WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Rep. Ribble criticizes GOP strategy
WASHINGTON D.C. - A House Republican from northeast Wisconsin calls the federal government shutdown embarrassing and harmful. Reid Ribble of Sherwood said a shutdown is not the correct strategy to hold up Obamacare. In his words, "Two wrongs don't make a right."
Still, Ribble refused to stray from the GOP by voting twice since last night to include a one-year delay of most parts of the Affordable Health Care act, in exchange for keeping the government running on this first day of the government's new fiscal year. Majority Democrats in the Senate have rejected the same measure four times since last Friday. Their latest vote came this morning, when Democrats refused to name negotiators to strike a deal -- a request House Republicans made around midnight. House GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville defended his party's strategy. He said businesses and Congress itself were given more time to implement Obama-care -- and the purchasing exchanges for uninsured Americans should get the same delay. Milwaukee House Democrat Gwen Moore says that's no excuse to cut off much-needed funding to feed poor children. She said one of the shutdown's first targets is the Women, Infants, and Children food-aid program and small business loans. Moore said it was "childish" to cut off those funds -- and it would send shock waves throughout the economy.
Federal agencies in Wisconsin are lining up this afternoon to tell you that they're closed. The Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, where thousands of visitors watch geese every fall, was shut down by the U.S. Fish-and-Wildlife Service -- which also closed a number of other nature refuges. The U.S. Forest Service says campers are about to be removed from the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore at Bayfield is also shut down. So is the U.S. Geological Survey's Water Science Center in Middleton. Numerous federal furloughs were announced this morning, including civilian workers at Fort McCoy and hundreds of Wisconsin National Guard technicians. House Democrat Mark Pocan of Madison said 15,000 federal employees in Wisconsin would eventually be furloughed if the shutdown drags on. The Fish-and-Wildlife Service also said the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge is now closed -- along with the Green Bay refuge, Fox River at Montello, Gravel Island at the end of Door County, and the Leopold Wetland Management District in 17 counties in southeast Wisconsin. All public access has been cut off at those sites, along with recreational activities and public programs.
About 900 civilian employees are being furloughed at Wisconsin's Fort McCoy due to the federal government shutdown. Spokeswoman Linda Fournier said the workers reported this morning to the Army base between Sparta and Tomah to do some housekeeping tasks. They'll be gone by this afternoon, unless somebody in Congress flinches and adopts a federal spending resolution to keep the government going as the new fiscal year begins. Majority House Republicans refuse to approve a spending package without a one-year delay in key parts of the Obama health law. Majority Senate Democrats refuse to pass a resolution with the Obama-care delay. Around midnight, the House called on negotiations with the Senate. This morning, the Senate refused a House request to choose negotiators -- and for a fourth time, it rejected the House measure 54-46. At Fort McCoy, the commissary will close tomorrow. A hunt for the disabled at the fort this weekend will take place as scheduled. That's because outside contractors are running the event. Military personnel will stay on the job, and a South Dakota National Guard will get training at McCoy as scheduled. The fort's campground also remains open.
While much of the federal government has shut down today, Wisconsin’s state parks have not closed. A spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources says all of the state parks are open, despite some rumors to the contrary. Scheduled events are also continuing as planned. For a list of those events, visit DNR’s website at (dnr.wi.gov) and search for “events”.
A southern Wisconsin man has been missing for two days, and Dane County authorities are asking for people’s help to find him. 30-year-old Brian Hicks of DeForest was last seen on Sunday by his family. The red-bearded Hicks is said to be an avid hunter. He was driving a white 2004 GMC Yukon. Those with information are asked to call the Dane County Communications Center or Tip Line in Madison.
Four new cases of “Crypto” have been confirmed in Southeastern Wisconsin. The North Shore Health Department confirmed the additional cases today, bringing the total number of cases to 12. Cryptosporidium is a waterborne parasite that causes gastrointestinal illness – symptoms include stomach ache and diarrhea. About 400-thousand Milwaukee residents were infected when the parasite was found in drinking water in 1993. Officials are adamant that the latest cases are not from drinking water, but may be linked to pools.
The main sponsor of a bill to raise Wisconsin's top speed limit to 70-miles-an-hour urged his colleagues today to make it go. Freshman Assembly Republican Paul Tittl of Manitowoc testified before the transportation committee in the lower house. He said his bill would help boost tourism, and get commuters to-and-from their homes faster. Tittl also pointed out that Wisconsin is the only Midwest state where the top speed is still at 65 on most four-lane freeways and expressways. Democrats on the transportation panel questioned whether a 70-speed limit would cause more accidents with more severe injuries. They also questioned how much time motorists would actually save. The panel has not scheduled a vote on the measure yet.
An 86-year-old man from Portage has died in a one-vehicle crash. Columbia County authorities said Clayton Dumke was heading west on Highway 33 when his vehicle went into a ditch, went on a gravel driveway, and slammed into a tree. An 84-year-old passenger was also hurt. Both were taken to UW-Hospital in Madison, where Dumke died later. Speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors in the crash, which remains under investigation.
It was 23 months ago when Wisconsin legalized the carrying of concealed weapons for law-abiding citizens who get state permits. Today, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced the 200-thousandth permit, issued yesterday in Madison. The Justice Department was overwhelmed with permit requests in the months after concealed carry took effect. Now, Van Hollen says his office gets 500 to a-thousand permit applications each week -- and most are processed in less than a week. It took more than a year to adopt permanent rules for the law. Van Hollen said one of those rules dropped the cost of the permit applications from $50 to $40. Also, sales from handgun dealers still appear to be on the rise since concealed carry began. Registered dealers are required to report gun sales to the state's Handgun Hotline. That hotline has had 107,000 calls this year, which is on pace for 142,000 calls for the year. That would break last year's record of 138,000.
Fond du Lac Police want to shut down its Twitter account after it got hacked -- but that might be easier said than done. The police Twitter account had not been used since last October, when officials sent out a tweet about an upcoming bike auction. Last month, it started putting out unauthorized tweets -- and folks complained over the weekend after reading profane messages. Assistant police chief Steve Thiry says he and others are working to shut down the Twitter account -- but they're finding it's not so easy. Thiry tells the Fond du Lac Reporter that Twitter won't close the account unless it gets a request from the original e-mail address that set it up. Thiry says that's impossible, because those people no longer work for the Police Department -- and their e-mail accounts probably don't exist anymore.
A Dance Team coach in central Wisconsin has been fired, for using a routine with Robin Thicke's popular "Blurred Lines" in the background. Lisa Jolin was let go from the Marshfield School District in September, after an edited version of the song was used during a dance routine at the high school's first football game on August 23rd. That was two nights before Thicke performed the song while Miley Cyrus did a controversial dance at the MTV Video Music Awards. In a statement, Marshfield Superintendent Peg Geegan said quote, "Action was taken based on appropriate reasons which followed district protocol." That doesn't satisfy students and parents who defended Jolin. They said she brought a measure of respectability to the dance team -- which the parents and participants created without much help from the school system. Kathy Hennick, whose daughter Leah is the team captain, said she didn't see it as egregious because Jolin edited the music. Leah now coaches the team, choosing music and arranging choreography for upcoming routines. Jolin suspects that phone calls from just a few concerned parents cost her the job. As she put it, "I think if 3-to-5 people called, the district should have backed me up. It was 250 people, then yeah, they had to fire me." The school district has re-posted the job. There's been no interest so far.
The mayor of Racine has done his part to fight crime. John Dickert alerted police officers to a man harassing a woman during the community's "Party on the Pavement." 31-year-old Timothy Turek of Racine has been charged with battery, resisting an officer, disorderly conduct, and seven counts of bail jumping. According to officials, Turek asked the mother of his daughter to drop off a backpack at the festival -- and when she did, he allegedly threatened her. Mayor Dickert tried breaking up the spat, and he talked to the man while were police were on their way. Dickert called the incident "unacceptable."
A 28-year-old woman faces 10 criminal charges, after she allegedly started a fire in a Watertown apartment following an argument with her ex-boyfriend. Three people were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. Two jumped from the second floor and the third was rescued. According to Jefferson County prosecutors, Trisha Krueger and Jacob Verriden got into an intense argument early Sunday that included threatening text messages and yelling -- and she started the apartment on fire to quote, "just hurt Verriden back." The apartments were located above a tavern. Officials said the business and much of the apartments had extensive damage. In court yesterday, a 20-thousand-dollar cash bond was ordered for Krueger on a charge of arson and six felony counts of reckless endangerment. A preliminary hearing was set for next Monday. Krueger also pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor count of battery and two charges of disorderly conduct. A signature bond was granted in that case.
Three Wisconsin companies will share over $62-million worth of defense contracts. The MTEC Corporation of Janesville has been awarded $25-million for grenade testing and ammunition. The firm was the only one to take part in the Army's online bidding process. Also, the Oshkosh Corporation has been awarded another $20-million to provide logistics support and upgraded armor for about 430 Marine vehicles in Okinawa, Japan. The third contract went DRS Power-and-Control Technologies. The firm's Milwaukee plant will provide design-and-engineering services for energy storage modules at a cost of just over $17-million.