WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Racine County DA to lose his driver's license for a year
RACINE -- Racine County's chief prosecutor will lose his driver's license for a year, after he agreed to plead guilty to driving drunk last weekend. Racine Police said District Attorney Rich Chiapete struck a traffic signal and a tree last Friday night, then went to his home which was nearby. When police knocked on his door, he said he had been sleeping. Yesterday, his attorney said Chiapete wanted to take responsibility for his actions. So he agreed to plead guilty to municipal charges of O-W-I and hit-and-run, plus a new count of obstructing an officer. Chiapete agreed to pay just over 12-hundred dollars by mid-June, and have his driver's license revoked for a year. When it's restored, the D-A can only drive vehicles with interlock sobriety tubes for the next year. A municipal judge must still approve the plea agreement.
Governor Scott Walker's campaign wants the State Supreme Court to decide whether prosecutors should have been allowed to subpoena evidence in the John Doe probe into the recall elections. The judge overseeing the John Doe, Greg Peterson, quashed the subpoenas in January -- and prosecutors have asked an appeals court to put them back into effect. Yesterday, Walker campaign attorney Steve Biskupic (bis-cue'-pic) asked that the case be removed from the appellate court, so the Supreme Court justices can decide it themselves. The John Doe probe is looking alleged illegal campaign activities between candidates and outside groups in the state's recall elections in 2011-and-'12. That includes the recall bid against Walker, who became the first U-S governor to survive such a challenge. In quashing the state's subpoenas, Judge Peterson said prosecutors did not show probable-cause that the targets of the John Doe had violated campaign finance laws.
A state official says Wisconsin has made significant progress in the way it supports individuals who start new businesses. Ryan Murray's comments came after a new report from the Kauffman Foundation showed that Wisconsin had one of the nation's lowest rates of entrepreneurial activity over the last decade. It said the Midwest had the lowest rates of new entrepreneurs, while the West did the best. The Kauffman Foundation also said the numbers of new firms dropped last year, as jobless rates fell. Wisconsin had 170 new businesses for every 100-thousand adults. It was among the nation's largest declines at eight-tenths of one-percent. Murray, the chief operating officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, said the report did not show what states are doing to help small start-ups. He said his agency is giving two-million dollars this year to business training and entrepreneurship programs, with tax credits for certain start-ups. He also said the U-W created a two-million dollar seed-fund, plus a center for the commercialization of technology. Tom Still of the Wisconsin Technology Council said the state's doing better at starting up high-tech firms.
The main employee union at the Oshkosh Corporation said it was blindsided by yesterday's announcement that up to 760 military vehicle jobs will be cut in June. United Auto Workers' local president Joe Priesler calls the news "gut-wrenching." He said the union worked with the company in the last year to soften the blow, as defense spending cuts have reduced the numbers of new vehicles needed by the armed services. Oshkosh vice president John Urias said the firm did what it could to delay the impact of the Pentagon spending cuts on the company's defense division. Spokesman John Daggett said employment remained strong during the recession -- and with the improved economy, those being let go should have a better chance of finding new work. Oshkosh plans job fairs to help those being laid-off, as it eliminates about 700 hourly positions, plus 60 salaried posts. The company says no major military vehicle contracts are on the horizon. Oshkosh is one of three contractors in the running to build a next-generation type of Humvee for the Army and the Marines. But even if Oshkosh wins the contract, production won't begin until 2016 at the earliest.
The world's tallest donkey and the world's tallest horse will both tower over the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison this weekend. More than 50-thousand people are expected for the 35th annual event, which runs from today through Sunday at the Alliant Energy Center. The world's tallest horse is a tad under 6-11. His name is "Big Jake," a Belgian gelding from the Smokey Hollow Farm near Poynette. The world's tallest donkey comes from Red Oak Texas. Romulus is 5-8, and his 5-6 brother Remus will also be at the Madison show.
Just hours after a devastating bat disease was confirmed in Wisconsin, we learned that it's knocking on the state's territorial door from Upper Michigan. The D-N-R in that state said yesterday that white nose syndrome was confirmed in bats located in three counties -- including Dickinson County in the U-P, which is very close to Marinette and Florence counties in far northeast Wisconsin. Officials have warned us for several years that white-nose syndrome would hit Wisconsin at any time, after it was found close to the Badger State in neighboring Iowa and Illinois. Yesterday, the Wisconsin D-N-R said the disease finally arrived. It was confirmed in bats hibernating at an old mine in Grant County in the southwest part of the state. Officials were quick to point out that white-nose syndrome does not directly affect humans. But it does have the potential to wipe out entire species of bats that protect people, by eating the bugs that damage farm crops and the infectious mosquitoes that could give you Lyme disease or the West Nile virus. It also affects tourism, as many cave visitors must wipe their shoes so they don't spread anything. White-nose syndrome has killed nearly six-million bats in the U-S and northeast Canada since it was first spotted in New York in 2006.
A man was killed in a house fire overnight in Milwaukee. Officials said it began around 10:50 last night in a rear cottage on the city's north side. Fire-fighters removed the man from the burning house and took him to a hospital -- where he died a short time later. There was no immediate word on what caused the blaze. Fire officials said the house did not have smoke detectors.
A 20-year prison term lasted just eight years for a central Wisconsin man who reached a new plea deal in the death of his daughter from shaken baby syndrome. Quentin Lewis of Athens pleaded no contest yesterday to a reduced charge of second-degree reckless homicide. The plea deal eliminated a five-week trial in Marathon County. He was also given credit for jail time he served before his conviction. It means that Lewis -- who's now 32 -- is starting ten years under extended supervision. He was originally convicted of first-degree reckless homicide in the March 2005 death of his four-month-old daughter Madelyn. Lewis was granted a new trial back in 2009, based on an appellate court ruling at the time which said that babies might not be able to die just by being shaken.
The arts-and-sciences dean at Northwestern University will become the new provost at U-W Madison. Sarah Mangelsdorf has been named to replace Paul DeLuca, who said last summer he wanted to return to the campus faculty. Mangelsdorf is also a professor of psychology and an expert in child development. Besides being the provost, she'll also be Madison's vice chancellor for academic affairs. The provost coordinates student-and-faculty life on campus, and becomes the top executive when the chancellor is away. Mangelsdorf won the job over three other finalists.