WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: State milk production up
Wisconsin dairy cows stepped up their milk production last month -- but not quite as much as top-producing California and the nation as a whole.
New federal figures show that America's Dairyland made almost two-point-two-eight billion pounds of milk last month. That's nine-tenths-of-a-percent more than the previous October. California and the U.S. both had one-percent increases. The 23 major dairy states had a boost of one-point-two percent from a year earlier. California remains No. 1 in milk output, with just over 3.3 billion pounds produced in October. The nation as a whole made almost 16.5 billion pounds. Wisconsin added a-thousand cows to its herd in October, for a total of just over one-and-a-quarter million head. Production per cow increased by 15 pounds, to 1,790. All but six of the 23 major dairy states had higher production last month. Of the top-five states, only fourth-place Idaho did not register an increase.
A group headed by former U.S. Senate Democrat Russ Feingold has started a political action committee for the sole purpose of defeating Republicans in next fall's elections. Feingold started Progressives United in 2011, the year after he lost his re-election bid to Senate Republican Ron Johnson from Oshkosh. Until now, the group was only spending money on federal elections. The new PAC will focus solely on Wisconsin. According to a fund-raising e-mail, the main target is GOP Governor Scott Walker. The message told Progressive United supporters that there's no higher goal than stopping Walker's career quote, "dead in its tracks." Walker is up for re-election next year, and he's considering a run for the White House in 2016. One poll a few months ago showed that Feingold had the best chance of defeating Walker -- but any possibility of a Feingold candidacy became moot when he was named a U.S. envoy to the Congo. Walker campaign spokesman Jonathan Wetzel called Progressives United one of many "national liberal special interests" vowing to spend whatever it takes to try-and-defeat the governor.
A 29-year-old Ripon man awaits possible charges, after he was arrested for making a series of bomb threats in Berlin. Police said the first threat was made on Halloween, stating that a bomb at a Berlin factory would explode that night. The second call was reported November 11th, saying a pair of bombs would go off back-to-back at Berlin factories. Authorities said 18 businesses were affected. Berlin Police Chief Dennis Plantz said investigators used cell phone records and other technology to track down the man, who remains in the Green Lake County Jail. The FBI joined state and local investigators in looking into the matter. Online court records did not indicate that criminal charges were filed as of late morning. The man was booked on possible counts of making a bomb scare and two counts of disorderly conduct.
State lawmakers of both parties are getting behind a proposed bill to limit police usage of computerized license plate readers. The Wisconsin State Journal reported in July that four communities surrounding Madison stored over four-million license plate images over the past three years. The machines read the plates of every vehicle which passes by a squad car, and it then tells the officer if the drivers are wanted for any reason. Under the proposed bill, police could only use the cameras when investigating crimes. It would also ban the sharing of stored data with entities outside of government. The license plate photos would also have to be destroyed within 48 hours, unless they're needed for criminal investigations.
A 19-year-old Two Rivers man was killed in a crash that occurred after two vehicles were chasing each other in a fit of road-rage. The alleged chaser is under arrest. Police said it all started around 10 last night, when the 19-year-old and three other males went to a factory in Manitowoc to settle a fight with a 22-year-old man. Officials said there was not a fight at the plant -- and the four initial pursuers got into a pick-up truck and drove away, as the 22-year-old chased them. The chase moved from Manitowoc's south side to the north side, where the pick-up truck lost control after being forced into a median. The truck then spun and hit a guard-rail. The 19-year-old driver was ejected and died later at a hospital. A 16-year-old Two Rivers boy who was with the group was treated for a minor head injury and released. The other two men, ages 19-and-20, were not hurt. The alleged chaser, the 22-year-old Manitowoc man, reportedly fled the scene and was arrested at his home a short time later. He faces possible charges of homicide by negligent driving, and hit-and-run causing death. Police say alcohol might have been a possible factor in the incident, which remains under investigation.
A Racine man has been sent to prison for a second time, after he was convicted of reduced charges for the repeated molesting of an eight-year-old girl. 40-year-old Adam Deschner had already spent seven years in prison for third-degree child sex assault. Yesterday, he was given another seven-and-a-half years, after he pleaded no contest to a reduced charge of letting a child under-13 watch or listen to a sex act. Deschner's original charge accused him repeated child sex assault since 2009. After he leaves prison, he'll have to spend five years under extended supervision.
A Wisconsin man, accused of starving and locking up his own daughter in a basement, has testified in his own defense. The 42-year-old man was convicted of felony child neglect in March, but was acquitted on four other charges… prosecutors decided to retry him on those counts, including false imprisonment and child abuse. The man’s identity is not being revealed to protect the victim. During testimony today, the man says he suffered from comprehension and learning challenges all his life, leading to his actions.
A central Wisconsin man remains in critical condition after shooting himself in front of police officers this morning. The Winnebago County Sheriff’s office says the 28-year-old Town of Neenah man attempted to commit suicide this morning at around 7:30. Authorities say when officers approached the man, he pulled out a gun and walked away. A short time later, he fired a shot at the ground, then turned the gun on himself. Officers and paramedics assisted the man and transported him to Theda Clark Medical Center. Authorities say they are still investigating the incident and have not revealed what led the man to his actions.
A Racine priest is in some hot water as authorities investigate some social media posts he allegedly made. Reverend Ireneusz Chodakowski was removed from his Racine parish position after he was accused of sharing pornography on Facebook. Kenosha Police confirms an investigation is ongoing. A spokesperson for the archdiocese says Chodakowski’s alleged offense is “a lack of good judgment”.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has decided to consider whether the state's 2011 voter ID law is constitutional -- and by doing so, the justices will settle two similar lawsuits at the same time. Today, the Supreme Court said it would accept an appeal from the state's League of Women Voters. The group won a trial last year that struck down the photo ID requirement for voting -- but a state appeals court in Madison overruled that decision. Also, the Supreme Court said it would take over the state's appeal of a lawsuit from the NAACP which struck down the voter ID law. The appeal was pending in an appellate court in Waukesha. That court wanted to kick the case upstairs to the Supreme Court, but the justices demanded an appellate ruling first. Today, the Supreme Court took over the case, and cancelled arguments that were set for December 17th. Instead, a new date will be set for the justices to hear one set of arguments in both cases -- with one final ruling after that. Meanwhile, the voter I-D law still awaits a ruling in a Milwaukee federal court, which recently held a two-week trial on another legal challenge from two other groups. In all cases, the plaintiffs said the Republican ID law disenfranchised thousands of poor, elderly, and young adult voters. The G-O-P defendants said the law is meant to fight voter fraud.
A state legislative panel says it will not vote on a new plan to control surpluses at UW campuses until the committee can learn more about it. The Joint Audit Committee delayed a vote set for today on the plan, which was recently endorsed by the university's Board of Regents. It comes in the wake of a surprise disclosure this past spring that UW campuses had hundreds-of-millions of reserves, at a time when schools kept raising student tuition by five-and-a-half percent a year. Lawmakers were so upset about that, they imposed a two-year freeze on UW tuition and ordered additional monitoring of reserves. The UW came back with a requirement to have campuses main reserves of at least 10-percent of their total assets, and to justify any reserves of over 15-percent. A recent state audit showed that campuses had $755-million on hand as of June of last year -- and $142-million of it was never committed to anything.
With the start of the gun-deer season just three days away, Wisconsin officials remind hunters not to forget their basic safety lessons. The DNR says most gunshot hunting accidents are caused by basic mistakes in firearm safety. Last year, the Appleton Post-Crescent said there were 28 hunting incidents throughout Wisconsin -- and the state has averaged 30 such incidents per year over the last decade. So far in 2013, officials say there have been 18 gun-related hunting incidents, including the death of a squirrel hunter in Marathon County. Over the past two years, about half of all hunting mishaps involved members of the same parties who misidentified targets and shot their partners instead. One hunter was wounded in Waushara County last year after his partner thought he was a squirrel. The DNR's new chief warden, Todd Schaller, says the big key is communication among group members before they go on deer drives. He says hunters should know where their companions are at all times.
Here's a story that can only come from Packer-crazed Wisconsin. A couple had their third child last Sunday in Green Bay. The baby suffered a broken left collarbone, so parents Kyle Dryer and Kristal Tyczkowski named the boy in honor of Aaron Rodgers. The Packers' quarterback is recovering from the exact same injury as the new baby. Rodgers had his on November fourth. Aaron Rodger Dryer was born Sunday afternoon at Saint Mary's Hospital in Green Bay, just before the start of the kick-off in the Packers' loss to the Giants at New York. The doctor who delivered the infant, Robert Moyer, tells the Green Bay Press-Gazette that collarbone injuries are fairly common in newborns. Those injuries often heal in a couple weeks, but the legend of Aaron Rodgers' injury is now certain to live on in a child growing up in Titletown.
The chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board says she'll run for the state Assembly next fall. Marina Dimitrijevic is the second Democrat to announce her bid for the seat to be given up by south side Milwaukee Democrat Jon Richards. He's running for state attorney general in 2014. Dimitrijevic immediately announced top-heavy endorsements from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and U-S House Democrat Gwen Moore. Dimitrijevic said she would step down as the Milwaukee County Board chair if she's elected to the Assembly -- but she's not sure yet if she would leave her supervisor's post that she's held for a decade.
You'll see lots of red-and-green holiday lights in December -- and you just might see some blue lights, too. A new campaign on Facebook urges people to decorate with blue lights this year, to honor Wauwatosa police officer Jennifer Sebena. She was killed by her husband last Christmas Eve right after a break during her work shift. Jason Asselin of Kingsford Michigan started the Facebook campaign. His cousin is a Milwaukee police officer. Asselin told W-T-M-J T-V that the blue lights are an easy way for people to show law enforcement officers that they remember the sacrifice that Sebena made.