Thursday State News Briefs: Father drowns after rescuing daughter from lakeWisconsin News
-- A man drowned near Tomahawk yesterday, after helping his daughter to safety in Crystal Lake.
TOMAHAWK - A man drowned near Tomahawk yesterday, after helping his daughter to safety in Crystal Lake.
Authorities said the 42-year-old Merrill man was in the lake with his children, when one of them started having trouble. He swam to the daughter and helped her, and then went under himself in about 10-feet of water. A witness from Colorado dived and brought the victim to shore – and efforts to revive him failed. The incident happened early yesterday afternoon in the Lincoln County town of Bradley. The victim’s name was not immediately released.
Marquette University pollster Charles Franklin says the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race would have been one of the most fascinating in recent times, if the Walker recall effort had not consumed so much of the state’s politics. With the Republican Senate primary less than two months away, many voters say they still don’t enough about most of the candidates. And it’s why “undecided” was in second place in the latest Marquette Law School poll released yesterday. 34-percent of likely GOP voters polled last week said they favored former Governor Tommy Thompson, and 25-percent were undecided. Mark Neumann, who ran a statewide race for governor just two years ago, was third with 16-percent. And over half in the Marquette poll said they didn’t know enough about Neumann’s qualifications to join the Senate. About seven-of-every-10 people said they still don’t know enough about Eric Hovde – even though the hedge fund manager has spent a considerable amount on TV ads to try and get himself known. Six-of-every-10 are still unfamiliar with Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, while only about 15-percent still can’t judge whether Thompson’s qualified. The winner of the August 14th GOP primary will face Madison House Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November. But she’s still got some work to do in the name recognition department as well. The Marquette poll says around 45-percent still don’t know enough about her.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin is running her first TV ad of the fall campaign today. It comes a day after the release of a Marquette University Law School poll which showed her trailing Republican front-runner Tommy Thompson by eight points in a head-to-head matchup. Baldwin is in her 14th year in the U.S. House representing Madison and the surrounding counties. But she still lacks name recognition outside that area. The Marquette poll showed that 45-percent of Wisconsin’s registered voters did not know enough about her yet – and three Republican hopefuls were also lacking in name recognition due mainly to the intense focus on the recall effort against Governor Scott Walker. Baldwin’s first ad highlights one of her accomplishments in Congress – a crackdown on China’s trade practices that hurt the state’s paper-makers and other manufacturers. Baldwin will face the winner of the August 14th GOP primary. Thompson, Mark Neumann, Eric Hovde, and Jeff Fitzgerald are squaring off that contest.
ust when you thought it was safe to watch TV again, a new round of political attack ads appears to be in the works. Tommy Thompson’s U.S. Senate campaign says it expects a flurry of attack ads, after a new Marquette poll gave the former governor an 18-point lead over the nearest of his three Republican challengers. The conservative Club-for-Growth is backing former Congressman Mark Neumann, saying he’s the true conservative in the race. The group has also questioned Thompson’s conservative credentials, and it ran ads attacking the former governor last summer before he entered the Senate field. Barney Keller of the Club-for-Growth says voters have not focused on the Senate race because they’re still getting over the Walker recall effort. But once they start paying attention, he says Thompson’s support will vanish. Keller claims Thompson’s lead in the Marquette poll is due only his name recognition and quote, “Republicans already suspect that Tommy Thompson isn’t a true conservative.” Thompson, Neumann, Jeff Fitzgerald, and Eric Hovde will square off in an August 14th primary, with the winner to face Democrat Tammy Baldwin in November for the right to replace retiring Senator Herb Kohl. The Marquette University poll, released yesterday, shows Thompson with a 34-to-16 percent lead over Neumann among likely Republican voters. Hovde had 14-percent and Fitzgerald 10.
Federal investigators are helping Milwaukee authorities determine the cause of a fire that destroyed a 120-year-old business building just west of the city’s downtown. It started yesterday morning in a three-story structure owned by Jamil Sarsour of Franklin. A small grocery store was on the first floor, but the rest of the building was vacant. One fire-fighter suffered minor back injuries, and was treated at a hospital and later released. Smoke from the blaze darkened the nearby Marquette freeway interchange. And it shut down the Marcia Coggs Human Services Center across the street. The center expected to be closed until Monday while investigators pore over the wreckage of the Sarsour building. Two walls collapsed during the blaze. Ironically, Sarsour’s brother also had a fire yesterday at his home in Oak Creek. An attached garage and a couple of bedrooms were damaged. No one was hurt. The cause of that fire is also under investigation. Family friend Othman Atta said the timing appeared to be just a coincidence – and the family believes both fires were accidental.
A federal grand jury in Madison has handed down 24 fraud charges against a former insurance company president in Wausau. 62-year-old Timothy Mathwich is the third executive of Manson Insurance to be charged in a scheme that caused Wausau’s River Valley Bank to lose almost two-million dollars in 2008. The indictment said Mathwich forged insurance premium financing notes for customers who never asked for them – and the notes were then sold to the bank. Former Manson CEO David Scholfield was sentenced to five years in prison late last year for his role in the scheme. And former Manson treasurer Susan Brockman was given a six-month prison term. Both were also ordered to pay over five-million-dollars in restitution to victimized customers. An attorney for Mathwich said he had not seen the indictment as of late yesterday afternoon – but he disputes the allegations.
Wisconsinites and their bosses will share almost $10-and-a-half million in rebates from their health insurance companies. The U.S. Health-and-Human Services Department said today almost 283,000 state residents should either get refunds or lower premiums – because their insurers did not spend at least 80-percent of their premium revenues on actual care. That was a requirement under the Democrats’ health care reform act passed a couple years ago. For larger group plans, insurers must spend at least 85-percent of premiums on either direct care or quality improvement projects. The average rebate in Wisconsin is $76 per person, to be given to companies that insure employees, as well as individuals that buy their own coverage. Wisconsin’s rebate is smaller than the national average of $151. The number of state residents getting rebates – plus the total statewide amount – are both less than what was estimated in April by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
A south-central Wisconsin man will try again to strike down a conviction for burning down his tavern in 2006. Joseph Awe, who turns 42 tomorrow, is serving a three-year prison term for starting a fire at J.J.’s Pub in Harrisville. In his latest appeal, Awe claims that investigators used faulty logic and misread clues when they concluded that he set the blaze. He said his lawyer failed to call witnesses who would have proven that Awe was at his home in friendship when the blaze began. Also, he’s presenting a report from an investigator in Florida who said the fire probably started in an electrical circuit box. The 130-year-old building reportedly had a history of electrical problems.
The federal government is giving almost two-and-a-quarter million to two of Wisconsin community’s health centers, plus a third clinic that’s about to open. The funding will help serve patients on Medicaid, and those without insurance. The Sheboygan Area Community Clinics will get $650,000 to help open their doors. The Northeast Wisconsin Community Clinic in Green Bay is getting just over $900,000. And Marshfield’s Family Health Center is receiving 650-thousand dollars. The funding comes from the Democratic health care reform act – which budgeted $11-billion to expand community clinics throughout the country. Wisconsin’s community clinics served over 270-thousand patients from 87 locations last year. That represents about one-of-every-20 state residents.
A northeast Wisconsin boy will be sentenced August 21st for starting a fire that caused two-million-dollars in damage to a Catholic grade school. Vincent Enneper of Oconto Falls turns 17 today. A judge accepted a plea deal yesterday in which Enneper pleaded no contest to arson – and charges of burglary and a previous attempted arson were dropped. The fire heavily damaged Saint Anthony School in Oconto Falls on February 21st. Enneper told investigators he entered the building to look around – but he started fires because he was bored, and one of them got out of control. Almost 50 students were moved to another church for the rest of the school year, and other temporary locations will be ready for the fall. The teen’s attorney, Bradley Schraven, said he hoped the sentencing would focus on the boy’s rehabilitation. He was originally charged, but his case was waived into adult court. The attempted arson charge was the result of a minor fire in 2006 at Saint Anthony Church.
The state Transportation Department plans to give two-percent pay raises to its longest-running outside consultants – and two senators from both parties criticize the idea. Stevens Point Democrat Julie Lassa said it already costs more to use outside engineers than it does for state employees. Now, she says consultants are being rewarded, while state employees have taken a pay cut by having to put more toward their health insurance and retirements. And Lassa said the private engineers should be treated the same as the state workers. The DOT’s Don Miller says the raises would only go to engineers working on more complicated projects lasting a year or more – and most design projects run less than a year. The agency also said some of the state workers are about to get merit pay hikes, although the state Employment Relations Department has not approved the concept yet. Lassa calls that a quote, “pretty small fig leaf.” Meanwhile, Senate Republican Rob Cowles of Green Bay said the pay plan should be delayed until long-term concerns are addressed about the future of the state’s transportation fund. Cowles also said it’s inappropriate to give more to the consultants until the merit pay system for state workers goes into effect.
Racine County officials expect a recount in state Senator Van Wanggaard’s recall election to run until July second, the deadline set by the Government Accountability Board. About 50 people were on hand when the recount began yesterday. As of late afternoon, Wanggaard gained two votes and Democrat John Lehman lost one – but Lehman still led by 831 votes with about 72,000 cast. Wanggaard and other Republicans have made accusations of heavy voter fraud. And if they’re right, they could keep their previous majority in the Senate at least until the November elections. Otherwise, control goes to the Democrats. The Democrats say they have confidence in the election process, and Wanggaard should have conceded on the June 5th election night. The Government Accountability Board says it will have daily updates of the recount on its Web site by noon. You’ll find them at GAB.wi.gov.
A Milwaukee group is getting a half-million federal dollars to help homeless veterans get back into the workforce. The Center for Veterans Issues is getting 300-thousand dollars to help Milwaukee veterans – plus 200,000 to serve homeless vets in six neighboring counties. The funding will help them get training, both in classrooms and on-the-job. And it will provide resources to help homeless veterans find employment. The U.S. Labor Department issued the grants. They’re among 64 similar grants around the country, totaling $15-million dollars.