Wednesday State News Briefs: UW-Madison rally calls for repeal of Castle Doctrine lawWisconsin News
-- Opponents of Wisconsin’s “Castle Doctrine” law are highlighting the shooting deaths of two young men in Slinger and Florida as proof that the law should be repealed.
MADISON - Opponents of Wisconsin’s “Castle Doctrine” law are highlighting the shooting deaths of two young men in Slinger and Florida as proof that the law should be repealed.
Yesterday, about 150 people rallied at UW-Madison, after 20-year-old Bo Morrison was killed March third by the owner of a porch he entered to escape police who were breaking up a drinking party. About a week earlier, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed by a neighborhood watch group director in Sanford Florida. Both victims were black and unarmed, and the Florida killing – which was committed under that state’s “Stand Your Ground” law – was also mentioned at a rally for Morrison on Sunday night in West Bend. But until now, news accounts have not mentioned a racial component in the Slinger shooting. At the Madison rally, Dan Suarez of the International Socialist Organization said both deaths were quote, “lynchings.” And he said both were murdered because of the color of their skin. Washington County’s chief prosecutor refused to charge the homeowner in Morrison’s death, making it in the first in the state to be ruled as justified under the Castle Doctrine law that took effect late last year. The state Legislature has been out of session since the protests began. Unless a special session is called, lawmakers are not due back in Madison until next January, after the November elections.
The State Supreme Court was asked this morning to decide if Wisconsin’s photo ID law for voting should be re-instated in time for next Tuesday’s elections. The Justice Department had asked the appellate court in Madison to restore the ID law, after two Dane County circuit judges struck it down. But the appellate court said today it’s imperative that the state’s highest court resolve the cases quickly. Four of the seven justices must first decide whether to take the case. And if they don’t, two injunctions against the photo ID mandate will stand. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess (nees) granted a permanent injunction against the ID requirement in a lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters. Judge David Flanagan ordered the law to be held up until a mid-April in a separate lawsuit filed by black-and-Hispanic groups in Milwaukee. The Justice Department asked that both rulings be reversed in time for next week’s presidential primary and local elections. Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck praised today’s appellate court ruling, saying the Supreme Court still has time to ensure that the law will be followed next week. But League of Women Voters’ attorney Susan Crawford says it’s a complex issue, and the Supreme Court probably won’t have time to rule on it by next Tuesday. NAACP attorney Richard Saks also doubted the justices could act by next week.
A Jet-Blue Airlines pilot who ran through a cabin and ranted about the Middle East during a cross-country flight yesterday is reportedly from Wisconsin. WTMJ says Clayton Osbon is originally from Milwaukee, and has a home on Washington Island at the north end of Door County. He now lives in Georgia, and Jet-Blue confirmed his identity today. Osbon was the captain on a flight from New York to Las Vegas when he got jittery. Four co-workers moved him to the back of the plane – but he then sprinted down the aisle, warned passengers about a bomb, and told them to pray. Four men tackled the pilot and used seat-belt extenders and zip-ties to pin him to the floor. An off-duty pilot on board joined the co-pilot in landing the aircraft in Amarillo Texas – where passengers boarded another flight to Vegas. This morning, Jet-Blue president Dave Barger told NBC’s “Today” show that he’s known Osbon for years, and he’s a “consummate professional.” And Barger said there were no indications that he would be a risk on a flight. The airline called the incident a “medical situation” and said Osbon was taken to a hospital. Federal officials are investigating along with authorities in Amarillo.
It appears that people in southeast Wisconsin will keep paying a special sales tax through 2017. That’s what a financial consultant said today about the tax for building the Miller Park baseball stadium for the Milwaukee Brewers. Folks in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha, and Racine counties have paid an extra penny for every 10 dollars of purchases since 1996. The tax will expire once the bonding for the stadium has been paid off, and obligations are covered for all maintenance through 2030. The firm of Public Financial Management has estimated for the last three years that the stadium tax will expire in 2017. There was talk earlier that it might end in 2014, but the Great Recession wiped out that possibility. If economy gets worse again, and if sales tax collections fall, the ending date of the tax could be pushed to 2018 or beyond.
A 67-year-old pedestrian was killed by a truck late last night in Madison. Police said the man was struck around 11:15 p-m on East Washington Avenue, the main street on Madison’s northeast side. The victim’s name was not immediately released. An investigation continues.
A retired Madison police officer still knows how to catch a thief. The 71-year-old officer went to church on March 18th and hung his Stetson hat on a hook in the basement. When he went to get the hat after the service, it was gone. So the long-retired officer drove around the neighborhood to look for the thief – and sure enough, he saw a man wearing it. The officer and a passer-by chased the man on foot until they caught him. The suspect wanted the officer arrested for assaulting him – but the officer said he only grabbed and held the man so he wouldn’t bolt before the police arrived. The retired officer didn’t want to press charges, since he was just at church – but he thought there had to be some accountability, so the 50-year-old suspect was cited for misdemeanor theft.
It’s still windy in much of Wisconsin this morning – but it’s not as bad as yesterday, when gusts hit 59-miles-an-hour at Algoma on Lake Michigan. At six this morning, gusts ranged up to 30-miles-an-hour in Milwaukee. But things should settle down later today. The National Weather Service says an upper air disturbance is passing through northern Wisconsin – and it’s supposed to bring rain or light snow to the far north this morning. Otherwise, it will be dry all day, with cloudy skies in the north and cooler highs in the 40’s. Clear skies are expected in southern Wisconsin today with mild highs in the 60’s. The entire state’s supposed to clear up and get colder tonight. Frost is predicted in parts of the north, with lows getting down to the 20’s-and-30’s. Forecasters say it will be a bit warmer tomorrow, and rain is due in for tomorrow night and Friday. Another warming is expected during the weekend.
One of Wisconsin’s largest annual farm shows is entering its second day in Oshkosh. The WPS Farm Show runs through tomorrow on the grounds of the Experimental Aircraft Association. About 475 exhibitors are showing off the latest in agriculture. Four large hangars are filled with those displays – and there’s a lot to see outdoors as well. A children’s pedal tractor pull will take place today, and there are educational seminars at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day. The Wisconsin Public Service utility used to hold the event in Green Bay. But it moved to Oshkosh a decade ago – and organizers say the massive EAA grounds have allowed the show to grow dramatically.
A federal grant will give over 75 homeless veterans in Wisconsin new places to live. Housing authorities in West Allis and Madison are each getting $150,000, and Milwaukee’s housing agency is getting $112,000. The grants will provide housing assistance and case management services for veterans. Shaun Donovan, who heads the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, says one of every six adults in homeless shelters is a veteran. And he calls that a “national disgrace.” HUD and the U.S. Veterans’ Affairs agency have allocated $75-million to help over 10,000 homeless veterans find housing around the country.
The early spring has resulted in an early arrival of Lyme disease in Wisconsin. Marathon County has already had three confirmed cases of Lyme, which normally doesn’t make its presence felt until April or May. The disease is spread when deer ticks bite people-and-pets. Ticks feed off blood, so it’s common for them to latch onto warm bodies in the woods or even thick grass. The Marathon County Humane Society says it has seen a steady stream of tick-bitten animals arriving at its shelter in Wausau. Officials say the animals are checked thoroughly each time they go out for a walk – or when a new pet arrives at the shelter. Staffers have had to medicate the pets earlier than normal.