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As I See It

Where is progress on homelessness?



I enjoy spending time in downtown La Crosse, and do some shopping there regularly. But it is becoming more difficult to spend my money at any of the downtown businesses, because shopping there has become more unpleasant. That is due to the rising homeless population occupying downtown. Over the weekend, I noticed another congregation of unsheltered people making Cameron Park their home. They were loud and making a scene. Others were passed out in parking lots or hanging with their possessions on sidewalks. I witnessed one man urinating against the side of a downtown building in broad daylight. Many who live or work downtown say they are routinely harassed for money or drugs. The homeless population, and the city’s failure to find a solution, have harmed some businesses, whose customers don’t feel comfortable shopping there. It is hard enough to run a small business. It is getting even harder with the homeless keeping some shoppers away from the heart of La Crosse. There are no easy answers, but it would be good to see some progress.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. nick

    May 29, 2024 at 6:03 am

    There are homeless that want just that.
    The problem cannot be solved in most cases.
    The only way to have a chance is to use a store as large as a SHOPKO; retrofit it with a ladies and men’s bathrooms with showers; herd them all in there; and get them off drugs and provide the services needed.
    The minute you do that the left wing attorney’s will be suing you life violating their constitutional rights.
    California in four years spent 24 billion on the situation; can’t account for the money and their homeless population is worse. A progressive state who is the poster child for failed progressive ideas.

  2. Kent Porter

    May 29, 2024 at 6:18 am


  3. Thomas Lane

    May 29, 2024 at 7:18 am

    Give them a bus ticket to where ever their Obamaphone area code is.

  4. Bob N.

    May 29, 2024 at 7:28 am

    I thought the new “Homeless Co-ordinator” hired by the Mayor was supposed to take care of this. I thought the millions of public dollars spent on these losers was supposed to take care of this. I thought the low income housing was supposed to take care of this. I thought the “Pathways Home” plan was supposed to take care of this. Oh, that’s right. The government liberals gave themselves 5 years to come up with a “Pathways Home” plan. As you’ve witnessed, no plan exists today.
    You see, vagrancy will always be there with all the unpleasantness you’re witnessing, Scott, as long as you tolerate it. If the City stops tolerating it, it will not be there. We saw that when the dregs were kicked out of Houska Park and the Riverside Park encampment. You’re wrong, Scott. There are easy answers.

  5. R Head

    May 29, 2024 at 8:32 am

    More great work by Mitch. He had only made the problem worse. Liberals never fix the problems they only make it worse.

    • walden

      May 29, 2024 at 10:52 am

      The county Homeless Industrial Complex has an annual budget of many millions of dollars and employs a lot of people in La Crosse County. Its our local tax dollars plus state and federal monies that are doled out and spent to fuel a sort of perpetual motion machine that runs in circles with no net effect other than consuming said tax dollars and continuing to expand the number of government and NGO jobs.

      Are drugs a problem? Yes, but when was the last time WIZM updated the community on the number of overdoses? When was the last time any of our local political “leadership” criticized policies that allow tons of illegal drugs to cross our borders? Of course, Tammy Baldwin has crawled out of her hole like a 4-year periodical cicada to try to convince us she has performed wonderfully in this regard.

  6. The Dude

    May 29, 2024 at 10:36 am


    I agree, but it is the leadership that is failing us. Our mayor is not mandating the laws in Lacrosse are to be enforced.

    There are so many things that he is turning a blind eye to—-Sec. 32-103. – Public intoxication. (drugs, alcohol, etc), Sec. 30-2. – Storage of personalty.(unsheltered have “stuff” all over); Sec. 30-3. – Abatement of drug and gang houses.(look at the needles in all of the parks);
    Sec. 32-135. – Loud noises prohibited.

    Any of these can and should be enforced and those business owners downtown will welcome the change.

  7. Walden

    May 29, 2024 at 10:39 am

    My experiences downtown River City align with WIZM’s: man wrapped up in filthy sleeping bag asleep on 4th Street sidewalk middle of the afternoon, what appeared to be a prostitute heading into Cameron Park one evening, a high or mental person singing at top of lungs on 3rd Street outside a popular restaurant, etc. Cameron Park is becoming like Houska Park three years ago…grass disappearing and turning into a mud hole. An obvious public health and safety situation and the worst I have seen it.

    There is a food service (yellow van)that parks at Cameron to provide free meals for these wretches. The problem is the food service is acting as an attractant for these people to hang around downtown only feet away from a public school. School District leadership is silent except when it comes to asking for more money.

    I visited the Main Street library one afternoon and there were zombies inside and out. The river shoreline from Swift Creek north to interstate 90 has many pockets of homeless camping. Also the La Crosse River marsh.

    This is simply out of hand.

    City leadership is impotent or AWOL.

    • The Dude

      May 30, 2024 at 11:36 am

      Walden, your comments are always enlightening. Although there are differences in a lot of what Scott Shaw “as I see it” there are a lot of things we agree on.

      So when we all try and go after the common things and get away from the Democrat vs. Republican labels and concentrate on what’s good for the majority we will all be better off.

      • walden

        May 30, 2024 at 6:13 pm

        Thanks Dude, but no. You need to catch a dose of realism.

        For WIZM, being partisan is the point of it all. Again, WIZM won’t question what is causing the larger part of the homeless problem (drugs coming across the boarder) because it doesn’t support the progressive agenda. Nor will anyone else in the Homeless Industrial Complex because the grift keeps their ships afloat. I don’t know how these people spew their detritus 24-7 without drowning in it. Don’t worry though, we have been assured we are on a five year plan to solve homelessness right here in River City.

  8. LG

    May 30, 2024 at 11:11 am

    Thank you, Scott, Robert Shaw, for finally pointing out the failures Of both city, leadership, and now County/city leadership combined. It seems, good intentions are never enough And sometimes good intentions make problems worse. Unfortunately, The money that is wasted was confiscated (taxed) from others So that those willing to tax can feel good about doing something Even if that something was ineffective and harmful. And so it goes…

    • Roy

      May 30, 2024 at 12:32 pm

      Ah, Virtue Signaling, LG. All these Do-Gooders have faded ” 13.1″ stickers on their bumpers. They have a new slogan: “If It Feels Good, Enact It and Tax It.”

  9. walden

    May 30, 2024 at 6:21 pm

    So, doing WIZMs job for it, the death by drug count in La Crosse County was 38 in 2022. That is up from 5 in 2008 the earliest figures on the medical examiner’s website. Deaths up 760%.

    No figures for 2023 or 2024 are on the website. How can that be?

    Tammie Baldwin has been elected 3 times in that interval. The cicada-like politician that only emerges during election years.

    • LG

      June 1, 2024 at 2:23 pm

      The cicada like politician known as Tammy Baldwin likes to pick issue out of thin air designed to make herself look good while ignoring that which would truly help Wisconsinites. The latest example for all to see is to blame pharmaceutical/drug companies, expecting them to lower their prices, encouraging them to take a loss on the products they research and create, with which they save lives and increase the quality of life while ignoring the huge burden that government places upon us. If she would simply work towards decreasing taxes with smaller Wisconsin government, people would easily be able to afford the medication’s they need. But, no…..She prefers the slight of hand approach.

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