WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: State trooper to survive accident in Fox Valley
MENASHA - Fox Valley authorities said today that a state trooper did not suffer life-threatening injuries, when he was pinned between two vehicles yesterday. 36-year-old Justin Hansen was taken to a Neenah hospital. Authorities said Hansen was getting something out of the trunk of his squad car while investigating a freeway crash, and another vehicle swerved out of control and pinned him. That driver, a 41-year-old Little Chute man, was not hurt. The incident occurred yesterday on southbound Highway 41 near Menasha. Winnebago County authorities and the State Patrol are continuing their investigation.
Air Wisconsin will not have to pay a one-and-a-quarter million dollar judgment in a defamation lawsuit. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that the Appleton-based carrier was protected under a post-9-11 security law. The law shields airlines from defamation claims, when the incidents that trigger those claims are substantially true. The case involved veteran pilot William Hoeper, who was rejected four times in getting his company's approval to fly a new aircraft -- and then had angry words with another employee in Virginia. Soon after that, Hoeper was a passenger on a United flight to his Colorado home -- and the plane was returned to its departure gate after Hoeper was identified as a potential threat. He was removed, but was never charged in court with anything criminal. The Supreme Court agreed that the law is needed in order to encourage reports of possible threats to the Transportation Security Agency. The Colorado Supreme Court had ruled that Air Wisconsin was not exempt from legal action on that basis.
The city council in Wausau will vote for a second time tomorrow night on whether bartenders should be halfway sober when they serve customers. The Council voted 8-2 on January 15th to require tavern workers to have blood alcohol levels of no more than zero-point-four percent, or half the state's minimum for drunk drivers. Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple vetoed the measure, saying bar owners and their employees should have been given more time to comment -- and the city should not regulate a private business like that. According to the Wausau Daily Herald, some aldermen say the mayor has a flimsy justification for his veto. They said the measure was discussed in a public committee meeting in December -- and the mayor has let several other measures go into effect which regulate the private sector. Council president Lisa Rasmussen said tomorrow's decision should be about public safety and alcohol concerns -- and not about politics.
A Milwaukee man who's under investigation in the disappearance of his girlfriend is having two non-related cases consolidated. A trial date of June second is set for 39-year-old Kris Zocco on 17 counts of possessing child pornography and five drug-related charges. Zocco was arrested separately for those two matters, after 27-year-old Kelly Dwyer disappeared last October. Recently-released search warrant affidavits showed that a cadaver dog searched Zocco's apartment for evidence of homicide and hiding a corpse. Officers later searched a landfill for Dwyer -- but they have not disclosed what type of evidence they found. Officials recently said Dwyer is still considered a missing person.
One of Wisconsin's most moderate state legislators is calling it quits, saying he's not willing to participate in quote, "partisan conformity." Senate Republican Dale Schultz, a 30-year legislative veteran from Richland Center, said today there's "more to life" than being a senator. It's been speculated for months whether Schultz would run again, after conservative Assembly Republican Howard Marklein of Spring Green said he'd run for the Senate seat in a primary this August. The 60-year-old Schultz went against his Republican party line twice on mining the past two years -- and he voted against Scott Walker's collective bargaining limits in 2011. In a statement, Schultz cited the U.S. Supreme Court "Citizens United" decision that allowed businesses to spend money on campaigns. Because of that, he said "compromise has given way to partisan conformity." Marklein praised Schultz today, saying he's been a strong advocate for his district. Schultz said he could not endorse Marklein, saying he's out of step with the Senate district's views. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel cited an analysis by GOP lobbyist and former lawmaker Joe Handrick, showing that Schultz's district is now 52.4 percent Democratic. Former state DOT budget director Ernie Wittwer is running for Schultz's seat as a Democrat.
Marquette University has been given $10-million to build a new campus residence for Jesuit priests, and to help provide student scholarships based on need. Interim president Robert Wild said today that an anonymous benefactor provided the money. Seven-and-a-half million will be spent to develop the residence for priests, and to renovate the center of the Jesuit campus near downtown Milwaukee. Marquette says it will need another seven-and-a-half million for the project -- and in the meantime, the school has chosen Kubula Washatako Architects to design it. As for the rest of the gift, two-and-a-half million will provide need-based scholarships for Marquette students. He says the awards are a priority in Marquette's overall strategic plan.