WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Search continues for missing Beloit baby
BELOIT - The search continued this afternoon for a missing five-day-old baby from a house near Beloit.
The FBI and the state Justice Department were helping local officers try to find Kayden Powell. She had been sleeping in a bassinette at her home in the Rock County town of Beloit, when the mother woke up around 4:30 this morning and saw the newborn missing. Town Police Chief Steven Kopp said the disappearance does not appear to stem from a custody dispute. He said a statewide Amber Alert was not issued, because the incident did not meet the criteria for one. The chief said the baby's 18-year-old mother, Brianna Marshall, and 23-year-old father Bruce Powell were both staying at the house. Investigators have been questioning people who were at the house last night.
All eight Republicans voted yes, and all six Democrats voted no to Governor Scott Walker's tax plan, when it passed the state Assembly's economic committee today. Madison Democrat Brett Hulsey called the half-billion-dollar property-and-income tax cut "irresponsible," and it spends most of the projected billion-dollar surplus in the current budget like quote, "a drunken sailor." But New Berlin Republican Mike Kuglitsch called the surplus "overcharged taxes" that should be given back to Wisconsin citizens. The GOP-controlled state Assembly plans to vote on the Walker package on Tuesday, despite concerns from Democrats and some Republicans that it adds to a deficit in the next budget -- and the package is moving too fast to learn all the economic ramifications of what might happen. State Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau says he won't ask his house to vote on the package until the Joint Finance Committee acts on it sometime soon. Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) met with Governor Walker today. Fitzgerald said the speaker and governor seem to open to changes in the package.
Wisconsin's popular online court records would eventually delete the cases of those who are not found guilty, under a bill which had a public hearing today. Lawmakers of both parties are pushing for limits on what you can see in the state's Consolidated Court Automation Program. The Web site gets about eight million hits a day from the media, landlords, employers, and others. State Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend said it's worse today to be convicted of something than it was 20 years ago because the permanent online record means quote, "you never get out from under it." The bill's other supporters told how hard it is for convicts to get jobs and apartments -- even though the site's home page warns against that kind of discrimination. State courts director John Voelker said the bill would create two sets of records -- one at courthouses, and the other online. Under the measure, criminal cases would be taken off-line within 120 days of any finding of a lack of guilt. Charges dropped in plea deals would still be listed, because they need to be considered in sentencings. Bill Lueders of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council said the state's Web site would make it look prosecutors win every time -- while employers will buy full court records from businesses that crop up. It's not certain if the bill will get a committee vote in the Assembly. It would also have to pass the Senate before the current session ends in two months.
Wisconsin environmental regulators say they do not have the authority to deal with asbestos-type materials found at the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine. DNR air management section chief Kristin Hart tells the Wisconsin State Journal that her agency is only allowed by law to regulate hazardous materials if they come from smokestacks. The federal government has oversight powers over asbestos in mines -- but it's not clear which laws could be relevant to the Gogebic iron ore facility in Ashland and Iron counties. Earlier this week, the DNR approved an exemption in which the company does not need a state air pollution permit to inspect four-thousand tons of rock. The firm is still trying to obtain a storm-water permit for the inspections. DNR officials have said they would most likely approve the permit request.
The owner of the 300-year-old Stradivarius violin that was stolen in a robbery last week will get the instrument back before the day is over. That's what Milwaukee Police said this afternoon, when they confirmed they recovered the rare instrument. Chief Ed Flynn said the violin was found in a suitcase hidden in the attic of a Milwaukee home. Milwaukee Symphony president Mark Niehaus said it appeared to be in good condition. He said officers got a number of tips about the missing violin -- and Taser International provided information about the stun gun used in the January 27th robbery. Three people were still in police custody this afternoon. Prosecutors expect to file charges tomorrow against a 32-year-old woman and two men, ages 36 and 42. Police said Salah Jones was the main suspect. He's been linked to the theft of an expensive statue in Milwaukee in 1995. Mayor Tom Barrett called it a "wonderful day," and he said the F-B-I worked closely with city police in what he called a "model of cooperation." Police were still looking for the getaway van from the hold-up. Officials say virtuoso Frank Arnold had just performed a concert with the rare violin when he was walking to his car -- was shot by a stun gun -- and the thief rode away.
Three people in Wisconsin were killed last month when they were struck by vehicles, right after they got out of their own cars which slid-or-crashed in the snow. David Pabst, director of the DOT's safety bureau, said you have little or no protection when you're walking outside in slippery conditions. He advises stuck motorists to stay in their vehicles, call 911, and wait for law enforcement to arrive before getting out. All told, seven pedestrians were killed in a month that featured numerous snowfalls plus the coldest temperatures in many years. They were among 32 people who died in Wisconsin highway crashes in January -- 11 fewer than in the same month the year before. Despite the pedestrian deaths, the DOT said last month was the third safest January on Wisconsin roads since World War Two in the 1940's.