WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Sen. Paul visits Milwaukee choice school
MILWAUKEE - U.S. Senate Republican Rand Paul -- who's considering a run for the White House in 2016 -- paid a visit to Milwaukee today to see how private school choice is going.
He said the tax-funded vouchers for low-income kids give more parents the power to choose a religious education for their youngsters. Paul, of Kentucky, met with parents, teachers, and school choice advocates at Saint Anthony School in Milwaukee. It's the largest K-to-12 Catholic school in the nation with enrollments of over 1,500 at several locations in Milwaukee. He stressed the choices that the voucher program offers, in comparison with the public schools, and he said quote, "Competition makes us all better." The city's Hispanics for School Choice helped set up Paul's visit -- which comes a day after he endorsed private school choice at a forum in Chicago.
Wisconsin U.S. Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Madison came out today in favor of a minimum wage hike that would keep going up with inflation, without Congress voting on it again. Appearing at a forum at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Baldwin disputed Republican claims that a higher minimum wage would be a job-killer. She admitted there were studies which had different conclusions -- but she said more money in workers' pockets would stimulate an economy that's been quote, "sputtering back to life since the recession." Baldwin also spoke up for Obama-care. She defended the Affordable Care Act in spite of numerous start-up problems. Baldwin predicted that the law would be viewed more favorably in five years. She also expressed concerns that Wisconsin has not embraced the program as much as other states have.
Unemployment rates dropped in all 12 of Wisconsin's metro areas over the past month. State labor officials released local jobless figures for March -- and the actual unadjusted rates fell in all but six of the state's 72 counties compared to February. All but three cities also saw their unemployment rates decline. Racine and Menomonee Falls had slight increases, while Mount Pleasant in Racine County had no change. The statewide adjusted rate fell to five-point-nine percent in March, the lowest since the Great Recession began in earnest in November of 2008. County jobless rates ranged from four-point-four percent in Dane County at Madison to 13-point-one in Iron County in the far north. The extremes for city unemployment were both in Racine County, ranging from three-point-six percent in Caledonia to 11-point-eight in the city of Racine.
Governor Scott Walker signed a bill today to require Wisconsin's largest police agencies to stop investigating themselves when their officers kill suspects. The Republican Walker approved a bill that forces all Wisconsin law enforcement agencies to use outside investigators in officer-involved deaths. About two dozen supporters and relatives of those by police in high-profile incidents attended a private ceremony at the State Capitol where Walker signed the measure. State Assembly Republican Garey Bies of Sister Bay and Madison Democrat Chris Taylor were the chief sponsors of the measure. The new law requires at least two investigators from outside agencies to lead reviews of suspects' deaths -- and if no criminal charges are filed, reports of the investigations must be publicly released. Bies said the measure will take effect in about 10 days. Most smaller Wisconsin law enforcement agencies already use outside agencies in such instances. The new law does not apply to death investigations in county jails and prisons. The state Department of Corrections already handles those.
A judge in Indiana has refused to let a Purdue University student fire his lawyer, and represent himself on charges that he killed a fellow student from Wisconsin. Defense attorney Robert Gevers wrote that 23-year-old Cody Cousins no longer wanted his services -- but the judge rejected the withdrawal, saying it did not meet the required criteria. In the written defense request, Gevers did not say why his client wanted to cut him loose. The decision came yesterday, on the day Cousins was originally scheduled to stand trial for shooting and stabbing 21-year-old Andrew Boldt of West Bend in January. It happened in the electrical engineering building on the Purdue campus. A motive for the attack has not been disclosed.
A doctor from Waukesha is due back in court a week from tomorrow, after she allegedly attacked her estranged husband and led police on a chase. Prosecutors said 49-year-old Jan Doenier struck her husband last night, while violating a court order to stay away from the couple's home near Delafield. Authorities said she drove past a police car in the dark without her lights on, and officers then began to chase her. Officials said Doenier drove toward a police blockade at 60-miles-an-hour, causing officers to scramble to safety. She was later found at a hotel where she allegedly ignored officers' commands, so they used a stun gun to subdue her and take her into custody. A judge ordered a 50-thousand-dollar bond on five criminal charges of reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, eluding officers, criminal damage, and bail jumping.
Green Bay Police promise a full and transparent investigation into an incident in which an officer is seen on video throwing a man against a car, wrestling him to the ground, and punching him. The police department has not received a formal complaint -- but police say numerous e-mails and Facebook postings have expressed concerns. In the video, officers arrest a man for allegedly leaving a tavern with an open intoxicant. Other people -- some apparently yelling profanities -- surround the officers and ask why the arrest is being made. An officer rushed at one of those people and grabbed him. A Racine County man, 29-year-old Joshua Wenzel of Caledonia, tells the Green Bay Press-Gazette he was the one grabbed. Police ticketed him for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He told the paper he was "kind of drunk" at the time, but not overly intoxicated. Police captain Bill Galvin said officers can go one level above a suspect's behavior to get the person under control. All the officers involved were still on the job at last word.
The state's chief investment officer was given the largest reward for strong investments in the retirement fund for state and local public employees. The State Investment Board last Friday approved $13.3 million dollars in bonuses, 66-percent more the eight-million awarded a year ago. Today, the board released bonuses for individual employees. Chief Investment Officer David Villa was granted a $660,000 up from the $421,000 dollar award he was given the previous year. The board manages $104-billion in assets, mostly in the state's retirement system that gives pensions to state, municipal, and school employees except those in the city and county of Milwaukee which have their own systems. Over the past five years, the state's investment efforts added over two-point-six billion dollars to the retirement fund - which almost $600,000 retired public workers rely upon.
A man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend's fiancee in Superior is having his trial delayed, so his lawyers can review newly-obtained evidence. 42-year-old Juan Padilla of Fort Mojave, Arizona was supposed to go on trial May 5 in Douglas County. But the judge in the case approved a request for a delay from Padilla's public defender, Patrick O'Neill. He said an analysis of phone records from the State Crime Lab was submitted only last week -- and he and Padilla need time to go over it. Padilla is accused of killing 46-year-old Terrence Luukkonen of Duluth. He was found shot and bleeding in his car outside of Genesis Attachments in Superior in May of last year. Police said the victim was engaged to a woman who broke off a relationship with Padilla about a month before the killing. She told officers Padilla was upset about the break-up, and he wanted to kill her fiancee.