WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Murder-suicide victims in Fond du Lac County identified
BRANDON - Two people killed in an apparent murder-suicide in Fond du Lac County were identified today as 56-year-old Ronald Kolosky and 55-year-old Bradley Thayer, both of Ripon.
Officials said Kolosky shot and killed Thayer, and then took his own life. It happened late yesterday afternoon at a mobile home in Brandon. A woman in the house told a dispatcher that Kolosky entered and started shooting.
Police in Singapore now say that foul play is not suspected in the death of a 28-year-old Milwaukee area woman. Autumn Radtke, the CEO of a virtual currency exchange, was found dead in her apartment on Wednesday of last week. This morning, Singapore Police said they did not suspect that Radtke was murdered. They did call her death "un-natural," meaning that she could have died from suicide, an accident, or some form of misadventure. Radtke headed First Meta, which allows users of bitcoins and other virtual currency to trade them, and cash them in. The future of bitcoins has been questioned since an exchange in Tokyo collapsed in February.
The new University of Wisconsin System president says he'll go on a statewide listening tour, reduce the need for college remedial courses, and be more open about the university's business practices. Ray Cross attended his first meeting of the U-W's policy-making body since he was named in January to replace Kevin Reilly. Cross told the Board of Regents he'll start visiting communities with UW campuses this month and meet with students, chancellors, alumni, business leaders, and anyone else. Cross promised to be a good listener, and to be more transparent about the way the 26-campus public university does its business. He especially mentioned the controversial topic of funding, which got lawmakers upset last year when they learned that campuses were sitting on millions of dollars in surpluses while raising tuition by maximum amounts each year. Cross said he would offer a better financial breakdown of each campus. He added quote, "You shouldn't have to be a CPA to have a basic understanding of the university's finances." Cross also wants the UW to work with K-to-12 school leaders about reducing the need for college remedial courses.
Wisconsin's U.S. House members voted with their parties today, as Republicans moved to block President Obama's carbon emission limits for new power plants. Ten Democrats from the South and coal-heavy states joined Republicans in approving the measure 229-183. No Wisconsin members crossed their party lines, and they voted 5-3 in favor. Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield proposed the bill, saying the Obama emission limits would make it impossible to build new coal-fired electric plants. California Democrat Henry Waxman called it a "science denial" bill that would strip the EPA of its ability to regulate carbon air pollution. The White House threatens a veto, saying it would undermine public health protections in the Clean Air Act. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has called the proposed limits "technically feasible." She says they're being developed at four power plant locations.
It would be harder for Wisconsinites to vote early, under a bill that's up for a vote in a state Senate committee late this afternoon. According to WisPolitics.coim, Republicans are trying to limit absentee voting to between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays during the two weeks before statewide elections -- with no early voting allowed on nights and weekends, and a 45-hour limit per week. Supporters say it would create uniform voting rules around the state, considering that smaller towns don't have the resources to offer night and weekend voting. Critics say the measure discourages people from voting. A similar state Assembly bill never made it out of a committee. That measure would have allowed weekend voting by appointment. The elections' panel is also scheduled to vote today on two bills proposed just three days ago. One clarifies a rule in which special interests do not have to disclose their donors when they place so-called "issue ads" that don't people who to vote for or against. The other measure loosens restrictions on when incumbent lawmakers can take campaign gifts from groups with lobbyists.
Those who've had court cases dismissed are one step closer to having the allegations removed from Wisconsin's online court files. The state Senate's Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 today to delete charges and civil allegations that are dropped, dismissed, or overturned on appeals within 90-to-120 days. The measure now goes to the full Senate. The bill's supporters say the innocent are being prevented from getting jobs and housing for the rest of their lives. The bill's opponents say private companies would crop up and sell a complete record of court cases -- and it might not be totally accurate. Media groups said it would be harder to track trends in the justice system, and the state's popular court database would make it look like prosecutors win all the time.
Pro-lifers in Wisconsin could show other motorists how they feel, under a bill endorsed by the state Senate's transportation committee. A specialized license plate with the words "Choose Life" was approved on a 3-2 party line vote today, with all Republicans voting yes. Assembly Republican Andre Jacque of De Pere proposed the new plate -- which includes an extra 25-dollar fee to be donated to the group "Choose Life-Wisconsin." Jacque's bill passed the lower house last November. Its prospects for final passage in the Senate are not immediately known.
Government workers in the state's two largest areas will not have to worry about getting their wages cut. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said today that a bill to scale back "living wage" ordinances is all but dead. The Senate's labor panel endorsed the cut-back today, prompting about 20 protesters to chant in support of local employees and contractors. The Republican Fitzgerald said a number of colleagues in his party have problems with the measure -- and it would probably would not go any further than it did this morning. The bill would prohibit living-wage minimums whenever state or federal money is involved. Those wages are as high as 11-dollars an hour for workers in Milwaukee, Madison, and Dane County. The same thing is pending in Milwaukee County.
Wisconsin school officials who drove to Madison to speak up for the Common Core standards may have won their case before they could say a word. State Senate Education Committee chairman Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) told the Associated Press this morning that at least five of his GOP colleagues oppose a bill that could wipe out the Common Core standards. Olsen also said he would not bring up the measure up for a vote unless there's enough support to pass it in the GOP-controlled Senate. Olsen made his comments two hours beforehand. The bill would create a panel of educators and politicians to review public school academic standards, and tailor them to Wisconsin. If the state superintendent doesn't agree with the panel's findings, legislators would make the final decisions. Olsen said the bill's Republican opponents don't believe lawmakers need to get into those areas. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the bill is not dead, but it needs to be changed before the current session ends in early April.
You've heard that "time is money." This winter, you could say "temperature is money." Wisconsin's construction industry is seeing dollars disappear under the weight of the state's coldest and snowiest season in decades. David Pekel, who heads the Milwaukee chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, says most people understand when renovations are delayed. Still, he tells WUWM Radio that people's patience is wearing thin as some projects are reaching six weeks of delays. Construction workers must file for unemployment if they're not working -- and Pekel says it's a hassle for them, too. He says a number of builders have put off their own expenses as they tighten their belts. Pekel says the top-priority work is still getting done -- like emergency repairs, and plumbing-and-heating problems. In most cases, customers are paying 5-to-15 percent more for moving to the front of the line. Pekel says suppliers and contractors often absorb some of the extra costs, which may include breakdowns from tools that cannot handle the extreme cold.
Do you miss the sweet smell of bacon frying in your home? An I-Phone app can fix that. In Madison today, the Oscar Mayer Institute for the Advancement of Bacon unveiled a device that lets people wake up to the sounds and smells of sizzling bacon. Oscar Mayer says there's a special device that can be plugged into an I-Phone's headphone jack. And once it's hooked up to the app, you're all set. The device is called "Wake Up and Smell the Bacon." Starting today, folks can apply for an opportunity to receive a free device through April fourth. The app itself is free. You can check it out online at WakeUpAndSmellTheBacon.com.