WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Judge will not stay ruling on voter ID law
A federal judge said today he would not put a hold on his ruling against Wisconsin's photo ID voter law, while an appeals court reviews his decision.
State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked both District Judge Lynn Adelman and the Seventh Circuit appellate court in Chicago to issue a stay to the April ruling which found the ID requirement unconstitutional. The appellate panel is giving the law's opponents until next Tuesday to file legal briefs to say why the law should continue to be on the shelf for now. Adelman said he was rejecting Van Hollen's request because the likelihood that he would win his appeal is low. Van Hollen is seeking the temporary stay so voters would have to show ID's at the polls in the November elections. The law was passed in 2011, but it has only been in effect once before judges began striking it down in 2012.
We often learn something from a tragedy -- and the death of actor Robin Williams is no exception. Shel Gross of the Wisconsin chapter of Mental Health America says one-in-four people have some type of mental illness throughout the year. And yet, many don't seek help for fear of stigma or discrimination. Gross tells the Wisconsin Radio Network that lots of people just live with it, even though mental illnesses are often treatable. The governor and Legislature approved more than a dozen bills in the last session dealing with mental health. That was in response to shocking murder-suicides like the Sikh Temple massacre in Oak Creek, and Ratcliffe Haughton's murders of three women and himself at a Milwaukee area salon. Earlier this year, the state's health agency released a report on Wisconsin suicides, in conjunction with the Mental Health America and the Medical College of Wisconsin. However, it did not generate a lot of publicity. Gross said there are 4-to-5 times as many suicides as homicides in Wisconsin each year -- much higher than the national ratio of 2-to-1. The report said suicide rates rose rapidly from 2004 to 2011, with up to 15 self-inflicted deaths for every hundred-thousand Wisconsinites. Middle-aged men are the most likely to die from suicide, but more women are hospitalized from self-inflicted injuries. There were eleven such hospitalizations for every suicide that was carried out in 2011. Guns are the most frequent weapon of choice. Of the known circumstances, just over half involved mental health problems -- and a-third involve troubles with intimate partners. Gross says those seeking help for themselves or friends can call a state toll-free number -- 1-800-273-TALK, or go online to PreventSuicideWi.org.
The firing of a state Justice Department supervisor will officially be listed as a retirement instead. That's part of a settlement announced today for Willie Brantley. He's one of two people in the Milwaukee Justice office who were let go for not investigating dozens of child porn cases quickly enough. The 48-year-old Brantley appealed his termination to the state's Employment Relations Commission, saying he was fired in part because he's African-American -- and his bosses lacked a timeline for dealing with cases which they clearly knew about. The settlement pays Brantley's legal fees of $7,500. Also, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen must apologize to Brantley for calling him a "rogue employee" to reporters. Today, Van Hollen issued a statement saying he regrets those words.
Wisconsin Democrats are questioning whether people in a TV ad were acting when they bragged that they got jobs during Governor Scott Walker's tenure. The Republican Walker rolled out the ad statewide today, after it showed up during last Saturday night's Green Bay Packers' exhibition game broadcast. The Walker camp says those smiling workers are legit -- but the campaign is respecting their privacy by not disclosing their names. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said it wanted to verify the truth without using the people's names -- and the Walker campaign said no to that, too. State Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate calls it a "phony commercial," said the governor should "come clean." Democratic challenger Mary Burke's campaign was more diplomatic. Spokesman Joe Zepecki said it would be great if the workers in the ad found jobs since 2011 -- but nowhere near enough Wisconsinites have done so.
Polarization has resulted in closer elections in Wisconsin -- but not normally among candidates of the same party. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says yesterday's extremely-close margin in the Sixth District GOP congressional primary might be the smallest a for U.S. House primary in the Badger State since 1970. That was when Les Aspin won a Democratic primary over current Secretary of State Douglas La Follette by just 20 votes -- and that was after a recount for the First District House seat now held by Republican Paul Ryan. Yesterday, state Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend outpolled fellow Senator Joe Leibham of Sheboygan by just 214 votes in their bids for the House seat to be given up by Tom Petri. Grothman's margin of victory was just .330th of a percent -- well within the half-percent margin in which Leibham could get a free recount. He won't be able to ask for until after the votes are canvassed in the next week or so. Yesterday's voter turnout was smaller than expected statewide, only around ten-percent. In the Sixth House District, about 64,000 people -- or less than 12-percent of eligible voters -- had their say while 88-percent stayed home and chose nobody. The Journal-Sentinel said Sheboygan County had the most primary votes in the district with 14,000 -- and that's Leibham's home area, and he said he was counting on those votes.
Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos expects his house to be more conservative as the result of yesterday's primary elections. Vos said today that the GOP candidates who were nominated believe the state's heading in the right direction -- and they supported the Act-10 public union bargaining limits that were recently upheld by the State Supreme Court. Republicans are expected to keep the majority in the lower house, which now has a 60-39 GOP advantage. The same cannot be said, however, in the Republican-controlled Senate -- where Democrats can regain control by taking two seats away from the GOP in November. As for Vos, close to nine-of-every-ten voters in his Racine County district preferred him to primary challenger Bryn Biemeck. Vos now faces Democrat Andy Mitchell in November.
_________________________A recount appears likely in a state Assembly district in northwest Wisconsin. Overnight returns showed that Michael Bub won yesterday's Republican primary by just three votes over James Edming. However, Rusk County officials now admit that they gave fourth-place finisher Scott Noble 20 votes by mistake -- and Edming should have received them. If that's the case, Edming will have won the primary by 17 votes over Bub. Bub says he's not happy with what happened, and he'll likely request a recount if his loss is confirmed. That won't happen for about another week, after canvassers in Rusk, Sawyer, and Taylor counties finalize the results. Shirl LaBarre finished third in the primary. She and Noble, a former Marshfield alderman, will definitely not advance. Whoever wins the GOP primary will face Democrat Richard Pulcher in November, for an Assembly seat given up by Republican Mary Williams of Medford._________________________ The Sheboygan County clerk blames computer problems for a delay in counting ballots, which caused the Sixth District U.S. House primary to get a lot closer during the night. The AP had declared Glenn Grothman the winner of the GOP primary before most observers went to bed. But the final tally had Grothman defeating Joe Leibham by only 214 votes out of almost 65,000 cast in the four-way primary. The margin is within the half-percent threshold which would give Leibham a free recount if he wants one. He cannot ask for it, though, until after each county does a final canvass of its votes next week. Grothman told WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee this morning that he feels "real good" about the results. He hoped there would not be a recount but he added, "We'll just have to see." The final Sheboygan County election results did not get onto the county's Web site until 1:15 this morning, due to the technical problems. County Clerk Jon Dolson said municipal clerks could not upload their results onto the county's computers. He said the problem would be fixed in time for the November fourth election, when the GOP winner goes against Democrat Mark Harris for the House seat given up by 36-year Republican Tom Petri of Fond du Lac.__________________________
Now that Mary Burke is officially the Democratic nominee, both she and Republican Scott Walker are keeping their governor's campaigns rolling today. Burke skipped Election Night parties, where she could have celebrated getting 83-percent of the vote over long-shot Brett Hulsey yesterday. However, the Burke camp made it a point to ignore Hulsey and keep its focus directly on Walker. The former Trek Bicycle executive and Doyle commerce secretary is staying in northern Wisconsin -- where she warned about the consequences of people losing jobs and leaving the area during an interview in Rhinelander. She's in Minocqua today. Walker, meanwhile, returns to the Stevens Point area for a campaign stop at a machining factory. That's close to where he kicked off Wisconsin Farm Technology Days yesterday near Plover. Walker is also starting a TV ad which touts the gains of over 100-thousand jobs created during his four-year term. That's about 40-percent of the jobs he promised when he first ran in 2010. Burke has been constantly reminding voters of that in her TV ads.__________________________
New figures show that Wisconsin's credit unions are doing better as a group -- but some of the largest institutions are losing money on their own. According to the Department of Financial Institutions, the 166 state-chartered credit unions had a combined net income of almost 120-million dollars from January through June. That's almost eight-and-a-half percent more than during the same period in 2013. However, the National Credit Union Administration said the Summit Credit Union of Madison had a nine-point-one percent drop in net income in the first half of the year -- and Landmark Credit Union of New Berlin had its income fall four-point-three percent. Those are the state's two largest credit unions. In general, financial institutions secretary Peter Bildsten said state-chartered credit unions had another healthy quarter -- and the year-to-year growth in loans was "surprisingly strong." The ratio of delinquent loans to total loans got better this year. It's now under one-percent, back to levels seen before the Great Recession.
A man who drowned in the Black River in La Crosse was extremely drunk at the time. That's according to test results on 23-year-old Shalim Augustine of La Crosse. Authorities said he was last seen by friends near a boat landing where he was hanging out. Augustine's body was pulled from the Black River just south of an Interstate bridge on July 11th, a couple days after he went missing. The county medical examiner said Augustine's blood alcohol level was point-32 -- which would be four times the legal limit for drunk driving in Wisconsin.
__________________________The owner of a farm near Spencer in central Wisconsin has been fined $460 for allowing an estimated one-million gallons of manure to spill from a storage tank. Marathon County conservation officials said the manure spilled for about a year into a wetland, as well as the nearby Little Eau Pleine River. The farm's owner, Patrick Willcome, pleaded no contest recently to violating state water pollution laws. The DNR said about 600,000 gallons of manure from the 120-cow farm leaked from last September through May. That was after the farm's two manure spreaders had broke. State officials were tipped off to the matter by an anonymous letter in early May. Since then, the DNR said the farm's operators were receptive to the agency's requests for information.