WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Neenah boy drowns in Fox River
NEENAH - Authorities said today that a six-year-old boy has died after he was pulled from the Fox River in Neenah.
Police said Elijah Vanderhoof was at a family outing at Riverside Park when he went missing around 4:15 yesterday afternoon. Neenah Police and other park visitors helped search for the child. He was found in the river about 5:30 yesterday afternoon, and was taken to a Neenah hospital where later died.
Wisconsin's best-known independent poll still has the governor's race in a dead heat, less than ten weeks before voters make their choice. The latest Marquette University Law School poll released this afternoon shows Republican incumbent Scott Walker leading Democrat Mary Burke among registered voters, 48 to 44-percent. The spread is within the margin-of-error -- the same as in the last two Marquette polls in May and July. Among likely voters however, Burke continues to lead 49-47. With only 68 days until Election Day, more than a-third of those polled still don't know enough about Burke to form an opinion about her. There's still a gender split among registered voters. Men favor Walker by 15 percentage points, while women back the former Trek Bicycle executive by seven. The Marquette poll surveyed 815 registered voters from last Thursday through Sunday, with an error margin of four percent either way.
Just over a quarter of Wisconsin's likely voters are not sure who they'll pick yet for state attorney general. The new Marquette University Law School poll gives Democrat Susan Happ a seven-point edge over Republican Brad Schimel among registered voters, 40-to-33 percent. Among likely voters, Happ gets the edge 42-32. In both groups, just over 25-percent are undecided. Happ, the Jefferson County district attorney, defeated two other candidates in a primary earlier this month. Schimel, the Waukesha County DA, was given a clear path by Republicans, along him to have a fund-raising advantage over any of the Democrats. The winner replaces Republican J.B. Van Hollen, who's stepping down after eight years in office.
Officials said 110 ballots turned up missing at a recount in a close Wisconsin State Senate primary -- and it could swing the outcome. WisPolitics.com said the Green County clerk's office could not track down the missing ballots -- and they'll have to certify the final results this afternoon without them. The missing ballots were from Monroe. The election night tally from the August 12th Democratic primary gave Ernie Wittwer a seven-vote victory over Pat Bomhack with about 7,700 votes cast throughout the district. In Monroe, Wittwer had 523 votes to Bomhack's 337. Green County Clerk Michael Doyle says it's likely that Wittwer had a higher proportion of missing ballots -- so their disappearance could hurt him the most. WisPolitics said Monroe's police chief and a detective helped him search the city hall yesterday, and nothing turned up. They also interviewed poll workers. Doyle says he doesn't know what else to do, so his office can only certify the ballots it has. The primary winner will run against state Assembly Republican Howard Marklein of Spring Green in November for the Senate seat that's being given up by Richland Center Republican Dale Schultz.
Kenosha's mayor and state representative said taxpayers have nothing to lose and much to gain from the proposed Menominee tribe's proposed Hard Rock casino. Governor Scott Walker has until next February to decide whether to approve the project -- and the governor is delaying a decision while state officials reportedly try to reach a settlement on payments the state would have to make to the Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk tribes if they lose revenues from a new casino nearby. The Menominee has said it would mitigate those losses -- and today, Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman and state Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha said taxpayers will gain millions of dollars from the jobs to be created at the new casino and hotel. Yesterday, Gov. Walker told lawmakers the Potawatomi tribe is refusing to pay its required annual state casino revenue fee under its gaming compact -- because it would just get the money back if Walker approves the Kenosha casino. Walker said the lost payment would hurt the state budget. One report said the Potawatomi is withholding $25-million. Meanwhile, a new Marquette University Law School poll says 47-percent of the 815 registered voters surveyed favor the Kenosha casino. Thirteen-percent are against it. Fourteen percent are undecided.
Wisconsin Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner has become a traditional Catholic -- and some leading bishops watched him do it. Trinity College religion professor and researcher Mark Silk wrote about it in the Religion News Service blog. He said former Milwaukee Archbishop Tim Dolan was on hand for the private ceremony. A spokesman for Madison Bishop Robert Morlino said he was also there, and so was current Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki. Sensenbrenner, a three-decade House veteran from Menomonee Falls, has called himself an Anglican Catholic in the past. Silk says the change is not all that dramatic for him. But he does have a major policy disagreement with his new church -- immigration reform. A number of bishops have gotten behind the reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate -- a bill Sensenbrenner calls "the most radical amnesty proposal in our country's history."
A former vice president for one of Milwaukee's top tourist agencies is stepping down as the Number-two official in the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. David Fantle left last week. He was named the state agency's deputy secretary in 2011, the year Scott Walker took over as governor. Fantle tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he's worn down from his daily 75-mile commutes from Milwaukee to Madison -- and he wants to return to the state's largest city on a full-time basis. Fantle was a vice president of public relations for the Visit Milwaukee organization before joining the state's tourism promotion team. He said he enjoyed his colleagues and his work -- and he hoped his contributions made a difference.
Wisconsin kids who return to school next week are likely to be in more crowded classrooms than those from eight years ago. The Wisconsin Budget Project is out with a new report showing the numbers of public school teachers dropped by 4,300 statewide, in a seven-year period ending in May of 2012. The group cited figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, showing that Wisconsin had 15-and-a-half students for each teacher in the 2011-12 school year -- up from 14.3 students per instructor in the 2004-'05 term. The numbers seem to back up what the state's education agency reported recently. It said the Badger State had almost 101,000 full-time staff members in the last school year -- from administrators to teachers to support workers. That was about three-thousand fewer than five years earlier, at a time when enrollment rose slightly.
A Sheboygan man will stay in prison, after a state appeals court refused to drop his homicide conviction. The Second District Appellate Court said no today to a new trial for Kou Yang in the shooting death of 20-year-old Pheng Lee, and the wounding of 21-year-old Chenglung Moua. Both shootings occurred in January of 2012 at a Walmart parking lot in Sheboygan. A jury convicted Yang of reckless homicide and reckless injury. The appellate court also said it was okay for the judge to order 36-thousand dollars in restitution, which Yang called excessive. That was for a traditional Hmong funeral for Lee, in which 500 guests feasted on food and drinks for more than three days. The appeals court said it was reasonable to make Yang pick up the tab. During his trial, Yang claimed that he acted in self-defense. His lawyers said Yang feared for his life when Lee, Moua, and two others approached him. Yang thought the men might have been involved in a previous incident, in which bullets were fired into Yang’s home. Testimony indicated tensions between rival gangs. But Yang said he had not been in a gang for two years before the shootings.
Green Bay Police say they've broken up a street gang they've been investigating for nine months. Police said yesterday they arrested nine people -- including the suspected leader of the Bay City Latin Kings. None have been charged, but a court commissioner found probable-cause that the 26-year-old alleged gang leader and two others committed numerous drug crimes. Police said they confiscated marijuana, meth-amphetamines, oxycodone, and other drugs. They said the main suspect drove to southeast Wisconsin to buy drugs and steal guns to distribute. Police said more arrests are likely.
Authorities now say that a woman wanted for questioning in the death of a Dodge County man met the victim online, and he picked her up in Oshkosh. Investigators said the 37-year-old mother-of-four was among the last people to see Michael Soeller alive. The 43-year-old Soeller was found dead by his landlord last Sunday in his apartment near Fox Lake. Officials said he died sometime during the previous week. An autopsy found that he lost blood due to an assailant's attack. Dodge County sheriff's deputies continue to investigate the death. Oshkosh Police are investigating the woman's possible ties to that city.
Six men have been arrested in a human trafficking sting operation in the Duluth-Superior region. One suspect is from Wisconsin and the other five are from Minnesota. Fifty-one year old Ronald Provost of Foxboro is charged in Douglas County with felony counts of child enticement and causing teens to view sexual activity. Authorities said Provost responded to a fake Internet ad placed by detectives, in which a 15-year-old girl offered sex for money. Police said he arranged to meet the youngster at a hotel in Superior, after he sent a sexually-explicit photo. Foxboro is free on a one-thousand-dollar cash bond, and a preliminary hearing in his case was scheduled for today. The sting operation was run by Superior and Duluth police, along with Douglas County sheriff's deputies and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.