Thursday State News Briefs: Falk still confident of primary victoryWisconsin News
-- Democrat Kathleen Falk says she’s counting on unions and other groups to turn out in droves to vote for her in the May 8 recall primary for governor. And she also expects a strong vote from women.
MADISON - Democrat Kathleen Falk says she’s counting on unions and other groups to turn out in droves to vote for her in the May 8 recall primary for governor. And she also expects a strong vote from women.
Falk brought those groups together for a news conference at the State Capitol this morning. It was an effort to boost her support, after polls showed that Tom Barrett has a sizable lead as the primary winner who would face Republican Scott Walker in June. Dan Burkhalter, president of the state’s largest teachers’ union, said his members are being encouraged to vote for Falk. And leaders of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees vowed to do the same – along with people from the Sierra Club and Emily’s List. Burkhalter said the groups represent hundreds-of-thousands of people, and they’ll have a quote, “good election day contact.” Barrett spokesman Phil Walzak said his candidate also has a solid statewide coalition. Falk today refused opportunities to challenge Barrett by name, saying she’d run a “positive campaign.” Yesterday, former Congressman David Obey said Democrats couldn’t afford to attack each other, or else they’d lose to Walker. The state Democratic Party says it will hold a unity rally at the State Capitol on the day after the primary, to zero in on its goal of defeating Walker.
With 12 days to go, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is emerging as the front-runner in the Democratic primary for the governor’s recall election. Charles Franklin, who runs the Marquette University Law School poll, says it might be premature to declare Barrett the winner at this point. But as Franklin puts it, “The behavior we’re seeing from the candidates certainly supports the notion that Barrett is the front-runner at this point.” Governor Scott Walker and other Republicans have focused their attacks on Barrett. And Falk criticized Barrett publicly for the first time this week, prompting former Congressman Dave Obey to say that the Democratic candidates would engage in a “suicide pact” if they started attacking each other. A recent survey by the Public Policy Polling firm gave Barrett a 14-point lead over Kathleen Falk – who was the first to enter the race, and was given three-million-dollars in support from unions. Today, Falk plans to hold a State Capitol news conference today to discuss the campaign. Falk spokesman Scot Ross says her campaign’s own polling shows that she’s eight points behind Barrett. And Franklin expects to release another Marquette University Law School poll before the May 8 primary. Secretary-of-State Douglas La Follette and Alma state Senator Kathleen Vinehout are also running for the right to face the Republican Walker in the June 5 recall final.
Waupaca County has agreed to settle federal allegations that a sheriff’s deputy was not promoted because she’s a woman. The U.S. Justice Department today announced details of a consent decree which ends the case. Washington filed a complaint last year that accused Waupaca County of promoting a male patrol officer to a detective sergeant’s post, even though Julie Thobaben was more qualified. The county said the promotion would have violated its anti-nepotism policy, because Thobaben would have supervised her husband – who’s a patrol officer. The consent decree requires the county to promote Thobaben to the sergeant’s post within three years, and give her $142,000 for back pay, attorney fees, and damages. The Justice Department also told the county to review its anti-nepotism and equal employment policies.
Wisconsin’s two U.S. senators voted different ways yesterday, when the Senate approved a bill to overhaul the cash-strapped Postal Service. Democrat Herb Kohl of Milwaukee supported the measure, while Republican Ron Johnson of Oshkosh voted no. The bill needed 60 votes to pass, and it was okayed 62-37. It would reduce the number of processing centers to be closed from 252 down to 125. And it would pump billions into the Postal Service to refund overpayments made to a federal fund to pay down debt and cover buy-outs for employees. The Postal Service plans to close over 40 Wisconsin post offices, plus five processing centers in La Crosse, Eau Claire, Wausau, Portage, and Kenosha. The bill does not indicate which Wisconsin facilities could be spared. The reform package now goes to the House, where majority Republican leaders say they’ll oppose it. House Government Reform chairman Darrell Issa says he’ll seek his own reform package that preserves cuts and goes away from his calls a “33-billion-dollar taxpayer-funded bailout.”
A man shot-to-death in Milwaukee has been identified as 21-year-old Luis Perez. Police said he was shot after a fight on Tuesday evening in a south side Milwaukee neighborhood. Police did not say anything about possible suspects.
Washington County sheriff’s officials have released an unedited version of a 911 call made by a Slinger woman right after husband shot-and-killed an intruder. And Adam Kind could not be heard making racial slurs, which the victim’s family had suspected after deputies released an edited version of the tape with words bleeped out. Kind shot 20-year-old Bo Morrison early on March third, after the youngster fled from a drinking party next door and hid in Kind’s enclosed porch. District Attorney Mark Bensen said the shooting was justified under Wisconsin’s new Castle Doctrine law, which presumes that deadly force is justified against unlawful intruders. The victim’s family is pursuing a civil suit, and it criticized the sheriff’s department’s earlier refusal to release the unedited 911 call. Officials said it had names that were not made public in the district attorney’s report – and they originally feared that Kind’s family could be in danger if the unedited tape got out. But the Morrison family’s attorney was planning to seek the full version, plus other documents. And hip-hop record company owner Russell Simmons had offered to sue Washington County to get the full tape.
A 17-year-old Milwaukee boy is due back in court next Wednesday, after being charged with the brutal murder of a 15-year-old girl. A one-million-dollar bond has been set for Eduardo Ivanez, who’s charged with homicide and hiding a corpse in the death of Stephanie Romero on April 13th. According to authorities, the two went to a nearby vacant house where they had sex – and when three friends arrived, they noticed that the girl was bleeding. Police said one of the friends asked what was happening, and Ivanez then stomped on Romero’s face and started choking her. She was then carried to a bathroom, and her personal items were stolen – including a knife that was thrown away. Police said Ivanez then tried having sex with Romero’s body before hiding her in a crawl space of the vacant house two days later. The medical examiner’s office said Romero died from strangulation, and she had blunt-force injuries. At his next court appearance, a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to put Ivanez on trial. None of his friends have been charged in the case.
Racine has been given a rare national honor for promoting wellness. Several hundred people celebrated yesterday, as Racine was designed a “Well City USA.” The Wellness Council of America gives the designation to communities where employers that represent 20-percent of a city’s population promote employee wellness. In Racine’s case, the figure is 26-percent – or about 16-thousand employees. A project group from the Leadership Racine program sought the designation starting in 2008. And it’s pretty rare. Last year, only 83 U.S. companies were declared as “Well Workplaces.” Twenty-five were in Wisconsin, and 10 of those were in Racine.
An Army veteran pleaded guilty yesterday after he busted through a ceiling at his estranged wife’s apartment and was wounded by police in Middleton. 23-year-old Brandon Johnson of Fitchburg was convicted of false imprisonment, armed burglary, intimidating a witness, and two counts of reckless endangerment. A plea deal was made, but prosecutors did not indicate what type of sentence they would seek. Authorities said Allen was carrying a sawed-off shotgun when he broke into his estranged wife’s apartment last October. When police arrived, Johnson opened the door and raised his gun to an officer, who shot him three times. Johnson suffered head-and-hip injuries in the incident. He had been ordered not to have contact with his wife, due to two previous incidents involving the couple.
Fort McCoy near Sparta will open its base to the public on May 19th. That’s when the annual Armed Forces Day Open House will be held. Folks can take part in a host of activities that include bus tours, an interactive shooting gallery, military equipment, and displays about Fort McCoy’s environmental programs. The fort’s History Center will also be open that day. It features displays, photos, and memorabilia.
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson tried but failed yesterday to get her Wisconsin Supreme Court colleagues to take a second vote on closing most of its administrative meetings. In January, the four conservative justices on the seven-member court voted to end a 13-year-old practice of holding public meetings to discuss issues like policy changes in Wisconsin courtrooms. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley said nothing good comes from secrecy in governmental affairs. And Abrahamson wanted to put forth a dissent to that effect. But the four conservative justices boycotted the session in which Abrahamson called for a final vote on the matter. Roggensack said the closed conferences had already been approved – and Michael Gableman, David Prosser, and Annette Ziegler joined her in the boycott. The seven justices did get together later in the day to discuss the Supreme Court’s rules – one of the few things they’ll continue to meet about in public. Roggensack proposed the change. She said closing the conferences would put less of a public emphasis on the court’s long-time personal and philosophical disputes – and the justices could get their decisions out more quickly.
A ticket sold in Pennsylvania won last night’s Powerball jackpot of almost $173-million . And a Wisconsin player won the second prize of one-million-dollars. That ticket was sold in the Milwaukee suburb of New Berlin, and it matched all five regular numbers but not the Powerball. Just over 14-thousand players in the Badger State won something. Last night’s numbers were 4, 25, 29, 34, and 43. The Powerball was 29. The jackpot was the largest since February 11th. It goes back to $40-million for the next drawing on Saturday night. In Mega Millions, the top prize is $88-million for tomorrow night.