Thursday State News Briefs: Romney plans several weekend campaign stops in stateWisconsin News
-- Mitt Romney plans to make several campaign stops in Wisconsin tomorrow and Saturday in advance of the state’s presidential primary in five days.
Mitt Romney plans to make several campaign stops in Wisconsin tomorrow and Saturday in advance of the state’s presidential primary in five days.
The Republican front-runner plans to make a speech tomorrow afternoon at Lawrence University in Appleton. Tomorrow night, he’ll be at Milwaukee’s American Serb Memorial Hall. On Saturday, Romney will join other GOP hopefuls at an event in Waukesha put on by the Wisconsin Faith-and-Freedom Coalition. The former Massachusetts governor then plans a mid-day town hall meeting in Muskego on Saturday, and will then join volunteers at a phone bank in Fitchburg. Finally, Romney plans to return to Waukesha Saturday night to speak at a Lincoln Day Dinner put on by the Waukesha County Republican Party. So far this week, Romney has used the phone and the airwaves to connect with voters in Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary. He held a telephone town hall meeting yesterday, and has done interviews with radio talk show hosts.
Milwaukee’s Catholic Archbishop will preside at a Mass-of-Atonement tonight in West Bend. Jerome Listecki will atone for the church’s sins in the numerous cases on sex abuse by priests. But a group that represents abuse victims says Listecki should go a step further, and agree to release sealed documents and depositions which spell out the extent of the abuse over the past 50 years. The Survivors Network said its members and supporters would gather outside Saint Francis Cabrini Catholic Church in West Bend, where Listecki’s atonement Mass is due to begin at seven tonight. The judge in the church’s bankruptcy will consider a request next Thursday to unseal depositions made by retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland, retired Bishop Richard Sklba, and defrocked priest Daniel Budzynski. Victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson says the release of the documents would shed light on the extent of the church abuse scandal in the Milwaukee area. The archdiocese is objecting, and says the documents should remain secret. Judge Kelley has issued a protective order protecting the identities of abuse victims – as well as previous priest offenders who were never identified.
Wisconsin’s risk of wildfires keeps getting higher, despite cooler and damper weather this week. The DNR says the fire danger is high today in all of the Badger State except for the four northern-most counties. The wildfire risk is moderate in Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, and Iron counties. In many other places, burning is only allowed from 6-to-midnight tonight for small debris piles, covered barrels, and grass lands of at least an acre. Fires on larger grass lots need permits – and in some places, residents must check with local authorities to find out the proper rules. The National Weather Service says cooler temperatures will prevail this afternoon with highs in the 40’s-and-50’s. Rain is expected in western Wisconsin this evening, and forecasters say it will spread statewide overnight with possible snow in the north after midnight. The rain and snow will linger in the eastern half of the state tomorrow morning. Then, you can expect a dry weekend with warming temperatures. Far southwest Wisconsin could see 80-degrees again by Sunday.
Wisconsinites are dreaming about how they’d spend tomorrow night’s Mega Millions’ jackpot. The top prize is a world record half-billion dollars. That’s for a single winner who chooses to take it in 26 annual installments. Those who choose the cash option would win $359-million now. But remember, the government gets about a third of that. So you’re probably looking at 12-million dollars a year for 26 years – or taking about $240-million home now. The odds of winning it are 175-million to one. But in case lightning strikes, experts urge you to be ready – or else it may not be too long before you blow it all. Don McNay, who wrote “Son of a Son of a Gambler,” says nine-of-every-10 lottery jackpot winners spend it all in five years or less – because nobody wants to put the brakes on them. Oklahoma attorney Richard Craig, who has helped a number of lottery winners, tells the AP your first call should be to an attorney or financial planner – and not to a buddy who would blab it around. That’s the quickest way to get drowned by calls from long lost friends, charities, and identity thieves. Wisconsin gives you 180 days to claim your prize – and experts urge you to get your affairs in order first. Some states allow you to remain secret, but Wisconsin’s Open Records Law does not allow it. Your name and hometown will be announced, but you won’t have to take part in a news conference if you don’t want to. Tomorrow night’s Mega Millions drawing is at 10 o’clock. Ticket sales are cut off at nine. There are smaller prizes, and there’s a 1-in-40 chance of winning something.
A state appeals court says two Wisconsin men are not entitled to one-and-a-quarter billion dollars, after they claimed that Pepsi stole their idea for bottled water. Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jacqueline Erwin originally ruled that James Voigt of Cleveland and Charles Joyce of Juneau were entitled to the money, because Pepsi never responded to their lawsuit. But Erwin reversed herself after accepting the company’s argument that a secretary made a mistake in not sending its response. Erwin eventually threw out lawsuits against three other defendants, saying the suits were either filed too late or were in the wrong jurisdiction. And the Fourth District Appellate Court in Madison agreed with that ruling today. It said the lawsuit came way beyond the statute-of-limitations. Joyce and Voigt claimed that Pepsi mishandled a trade secret the men gave to their local Pepsi bottler in 1981, and used it 13 years later to market Aquafina bottled water. The lawsuit wasn’t filed until 2009, fifteen years after Aquafina was introduced. According to the appeals court, Joyce said he first tasted Aquafina in 2007 – and it tasted just like Ultra-Pure that he and Voight created in the early ‘80s, with the same ingredients.
The federal government said Auto Zone illegally fired a manager at one of its auto parts stores near Milwaukee, because she had a disability. The U-S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said a female manager in Cudahy injured a shoulder in 2007. She was cleared to return to work two years later with a lifting restriction – and the government said Auto Zone did not provide reasonable accommodations for her injury and fired her. The company has not commented. The lawsuit seeks back pay, plus compensatory-and-punitive damages.
A Sheboygan County judge has sentenced a man to 12 years in prison for providing the heroin that killed a woman from Plymouth. 26-year-old Joseph Lengling is also from Plymouth. He was ordered to pay 17-thousand-dollars in restitution to the family of the victim, 21-year-old Tabitha Thede. A jury convicted Lengling of first-degree reckless homicide in Thede’s death last May. He said he wants to turn his life around, and be a better father for his three-year-old boy. Lengling must also spend eight years under extended supervision when he leaves prison.
A dead body found in Fitchburg this week is that of a man who was missing for a month-and-a-half. 61-year-old Harvey Sackett of Fitchburg vanished on February 13th, and his wife reported him missing nine days later. His body was found Tuesday under some trees in the back yard of another house. An autopsy was performed yesterday, and it showed that Sackett died from natural causes.
Most local government unions that held re-certification votes this month decided to stay in business. The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission said yesterday that 92 of 116 unions had the required 51-percent support of its total memberships. And they’ll continue to be officially recognized for another year. They’ll only be allowed to negotiate for pay raises at-or-below inflation, under last year’s state law which limited collective bargaining. Twenty-four unions did not get 51-percent of its members to vote yes, but seven came very close. And two of them are contesting one ballot each, which could put them over the top if their appeals are successful. The voting took place between March eighth and yesterday.
The U.S. Geological Survey has asked folks in Clintonville to report any future booms-and-rumblings to the group’s Web site. Heidi Koontz says it will give seismologists and geo-physicists a better handle on what’s happening. The Web site’s address is Earthquake.USGS.gov. The Geological Survey said yesterday it’s thinking about placing a seismometer in Clintonville, after the rumblings came back late Tuesday night. Sixty-five people called police, after the booms had stopped for almost six days. Before that, hundreds of people complained about loud thunder and shakes for four straight nights. Officials blamed it on a series of small earthquakes, including a one-point-five quake early last Tuesday. Clintonville administrator Lisa Kuss says she still wants people who hear and feel things to call police at its non-emergency number.
New federal charges were filed yesterday against a Marshfield man accused of plotting to kill a Planned Parenthood abortion doctor in Madison last year. A grand jury indicted 64-year-old Ralph Lang on two counts – attempting to kill those in a program that gets federal assistance, and using a firearm for a crime of violence. He faces a life prison term plus 10 years if he’s convicted. Lang was given a mental competency exam while awaiting the grand jury’s action. Police said Lang accidentally fired his gun through the door of a Madison motel room last May 25th – and he told officers he was planning to shoot an abortion doctor and maybe some nurses the next day at the nearby Planned Parenthood clinic. Had he pulled it off, prosecutors said Lang had planned to go to Milwaukee to do the same thing. Besides the federal charges, Lang is also charged in state court with attempted first-degree intentional homicide. That case has been on hold in Dane County since last summer, pending Lang’s federally-ordered competency exam. No new court dates have been announced in either case.
A federal appeals court has re-instated a civil rights lawsuit from a prisoner who said Milwaukee County jailers refused to feed him anything else but a meal that made him sick. And the appellate judges scolded Sheriff David Clarke for ignoring orders from a lower court to hand over the recipe. 29-year-old Terrance Prude is serving a 100-year sentence at Waupun for armed robbery. And as part of his ongoing appeals, he spent two stints in a segregation unit at the Milwaukee County Jail in 2009. Those inmates are fed “nutri-loaf,” a standard meal for discipline units in jails around the country. And Prude said it made him so sick, he lost 14 pounds in 19 days. He argued that he did nothing wrong in the Milwaukee jail, so he deserved something else beside nutri-loaf – and he never got it in spite of his illnesses. A sheriff’s captain responded that the loaf has been deemed nutritious, and a district judge dropped the prisoner’s lawsuit. But Appellate Judge Richard Posner said Sheriff Clarke ignored the lower court’s order to describe what’s in the meal. And Posner said Clarke could be sanctioned unless he tells the court within 14 days why he shouldn’t be. The county says it’s complying with Posner’s order – and a sheriff’s spokeswoman has said that Clarke has eaten the nutri-loaf himself. Common ingredients for nutri-loaf include carrots, beans, tomato paste, and a binding food like potato flakes. Some recipes do not include meat.
Two companies have agreed to pay a $280,000 civil fine, and spend a half-million-dollars to solve air pollution problems at a plant in Beloit. The federal EPA and the U.S. Justice Department announced the penalties yesterday against Coltec Industries and National Steel-and-Shipbuilding. Coltec was accused of violating the Clean Air Act by making 32 marine diesel engines in Beloit and not having them certified for meeting EPA standards. National Steel allegedly broke the same law by installing the engines they built and sold to the Navy. Under the agreement, the engines will have special labels – and they’ll be treated as if they had been certified. And Coltec’s Beloit plant will get new air pollution controls aimed at cutting nitrogen oxide emissions by 85-percent.