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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Gov. Walker indicates he will sign bill allowing public schools to keep Indian names and mascots

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Governor Scott Walker has indicated that he will sign the bill that makes it easier for public schools to keep their Indian team names and mascots. The Republican Walker has until tomorrow to either sign or veto the measure -- or it would automatically take effect without his signature. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker did not definitely say he would sign the bill. He did question whether the state should force schools to drop their Indian names, calling it a matter of free speech. Walker said schools should come up with names-and-logos that tribes do not find offensive -- but they should do it on their own, without a mandate from Madison. In any event, Walker said he would act on the bill, and not let it pass automatically. In 2009, Democrats approved a complaint system in which the state Department of Public Instruction held hearings, and then ordered schools to drop Indian monickers if the agency found them offensive. The Mukwonago School District has refused such an order, and Republican lawmakers passed a bill earlier this fall which virtually guts the 2009 law. State public school Superintendent Tony Evers said the law allowed people to speak out about perceived discrimination by their local schools. Evers called it a civil rights issue and said quote, "Civil rights issues have seldom been resolved locally."

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A Wisconsin Assembly seat for suburban Milwaukee will stay in Republican hands. Ken Skowronski got 64-percent of the vote in a special election yesterday, defeating Democrat John Hermes for the Assembly seat given up by Republican Jeff Stone of Greendale. Stone recently took a new job with the state Public Service Commission. Skowronski is an alderman in Franklin who received just under four-thousand votes. Hermes, the village president in Greendale, got almost 22-hundred. Republicans regained their 60-to-39 majority in the Assembly, after going 3-for-3 in special elections this fall. Voters also chose G-O-P candidates to replace outgoing Republicans Scott Suder and Mark Honadel. 

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Two tickets sold in California and Georgia won the massive Mega Millions' jackpot last night. It was 636-million-dollars going in -- but game officials say it could end up being more, once all the sales figures are in. Wisconsin had a 20-thousand-dollar winner, plus seven other winners of five-thousand-dollars each. All matched four regular numbers plus the Mega Ball, and one of those tickets had the prize multiplier of four. We won't know until later today which ticket that was. Two of those eight winning tickets were sold in Milwaukee. The others were from Whitewater, West Bend, Delafield, Oregon, Oakdale, and Brodhead. Last night's numbers were 8, 14, 17, 20, and 39. The Mega Ball was seven. The jackpot was the second-highest in U-S lottery history. Officials said yesterday there was only a 30-percent chance that nobody would have matched all the numbers. Friday night's jackpot will be the game's new minimum of 15-million dollars. It was raised from 10-million in October. In Powerball, the jackpot for tonight is 50-million dollars.

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A final congressional vote is set for today on the two-year federal budget deal crafted by Wisconsin's Paul Ryan. Yesterday, the Senate moved the package forward on a 67-to-33 procedural vote that blocked a possible G-O-P filibuster. Wisconsin's Ron Johnson was one of only a dozen Republicans to advance the budget deal. The other Republicans cast all 33 of the no votes. The budget takes back 45-billion-dollars in automatic spending cuts which took effect in March. Johnson said he had his doubts that the additional funding would be spent wisely -- but he won't quibble about the specifics of the package hammered out by Ryan and Senate Democrat Patty Murray, the budget chairs of the two houses. Johnson said it would have been nice to keep all of the sequester spending cuts in effect, but he understood the challenges of getting Congress and the budget process back to some type of regular order. The budget agreement will ward off another possible government shutdown next month, while calling for 23-billion dollars in federal deficit reductions over the span of a decade. 

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Wisconsin's largest company predicts what it calls "significant earnings growth" for its new fiscal year that began October first. Johnson Controls of suburban Milwaukee expects a three-percent increase in its total sales, to just under 44-billion dollars for the year. Earnings-per-share are forecast to grow from 2.66 in the last fiscal year to 3.15 this year. C-E-O Alex Molinaroli said Johnson Controls is steering away from its production of car seats, while capitalizing on growth opportunities for its energy-efficient building ventilation controls, and advanced batteries for vehicles. Johnson Controls is still growing its business in China, where its sales exceeded eight-billion dollars last year. That, plus higher sales of lead-acid batteries for fuel-efficient motor vehicles, are expected to raise sales in its power solutions business by seven-to-eight percent.

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We're expected to find out today how Wisconsin matches up with other states in creating jobs. The U-S Bureau of Labor Statistics will release its quarterly report on each state's job creation for the year ending in June. A month ago, the Walker administration said the state created 24-thousand private sector jobs. Today's report will show how Wisconsin's job growth compares to other states. Wisconsin labor officials say it's the most accurate reflection of what's happening, since almost all Wisconsin employers are surveyed for the quarterly job census. In the last report three months ago, the Badger State ranked 34th in its percentage increase of jobs during the year ending in March. Although the figures are dated by several months, they've become a political lightning rod in Wisconsin -- where Republican Governor Scott Walker used them to help win his 2012 recall election by highlighting the addition of 30-thousand jobs back then. Since that time, Wisconsin ranked as low as 44th in the pace of its job creation.

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Governor Scott Walker's new book has sold at least 72-hundred hard copies. The Nielsen Company announced sales figures yesterday for "Un-intimidated," which first hit the stores a month ago tomorrow. Nielsen's figures are said to be around 85-percent of all print sales, with no numbers for electronic editions. The book's publisher, Sentinel of the Penguin Group, does not release sales figures for its products. However, company spokeswoman Jacquelynn Burke said Walker's book is selling consistently well so far. The Republican governor says he's not sure how sales are going -- and as long as his publisher is happy, so is he. Media reports said Walker's book sales are about on par with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's memoir, which he published while he was considering a run for president. Walker's also being considered a possible candidate for the White House in 2016. He said he wrote the book to chronicle his first two years as governor, which featured massive demonstrations over his bill to end most collective bargaining for public employee unions. Walker has not said how much he was paid in advance for the book. He says the figure will come out next month, when he files his next campaign finance report. 

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Funeral services are planned this weekend for the longest-serving elected official in Wisconsin history. 95-year-old Joe Ready of Watertown died last weekend. He served for 78 years in local government -- just over two decades on the Watertown City Council, and 57 years on the Dodge County Board until he retired about a year-and-a-half ago. Dodge County Clerk Karen Gibson said Ready only missed one-or-two meetings during his almost six decades as a county supervisor. In 2007, Ready was honored by the Wisconsin Counties Association for his long service. At the time, he said dedication was the key to his longevity. When people think of longevity, many think of state Senate Democrat Fred Risser, who continues as the nation's longest-serving state lawmaker in his 57th year. But compared to Ready, Risser is a relative pup at age 86. Funeral arrangements for Joe Ready are pending at the Hafemeister Funeral Home in Watertown.

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Four residents were hospitalized, after a house fire in the Milwaukee suburb of Cudahy. Officials said two children were among those who suffered smoke inhalation, and one of the adults has since gone home. Apparently, some people were affected without needing hospitalization. Heather Antoniewicz tells W-I-S-N T-V that her mother, step-father, two sisters, and three nieces were all in the house at the time the fire broke out. The children are 4-to-15 years old. It took about a half-hour to get the blaze under control. Units from the Air National Guard's 128th Refueling Wing helped fire-fighters from three departments put out the flames. The cause remains under investigation.

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An aircraft builder who managed the Oshkosh airport for 38 years will be inducted posthumously into the National Aviation Hall-of-Fame.Steve Wittman was one of six new members named yesterday, along with Apollo-9 astronaut James McDivitt.They’ll be inducted next October fourth in Dayton Ohio.Wittman is also in the Motor-Sports Hall of Fame, where he was honored for winning more air races than any individual competitor.He started competing in Milwaukee in 1926 at age 24.He won his final race 61 years later.Wittman managed the Oshkosh airport from 1931 until he retired in ’69.The airport now carries his name, and it continues to be known worldwide as the place where the E-A-A’s Air-Venture Show is held each summer.Steve Wittman died in 1995.He and his wife Paula were killed in a crash during a flight from Ocala Florida to Oshkosh.

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