Morning State News Briefs: Hearings on new mining bill begin today at State CapitolWisconsin News
-- The pros-and-cons of mining in Wisconsin will be explained at three public hearings which begin today at the State Capitol. A Senate mining panel chaired by Janesville Democrat Tim Cullen will hear from the state DNR, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Wisconsin Geological Survey.
MADISON - The pros-and-cons of mining in Wisconsin will be explained at three public hearings which begin today at the State Capitol. A Senate mining panel chaired by Janesville Democrat Tim Cullen will hear from the state DNR, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Wisconsin Geological Survey.
The panel will hear other views on Thursday and September 25th on both the business and environmental effects of mining. Cullen believes there’s room for compromise, amid reports that both Republicans and Democrats are working on their own bills. Last spring, senators failed to approve a measure that would have eased environmental laws, so Gogebic Taconite could build a large iron ore mine near Hurley that may have created 700 jobs. The debate centered on jobs-versus-the-environment – and Cullen said there could have been a more productive session had it not been for the recall elections, and pressure to pass what Gogebic Taconite wanted. The company withdrew its project when the bill didn’t pass.
Wisconsin’s attorney general says he’ll ask a Madison judge today to delay his decision to reinstate public union bargaining rights, until the ruling can be fully appealed. Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas threw out the one-year-old collective bargaining limits for local government and public school unions. But the law remains in place for state government and UW employees. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says there could be “chaos” if the union law does not remain in place while he appeals the judge’s order. Van Hollen said local unions would try to negotiate new contracts while the law is not in effect for them. And indeed, Madison Teachers Incorporated said it would ask school officials today to begin talks on their next contract now, instead of waiting until next February as usual. The Madison teachers were among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that Colas ruled on. Van Hollen calls the ruling quote, “woefully, legally deficient,” and he predicted he would win an appeal. But the attorney general would not criticize the judge himself, as Republican Governor Scott Walker did last Friday when he called Colas a quote, “liberal, activist judge.” Former Governor Jim Doyle appointed Colas to the bench, after he served as a public defender and a state Justice Department prosecutor.
The Madison teachers’ union expects to ask its School Board today for full-fledged contract talks, after the union at least temporarily won a lawsuit last Friday. John Matthews says negotiations for the next two-year contract would not normally begin until February – but in light of the court case, he wants those talks to begin now. Rachel Strauch-Nelson of the Madison School District did not immediately comment. A Dane County judge ruled last Friday that the year-old law which limits public employee bargaining violates both the state-and-federal constitutions. The state said it would seek to overturn the decision, and put the law back into place while an appeal is being considered.
Wisconsin school superintendents are confused about what to do, after Friday’s court ruling which struck down the union bargaining limits for school-and-local government unions. The law limited bargaining to pay raises at-or-below inflation, and it called for all public employees to pay more toward their health insurance and pensions. Miles Turner of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators says it’s quote, “very unclear” what the court decision means. And while superintendents throughout Wisconsin have lots of questions, Turner says he does not know all the answers yet. It just so happens that the group’s annual meeting is on Friday. Turner said he’s putting together a panel discussion for the gathering – and about 300 superintendents are expected to show up. Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas issued the ruling on Friday. The state says it will appeal the decision – and to try and keep the one-year-old bargaining law in place while the cases is fully reviewed by the appellate courts.
A Milwaukee woman will represent Wisconsin in next year’s Miss USA pageant. 24-year-old Chrissy Zamora was named Miss Wisconsin-USA at a state pageant over the weekend in Fond du Lac. She beat out 30 other contestants for the title. Zamora graduated from the University of Minnesota in business and retail management. She replaces Emily Guerin of Monroe, who was this year’s Miss Wisconsin-USA. Also, Sheboygan Lutheran High School junior Katherine Redekar was crowned as the 2013 Miss Wisconsin Teen-USA.
Ann Romney will campaign in Milwaukee this week for her husband Mitt. She’ll speak at a Republican rally late Thursday morning at Marquette University. The visit comes just two days before President Obama is due to hold a large fundraiser at the Milwaukee Theater on Saturday. The latest independent polls generally show Romney and the Democrat Obama in a statistical dead heat. Republicans are trying to win the Wisconsin presidential vote for the first time since 1984.
There’s a report that U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson was a board member of several health-related companies that got in trouble for various reasons. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reviewed court filings, government reports, and media accounts of companies for which the Republican Thompson served. Paul Hodgson of GMI Ratings said his company gave failing marks to three of the six larger public firms for which Thompson is a board member. Thompson also serves on about two dozen other boards, but GMI said they were too small to review. Lisa Boothe of Thompson’s Senate campaign said the candidate was not involved in the daily operations of any of the firms – and instead, his role was to provide a strategic vision. Thompson shared his expertise with health-related firms after he was George W. Bush’s Health-and-Human Services secretary. According to the Journal Sentinel, the most controversial firm in which Thompson was involved was the medical device maker C.R. Bard of New Jersey. It booked a 51-million-dollar charge in January to resolve a federal investigation into one of its divisions. Last year, Bard paid 184-million dollars to settle 26-hundred lawsuits involving problems with a hernia patch. Republican campaign strategist Mark Graul says corporate problems are not expected to hurt Thompson at the polls in November. Democrat Tammy Baldwin’s camp has not commented.
Witnesses say a woman who was a part of last Friday’s protest at the state Capitol suffered a medical emergency after she was handcuffed by police. The Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative identifies the victim as Dawn Henke of Wausau. She had just given a short speech during a spontaneous demonstration by about a dozen people in the Capitol rotunda. Onlookers say she was targeted by police as a ringleader of the protest. Ted Voth Junior was arrested for interfering during the incident. He says she was leaving for an appointment at the VA Hospital when police confronted her. The protestors said Henke was a disabled veteran who has a heart condition. A video shot at the incident shows Henke apparently about to pass out. She was able to direct police to give her nitroglycerine tablets for her heart condition, she was taken to a hospital and has reportedly recovered from the medical episode at the Capitol.
A Madison man is free on bond, after he was accused of killing a man in a drunk driving crash near Sun Prairie. 42-year-old Lawren Prisk appeared in Dane County Circuit Court yesterday on four felony charges that include death-and-injury by intoxicated driving. Prosecutors said he was on County Trunk “N” last month when his vehicle rear-ended a car. A passenger in the lead car, 20-year-old Conor Dunleavy, was killed – and the driver survived with a skull fracture, a broken shoulder blade, and seven fractured vertebrae. Prisk waived a time limit for a preliminary hearing, and the status of his case will reviewed on October 15th. For now, he’s free after posting a 10-thousand dollar bond.
A man wanted for the murder of a Janesville woman has been arrested in Memphis, Tennessee. 22-year-old Kody Walsh of Rockford, Illinois was picked up yesterday. He was wanted for allegedly shooting 36-year-old Lori Daniels to death while the two were riding in his SUV last Sunday on Interstate-39, south of the Wisconsin-Illinois line. Walsh was being chased by officers when he crashed his car in Rockford and ran off. Tennessee authorities said an officer tried to stop Walsh for a traffic violation, but he wouldn’t pull over – and a sheriff’s deputy chased Walsh vehicle in Shelby County. Officials said Walsh struck a vehicle before driving into Memphis, where his car hit a utility pole. He apparently tried to run away, but couldn’t. Walsh faces several possible charges in Tennessee. They include eluding police, hit-and-run, and illegally possessing weapons.
Attorneys will make their opening arguments this morning in the trial of a Milwaukee woman accused of killing a pregnant mother and ripping out her full-term fetus. Twelve jurors and two alternates were selected from a group of 50 candidates yesterday. They’ll decide the case of 34-year-old Annette Morales-Rodriguez, who’s charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. She told authorities she could not conceive on her own – and she was desperate to give her boyfriend a child, so she killed a pregnant mother in the hopes of saving and keeping the victim’s unborn son. But the child died as well. Maritza Ramirez-Cruz was killed in the incident, which occurred last October in Milwaukee. The trial is scheduled to run through Friday.
A 64-year-old man has pleaded guilty to helping steal almost four-million-dollars by staging robberies of armored cars he was driving in Milwaukee and Portland Oregon. Archie Cabello was supposed to go on trial yesterday in Portland. But he dropped his court-appointed lawyer, and agreed to plead guilty to eight of the 51 federal charges against him. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on December 11th. Cabello’s wife Marian and their son Vincent pleaded guilty earlier this year to their roles in the robberies – and both were expected to testify against Archie. Prosecutors said he and Vincent Cabello worked for Dunbar in 1995 when they staged an armored car heist in Milwaukee, stealing 158-thousand dollars. They did the same thing three years later at Milwaukee’s American Security Corporation, stealing $730,000. And authorities said they got suspicious after the men staged a 2005 holdup in Portland which netted them three-million-dollars. Marian Cabello handled the bookkeeping. Prosecutors said the three used false names to try-and-hide the stolen cash. And they allegedly filed false tax returns, claiming annual incomes as low as $10,000.
The parents of a dead baby near Oconomowoc were due in court today. Waukesha County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 32-year-old woman on Saturday on a possible charge of first-degree intentional homicide. Her 33-year-old husband was arrested yesterday for not reporting the child’s death to police, as required under a new law for guardians passed in the state Legislature this spring. Police in the town of Oconomowoc responded after being tipped off to the death of the 10-week-old child. A medical examiner responded and pronounced the baby dead. The couple has two other kids, ages 2-and-3. Officials said they’re staying with other family members.
The federal EPA said today it found almost 8,900 gallons of hazardous chemicals at an abandoned factory in Slinger that made metal plates. An emergency response team counted 315 barrels and drums of chemicals inside the former Niphos Coatings plant – plus 100 smaller containers. Crews have been at the plant since the middle of last week. Their next job is to separate various chemicals for disposal and removal, and seek bids from companies to properly get rid of the material. The EPA’s “Super-fund” program is paying for the work. So far, there have been no reports of contamination either inside or outside the plant. Two of the chemicals have been considered extremely hazardous – sodium cyanide and nitric acid. The owner closed the facility in 2010 after the Great Recession dried up the market for its coated metal plates. He was hoping to re-open the facility, but eventually decided that he couldn’t.
A man killed in a head-on traffic crash in Delavan was identified today as 43-year-old Brad Zimmerman of Elkhorn. Delavan Police Chief Timothy O’Neill said Zimmerman’s car was heading east on Highway 50 last Friday evening, when it swerved into the other lane and collided with an oncoming vehicle. The chief said other motorists reported that Zimmerman had been driving erratically before the crash. One passenger in the oncoming vehicle was taken to a hospital. Police said the victim was in good condition, and is expected to recover.
The State Patrol continues to investigate the death of a pedestrian in Tomahawk. Officers said 52-year-old Robert Zempel of New London was crossing Lincoln County Trunk “S” when he was hit by a passing car. It happened around one a.m. yesterday. Zempel was taken to a Tomahawk hospital where he died. The State Patrol is reconstructing the crash scene to determine what happened and why.
Parents who use pacifiers on their crying baby boys might be stunting their emotions in later years. That’s according to a new UW-Madison study. It shows that the frequent use of pacifiers can limit the emotional development of boys. That’s because they’re not able to mimic other people’s facial expressions – and they don’t learn the emotions behind those expressions. UW psychology professor Paula Niedenthal says people of all ages read each other’s emotions partially by imitating their facial expressions. And it helps them understand what others may be thinking. But after evaluating 6-and-7-year-old boys, those who spent more time with pacifiers were less likely to mimic the facial expressions of people in a video. And college-aged men with heavy pacifier usage scored lower in showing empathy. But the same trends did not show up in girls who were given pacifiers. They were still able to make satisfactory emotional progress. The UW’s findings were published today in the journal of Basic-and-Applied Social Psychology.
Penny Marshall – who helped make Milwaukee famous in the 1970’s comedy “Laverne and Shirley” – will pay a visit this weekend. She’ll appear at an event called “Doors Open Milwaukee,” an open house featuring 165 architectural gems throughout the city. Marshall will also sign copies of her auto-biography called “My Mother Was Nuts.” Marshall played Laverne DeFazio in the hit comedy “Laverne and Shirley” that was set in Milwaukee. She went on to become an award-winning producer and director.