WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Wisconsin's milk production has dropped for the fifth month in a row
Wisconsin milk production has dropped for the fifth month in a row, compared to the year before. The U-S-D-A said the Badger State churned out two-point-four billion pounds of milk in March, down one-point-six percent from the same month of 2013. Nationally, the total milk output was almost 18 billion pounds, nine-tenths of a percent more than the year before. California, the nation's top milk producer, increased its output by three-point-seven percent last month, to around three-point-eight billion pounds. Experts have cited the brutally-cold winter as the reason for the drop in Wisconsin's milk production -- as evidenced by declines in the output per cow. In February, each cow in the Badger State made an average of 35 pounds less than the year before. No such comparison is available for March, because the U-S-D-A did not tally the figures a year ago due to the federal sequester budget cuts at the time.
It took at least four months for the State Justice Department to start checking out 43 tips about child pornography -- and some of those cases were never investigated. That's according to a Justice Department letter obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It was the result of an internal review which led to the firings of Milwaukee agents Willie Brantley and Anna King just over a month ago. Until now, we were told three child porn investigations had been delayed -- and Attorney General J-B Van Hollen had said it was impossible to know how many other cases were affected. The Journal Sentinel said a termination letter to Brantley indicated that the 43 delayed cases were funneled from Madison to his Milwaukee office from 2011 through last year. It also said there were examples of other agents holding cases from 60-to-89 days. Brantley filed the letter with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, as part of an appeal to try and win his job back. The letter did not indicate the outcomes of the other cases in question. Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck said those cases are related to a quote, "pending employment action" -- and the agency will respond at the proper time.
Former state Assembly Republican Roger Roth says he wants to return to the Capitol. He announced yesterday that he'll run for the seat to be vacated by G-O-P Senate President Mike Ellis of Neenah. Roth served in the Assembly for four years before leaving at the end of 2010. He's the first Republican to announce his bid for a seat which Ellis plans to leave after 44 years in the Legislature. The only Democrat in the race is Representative Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton.
A bill to require outside agencies to investigate police shootings in Wisconsin could be signed into law as early as tomorrow. The bill's chief sponsor, Assembly Republican Garey Bies (byes) of Sister Bay, tells the Green Bay Press-Gazette that the governor will approve the measure tomorrow in Madison. Scott Walker has indicated that he'll sign the bill, but his office could not confirm the date. Most police forces already use outside agencies to investigate deaths involving their officers. But the state's largest departments -- including Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay -- investigate their own to varying degrees. Bies and Assembly Democrat Chris Taylor of Madison pushed for outside investigations after three high-profile deaths in which internal affairs' officers failed to recommend criminal charges against their co-workers. Some police officials have said there are too many unanswered questions on how effective outside probes would be in the larger agencies. Jim Palmer, who heads the state's largest police union, agrees it would increase the public's trust that investigations of officers are impartial.
Harley-Davidson reports a 22-percent increase in its quarterly earnings. The Milwaukee-based motorcycle company credits sales increases in Europe and the Asian Pacific, strong sales of its new Project Rushmore touring bikes, and more efficient factory operations. Harley reports a net income of almost 266-million dollars from January through March. That's up from 224-million during the first quarter of 2013. Earnings jumped from 99-cents a share last year to 1.21-per-share in the same quarter of this year. Harley-Davidson -- with Wisconsin plants in Metro Milwaukee and Tomahawk -- shipped almost 81-thousand motorcycles to dealers and distributors int he first quarter. That's seven-point-three more than a year ago.
Governor Scott Walker says a Democratic primary for his seat is a good thing. Assembly Democrat Brett Hulsey of Madison said yesterday he would challenge former Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke in the August primary. At a small business dinner in Wausau last night, the Republican Walker said it's good that more people want to take part in the process. And no matter who wins the primary, Walker said voters will choose between his policies and those of former Governor Jim Doyle, which Walker said "failed the state." The Walker camp also stands to benefit financially from a Democratic primary -- which some party leaders were hoping to avoid, so their eventual nominee would not have to eat up campaign funds before taking on Walker's well-funded war-chest. Hulsey told Madison's W-I-B-A Radio that Democrats don't need quote, "some spoiled rich kid," referring to Burke. Hulsey also unveiled a jobs plan which he said was "backed up by U-W economics professors." Madison political science professor Ken Mayer told W-K-O-W T-V that Hulsey does not pose a serious challenge. He said Hulsey lacks name recognition around the state. Mayer also noted Hulsey's erratic behavior, including the day he brought a box-cutter to the Capitol to teach self-defense to a staffer. Mayer also said Hulsey is so far to the left that it could actually help Burke's campaign. The Burke camp said it remains focused on defeating Walker.
U-W Madison continues to see more cases of the mumps. The university has confirmed seven cases of the contagious viral disease in the last few weeks. They all had at least two doses of the recommended M-M-R mumps' vaccine as children. And officials say one-or-two students are visiting campus health clinics each day with possible symptoms -- many of whom were found to have something else. Also, U-W La Crosse reports one confirmed case of the mumps and two suspected cases. Fourteen mumps cases were reported statewide as of last Friday. That's the most since 2007, when there were 54 confirmed and probable cases. State health services' official Dan Hopfensperger says college students are more vulnerable to the mumps than others, because they live and study so close to each other. Most people are protected for life after they get their childhood vaccines -- but the immunity diminishes in some people. The disease is known to cause painful swelling of glands in jaws and cheeks.
It may feel like spring to you -- but it's still winter in the depths of Wisconsin farm fields. The National Ag Statistics Service said farmers could only complete three-percent of their spring field tillage as of Sunday. Two-percent of the state's oat crop was planted, way below the average of 35-percent on this date in the past five years. Some potatoes were planted in Portage County. A number of counties still report frost in the ground. One county reporter said it looks more like mid-March than mid-April. In southern Wisconsin, alfalfa and winter wheat crops are greening up in Dane and Waukesha counties -- but it's still too early to tell what type of damage there might be from the harsh winter.
A man was hospitalized yesterday after he collapsed in a large fuel storage tank in Green Bay. Fire-fighters were called just after 11 a-m to the U-S Oil Company's tank farm. Rescuers said they were challenged by a floating floor inside the tank, which moves up and down to prevent explosive gas vapors from building up. The man was put in a rescue basket, and was then brought up to the roof of the fuel tank. A ladder truck brought him to the ground, an ambulance then took him to a hospital. His condition was not disclosed at last word.