Morning State News Briefs:Milwaukee’s police chief says he’s not going anywhere, despite a call by clergy and activist groups that he resign. Ed Flynn stood his ground yesterday in a meeting with groups that included the Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope and Milwaukee Peace Action.
MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee’s police chief says he’s not going anywhere, despite a call by clergy and activist groups that he resign. Ed Flynn stood his ground yesterday in a meeting with groups that included the Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope and Milwaukee Peace Action.
Flynn sought the meeting to try-and-rebuild relations with those organizations, after a tense series of incidents. They included the recent discovery that robbery suspect Derek Williams gasped and begged for help for almost eight minutes before he collapsed-and-died in police custody last year. The groups Flynn met with yesterday demanded that he fire officers Gregory Kuspa and Jeffrey Cline – both of whom were involved in the Williams incident, as well as searches of suspects’ cavities to try and find illegal drugs. The Reverend Willie Brisco, who heads the Congregations for Hope, called the Williams death a violation of human rights. And he said his coalition would also try to meet with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Common Council members, and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. The pastors at yesterday’s meeting said they were disappointed in Chief Flynn’s response to the Williams death. They said Flynn was more interested in showing off his crime statistics than discussing the death.
Plans to have Oak Creek provide Waukesha’s drinking water were put in jeopardy yesterday by a ruling from the state Public Service Commission. Waukesha has been searching for years for a community to sell Lake Michigan water, because Waukesha’s own well sites and water supplies have excessive radium. But Oak Creek’s water utility manager says it no longer makes economic sense to sell wholesale water to Waukesha, after what the PSC did yesterday. The state reduced the amount of money that Oak Creek can collect from two other communities that use Oak Creek’s drinking water – Franklin and Caledonia. As a result, water utility manager Steve Yttri said Oak Creek residents would pay part of the tab for Franklin’s and Caledonia’s water. But a PSC official said the panel might consider new ways of distributing the service costs among communities. And Waukesha’s top water official says he remains optimistic that its deal with Oak Creek will become a reality. The two communities approved a 40-year agreement on Tuesday night for Waukesha to buy water from Lake Michigan – and to return what it takes in the form of treated wastewater. Under a regional compact, all eight Great Lakes states must approve the deal.
A female pedestrian was killed after she was hit by a truck near Princeton. Green Lake County authorities said the woman one of two people walking on County Trunk “T” when the mishap occurred around three yesterday afternoon. The victim’s name was not immediately released.
The fall season is about to pounce on Wisconsin. It was almost 80-degrees yesterday in the northwest – and tomorrow’s highs could be about 35-degrees colder than that. The National Weather Service says a strong cold front will sweep across the Badger State today – and this afternoon’s highs will range from just 50 in the northwest to the upper-70’s in the southeast. Tonight, everybody will see temperatures near freezing. And the mercury might not get above 50 in most of the state tomorrow-through-Sunday. Lows are expected to fall the 20’s-and-30’s – and officials say it will put an end to the growing season everywhere in the Badger State. The Weather Service says the front is associated with a storm system that will dump snow on northwest Minnesota. But we won’t see much of the white stuff. Forecasters say there’s a slight chance of snow-showers in Wisconsin on Saturday. And rain is possible on Monday, when a slight warm-up is expected.
Thirty-seven states have been more successful in creating new jobs than Wisconsin – and a Marquette professor says officials might be trying to attract the wrong types of jobs. In a new quarterly report, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wisconsin created 37,500 new private sector jobs during the year ending in March. That’s a gain of one-point-seven percent – below the national average job growth of two-point-four percent. Marquette University economics department chairman Abdur Chowdhury says the state’s efforts might be focused too much on creating manufacturing jobs – the state’s top sector – instead of investing more in fields like information technology and health care. Only a dozen states had smaller percentages of job growth than Wisconsin. And when the public sector is added in, Wisconsin’s rank falls to 43rd among the 50 states, with a total job growth of one-point-one-percent. Spokesman Cullen Werwie of Governor Scott Walker’s office says the Badger State still faces challenges from a stagnant national economy – and Walker’s next two-year budget will focus on creating jobs and growing the state’s economy.
With 33 days until the election, Marquette pollster Charles Franklin says it’s still possible that Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race could see another major shift. Republican Tommy Thompson lost a nine-point lead in September, as his Democratic opponent Tammy Baldwin jumped to her own nine-point advantage in the Marquette poll. A new survey released yesterday shows that the race has narrowed – and Baldwin still leads 48-44 percent. Thompson, the former governor, had to focus on fund-raising last month after winning a hard-fought August primary – and Baldwin took advantage of Thompson’s public absence by running a series of attack ads. Franklin says the so-called “ad wars” are playing a big role in the Senate contest. Thompson gained some ground after he and several outside groups put out recent attack ads against Baldwin. The Americans for Prosperity started a million-dollar ad campaign for Thompson yesterday. And the National Senatorial Republican Committee also started running anti-Baldwin ads. Among other things, the new Marquette poll shows a gender gap. Women favored Baldwin 54-38-percent, while men endorsed Thompson 50-41.
Wisconsin’s top Republicans say they agree with Vice President Joe Biden that the middle class has been “buried” over the past four years. But they don’t agree on whose fault it is – or who’s the best person to make things better. Biden, a Democrat, told supporters in North Carolina yesterday that Republican Mitt Romney would raise taxes on the middle class. And then, he asked the crowd how they can quote, “justify raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years.” Today, Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson took part in a conference call to reply to Biden’s remark. Walker agreed that hard-working taxpayers are “feeling the pain” of the last four years and quote, “They’re hungry for a change.” Johnson said it was President Obama’s “metric of failure” that median household incomes dropped by $4,500 under the Democratic administration.
Over half of Wisconsin voters still like the job Governor Scott Walker’s doing. That’s according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll released this afternoon. 52-percent of about a-thousand registered voters approved of the Republican Walker’s performance in office, while 46-percent disapproved. Also, 49-percent in the Marquette poll said they wanted to keep in place the governor’s near-elimination of collective bargaining for most public employee unions. 44-percent said they wanted to restore all previous union privileges. The poll asked the question after Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas struck down the bargaining law as it applies to local government and public school unions. State employees are still under the bargaining limits. But in March, a federal judge struck down parts of the law that prohibited public employers from withholding union dues from paychecks – and requiring that unions hold certification votes every year in order to keep being recognized. The state is appealing both rulings. The Marquette poll was taken last Tuesday through Friday with an error margin of almost three-and-a-third percent either way.
A judge has agreed to let a federal mediator keep working to reach a settlement between the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese and about 570 victims of sex abuse by priests. Judge Susan Kelley yesterday approved a second extension of the deadline to complete the mediation. It allows the talks to continue at least through October 12th. Attorneys on both sides are not saying how much progress has been made. An attorney for the sex abuse victims has said he would not agree to a settlement, unless the church releases documents which expose the true extent of the abuse by priests in the 10-county Milwaukee Archdiocese. The church filed for bankruptcy almost two years ago, saying it was the only way for the archdiocese to stay in business in the midst of a dozen lawsuits from sex abuse victims. Retired bankruptcy judge Randall Newsome has been meeting with both sides to try to hammer out a deal.
Three dignitaries from India will meet today with survivors of the Sikh Temple shooting massacre in Oak Creek. India’s foreign minister, S.M. Krishna, will be among those visiting the temple and meeting with worshippers. India’s ambassador to the United States, Nirupama Rao, is also part of the group along with Dutta Tomar, India’s consul general in Chicago. It was two months ago tomorrow when white supremist Wade Michael Page opened fire at the temple. He killed six worshippers and wounded four other people – including an Oak Creek police lieutenant – before he shot himself in a shoot-out with another officer. Federal authorities are still trying to determine the motive behind the incident.
Preliminary statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation show September was a bad month on state roads. Traffic accidents killed 79 people, 30 more than the same month last year and 20 more than the five-year average for September. The state reports motorcycle fatalities are way up due to the much earlier and warmer spring. Fatalities for the year in Wisconsin total 480, including 98 people driving or riding motorcycles. Through September, fatalities on Wisconsin roads are about six percent above average.
Marshfield police say they have arrested a 23-year old man accused of dousing a pregnant woman with gasoline and threatening to set her on fire. Investigators say he punched her in the stomach and tried to strangle her during a three-hour domestic ordeal last Saturday. The woman says she tried to get away, but wasn’t to do so. The man reportedly had heroin in his possession when he was arrested.
Manitowoc Police have arrested the owner of a cat that was found dead in a river last weekend. A 49-year-old Manitowoc man faces a possible felony charge of animal mistreatment. A number of residents provided tips about the suspect. Police quoted the man as saying he felt suicidal, and he decided to kill his cat instead. A fisherman found the pet on Sunday night in the Manitowoc River. The cat’s head and legs were wrapped with duct tape. A necropsy showed that the 10-year-old cat was suffocated – and the pet most likely died before being tossed into the river.
The state DNR is putting on free nature programs at the Horicon Marsh, just as thousands of Canadian geese stop at the marsh as they fly south for the winter. A class on birding will take place Saturday at the International Education Center between Horicon and Mayville. There’s also a hike and a waterfowl presentation on October 13th, and a program on marsh mammals October 20th. The final presentation will explore marsh geese and birds. That’s set for October 27th. The Horicon Marsh is both a state wildlife area and a national wildlife refuge – and bird watchers from throughout the Midwest visit the marsh each fall. It’s one of the major fall stops for Canadian geese and migrating ducks.
A Kenosha teen failed today to get out of a 20-year prison sentence for helping beat a woman to death with a baseball bat. A state appeals court said Kawanis Trotter was properly convicted as an adult in the death of one of his neighbors, 51-year-old Capri Walker. Trotter was 14 when he and Roddee Daniel broke into the victim’s home to steal an X-Box video game system and other items in 2008. Daniel beat Walker to death after she woke up. Each told police that the other struck the fatal blow. Trotter struck a plea deal in which he was convicted of felony murder and two counts of burglary. Besides the 20-year prison term, he was ordered to spend seven years under extended supervision when he gets out. In his appeal, Trotter said his case should have been heard in juvenile court – where he could have been freed in about seven years when he turns 25. The Second District Court of Appeals in Waukesha said a delinquency outcome would have undermined the seriousness of the slaying – and the judges said Trotter had an extensive criminal record. Trotter’s lawyer plans to appeal today’s ruling to the State Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Daniel – who’s now 19 – is serving a life term plus five years for homicide and burglary convictions.
Workers in southeast Wisconsin who get health insurance from their companies will pay 10-percent more than last year for their share of coverage and treatments. That’s according to an annual survey released today by the benefit consulting firm of Aon Hewitt. The report says the average employer share for a worker’s health benefits will be about $12,700 dollars this year – five-point-two percent more than a year ago. Employee premiums and co-pays average just over 52-hundred – an increase of 10-point-two percent. Aon Hewitt surveyed almost 470 large employers in Metro Milwaukee – and it said the increase in the employer share was more than a year ago, when costs rose eight-point-two percent. Next year, Aon Hewitt projects a nearly seven-percent increase in employer health costs, on par with the national projection. Employee costs are expected to rise another nine-percent, as workers continue to pick up a greater share of their overall health expenses.