GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Candidates emerge wanting to be the next Treasurer and Secretary of State
The Wisconsin state treasurer and secretary-of-state have lost nearly all of their powers -- but that's not stopping a dozen people from running for those jobs this fall. Long-time Secretary-of-State Doug La Follette and four others filed nomination papers for that office by yesterday's deadline. Seven people filed for the state treasurer's post. The state Government Accountability Board will decide a week from today whether all those candidates have enough valid nominating signatures to get on the ballot. Governors and lawmakers from both parties have stripped duties from both the secretary-of-state and treasurer's offices in recent years, for a variety of reasons. Some candidates have said they would fight to restore the powers. But one dropout said it would be futile as long as Republicans remain in charge of state government. La Follette is the only Democrat to file for secretary-of-state. Two Republicans filed -- outgoing state Representative Garey Bies and Marc Bradley, along with Libertarian Andy Craig and Constitution Party candidate Jerry Broitzman. Republican State Treasurer Kurt Schuller is not running again. Filers for that seat are Republicans Matt Adamczyk and Randall Melchert, Democrats Dave Leeper and David Sartori, Ron Hardy from the Green Party, Constitution candidate Andrew Zuelke, and Libertarian Jerry Shidell.
The heavy rains are over, but western Wisconsin still has a couple of flood warnings. The Kickapoo River is expected to fall this morning at Viola, but it won't crest until Thursday at Gays Mills. Both rivers were below their flood stages at last word -- and if there's any flooding, it's supposed to be minor. Ditto for the Mississippi River at Wabasha. The National Weather Service says the river could reach its flood stage by Friday, with minor flooding projected. Parts of western Wisconsin received up to three-and-three-quarter inches of rain during the weekend and into yesterday. The Weather Service now says that strong winds tore down trees and branches along a one-mile stretch of Racine County Trunk "L" near Mukwonago on Sunday night -- and a house that was under construction had one of its sides blown off. For the rest of the week, mostly dry weather and mild weather is expected with highs generally in the 70's in most of Wisconsin each day. There's a chance for more rain overnight, but no severe thunderstorms are in the forecast.
We're learning more about the pilot who died in a crash during the Stevens Point Air Show. Forty-seven year old William Cowden of Menomonie was killed when his craft did a flip, and suddenly plunged into a wooded area near the Stevens Point airport on Sunday. He flew F-16's with the North Dakota Air National Guard, where he retired in 2006 with the rank of major. Cowden later flew commercially, as a pilot with Delta Air Lines. He told reporters before Sunday's air show that he performed stunts for four years in the plane that crashed. Airport manager Jeff Overby said Cowden had over 24 years of experience as a military and commercial pilot. He was scheduled to perform at the Air-Fest in Menomonie later this month. The F-A-A and the National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating Sunday's crash.
A large distributor of business packaging materials plans to double the size of its headquarters in Kenosha County. Governor Scott Walker made the announcement this morning at Uline's (you-line's) facility in Pleasant Prairie. The firm plans to add a second warehouse with a million square feet, plus a second office building with about 200-thousand square feet. In a statement, the governor said Uline would spend about 100-million dollars on the expansion -- and unlike the original project, taxpayers will not provide funding. The company received about six-million dollars in incentives to move its headquarters from Waukegan Illinois to Pleasant Prairie in 2008. About a-thousand jobs were created in that project. In 2012, Uline moved another distribution facility from neighboring Minnesota to Hudson in far western Wisconsin.
Former state Senator Gary George emerged yesterday as a last-minute candidate for Congress against Milwaukee Democrat Gwen Moore. George was among hundreds who filed nomination papers for partisan offices just before yesterday's 5 p-m deadline. If their petitions have enough valid signatures, George and Moore -- who served together in the Wisconsin Senate -- will be on the ballot for the August 12th primary. George served in the Wisconsin Senate until 2003, when voters in his Milwaukee district recalled him. A year later, he was convicted of conspiring to commit public fraud. George spent four years in prison for accepting illegal kickbacks from a former Milwaukee social services agency. George says there needs to be a greater urgency in returning "jobs and hope to every corner of Milwaukee County." There's also a Republican primary for the Milwaukee House seat. David King and Dan Sebring both filed. Six candidates filed papers for the open Sixth District U-S House seat vacated by Tom Petri. Five Republicans filed -- state lawmakers Glenn Grothman, Joe Leibham, and Duey Strobel, along with Nancy Olson and Tom Denow, both of Oshkosh. Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris is the only Democrat who filed for that post.
The Coast Guard ended its search yesterday for two people missing and presumed drowned after a boat caught fire on Lake Michigan near Chicago. A former Green Bay woman died in the incident, and another man survived but has given conflicting stories of what happened. Reports indicated that four people jumped from the burning boat on Saturday night on Lake Michigan, while it was going between Chicago and New Buffalo Michigan. One was found dead on Sunday. She was identified yesterday as 26-year-old Ashley Haws of Chicago, who used to live in Green Bay. The man who survived was confused due to hypothermia. At first, he said up to six people were missing -- but as he became more coherent, he said only two were still unaccounted for. The Coast Guard said it's likely that they did not survive frigid cold waters on the lake. Officials also wonder why the boat never issued a distress call, or tried to alert other boaters that something was wrong.
Wisconsin's D-N-R has already met with officials in neighboring states, on how they can work together to meet the federal government's new order to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. The E-P-A said yesterday that Wisconsin would have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 34-percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The proposed national reduction is 30-percent, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Wisconsin's target is about in the middle of the pack. A public comment period will take place before the E-P-A finalizes its rule next June. Officials say Wisconsin is near the halfway point in meeting the E-P-A's requirement -- and the biggest challenge now is to get utilities to reduce emissions from their coal-fired power plants. The D-N-R says it plans to meet with utility leaders. The Wisconsin Public Service utility says it's too early to say what this all means -- since nothing's required before at least 2017. Federal officials say states will be given a lot of flexibility in meeting their targets. Utilities are expected to convert coal-fired plants to natural gas -- with greater use of things like solar power and wind energy farms. Wisconsin lacks wind assets, but former D-N-R Secretary Matt Frank tells the Journal Sentinel that the state has other ways to cut its emissions. Among other things, he notes that the state's forests emit large amounts of carbons -- and they can be tapped as part of cap-and-trade agreements which provides credits for off-setting emissions.
U-W Green Bay's new chancellor will come on board August first. The U-W Board of Regents has hired Gary Miller, who's now the chancellor at North Carolina-Wilmington. Miller will become the sixth campus leader in Green Bay's history. He replaces Tom Harden, who said last December that he would resign in August after five years in the post. Miller has been at Wilmington since 2011. During his tenure, the school created an online nursing program, and opened a marine biotechnology business research-and-development facility.
Madison's fire marshal says the May 16th fire that closed a state office building could have been prevented, had a sprinkler system been put in. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes Ed Ruckriegel as saying the damage would have been only a few thousand dollars, and no one would have missed work. Instead, the building that houses the Workforce Development and Children-and-Families' agencies was expected to be closed for two months. And hundreds of employees have been asked to work from their homes or alternate locations while clean-ups and investigations continue. Ruckreigel said many state office buildings in Madison and Milwaukee do not have sprinkler systems. That's because they were not required when they were built. Now, he said Wisconsinites need to decide if it's better to "pay the money out front and have zero loss, or have something like this happen and we all lose out." An initial investigate said there was 350-thousand-dollars in damage to the General Executive Facility-One at its contents -- but officials say a final estimate is not known yet. Officials say the fire did not disrupt the agencies' services.