WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Gov. Walker worried about unacompanied children crossing border
MADISON – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he is worried the unaccompanied children crossing the border with Mexico will eventually drain the country’s support system.
Walker says he isn’t entirely against the idea of Wisconsin providing some temporary shelter to the children coming to the U.S. from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Officials in the City of Madison have offered two locations to house some of those young people who have crossed the border illegally. Milwaukee has also been asked to search for a location. To this point, 50 children have been placed with Wisconsin families. Walker says he is one of several governors who have signed a letter expressing concerns about safety for the children, border security and the growing strain on state resources. The federal government says it is asking for temporary shelter until the children can be reunited with relatives or family friends – or, returned to their home countries.
Madison has proposed a soon-to-be-closed department store as a possible place where unaccompanied children from across the Mexican border can live temporarily. Madison officials say they've also suggested a former grocery store that's now owned by the city. The federal government has asked officials in both Madison and Milwaukee to suggest temporary sites to house some of the tens-of-thousands of children fleeing from gang violence in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Hondueras. Milwaukee County has been working on the government's request, but a spokesman for County Executive Chris Abele says nothing has been proposed yet. State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and three other Assembly members have asked the Department of Homeland Security not to designate any facilities in Wisconsin as possible temporary homes for the unaccompanied children. Vos and the other lawmakers said the government has told the state little of how the arrangements would work -- and children should live in southern states to make it easier to re-unite with their families across the border.
A man killed when six vehicles collided at an Interstate construction site near La Crosse was identified yesterday as 29-year-old Jason Songer of La Crescent, Minnesota. The State Patrol said four other people were injured in the chain reaction mishap. It occurred yesterday morning on eastbound Interstate-90, two miles into Wisconsin from Minnesota. According to the state DOT, a dump truck rear-ended a car that was stopped in traffic. Both vehicles then drove into a grassy median where they caught fire. Songer was driving the car that was struck. Two other cars, a van, and a semi-truck then got involved in the crash. The driver of the third vehicle involved, a 20-year-old woman from Dakota Minnesota, was in critical condition at last word at a La Crosse hospital. All of the other drivers had non-life-threatening injuries, including the 35-year-old dump truck driver from Arpin, northwest of Wisconsin Rapids in central Wisconsin.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals has announced it will hear arguments about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana next month. Oral arguments have been rescheduled for August 26th. Both states are appealing federal court decisions overturning gay marriage bans passed by voters. The 7thCircuit Court combined the two cases and set the new hearing date. It also has denied requests that the appeals be heard before the entire 10-member court instead of a three-judge panel.
A soldier from Kenosha has died of an illness he contracted while serving with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Twenty-year-old Donnell Hamilton Junior died Thursday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He was serving in Ghazni Province when the Department of Defense says he came down with the illness. Hamilton had been assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Bridgade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas. He had served in Afghanistan from July 2013 to last March.
A 15-year-old Madison boy has been arrested after crashing his family’s sport-utility vehicle into a tree. Police say the teenager had been drinking before going on the joyride. The accident happened at about 5 a.m Friday. He was found at home when Madison police used the vehicle license plates to track him down. The family didn’t know he had taken the SUV, which had been heavily damaged. The drive shaft of the vehicle was found 50-feet from the crash site. There was extensive damage to the front end, three tires were falling off, the air bags had deployed and fuel was leaking onto the ground.
Cherry orchards in Door County are open for the season and the picking has started. The owner of Robertson Orchards of Door County says people have been calling for the last two months already. The cold winter and cold spring delayed the season by about two weeks. Some trees were lost to the weather, but at least one orchard says it is expecting the biggest crop in the last eight years. Cherry picking season is a short one. It should be wrapped up in about a month. At 12-million pounds or so, Door County is the fourth-largest producer of tart cherries in the U.S.
U.S. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin is back in her home area, explaining her new bill to add two-thousand residency positions at the nation's veterans hospitals. The state's junior senator from Madison says the bill would reduce waiting times for veterans to see VA hospital physicians. It became a key concern earlier this year in the wake of service problems at VA facilities in Arizona. Residencies are the next steps for those who graduate from medical schools. The bill would require the VA to allocate residencies based on doctor shortages at its various facilities, and make priorities to train specialists who are needed. A similar bill has been introduced in the House. WKOW-TV of Madison says Baldwin's bill is supported by both doctor training schools in the Badger State, at UW-Madison and Milwaukee's Medical College of Wisconsin.
The family of a missing woman in northeast Wisconsin has doubled a reward for information which solves the mystery. Relatives of Victoria Prokopovitz of Pittsfield increased their reward from 25-hundred dollars to five-thousand. The 60-year-old Prokopovitz disappeared from her home on April 25th of last year. Authorities said she left her purse, ID, and cell phone behind -- and she had none of her medications when she vanished. An exhaustive search has taken place -- and it has not turned up any clues as to what might have happened. Those with information are asked to call the Brown County Sheriff's Department or the county's Crime Stoppers program.
The Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled today against a Racine police officer who said she was immune from liability when she drove through a red light to get to an emergency, and got into a crash at that corner. On a 4-3 vote, the justices ruled in favor of Eileen Legue, who had her windows up and didn't hear Amy Matsen's police siren before the two vehicles collided. Matsen was on her way to investigating another traffic crash in 2009 when she slowed to 27-miles-an-hour, and had her lights and siren on, and used a bullhorn to warn those coming from the side. Both Matsen and Legue were injured in their collision. Legue sued the city, saying the officer failed to exercise "due regard." A jury found both parties equally at fault. A circuit judge later ruled in favor of the officer, saying she could not have prevented the crash unless she stopped altogether. The judge said Matsen was immune because she exercised judgment at the corner. The Supreme Court disagreed in its nearly-split decision. The majority said it's clear that public employees who don't drive with "due regard under the circumstances" can be sued.
The Wisconsin State Supreme Court said it was okay for police to obtain cellphone data to find murder suspects. The justices ruled this morning in favor of law enforcement in a pair of homicide cases in Milwaukee and Kenosha counties. Investigators in both cases used data from the suspects' cellphone providers to track down the people they were looking for. In the Milwaukee case, Bobby Tate was arrested in his mother's apartment, after a judge approved a warrant to let people search cellphone data to determine where Tate was. Kenosha murder suspect Nicolas Subdiaz-Osorio was found in Arkansas, when cellphone technology was used against him. He contended that the search of his phone data was illegal, but the Supreme Court disagreed this morning.
The Wisconsin State Supreme Court said no to dropping a Stevens Point man's conviction in a murder-for-hire case. Carlos Cummings, who turned 31 yesterday, is in prison for helping hire Linda Dietze to murder his lover's husband in 2008. In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court said Cummings never invoked his right to remain silent, when he told police during an interrogation to take him to his jail cell. A state appeals court ruled last year that Cummings' statement was not clear, and therefore his conviction should be upheld. Also, the Supreme Court rejected Cummings' claim that he should not have gotten a prison term twice as long as the shooter. Dietze was given seven years, while Cummings got 14 years behind bars. The Supreme Court said Cummings' sentence was not unduly harsh. Dietze shot James Glodowski at a park in Stevens Point, at the request of Cummings and Glodowski's wife Carla. The husband survived, but he lost an eye.
Police in suburban Milwaukee said a mother stabbed and wounded two of her children. Officers in Brown Deer were called to a home just after midnight Friday. They said they found a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old with stab wounds to the head, face, and legs. Officials said the woman fled the house before police got there, but she was later found in the city of Milwaukee and was arrested. Police are asking prosecutors to file charges of disorderly conduct-domestic abuse, child abuse, and reckless injury.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office says it was able to take two home burglary suspects into custody after they “liked” a photo of an accomplice on Facebook. The sheriff’s office had posted a surveillance photo of a suspect who had used stolen credit cards. Investigators followed up and arrested a 32-year-old woman and her 26-year-old boyfriend. It’s believed the man in the surveillance photo has left the area. He’s not considered to be a suspect, but likely could offer some valuable information. The woman and man are scheduled to make court appearances next week.
An Illinois man will spend the rest of his life in prison, for a Door County murder that spurred the governor and Legislature to eliminate a defense strategy in future homicides. Thirty-seven year old Brian Cooper of Plainfield, Illinois has been given two life sentences with no chance for a supervised release. That's after he was convicted in May of first-degree intentional homicide in the slaying of his employee and one-time girlfriend Alisha Bromfield -- and the death of an unborn child for which Cooper was not the father. Cooper was tried for a second time after his first jury convicted him on other charges but not the homicide counts. In the original trial, Cooper claimed he was too drunk to have any intent to kill Bromfield, whom he brought to a Door County wedding where he failed to convinced her to get back together with him. Assembly Republican Steve Nass of Whitewater called it the "voluntary intoxication" defense, and he convinced his fellow lawmakers and Governor Scott Walker to ban it in future cases. Cooper was also sentenced to two extra years in prison for a third-degree sexual assault he committed after the killing. He must also pay over eight-thousand dollars to cover funeral expenses.
Wisconsinites who are on the state's no-call list for telemarketers will be transferred to a federal list on August first. The governor and Legislature voted earlier this year to do away with the state's list. That's because the Federal Trade Commission's list offers the same protections, and will give state consumer protection personnel more to investigate violations. State officials say the change will become effective next Friday, the first day of the new month. Those on the federal list will not have to re-register every two years -- their registrations will take effect the day after they sign up instead of just four dates per year under the state list -- and once you're on, telemarketers will have 31 days to stop calling. The change applies to both land-lines and cell phones. The no-call list applies to companies which have not done business with you in the past.
A Wausau man who hosts an outdoors TV show has landed a record 544-pound mako-shark. Patrick Eger used a crossbow to snag the ten-and-a-half foot shark. It happened off the coast of Southern California on June 15th near Catalina Island. The weight was more double the previous record of 233 pounds for a shark taken with a bow. The 47-year-old Eger said the mako is an ultra-aggressive shark. Several cameras were recording his attempt to reel it in -- and he'll feature it in a future episode of his "Wide Open" show on Big-"E" TV. Eger owns Big "E" Outfitters in the Cedar Creek Mall just south of Wausau.
It used to be that voters were not really tuned in to the fall elections until after Labor Day. But now -- with the partisan primaries being held in August -- campaigns are reaching out to likely voters a lot earlier. According to the most recent Marquette Law School poll, 33-percent of registered voters say they've been contacted by some candidate in the past month in person, by phone, or by mail. Half those people said both parties tried persuading them, while 25-percent said they only contacted by Republicans and 14-percent by Democrats. Independents are most likely to get contacted by foot soldiers in both parties. Sixty-four percent of independents say somebody in both parties have contacted them -- and of those contacted, 75-percent say they're sure to vote. All told, about 68-percent of the 804 voters in the Marquette poll say they'll definitely vote in November -- normally lower than what we see in presidential years. The governor's race tops the fall ballot. In 19 days, primary voters will chose finalists for state attorney general and Sixth District Congress, among others.
A federal appeals court says the Wisconsin elections' agency cannot intervene in a continuing lawsuit over the state's John Doe probe into the recall elections. The Seventh Circuit Appellate Court in Chicago said today that the Government Accountability Board can have its say in its own separate legal brief. The Board asked to intervene, so it could make a case about the types of campaign activity that can be regulated. Prosecutors worked with the board in launching the John Doe more than two years ago. The probe has been looking into alleged illegal campaign coordination between Governor Scott Walker, other top Republicans, and conservative groups in the 2012 recall contests against Walker and a number of GOP state senators. The Wisconsin Club for Growth filed suit in federal court to halt the John Doe, saying its free speech rights were being violated by prosecutors' orders to stay silent. Federal Judge Rudolph Randa halted the probe about two months ago for those reasons. Prosecutors are appealing that order.
Two former executives of the UW Foundation in Madison have announced plans to start a third medical college in the state -- this one at Jefferson. Mark Lefebvre and Jennifer Kidon DeKrey have revived a proposal for an osteopathic school, which was proposed by a different group in the past before it fell through. They told the City Council in Jefferson that the new school could keep more medical practitioners in Wisconsin. They're forced to train elsewhere if they cannot get admitted to one of the state's two existing medical schools in Madison and Milwaukee. Lefebvre and Kidon DeKrey plan to raise $125-million, mainly through their previous contacts in the industry. They expect donations and grants to cover the cost. It would enroll about 150 students the first year, and could eventually teach 600 per year.
A candidate for Wisconsin's top law enforcement post failed to explain a-third of his campaign's expenses for the first half of the year, as required by law. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is one of three Democrats running in a primary for attorney general 19 days from now. His campaign adviser Stan Davis tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they just ran out of time, and he knew the campaign would have to revise Ozanne's report to add more details. The report did not list how $33,000 were spent, out of $97,000 the campaign spent from January-through-June. Davis said a check register might have been misplaced, and a change in campaign advisers earlier this year didn't help. The report said 20 checks went to undisclosed recipients, and there were ten withdrawals from ATM machines -- including one in New Orleans. Davis told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he made cash withdrawals to cover part of his salary, saying he didn't expect to be paid everything he was due from the cash-strapped campaign. Ozanne is running against Susan Happ and Jon Richards in the primary -- and he has only raised about a third as much as each of his Democratic opponents.
Despite a small drop in sales, the Bemis Corporation of Neenah reports a 24-percent increase in its quarterly profits over the last year. The global maker of packaging materials had a net income of almost $66-million from April through June, up from 53-million in the same period a year ago. Stockholders made 65 cents a share, up from 51 cents in the second quarter of 2013. Bemis CEO Henry Thiesen credits the higher profits to a restructuring which included some plant closures and the dropping of businesses with lower-profit margins. As a result, Bemis revenues fell from one-point-three billion dollars in the second quarter of last year to one-point-two-four billion this year. Without the divestitures and currency rate changes, Bemis said its net sales were consistent with last year. Bemis remains a major employer in Wisconsin. It has 4,500 jobs in the state, among a total workforce of 19,000 throughout the world.
A company that makes custom aircraft parts will move from Minneapolis to Oshkosh. The D'Shannon company plans to open with six workers in a hangar at the Oshkosh airport, until it can build its own plant in the airport's aviation business park. D'Shannon president Scott Erickson says the move from Minnesota will take place after the EAA completes its Air-Venture Show at the airport on August third. At first, he says employees will work with local fabricating plants to produce aircraft parts. D'Shannon has overhauled engines and provided parts for Beechcraft planes since 2010, when it acquired those assets. He says the firm plans to provide parts for a larger variety of aircraft in the future.
U.S. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled his new anti-poverty plan today, saying it would give states more flexibility to help people support themselves. The Janesville Republican explained the details of his "Opportunity Grant" plan in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute. Ryan told the Washington think tank he wants to merge up to 11 anti-poverty programs into a single block grant to the states -- combining food stamps, home heating aid, housing subsidies, cash welfare, and more. Ryan said states could choose to participate. They would each set up at least two service providers to work with local community groups which know their local needs best. Ryan has spent the last year meeting with low-income Americans and the agencies which help them. He said current anti-poverty programs are too fragmented and formula-based, and his new effort would allow more collaboration within communities. Monitors would judge the programs' effectiveness, and those falling short would lose their right to participate. Unlike his past budget reforms, Ryan says he's trying to push things that both parties can support -- including Democratic ideas to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, and reducing prison populations by granting more sentencing discretion for non-violent offenders.
A defense lawyer says state officials and insurance companies should reconsider letting insurers take charge of prosecutions against their policy-holders. That's after Joseph Awe of Friendship, who spent three years in prison for an arson he didn't commit, was given an undisclosed amount of compensation by his insurer. The 44-year-old Awe was convicted of burning down J-J's Pub in Marquette County in 2006. He co-owned the bar with his wife. Prosecutors relied heavily on experts hired by Awe's insurer, Mount Morris -- and they argued that Awe hired somebody to burn down the tavern so he could collect the insurance money. They ruled out a possible electrical problem as the cause of the blaze. A circuit judge later found that investigators had used a discredited method in ruling that the blaze was an arson -- and Awe was freed from the Oregon Correctional Institution last year. Defense lawyer Eric Haag tells the State Journal that insurance companies should help their clients and not hurt them. A lawyer for Mount Morris has not commented.
Milwaukee fire officials have estimated damage at $700,000 from a blaze at the Miller Park baseball stadium on Monday. The fire heavily damaged Friday's Front Row Sports Grill, which overlooks the left field wall next to the foul pole in fair territory. The restaurant is normally open year-round -- but for now, the Brewers say it will only be open during home games. The team says it will announce later when the restaurant will fully re-open. The fire caused elevators and an escalator system near the restaurant to go down temporarily. The Brewers have said most of the damage was caused by water from fire hoses and the stadium's sprinkler system. The team says it will not disclose the total damage figure, as it works with insurance adjusters on a claim. No one was injured. Officials said the fire started in the restaurant's kitchen, and it spread through duct work.
Western Wisconsin residents who watch theater productions in Winona, Minnesota will notice a big change coming soon. The city of Winona is about to remove 98 hand-painted scenic theater backdrops from its Masonic Temple theater. That's after an engineer found that the rigging system was too dangerous to keep running. City officials decided to remove the backdrops, because it does not have the millions of dollars needed for a renovation project. Restoring the artwork itself could run up to $750,000. The backdrops go back to the days in which many communities opened opera houses, starting in the mid-1800's. Only a few are left around the country -- and Winona has many of the stage props to go with the scenes, which is rarer. A volunteer group will decide what happens with the historic backdrops.
The annual onslaught of mayflies began this week along the Mississippi River in the La Crosse region. The National Weather Service caught a swarm of them on radar, as they drifted north in the same pattern as the wind. The radar showed yellow spots directly over the Mississippi, as the mayflies came out of the water. Radar maps showed the swarm as being green while drifting north, and then blue as the flies dispersed. Officials said the large bands of mayflies looked like thunderstorms on the radar. The initial band showed up last Sunday night. A second and smaller swarm came and went last night.