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Afternoon State News Briefs - Lawyers gain but M & I stockholders get nothing in lawsuit over sale to BMO Financial

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MILWAUKEE - Former stockholders of M&I Bank will not get any money but their lawyers will, after they settled a class action lawsuit over the sale of the bank to the BMO Financial Group.

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Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jane Carroll did not award any damages as part of the settlement. But she did make BMO pay $695,000 to cover the attorneys' costs in pursuing the case. M and I stockholders originally contended that BMO should have paid more, when it bought Milwaukee's Marshall and Ilsley Corporation for $4.1 billion dollars a year ago. But the lead attorney for the stockholders, Jeffrey Light, said it turned out that the price was not unreasonable. That was after his San Diego law firm consulted with financial experts. The lawsuit then sought more disclosure about the deal, instead of monetary damages.

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gives Wisconsin's public universities and colleges a grade of "C" for meeting the needs of employers, student access, and success rates. The third annual "Leaders and Laggards" report card was released today by the chamber's Institute for a Competitive Workforce. It said only 22 states track graduates once they enter the world of work. And the report said legislators should hinge at least part of a university's funding on whether their most successful students are getting their degrees in a timely fashion. The report said the UW System does not track student outcomes in the labor market although such a system is pending as part of the new state budget. The UW decided a year ago to increase its numbers of degrees to try and encourage grads to stay in Wisconsin to find decent paying jobs. But the Institute said the UW did not set goals for the system's efficiency or student outcomes. The business group looked at two year and four year university schools in each state. No state was given an "A" in a majority of categories.

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Two Wisconsinites were killed in a fiery traffic crash in Iowa. The State

Patrol said 55 year old Michael Hengel of Milwaukee and 38 year old Cory Severson of Pine River were in a car that was stopped at a construction site and it got sandwiched between two semi trucks after one of the trucks rear ended the auto. Investigators said the two victims were trapped inside their auto as it burst into flames. The truckers were not seriously hurt. The crash happened yesterday on Highway 20 near Holstein in northwestern Iowa.

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Milwaukee Police arrested a 27-year old man today in connection with a murder last weekend in Sheboygan. Ronnie Polk was taken into custody without incident, after an arrest warrant charged him with first degree reckless homicide and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Police said Polk shot and killed 24 year old Brandon Davis while the two were attending a social gathering at a house in Sheboygan on Saturday night. David was shot once in the upper body, and he died later at a Milwaukee hospital. Police said the two knew each other and they could have been relatives. Sheboygan investigators focused their search for Polk in the Milwaukee area.

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It was a rough ride for drivers east of Madison earlier today. The heat buckled pavement on U.S. Highway 12-18 east of the Beltline interchange with Interstate 39-90. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported the pavement problem affected drivers in the right lane of the westbound side near Femrite Drive. It was reported at about 2:30 p.m. today.

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A Campbellsport teenager faces three counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle connected to a crash earlier this year that left three dead. Carly Ottery was driving an SUV last February with eight other people in the vehicle. She was allegedly going 100 miles per hour when she lost control, rolling the vehicle. Fond du Lac County District Attorney Dan Kaminsky calls it's a tragic case. He says there's a good chance for a plea agreement that will address consequences for Ottery's actions and that will get her the help she needs in coping with the loss of her friends. Kaminsky says there were several conflicts of interest, which is why they asked for the Winnebago County DA's Office to provide a special prosecutor to handle the case. Ottery was a babysitter for a secretary in the District Attorney's office and the DA is friends with one of her relatives. Ottery made her first court appearance this (Tuesday) morning in Fond du Lac County court. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says presidential candidate Mitt Romney will do well in the fall election if he talks about jobs, a lot. Walker says that's a winning message. The governor appeared with Romney during a campaign stop at the Monterey Mills factory in Janesville. That Wisconsin stop was part of Romney's five day bus tour which wrapped up today. He visited mostly smaller towns in battleground states like Wisconsin. Romney told the Janesville crowd he is going to win in Wisconsin.

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Former Calumet County prosecutor Ken Kratz told a judicial referee today that he's made peace with himself, after a sex addiction that led his resignation, divorce, and bankruptcy. As he promised last week, the 52 year old Kratz pleaded no contest to a half dozen sex related violations of Wisconsin's judicial misconduct code. Five other counts were dropped last week. He admitted trying to set up encounters with several women in 2009 including a domestic abuse victim while he was prosecuting her ex boyfriend. Kratz told the judicial referee had took various medicines and treatments while his marriage was breaking up in '09 and he allowed his sex addiction to enter his professional life for the first time. Kratz said it got so bad in 2010 when former Governor Jim Doyle took steps to remove him from office that he put a gun in his mouth. Now, Kratz said he no longer lives a double-life in shame, and he's happier than he's ever been. He told the judicial referee he got his self respect back. Kratz said last Friday he would ask that his proposed six month suspension of his law license be dropped, because he has suffered enough. The referee, former Rhinelander judge Robert Kinney, will make a recommendation to those who will have the final say, the State Supreme Court.

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Judges in Oshkosh say they need to stop prosecutors from having concealed weapons, so everyone can have safe environments to settle legal disputes. But Winnebago County District Attorney Christian Gossett says the state's new concealed carry law allows DA's and their assistants to have hidden guns in courthouses as long as they state permits. And Gossett asked the State Supreme Court yesterday to uphold what he says are his rights. He says he has to walk to another building from his office to make court appearances and he needs to protect himself at all times. But the six Winnebago County circuit judges say they're trying to apply their policy equally, by banning concealed weapons for all parties except law enforcement officers. Gossett's legal action targets all six Oshkosh judges, plus the head of the local administrative court district.

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State officials have suspended a bidding process for a new statewide information system on Wisconsin school students. That's after the state's Economic Development agency offered tax breaks to Skyward of Stevens Point if it won the contract. The Administration Department ran the bidding process and it said the offer of a tax break to a successful bidder violates the spirit of competitive bids. Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch learned of the tax break offer last Friday. But until then, he said no one in his agency knew about it. Yesterday, Economic Development Secretary Paul Jadin withdrew the offer without disclosing what it would have been. A statewide system was approved in the new state budget for school districts to get information from other districts on things like student grades and health records. The state system means that local schools would no longer have to run their own systems and state education officials will put out a revised bidding schedule. Skyward said last fall that it had contracts with 220 Wisconsin and 1400 school districts from elsewhere for student information and if it didn't win the statewide contract, all of its deals would end and it would pull out of Wisconsin. Skyward employs 270 people, and CEO Cliff King had warned last November it would be forced to leave the state if it didn't win the contract. The firm has not commented on the ending of the current bidding process.

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