Afternoon State News Briefs: Woman hangs herself in Ozaukee County jail
PORT WASHINGTON - Authorities say a South Carolina woman hung herself at the Ozaukee County Jail over the weekend.
Officers arrested 41-year-old Bridget Moorehead on June 5 and discovered her dead in her cell at 7:50 a.m. on Sunday. Authorities tell the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that there was no indication Moorehead was a suicide risk. An autopsy was completed today and the death remains under investigation.
State Democrats are mum when it comes to naming a possible candidate for Governor in 2014. State party chairman Mike Tate accuses Governor Scott Walker of attacking the candidates and not proposing ideas, which is the reason for the secrecy. With only 18 months until the election, possible candidates include Mahlon Mitchell and Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha. Congressman Ron Kind of La Crosse announced over the weekend that he is not interested in running for Governor and Russ Feingold hinted he may seek a rematch against Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) in 2016.
For Wisconsin's political parties, the next real elections are 17 months away. Today, Republicans said they were opening four new field offices to round up votes and campaign money in La Crosse, Sheboygan, Mount Pleasant near Racine, and Glendale near Milwaukee. The GOP also has field offices up-and-running in Madison, Waukesha, Green Bay, and Eau Claire. For now, the GOP's biggest challenge is to try and get Governor Scott Walker re-elected in 2014 - which observers say is a must if he has any hope of being a Republican White House candidate in 2016.
A Milwaukee pastor was released from a hospital today, after he was injured in a weekend freeway crash in Chicago. Senior Pastor Lezar Burnside was among 14 members of Milwaukee's Holy Temple First-born Missionary Baptist Church who were hurt in a church van. They were coming home from a funeral on Saturday when a car side-swiped the van on the Kennedy Expressway in downtown Chicago. The other 12 victims, including co-Pastor Tracie Burnside, were released from hospitals in the Windy City before yesterday's service at Holy Temple began.
A prosecutor in the state Justice Department was named today as a new circuit judge in Jefferson County. Governor Scott Walker appointed David Wambach to replace Judge Jacqueline Erwin, who retired. He was Jefferson County's chief prosecutor from 1997-to-2008, when he joined the attorney general's staff. His fellow DA's named him the state's "Prosecutor of the Year" in 2006. The state's Homicide Investigators Association gave Wambach the same honor in 2007 and 2011 for his work in cracking cold cases. Also today, the governor named attorney Tina Bourget as a new circuit judge in Eau Claire County. She replaces Lisa Stark, who was elected to the state's Third District Appeals Court.
A Wisconsin Assembly committee voted 8-to-1 this afternoon to let individuals give more money to state political candidates, in exchange for dropping other controversial election law changes. Freshman Republican David Craig of Washington County was the only dissenter, when the Assembly Elections' panel endorsed a compromise deal set last Friday night. The bill drops a proposed change in the photo ID law for voting, so certain poor people could still vote - but could be publicly identified as poor if their elections go to recounts. Restrictions on early voting hours were also trashed, along with the idea of making it harder for local officials to be recalled - although that's already in the hopper as a separate bill. The voter ID and the other requirements come also come up as separate bills this fall, while more money for candidates would be in place - $20,000 per donor for statewide candidates, up from the current $10,000. Smaller limits would also be doubled for Senate and Assembly candidates. The compromise also lets prospective voters register online. The full Assembly is scheduled to vote on the revised package later this week. If it passes, it's not certain when the Senate would take it up.
Planned Parenthood says it will close its center in Appleton if a Republican anti-abortion bill becomes law. A Senate committee endorsed the measure today. It would require abortion doctors to let patients see ultra-sounds of their unborn babies before they abort their fetuses. It also requires that doctors have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of where an abortion would be performed. Nicole Safar of Planned Parenthood told the AP that doctors at the Appleton center cannot meet the 30-mile mandate. Safar says the closing date would depend on whether Governor Scott Walker signs the bill - or when. It would leave Planned Parenthood with abortion clinics in two other Wisconsin cities, Madison and Milwaukee.
Former Sheboygan Mayor Bob Ryan will have his driver's license revoked for eight months, after he struck a plea deal on his latest alcohol incident. The 49-year-old Ryan pleaded guilty to driving with a prohibited alcohol content, and a separate OWI citation was dropped. Ryan must pay a fine of just over $800. Ryan was stopped March third in Kiel in Manitowoc County. A police officer saw him take a wide turn onto a highway, and then cross the center line. Ryan's blood alcohol level was point-249, over three times the legal limit of point-eight. Ryan was recalled last year before he could complete his first four-year term as Sheboygan's mayor. He admitted three alcohol-related episodes during his term, with a three-day binge in 2011 being the last straw.
Wisconsin prison guards will decide in just over a month whether to join one of two unions, or continue to work without representation. State corrections' public safety and security workers will vote by mail between June 28th and July 18th. Enough petitions have been signed to hold an official vote on whether the guards should re-join the Wisconsin State Employees Union, or go with a new group called the Wisconsin Association for Correctional Law Enforcement. The State Employees Union, one of the largest in state government, decided not to re-certify under the Act-10 law which spelled out very limited bargaining privileges for most public unions. Last fall, guards who said they were unhappy with the State Employees Union formed their own group. They'll continue to be unrepresented unless one of the unions gets 51-percent support. State Employees Union chief Marty Beil is confident the guards will re-join his group. He said a rejection would be the worst thing in the current political climate. In January, State Employees Union locals sued the proposed new union for allegedly moving $100,000 of members' dues into new accounts. An attorney for the new union says previous cases show that union dues should be under whoever represents the workers - not who collected the money in the first place.
Nobody in the Green Bay area has an official escort license issued by the city and several suburbs. That's what the Green Bay Press-Gazette found out, after 21 women were arrested last month in a prostitution sting in nearby Howard and Suamico. Most were cited for not having escort licenses, or trying to sign up for them. The proposed fines total over $100,000. In Green Bay, a violation for being an unlicensed escort can run about $6,300 - or eight times the penalties for first-offense drunk driving. Green Bay's escort license allows escorts to accompany people to events, be a private lingerie model, or dance nude - but no sexual contact is allowed. The Press-Gazette said Green Bay has had some licensed escorts in the past, but none are sanctioned now. The paper says applicants generally need to have clean criminal records, and most who apply don't qualify on that ground alone. Brown County authorities said it would have been much harder to pull off the recent sting in Howard and Suamico, had those places not had escort licensing procedures. Officials say the licenses are needed to make sure the escorts pay taxes and follow the law.
A woman killed in a head-on traffic crash in central Wisconsin was identified today as 22-year-old Alicia Schaetzl of Mosinee. Portage County authorities said her car crossed a center-line and slammed into an oncoming van. A 58-year-old Colorado man and a 57-year-old woman from Stevens Point were both taken to a Marshfield hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The crash happened just after five p-m yesterday near Nelsonville on Highway 161. Sheriff's investigators say they do not believe speed or alcohol were contributing factors. They're still trying to figure out what caused the mishap.
A central Wisconsin woman is free on a signature bond, after being accused of stealing almost a half-million dollars from an employer. 40-year-old Michelle Walters of Athens is charged with seven felony embezzlement counts. She allegedly stole the money from the Wausau retirement planning firm of Northwestern Wisconsin Associates. Authorities said the money was taken over a 20-year period from the firm's business account, and no clients lost any retirement funds. Officials said Walters wrote unauthorized checks to credit card firms, utilities, travel agents, and other companies for the defendant's personal gain. She waived the state's time limit to hold a preliminary hearing, and the status of her case will be discussed at her next court hearing July first.
A search for an 84-year-old man ended this morning, when he was found safe-and-sound in his apartment building near Milwaukee - but was in the wrong unit. George Mayer took out the garbage last night in Thiensville. He did not return, so his wife called authorities. A six-hour search took place until about 3:30 this morning, and it resumed around 7:30. At 12:30, police decided to ask for help - so they used a system which called all landline numbers in a five-mile radius. Thiensville Police Chief Scott Nicholson said he got some complaints about the late hour of that call. Later, Mayer's entire apartment building was searched, and officers took a head count. They got mixed up because one unit had two names on the door, and two people were in separate beds. As it turned out, one of the previous occupants had died, and Mayer was not found in the wrong bed until the other occupant woke up and saw him.
Wisconsin's largest agricultural education group is beginning its 84th state convention today. The FFA is holding its annual gathering in Madison, where thousands of members will take part in a variety of programs and competitions. Awards for the school year will be presented later in the week. The four-day convention runs through Thursday. Membership in the state F-A is at a 29-year high, with over 19,000 students and 255 chapters. The organization's recent growth has been spurred by a growing list of agricultural challenges and careers in fields such as computer technology, genetic engineering, and food science. State FFA director Cheryl Zimmerman says students are attracted by the many skills the group teaches - including teamwork, communication, and problem-solving.