Afternoon State News Briefs: Jadin resigns from WEDCWisconsin News
-- The first person to head Wisconsin’s new public-private job creation agency says he’ll resign, to become the new head of a regional economic development group in Madison.
MADISON - The first person to head Wisconsin’s new public-private job creation agency says he’ll resign, to become the new head of a regional economic development group in Madison.
Paul Jadin was named today as the new president of Thrive, which seeks to improve the economy in eight Madison area counties. He’ll start his new job on November first, and will replace the retiring Jennifer Alexander. A spokesman for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said Governor Scott Walker would announce an interim replacement for Jadin this afternoon – along with the formation of a search panel to find a new permanent leader. Jadin is a former mayor and chamber-of-commerce executive in Green Bay. He was appointed in late 2010 as the secretary for the old state Commerce Department, which the Development Corporation replaced the following year. In a statement, Jadin said he was proud of what’s been done to quote, “rebuild Wisconsin’s approach to economic development.” Jadin’s resignation came two months after Walker made his former deputy chief-of-staff the agency’s Number-two official, amid a controversy over tax breaks offered to a firm if it won a state contract. The offer was later rescinded, and the bids for the contract were tossed out.
Wisconsin’s public school superintendent says teachers have been targeted unfairly in state policy-and-budget debates – and it’s time to restore dignity and respect to their profession. Tony Evers made those remarks today at the State Capitol, when he delivered his annual address on the state of education in Wisconsin. Evers says reasonable people can disagree on things like scaling back union bargaining privileges, and making teachers pay more for their health care and retirement. But the superintendent says every Wisconsinite should be alarmed when teachers don’t feel respected or valued in their communities. Evers opposed Governor Scott Walker’s union measures – but the two have worked together on a number of other reforms in Wisconsin’s public school system.
A jury in Milwaukee could decide this afternoon whether a woman should go to prison for killing a pregnant mother and her full-term unborn son. The state rested its case this morning in the third day of a trial for 34-year-old Annette Morales-Rodriguez. The defendant chose not to testify, and the defense rested its case without calling any witnesses. Authorities said Morales-Rodriguez killed 23-year-old Maritza Ramirez-Cruz last October, and tried to tear out the woman’s full-term son to claim as her own. But the day died in the process. Morales-Rodriguez is charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. But her lawyer said his client did not intend to kill anyone – and Circuit Judge David Borowski says jurors can consider reckless homicide charges if they choose.
In the wake of the Oak Creek massacre, the U.S. Justice Department plans to meet with religious groups next month to consider asking the FBI to start collecting data on hate crimes against Sikhs. Roy Austin Junior of the department’s civil rights division told a Senate sub-committee quote, “We are going to take action.” That action was requested yesterday by 18-year-old Harpreet Saini, who lost his mother in the August 5th shooting massacre at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. He testified at a Senate judiciary sub-committee hearing on what the government should do in the wake of the tragedy. Over 400 people, many wearing Sikh turbans, attended the hearing. Sub-committee chairman Dick Durbin said he agreed with Saini – and he told Austin that the government is moving too slowly on requests to collect the hate crime data. He said Sikh communities had spent the last two years asking for such an accounting. Austin said the current hate crime reporting system is far from complete. He said 6,600 hate crimes were reported in 2010, the latest year available. And the Justice Department does not know the actual number, because it cannot count crimes which are not reported. He said three-thousand law enforcement agencies did not respond to a hate crime survey in 2010.
A state appeals court said a judge in Waupaca County did the wrong thing by dropping a sexual assault case against a Madison man. Sloppy police work apparently convinced Circuit Judge Philip Kirk to drop three charges against Thomas McEssey. But today, the Fourth District Appellate Court in Madison reversed the dismissals, saying that McEssey never showed how his rights were violated. McEssey, who’s now 25, was charged almost four years ago with second-degree sexual assault of an unconscious victim, third-degree sex assault, and disorderly conduct. According to court filings, a sheriff’s deputy accidentally deleted a recording of a phone conversation between McEssey and his victim. But officer did find a recording which had the victim’s story – and the state tried to admit it as evidence. Judge Kirk said the loss of the full conversation showed there was no way McEssey could get a fair trial.
For the second week in a row, all of Wisconsin is officially in a drought. The far north managed to escape this summer’s dry conditions until about three weeks ago. Today, the U.S. Drought Monitor said a relatively narrow stretch from northwest to southeast Wisconsin is officially in a moderate drought. Almost everything to the south of that is in a severe or extreme drought. Everything to the north is abnormally dry, the weakest drought category. The new map reflects conditions as of Tuesday. More rain has fallen throughout the Badger State this week, and there’s even more in the forecast through Saturday. But officials say it has not been enough to ease Wisconsin’s parched farmlands very much. The extreme drought continues in only two full counties – Lafayette and Green. Parts of Grant, Iowa, Dane, Rock, and Walworth counties are also in the extreme category. Nationally, about one-fifth of the 48 mainland states remain in the two worst drought groupings – extreme and exceptional. The Drought Monitor says recent rains in the Corn Belt came too late to save crops that were already damaged. But the new moisture could still prop up soybeans which are still maturing.
The case of a Milwaukee woman accused of killing a pregnant mother to claim the victim’s unborn baby could go to the jury later today. The prosecution was expected to wrap up their case this morning against 34-year-old Annette Morales-Rodriguez. And the defense has not said whether Morales-Rodriguez would testify in her own behalf. Prosecutors showed the jury a 40-minute video yesterday, in which the defendant told police she attacked Maritza Ramirez-Cruz with a baseball bat and then strangled her. Morales-Rodriguez told officers that she planned to steal the full-term baby, and claim it as own. That’s because she could not physically give birth to a child by her boyfriend. Morales-Rodriguez reportedly had previous miscarriages. She told officers that she was sorry for hurting the 23-year-old Ramirez-Cruz, and she didn’t mean for the baby to die. If the defendant does not testify, the case could go to the jury this afternoon. Morales-Rodriguez is charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. If convicted, she would face a mandatory life prison sentence.
A two-year-old girl was found safe this morning, after she disappeared from her home in Cedar Grove for just over two hours. Sheboygan County sheriff’s deputies are investigating to determine why Natasha Tyler had left. Sergeant Doug Tuttle said an entry door to her home was open when Natasha’s parents got up and looked for her. She was reported missing just after 5:20 this morning. She was found at 7:25 a few blocks away, by a person who was out for an early morning jog. Tuttle said the youngster was in good health, and she was returned to her family.