hundreds of complaints submitted to two state agencies under the state’s open records law. Those complaints and additional reporting revealed a patchwork system with little record of forcing park owners to make needed repairs.
Chemical vapors can cause lingering effects in homes, businesses
Cleanup projects at an unknown number of chemical spills in Wisconsin skipped a key step — investigating whether potentially carcinogenic chemicals could seep as vapor into nearby homes or businesses — according to a state database of spill sites.
Dangerous algae flourishes as Wisconsin slogs through permits
My review of state records found that Wisconsin was not fully enforcing strict phosphorus limits adopted years earlier to reduce lake-algae blooms that make people sick. I also created a database of lakes and rivers affected by the contaminant.
Other investigative work:
Highway 51, 29 reconstruction doubles in cost
Wausau Daily Herald
In six months, I examined the Wausau metro area’s most significant infrastructure project of the past decade — the reconstruction of highways 51 and 29. The reporting process included reviewing more than 90 boxes of documents stored at a Department of Transportation regional office and interviews with a dozen sources who managed or otherwise worked on the project. Gannett reporters across the country took a similar approach, sharing the results of their reporting to determine how effectively states were managing federal highway money. The entire report, including a document gallery using Document Cloud and a video tour of the highway project is available here.
$60,000 spent on Gov. Scott Walker’s travels
Wausau Daily Herald
Using the state’s open records law, I requested the expenses associated with the governor’s travel in the state fleet and passenger manifests of those flights. We found that Walker spent more than $59,000 flying around Wisconsin during his first six months in office, with the bulk of the travel coming during the contentious battle over the Republican governor’s legislative agenda and budget.