WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: State lottery has record ticket sales for third straight year
MADISON - For the third year in a row, the Wisconsin Lottery has made record ticket sales. Lottery Director Mike Edmonds said this afternoon that almost $569-million worth of game tickets were sold during the state's fiscal year ending June 30th. A year ago, sales totaled what was then a record $566-million.
Edmonds says taxpayers will again join the list of winners. Lottery proceeds go toward property tax relief for Wisconsinites who live in their own homes -- and this year, Edmonds says around $160-million in tax relief will be generated. Instant scratch game sales rose in the past year, while lotto sales were down slightly.
One person was killed and nine others were injured today, after a large SUV rolled over about 12 miles northeast of Wausau. The Wausau Daily Herald said all ten victims were teenagers. One of them died at the scene. The survivors were taken to hospitals in Wausau, Weston, and Marshfield. The crash was reported around 9:50 this morning on Highway 52 in the Marathon County town of Easton. The State Patrol joined local officers at the scene, along with rescue units from several agencies.
An autopsy was planned for this afternoon on a 52-year-old man who died in what Wisconsin Rapids Police called a possible homicide. The victim's 55-year-old brother is being held for violating a previous probation. The autopsy is being performed in Madison, and authorities hope it will determine how the victim died. Police found his body late last night.
In Milwaukee, the parents of John Spooner's teenage murder victim agree that Spooner doesn't have the money to pay a $500,000 civil judgment against him. But Patricia Larry's attorney says it's the principle of the thing -- and the 75-year-old Spooner and his survivors won't be able to cash in if they produce a book or a movie about the case. Spooner shot and killed a neighbor, 13-year-old Darius Simmons, in May of 2012. The man assumed that the boy stole guns from his house. Spooner is spending the rest of his life in prison, and the victim's family won a wrongful death suit yesterday. Circuit Judge Kevin Martens valued losses to the boy's mother at one-point-two million dollars, and the boy's relatively absent father at 300-thousand. However, state law limits such damages to 500-thousand -- and that's what Judge Martens awarded, with $300,000 going to the boy's mother.
A former mortgage loan modification officer has pleaded innocent to eleven Milwaukee County fraud charges. Prosecutors said 52-year-old Stuart Nisenbaum Junior took up to $1,500 in fees in exchange for arranging lower home mortgage interest rates which never came through. The state Justice Department said some of Nisenbaum's clients faced foreclosures and penalties, because he reportedly told them to stop paying on their existing loans. Nisenbaum was working for the Freedom Financial Group of West Allis at the time. Nisenbaum, who lives in Milwaukee, waived his right to a preliminary hearing before being arraigned on his felony charges of fraudulent writings by forgery. He's due back in court August 20th, when a trial date could be scheduled.
A top aide to Governor Scott Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive butted heads with prosecutors, just three months after the first Walker John Doe probe began in 2010. That's according to a memo from ex-Walker chief of staff Tom Nardelli. It came out today as part of a release of documents from the first Walker John Doe, which resulted in six convictions against Walker aides and associates for embezzlement and illegal campaigning. According to the Journal Sentinel, Nardelli's memo questioned the length of the secret investigation by Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm. Nardelli quoted Chisholm as saying there are matters that can take a probe into a different direction than planned, and that could add to any review. Nardelli indicated he was suspicious of the prosecutor's motives, given the time it took to resolve the the case. Chisholm assured Nardelli he would not be influenced by outside political forces.
When he was the Milwaukee County executive, Governor Scott Walker had a "War Room" file which helped him identify targets and the best ways to get his message out. The file was in Walker's county-owned computer -- and it was one of the documents released this morning in connection with his first John Doe probe. Current County Executive Chris Abele released 14 gigabytes of computer files and photos -- part of 500 gigabytes of evidence in the Doe probe in which six former Milwaukee County Walker associates were convicted. The "War Room" file spelled out the issues Walker wanted to promote, groups he wanted to criticize, places he planned to go, and the media he targeted for getting his story out. Walker also had an "issues" file in which he mentioned the need to lobby state lawmakers on park concerns, and what he called "work on a new board member" about county pension concerns.
U.S. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville says it's not enough for his fellow Republicans to criticize President Obama. He says the GOP needs to come up with solutions in order to sustain a comeback this fall, and in the 2016 presidential year. Ryan spoke to the Republican National Committee in Chicago today, and said the nation is in a "trajectory-making moment" that will determine his party's character for at least a generation. Ryan said the GOP must expand its support in under-represented voting groups -- and it's got to show results, citing immigration reform as an example. Ryan, who was the party's vice presidential nominee in 2012, is considered a possible candidate for the top spot on the ticket in just over two years from now.
People throughout the world have donated hearts and money to the 12-year-old Waukesha girl allegedly stabbed by classmates in allegiance to Slender Man. Now, the victim's fund-raising Web site says an all-day food-and-music bash is planned on Friday August 29th at Metcalfe's on Waukesha's west side. It's being put on by the same folks that sponsor the World's Largest Brat Fest in Madison on Memorial Day Weekend. Besides food and music, folks can make their own personal purple hearts -- which the victim of the stabbing is said to adore. All proceeds from the event go to the victim's family. They're trying to raise a quarter-million dollars to cover her medical and legal bills. They're raised close to $60,000 so far. The girl was stabbed 19 times in late May. Two of her middle school classmates are charged as adults with attempted homicide in the incident.
It's been going on for 44 years -- but now that animal rights supporters object, law enforcement will be at a church's pig wrestling event on Sunday. As of this morning, over 42,000 people have signed petitions at Change.org demanding the cancellation of the Pig Rassle in Stephensville, 15 miles northwest of Appleton. The Global Conservation Group of Watertown posted the petition. It says pigs are punched, kicked, body-slammed, and thrown into buckets. The group says the event violates state laws on crimes against animals. It's part of the annual Round-Up Days at Saint Patrick Parish in Stephensville. Deacon Ken Bilgrien tells the Appleton Post-Crescent that not one pig has been injured in the entire 44 years of the event -- monitors make sure the animals are safe -- and it's being done in fun. Outagamie County sheriff's captain Mike Jobe does not expect a big crowd of protesters, and his department won't have a large presence there. He says they'll react to "whatever presents itself." In Jobe's words, "The church has rights, too ... They can do what's legal."
A Chicago-based film crew will be in Rhinelander this weekend, to shoot part of a one-hour documentary on the efforts to control invasive species in the Great Lakes. Kurtis Productions and Great Lakes Media are putting together a film called "Making Waves - Battle for the Great Lakes." Local coordinator Michele Sadauskas says the crew will film the Wisconsin "Clean Boats, Clean Waters" program in action. The program has volunteers and paid staffers checking to see that invasive species don't get transferred from one body of water to another. For several years, state rules have required boaters to empty the water from their crafts before leaving -- and not transfer fish and other species from one lake to another -- so they don't spread things like the fish-killing V-H-S virus. Sadauskas says the producers want to show people that there are many types of aquatic invasive species, and they can create costly problems if they don't get under control.