WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Walker campaign manager wanted settlement delayed until after election
MILWAUKE - The manager of Scott Walker's 2010 campaign reportedly told a Milwaukee County aide to delay a legal settlement in a patient's death until after Walker could be elected governor.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said the county government e-mails released last week included an exchange between Walker campaign manager Keith Gilkes and a county aide about the death of 33-year-old Cindy Anczak. She died at the county-owned Mental Health Complex where she lost 22 pounds in five weeks. Her parents filed a claim, and the Gilkes e-mail said he couldn't care what legal basis it was on. He reportedly told the aide a couple weeks before the election to quote, "Keep it buried until November 2nd and then hopefully they'll settle." A $125,000 settlement didn't come until a year later. Gilkes had not commented on the e-mail exchange by mid-afternoon. It came out as part of 27-thousand e-mails released in the court case of former Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch -- who's appealing a conviction for illegally campaigning on county time. Anczak family lawyer Rock Pledl told the Journal-Sentinel that when Milwaukee County had a choice between politics and saving patients' lives in the last 30 years quote, "politics was usually the winner."
Governor Scott Walker made his cabinet secretaries and top staffers sign a pledge that they would not do illegal campaign work during work hours. The Associated Press said the Republican Walker began requiring signatures in November of 2011 for his new "Ethics Policy and Professional Code of Conduct." That was just two months after FBI agents and other authorities raided the home of Walker aide Cindy Archer. The raid was part of the John Doe investigation into illegal campaign activities by members of Walker's former staff in the Milwaukee County executive's office. Walker spokesman Tom Evenson told the AP the raid had nothing to do with requiring the governor's top staff from signing code-of-conduct pledges.
State consumer protection officials say American TV-and-Appliance has been charging more than what their price-tags show during their going-out-of-business sale. The Madison-based company announced last week it was closing its 11 locations in three states after 60 years in business. Today, state consumer officials said its inspectors did price-checks Monday on 325 items throughout American's seven Wisconsin stores -- and it found over-charges by an average of five-and-a-half percent. A Madison store had seven overcharges -- and when an inspector paid a second visit yesterday, all the cash register mistakes were corrected. One store in Appleton was reported to overcharge a major item by up to $314 above the sticker price. Waukesha was the only Wisconsin store where over-charges were not discovered. State officials advised shoppers to take the price-tags from the items they want to buy, and make sure the cash register rings up the same prices. State law requires stores to charge the lowest advertised prices -- and when customers are overcharged, they're entitled to refunds.
Members of Wisconsin's two largest teachers' unions will have to wait longer to decide whether the groups should merge. The Wisconsin Education Association Council and the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers say their members want more information. And that's why they're delaying a vote on the merger that was scheduled for April 26th in Green Bay. Today, both unions said they would form a committee to provide information on how a merged group would operate. The unions say they've lost about 30-percent of their members since the state virtually eliminated their collective bargaining privileges in 2011 by passing the Act-10 law.
Wind-chill advisories are in effect until late this morning throughout Wisconsin -- and things could get worse this afternoon and tonight. The National Weather Service says a low-pressure system will slide across Lake Superior this evening. Hardly any new snow is expected -- but forecasters say the snow that fell late last week could drift some more. Winds in the northwest quarter of Wisconsin may reach 50-miles-an-hour. The Weather Service has posted winter weather advisories from this afternoon into tomorrow morning for both the Eau Claire and Superior regions. Wind-chills in the northwest could plunge to 45-below by early tomorrow, which is projected to be the coldest morning of the week in the Badger State. It was in 17-below in Medford at seven o'clock this morning. Milwaukee was the warm spot at zero. Wind-chills ranged from the minus-teens to the minus-30's statewide.
Authorities in Marshfield said the death of a pedestrian struck by a train was an accident. Police Chief Gary Jepsen said 62-year-old Melvin Weis was walking north to a downtown convenience store to buy cigarettes, when he stumbled slightly while trying to cross the tracks to beat the train. The mishap occurred last night. Marshfield has seen a rash of train accidents in recent years, both with cars and pedestrians. In most cases, Jepsen said the victims made poor decisions either by trying to beat the trains at crossings, or stopping their vehicles too close to the tracks. Marshfield has had three car-train accidents in the past month alone. Operation Lifesaver says Wood County -- where Marshfield is located -- leads the state in the numbers of train mishaps involving vehicles and pedestrians.
A Madison man was sentenced today to five years in prison for molesting his younger step-sister, as well as another teenage girl in an unrelated case. Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese sentenced 20-year-old Joshua Drabek to three years for sexually abusing his step-sister, and two years for molesting a second girl who was 15 at the time. Prosecutors wanted Drabek to be locked up for 30 years, calling him a sexual predator. The defense said the man deserved leniency because the 15-year-old was his girlfriend for seven months, and he grew up in a house with quote, "socially-bizarre norms." His step-sister was abused-and-tortured for years by her father and step-mother. She was confined to a basement until early in 2012, when she weighed only 68 pounds at age 15. She's now 17. The five years given to Drabek was the same prison time as both his parents received after they were convicted of abusing the girl.
The owners of six former taverns in Racine filed suit this morning, alleging a conspiracy which successfully drove them out of business. The plaintiffs filed a 50-page lawsuit in federal court in Milwaukee. They claimed their civil rights were violated, as the city allegedly conspired to drive minority bar owners out of business since 2006 -- and penalize white-owned bars that attract larger numbers of minority customers. Current and present Racine mayors and city council members were named as defendants along with an ex-police chief, Racine's Tavern League, and two business groups. The lawsuit alleges that the city kept minority bar owners from getting or renewing city licenses, and rewarding the Tavern League's white members with the surrendered liquor licenses or top city positions. The suit also accused current Racine Mayor John Dickert of taking illegal financial contributions from the tavern group. As of mid-morning, the city said it was not served with the lawsuit.
A La Crosse police sergeant is free-on-bond, after he was accused of threatening to kill his family. Sheriff's officers investigated 45-year-old patrol sergeant Alan Iverson, after his wife filed a complaint last Wednesday. Authorities said Iverson made threats to shoot his family and himself after his wife said she wanted a divorce. Iverson is on paid administrative leave from the La Crosse police force, after he was charged with a felony count of making threats-to-injure, and misdemeanor domestic abuse-disorderly conduct. He had his bond reduced yesterday from 100-thousand dollars to one-thousand. Iverson is due back in court a week from today for a preliminary hearing on the felony count.
A southern Wisconsin woman who was killed on Sunday night is identified as 43-year-old Cheryl Gilberg of Mazomanie. Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said she died from quote, "homicidal firearm violence to the head." The sheriff said there was a history of domestic violence at Gilberg's home -- but as of yesterday, there was nothing which indicated that domestic abuse had anything to do with the homicide. Gilberg was the only person living at her house at the time of the shooting. She was found dead by a relative who was checking on her. Detectives have conducted over 100 interviews, but no one has been arrested or charged.
Rhinelander could be the next Wisconsin city to ban hand-held cell phones while driving. A committee will spend the next month considering the idea, after Wausau passed a similar ban earlier this month. Alderman George Sauer, who proposed the ban, said he saw a dozen drivers chatting on cell-phones while going from his house to City Hall for last night's meeting. Police Chief Michael Steffes says inattentive driving laws now cover the distracted chatters -- but a more specific cell ban would be another tool to stop dangerous situations. Rhinelander Mayor Dick Johns says he's not wild about having local police do the work, while the state grabs up most of the revenue from the fines. He wanted to know how much Madison's cut would be. Johns also said he'd rather see a statewide cell ban by drivers, but it doesn't look like it will happen this year. Seven minority Democrats and one Republican have signed onto a bill introduced in the Assembly earlier this month. It's sitting in a committee with just over a month to go in the current legislative session.
Three Milwaukee County jail officers were injured in an attack by a combative inmate. Sheriff's officials said a 43-year-old homicide suspect refused to return to his cell yesterday, and he tried hitting an officer. The guard then attempted to use a stun-gun, but it failed. Authorities said the prisoner tried tried choking another officer -- and then a third guard used his Taser weapon. Other officers helped to get the suspect handcuffed. He was taken to a hospital after striking his head on a wall, and was returned to the jail after treatment. One guard is off work with a torn tendon. Another suffered facial injuries, and a third hurt his fore-arm.