WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: New poll shows governor's race tied
A poll commissioned by conservatives shows Republican Governor Scott Walker in a tie with his main Democratic challenger Mary Burke.
The Liberty Foundation and Magellan Strategies said both candidates had 47-percent support among 851 likely Wisconsin voters polled in mid-April. The conservative National Review called the results a "shocker." And while it pointed out that Walker has not trailed in a poll, the National Review Online said the poll is a reminder that neither the governor nor the Republican Governors Association should take the race for granted. The poll also asked Republicans which person they'd support for president in 2016. Walker got 37-percent among eight GOP possibilities listed -- and Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan was not one of those mentioned. Kentucky's Rand Paul was a distant second behind Walker, with 12-percent. Meanwhile, Walker today filed a required statement of economic disclosure, which generally lets office holders list ranges for their assets. He said he received over one-thousand dollars for his book "Unintimidated," detailing his battles with public unions over the 2011 law which virtually eliminated collective bargaining privileges. Walker did not list actual royalties. The AP said the book had sold at least 18,000 paper copies in six months. Burke's disclosure report is due June 5.
The fallout over a judge's rejection of Wisconsin's voter ID law is now centering on how much the legal battle will cost state taxpayers. Plaintiffs' attorney John Ulin told reporters today that the full costs are not know yet -- but they'll be over $100,000. Under federal law, those who win civil rights cases under the Voting Rights Act can get their legal fees and court costs paid by the losing party -- and those parties include the state and its top officials. Federal Judge Lynn Adelman struck down the Republican law from 2011 that required a photo ID for voting. The state said it would appeal -- and that could raise the legal fees that taxpayers might be on the hook for. Critics say it's wasted tax money. State Assembly Republican Joel Kleefisch of Oconomowoc said he believes the voter ID law will eventually be re-instated. He said the ACLU and union plaintiffs would not see "one thin dime" for what he calls a "reasonable" photo ID law.
A Democratic state Assembly candidate in southern Wisconsin has decided to run for the Senate instead. Pat Bomhack of Spring Green now says he'll seek his party's nomination for the Senate seat to be given up by Richland Center Republican Dale Schultz. Bomhack was planning to run for the Assembly post given up by Spring Green Republican Howard Marklein, who's running for the Senate this fall. Marklein is the only GOP candidate so far for Schultz's seat. Bomhack would have a chance to run against him if he can beat former state DOT official Ernie Wittwer in a Democratic primary in August. Bomhack was a staffer for former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold. His decision leaves farmer Dick Cates as the only Democrat running for Marklein's Assembly post.
Students at Madison East High School omitted the words "under God" twice when they recited the Pledge of Allegiance. It's been a hot topic on conservative media, since the story appeared in a blog last week. But Madison School District spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said one student was wrong, when quoted as saying the pledge had not been recited each day until January of last year. Strauch-Nelson said the pledge has been offered daily for years, under a state law passed in 2001 requiring schools to either offer and pledge or the National Anthem for students to recite or sing each day. Madison School Board member T.J. Mertz tells the Wisconsin State Journal it's not clear if the youngsters left out the words "under God" on purpose -- or if they misread the pledge. In either case, he said he supported the youngsters for acting on their beliefs. As Mertz put it, "We want our students to be self-advocating and have beliefs." Strauch-Nelson said the group simply skipped the words "under God" on one occasion, and said "under peace" the next time. She said the youngsters were, quote, "followed up with."
Green Bay Police were the targets of an online threat, in retaliation for a physical arrest that was captured on video. A group claiming to be the global hackers' organization "Anonymous" posted a threatening video on You-Tube April 23rd, and it has since been removed. WISN-TV in Milwaukee said the FBI is investigating the matter. The group reportedly threatened the Green Bay Police Department, its officers' union, and the officer who arrested a Caledonia man outside a downtown Green Bay tavern on April 19th. A by-stander made the video, which showed the veteran officer tackling and punching the man. An internal Green Bay police investigation continues into the incident. WISN said the threat was similar to one last month in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that warned of a cyber-attack on that city's Web sites. Albuquerque Police said its Web site was breached, but was back online the same day.
The murder of a Wisconsin student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. could end up making other people safer on that western Indiana campus. A committee reviewed the school's security measures, after 21-year-old Andrew Boldt of West Bend was shot and killed in January while serving as a teaching assistant during a class session. As a result of Boldt's death, the committee recommends that more students receive Purdue's emergency text messages. Students must now actively choose to accept those texts, but the committee says they should automatically get them unless they opt-out. Also, the panel said many people raised concerns about classrooms not having locks on their doors. The report said it would cost about $500 each to add locks to Purdue's 41,200 doors in the various classroom buildings. A trial is still pending for a Purdue student charged with killing Boldt.
A special state program helps high school students who are about to become the first in their families to go to college. The Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Program identifies elementary and middle school youngsters who may need some extra guidance and college prep work. Last night, about 250 graduates in that program were honored at a banquet in Wausau. State public school Superintendent Tony Evers says many of the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, or from different cultures like Hmong kids. The program operates statewide, but Evers says it's especially successful in central Wisconsin. He says the key is to identify eligible youngsters early -- in the fifth or sixth grades, or perhaps in middle school -- and get them thinking about college in a way their parents might not be familiar with. He says over 90-percent of the program's participants graduate from high school, and almost all attend college with support from their parents, their schools, and the state.
The University of Wisconsin Health system in Madison could soon get bigger. The UW plans to merge with the Swedish-American Health System of Rockford Illinois. UW Hospital CEO Donna Katen-Bahemsky said her group has been talking with Swedish-American for about a year. Regulatory approval is needed, including a review by the Federal Trade Commission. Katen-Bahemsky said it could take around 90 days to finalize a definitive merger agreement -- and then Swedish-American would become a part of UW Health. Swedish-American is a non-profit network that operates two hospitals, 30 clinics, a home health-care program, and a foundation. UW Health is run by the university's School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, in a partnership with UW Hospital and Clinics.
Wisconsin has a new person in charge of the state's fish stock. DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp today announced the promotion of Ron Bruch. He's been in charge of the annual Lake Winnebago sturgeon season. Stepp said he also help create the Wisconsin Fish Advisory Council. Bruch will start his new job on Monday. He'll replace Mike Staggs, who's retiring after 17 years in the post.
A suburban Chicago man pleaded innocent today to killing a runaway girl and leaving her body in a Racine County marsh 17 years ago. Thirty-six-year-old James Eaton of Palatine, Illinois entered his pleas to charges of homicide and hiding a corpse. He's accused of killing 14-year-old Amber Creek of Palatine in 1997. Her battered body was later found in a marsh near Burlington. For years, investigators could not find a suspect. Then in February, officials said a DNA database linked Eaton to the victim. Investigators then followed him, and they identified him by recovering his DNA from cigarette butt he dropped at Chicago area transit station.
A former Marshfield High School dance coach who was fired after her squad performed to the racy Robin Thicke hit "Blurred Lines" has filed a discrimination complaint. Lisa Joling took her case to the state Department of Workforce Development, saying that male coaches allow more egregious songs at school functions without getting penalized. Joling tells the Marshfield News-Herald that a business she owns in the community has been affected. She said her reputation took a hit after school officials said she was not fired because of the song. The News-Herald said a performance review showed that Joling was a positive influence on her team during the one year she was there. She called the termination "a little extreme," especially because she never had previous problems or warnings. The dance coach was let go last fall, after her squad performed an edited version of "Blurred Lines" at Marshfield's first home football game last fall. Superintendent Peg Geegan says the district is investigating the complaint, but she said officials are confident that the termination was "consistent with legal standards and in the best interest of students."