STATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Gov. Walker not commenting about whether he'll sign the new Indian mascot law
Governor Scott Walker is still not saying whether he'll sign the bill making it harder to force public schools to drop their Indian team-names and mascots. Tribal groups and Democrats have urged the governor to veto it. A letter from Democrats said it would teach students to tolerate racial stereo-typing. Director Jim Zorn of the Great Lakes Indian Fish-and-Wildlife Commission says the bill could cause prejudice against Indians similar to the 1980's, when white fishermen stirred up large protests at boat landings where Indians were exercising their spear-fishing rights. Zorn told the governor quote, "Tribes and tribal communities alone are entitled to claim-and-control their symbols, their titles, and their culture." Both the Senate and Assembly voted in recent weeks to scale back a complaint system against school Indian mascots approved by Democrats in 2009. Republicans were standing behind the Mukwonago School District, which refused to follow a state order to drop its Indian name and logo. Walker's office says it's still evaluating the measure. He could put the law into effect by ignoring it. That would happen if he doesn't do anything by December 18th. U-W La Crosse professor Joe Heim says the governor would not have much to lose politically by signing the measure less than a year before he stands for re-election. Heim said it might upset Indians, but he says they're not a major force at the polls.
Black Friday has turned into Black November for a number of Wisconsin retailers. Many stores are offering their first major holiday bargains on Thanksgiving night and before, instead of waiting until the traditional pre-dawn events on the day after Turkey Day. Some reports say stores plan to attract a new wave of younger shoppers who would not normally be out on Black Friday. Dick Seesel of the Mequon firm "Retailing in Focus" says the Thanksgiving Night crowd could be a different breed. A survey by the National Retail Federation showed that last year's Thanksgiving Night shoppers were generally in the 18-to-36 age category. The Retail Federation also said a fourth of the people it surveyed plan to shop on Thanksgiving. Marshal Cohen of the N-P-D Group tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that stores are looking the rush the season because Thanksgiving is later than normal -- thus shortening the traditional holiday shopping period. He calls this year's selling trend "Forever Black Friday" which means November will be quote, "pretty much on-sale more than it's off-sale." Cohen said Black Friday will remain popular, especially as family-and-friends make it more of a social day -- and not making shopping the top priority.
About a few dozen electric customers in southern Wisconsin are still without power, in the aftermath of yesterday's thunderstorms. We Energies said it restored power to eight-thousand customers in eastern Wisconsin as of the middle of last evening. The utility's Web site said fewer than 70 customers were still out as of 5 a-m. Alliant Energy of Madison reported around 10 outages in its territory. Wisconsin Public Service of Green Bay said it expected to restore full power by this morning. Its Internet outage report was down early this morning. Winds of over 50 miles an hour caused mostly farm damage in Washington and Dodge counties. Milwaukee had the most rain yesterday, almost two inches. Forecasters predict clearing skies and much colder temperatures today, with highs in the 30's-and-40's statewide. A slight warming trend is expected tomorrow, when southerly winds move back in.
Adults can start filing applications today for the University of Wisconsin System's new flexible degree program. The U-W will hold a news conference this afternoon to remind folks about the details. The flexible degree program lets adults earn college credits by being tested about the knowledge they've earned from the workplace, the military, or previous coursework. It's designed to help working adults earn degrees more quickly. The program's first courses will be offered in January at U-W Milwaukee and the 13 U-W two-year colleges. Milwaukee's first flexible degree courses are for its nursing, information technology, and bio-medical diagnostic imaging programs. The two-year colleges will offer the flexible option for a number of associate-degree courses. They include computer science, engineering, chemistry, and biology. Other U-W campuses will start offering the flex-program later in 2014.
President Obama's chief economic adviser will speak tonight at U-W Madison. Jason Furman will give a lecture about the achievements and challenges facing the nation's fiscal policy. Furman chairs the Council of Economic Advisers.
Wisconsin did not have any tornadoes yesterday -- but the southeast part of the state had a lot of damage part of a large wave of Midwest twisters and thunderstorms. Thousands of people lost power in the Milwaukee region. Cattle sheds, garages, and storage sheds were damaged on farms near Hustisford in Dodge County, as winds of over 50-miles-an-hour hit the region. A home and a barn lost its roofs in Washington County in the Allenton area. A dozen cows were killed when a silo collapsed on a barn in Washington County. No personal injuries were reported, but parishioners had to scramble into church basements for safety. The United Methodist Church in Whitefish Bay interrupted a Sunday morning service for the first time in at least 35 years. Milwaukee had almost two inches of rain, and Soldiers Grove in southwest Wisconsin had about an inch and two thirds. Other parts of the Midwest had tornadoes. Six people were killed in southern Illinois. About 63-thousand Chicago Bears' fans took cover for almost two hours in Soldier Field, as high winds and a tornado warning interrupted the Bears' victory over Baltimore. Once the rain left, things got much cooler. Southern Wisconsin basked in the 60's yesterday morning, but parts of the north were in the more seasonal 20's overnight. Dry and cool weather is in the forecast for today.