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STATE CRIME AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Anti-Walker protestors start to increase at the Capitol

Anti-Walker protestors showed up in greater force yesterday, after two brothers were arrested on criminal charges at Monday’s noon-time sing-along at the State Capitol. The Wisconsin Radio Network said attendance appeared to triple, a day after Damon and Christopher Terrell were arrested for resisting Capitol officers – and Damon sat on the floor as he was handcuffed and carried out. Damon Terrell faces the first possible felony charge among 300 arrested since Capitol Police began cracking down on the Solidarity Singers in late July for not having the required Capitol gathering permits. About 10 people were arrested yesterday. W-I-S-C T-V said Capitol Police did not arrest three off-duty Madison police officers who wore “Cops for Labor” T-shirts and joined the crowd. Madison officer David Dexheimer said he believes the Capitol Police actions are unconstitutional – and he thinks the arrests are politically-motivated. An administration spokeswoman told W-I-S-C quote, “Enforcement can be based on resources.” She said only those who were actively participating in the singing group are being cited. The T-V station said the officers and many others sang for the entire hour during the event.

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A plea deal is apparently set for a former state probation-and-parole agent accused of borrowing money from criminals she supervised in the Milwaukee area. 45-year-old Sandra Alvarez of Saint Francis pleaded innocent in May to three charges of misconduct in public office. Online court records show that she has a plea-and-sentencing hearing this afternoon. Details of a plea bargain have not been disclosed. Alvarez was charged after three of her clients told state investigators that they lent her a total of almost three-thousand-dollars. They said they felt pressured to give her the money, for fear that she might try to revoke their probations and send them back to prison. Nobody said she actually made that threat. Alvarez resigned earlier this month. 

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State Assembly Republican Scott Suder will not leave the Legislature until next Tuesday – and already, three Republicans are lining up to replace him. Tea Party leader Scott Noble of Marshfield is the latest to announce his bid. Noble ran for the state Senate and the Marshfield School Board within the past few years. He joins Stratford businessman Bob Kulp and Clark County G-O-P chairwoman Deb Koncel as hopefuls for the 69th District Assembly seat. No Democrats have come out yet. Governor Scott Walker will call a special election after Suder leaves. Suder, a Republican from Abbotsford, held the Assembly post for almost 15 years before Walker appointed him earlier this month to the utility-regulating Public Service Commission. Suder will become a division administrator for Water Compliance and Consumer Affairs. When Republicans regained control of the Assembly in 2011, Suder became the Majority Leader – a post he’s also vacating. Meanwhile, Assembly Republican Mark Honadel (hah’-nuh-del) of South Milwaukee announced his resignation yesterday. After a decade in government, he says he wants to return to the private sector. Honadel says he’s still lining up a job, and he plans to leave the Legislature in mid-September. 

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Bond was set at a million dollars yesterday for a registered sex offender caught with millions of images of child pornography at his home in southwest Wisconsin. 46-year-old Timmy Reichling of rural Darlington is charged with 11 felonies in Lafayette County. They include child sexploitation, child porn possession, and being a registered sex offender who photographed minors without their permission. He’s due back in court next Tuesday, when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order a trial. A 13-year-old girl reported Reichling to police, after he allegedly asked her to send him nude photos, and then threatened to show them to her family when she wanted to stop. Prosecutors said the girl thought she was texting someone her age, and Reichling left cameras for the girl to take nude photos of herself. Police said they eventually seized electronic storage devices from Reichling’s home with millions of lewd child images. Meanwhile, the state Justice Department is still investigating. They say there might be other child victims, both in and out of Wisconsin. 

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State education officials have refused to give tax dollars to four private schools in Milwaukee. The schools tried to join the state’s school choice voucher program for the first time, but the Department of Public Instruction says they are not financially viable for various reasons. The four schools are the Believers Institute, Imani Academy, Divine Destiny School, and the Leaders Institute for Educational Empowerment. A fifth Milwaukee school, the Doctor Brenda Noach Choice School, lost voucher funding because it’s not accredited by a state-approved organization. The voucher program gives tax money to low-income kids to attend private schools. Almost 125 Milwaukee private schools are registered for the choice program – including 14 that signed up for the first time this fall. A bill recently introduced in the Legislature would create a rating system for private schools, in the hopes of improving their quality. The measure would also make qualifying schools wait at least a year before they can start taking voucher students.

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Governor Scott Walker is staying above the fray for now, as two Indian tribes resume a competing public relations battle over a long-proposed casino in Kenosha. Yesterday, the Menominee tribe and leaders in Kenosha urged the governor to give final approval to the tribe’s casino at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park. The Republican governor said he would not play “King Solomon” – and he urged the state’s 11 tribes to reach a consensus on the project themselves. Walker was given the final say on the Kenosha casino last Friday, when the U-S Bureau of Indian Affairs endorsed the off-reservation facility. The governor also started a 60-day comment period, triggering an immediate P-R battle on both sides. The Forest County Potawatomi tribe has long fought the project, since it would cut into revenues at its large casino in nearby Milwaukee. Menominee tribal chairman Craig Corn said his tribe has offered the Potawatomi a share in developing and managing the facility. Potawatomi officials chastised the Menominees for negotiating in the media – but Corn said he’s held that stance for years. The Kenosha and Menominee contingent say the project would create 33-hundred permanent jobs and give the state 35-million dollars in extra payments. The Potawatomi says those numbers are exaggerated.  

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The head of Wisconsin’s Sporting Heritage Committee says it will not change its mind about deciding tomorrow whether a politically-connected group should get a big state grant. D-N-R official Scott Gunderson says his panel will not re-open the process and take applications from other groups, after the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation was the only one to apply. It’s in line to get a half-million-dollar state grant to encourage more people to take part in hunting, fishing, and trapping. The group has no experience in training people for those activities – and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently said the group has political ties to outgoing Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder. He helped include the grant in the new state budget. The measure prevented several other groups from applying, including the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. Other groups like the Waterfowl Association said they would have applied had they known about the grant – which they didn’t until now. Suder has said there’s nothing improper, and his only goal is turn around a sporting trend that’s been in decline in recent years.   

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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