Series

When a member of the Wisconsin Legislature vacates the office before their term ends, the governor has the power to call a special election to fill that seat. Data shows that governors over the past five decades have generally acted promptly to fill vacancies. That pattern continued well into Gov. Scott Walker's administration until the final days of 2017, when he declined to call special elections for two open seats and leave them open until the November 2018 election to let voters choose new officeholders. A WisContext investigation of state elections records showed that a vacancy of such length was unprecedented in modern Wisconsin history.More
Gooseneck pipes
Drinking water quality varies across in Wisconsin. In communities with public utilities, drinking water is subject to disparate levels of treatment depending on local needs and budget concerns. Nearly one million households get their water from private wells, which depend on property owners for monitoring and treatment. Across the state, many natural processes and human activities can introduce pathogens and chemical contaminants into water supplies. Wherever their drinking water comes from, Wisconsinites can use various resources to better understand and improve its quality.More
The winter holidays are a time when families and friends often gather to share time and traditions. Preparing for these gatherings can be simultaneously joyful and stressful, but proper planning can help people can get the most out of the season, its celebrations and spirit, and renew relationships with others near and far.More
Elizabethkingia culture
A bacteria named Elizabethkingia anophelis infected scores of people in Wisconsin in late 2015 and early 2016, and at least 18 of these patients subsequently died. The bacteria occurs commonly in the environment, but the aggressive, drug-resistant infections it causes are very rare. State and federal public health officials have struggled to understand the source of this outbreak. Elizabethkingia bacteria are relatively new to science, and this pattern of infections differed significantly from others in the medical literature. Previous outbreaks have usually centered around specific hospitals and intensive-care units, whereas the Wisconsin patients were spread around the southern and eastern parts of the state and didn't have any one medical facility in common.More
Aerial view of Milwaukee, looking southeast
Milwaukee experienced a dramatic increase in shootings and homicides in 2015. This violence was concentrated in the poorest areas of Wisconsin's largest city, one with entrenched racial and economic disparities. The locations of most homicides correspond with the zip codes that have the highest poverty rates, the lowest levels of educational attainment, weak access to mental-health services, and high numbers of people struggling to pay rent. These issues are also connected to historical events like the city's urban-renewal programs of the 1960s, which displaced many African-American families from their homes.More