Friday State News Briefs: State gaining on California in milk productionWisconsin News
-- Wisconsin’s top competitor in the dairy industry is going through some hard times. California’s dairy producers are struggling with high feed prices and low milk prices. And matters have been made worse by what some call an unfair pricing policy in the Golden State.
Wisconsin’s top competitor in the dairy industry is going through some hard times. California’s dairy producers are struggling with high feed prices and low milk prices. And matters have been made worse by what some call an unfair pricing policy in the Golden State.
Producer groups are suing California’s ag. department, alleging that the gap between the state’s milk price and the federal Class-Three order price is larger than it should be. California overtook Wisconsin a number of years ago as the nation’s top milk producer – but the Badger State has been catching up. In August, California made 43-percent more milk than Wisconsin did – but a year ago, that gap was much bigger, at 59-percent. Also, Wisconsin keeps pulling away from California in cheese production. At this week’s World Dairy Expo in Madison, milk-and-cheese producer John Fiscalini of Modesto, California said he does not see the industry growing in his state anymore. He tells the Brownfield Ag. News Service that the Golden State has lost one-ninth of its 1,800 dairies over the last two years. And they’re getting milk prices which are two-dollars less per hundred pounds than the rest of the country. Fiscalini also said California’s regulations make it hard for dairies to expand – and when a dairy sells out, more cows go to slaughter instead of to another herd.
Authorities believe a burglar in central Wisconsin is using newspaper obituaries to target the homes of people who recently died. Portage County sheriff’s deputies say three break-ins between July-and-September in the Junction City area appear to be related. And Portage County deputies are working with officers in neighboring Wood County, where a series of burglaries around Milladore appear to be related. One other break-in is also being investigated in nearby Marathon County. Deputies jewelry, electronics, and up to three-thousand dollars were taken in the Junction City burglaries. Portage County detective Wayne Kropidlowski said officers have seen these types of crimes in the past, but they don’t happen very often. He said it takes a certain type of person to break into the home of a person who just died. Kropidlowski says the stolen merchandise often gets sold privately or at pawn shops. Officers say they have a line on one possible suspect.
An age-old political argument has Milwaukee’s police chief on the hot seat. In a letter to a UWM official, Ed Flynn considered students as quote, “guests, since most do not own property in Milwaukee and they do not directly contribute to the tax base … and as guests, they should be exhibiting appropriate conduct.” He also defended a beefed-up police presence near the east side campus that netted 100 arrests in the past month. The campus newspaper, the UWM Post, reported on Flynn’s letter. And it quoted others who disagreed that college students are merely “guests” of the city. University spokesman Tom Luljak said students who rent apartments and duplexes pa part of their landlords’ taxes in their rent. He said UWM students also volunteer and work in the community and quote, “Our students contribute directly to the health and vitality of the city.” The question of whether renters are taxpayers is hardly new. It has come up for years in a host of local debates around Wisconsin. As far as the Milwaukee patrols, Luljak said the school pays the Police Department 25-thousand dollars a year to provide a few extra patrols on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. He said they’re designed to watch for student crimes, and to protect students from things like robberies and assaults.
This is just the latest flap involving Chief Flynn – who’s also been criticized this year for a death in police custody, cavity searches of drug suspects, and the handling of a 13-year-old murder victim’s mother at a crime scene. Milwaukee’s Fire-and-Police Commission gave Police Chief Ed Flynn an unscheduled performance review last night. That was after religious leaders and others called for the chief’s resignation or firing, amidst a controversy over the death of Derek Williams in police custody. The commission normally reviews Flynn’s performance every three months. The last review was just a month ago, and Commission director Michael Tobin said the new review was prompted by several issues of community concern – including the Williams death. The review was done behind closed doors. Afterward, Tobin would not say whether the commission would consider releasing Flynn. The chief has been on the hot seat ever since a video was released last month, showing Williams gasping for air and begging for help for almost eight minutes before he collapsed in the back seat of a squad car. He had just been arrested for a street robbery. Milwaukee Police have also been under for strip-searching drug suspects, and forcing the mother of 13-year-old murder victim to sit in a squad car and not be at her son’s side. Earlier yesterday, a Milwaukee alderman questioned police procedures for critical incidents and handling prisoners. Police officers said they would post all of the department’s operating procedures online for everyone to see.
A mini-van passenger killed in a Shawano County traffic crash was identified today as 51-year-old James Simpson of Clintonville. Sheriff’s deputies said an SUV driven by an 83-year-old Suring man was going when south, when he collided with the mini-van as it was coming from his left. Both drivers and another passenger in the mini-van were injured in the crash, which occurred yesterday afternoon at the corner of two Shawano County highways in the town of Green Valley. The crash remains under investigation, but officials said alcohol did not appear to be a factor.
One of two car ferries that cross Lake Michigan is not running today, due to a forecast for strong winds. The SS Badger canceled its one scheduled round trip between Manitowoc and Ludington Michigan. That’s because the winds across the big lake were expected to be up to 30-miles-an-hour. The National Weather Service reports gusty winds throughout Wisconsin today. At 11 o’clock, winds gusts were generally in the 20-to-30-mile-an-hour range. Marshfield had the strongest gusts, peaking at 32-miles-per-hour. Wind gusts hit 40-miles-an-hour at Superior and Bayfield, and many places had wind speeds in the 30’s.
The strong winds are leftovers from a cold front that rambled through the Badger State yesterday, dropping temperatures well below their normal highs in the 60’s. Light snow is expected tonight and early tomorrow, with overnight lows around 30 and highs in the 40’s. A widespread freeze is predicted for tomorrow night, as lows drop to the 20’s in most of
Wisconsin by Sunday morning. Madison’s average date for its first trace of snow is October 25th, and the average date in Milwaukee is October 28th. But it wouldn’t be out of line to see it now. The earliest trace of snow in Madison was September 23rd in 1928. Milwaukee’s earliest trace was September 20th of 1954.
A Racine man will spend 23 years in prison for punching a World War II veteran to death, after their vehicles bumped each other in a hospital parking lot. 25-year-old Richard Lewis must also spend 10 years under extended supervision after his prison time. Lewis was sentenced yesterday by Racine County Circuit Judge Tim Boyle. That was after a jury convicted Lewis of felony murder and battery to the elderly, for killing 88-year-old Albert Paragamian in the lot at Racine’s Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints Hospital. Prosecutors said their vehicles collided in March of last year – and they then got into a skirmish. It ended when Lewis poked Paragamian in the eye, and the victim fell and hit his head on the ground. He died about a week later. Paragamian was backing out of a parking space when he struck the Lewis vehicle. Lewis continues to claim his innocence.
A passenger in a mini-van was killed in a crash in Shawano County. It happened about 1:30 yesterday afternoon at the intersection of two county roads in the town of Green Valley. Sheriff’s deputies said an 83-year-old man was driving south in his SUV when he struck the minivan which was coming from the left. A passenger in the mini-van was ejected, and died at the scene. Both drivers and another passenger in the van were taken to hospitals with undisclosed injuries. The name of the person who died was not immediately released. Shawano County officials are still investigating the mishap. They said alcohol did not appear to be a factor.
India’s foreign minister says his entire nation shares the grief of Wisconsin’s Sikh Temple members. S.M. Krishna and two other dignitaries from India spoke yesterday to about 150 Sikhs at their temple in Oak Creek. That’s where gunman Wade Michael Page killed six people and wounded four others before killing himself in a rampage two months ago today. The Sikhs have 27 million members, most of whom live in India. Krishna told the Wisconsin Sikhs quote, “I convey the sympathy of a billion people … I come here not only to offer prayers at this sacred temple, but to express our deepest condolences.” The Sikh community is still grappling with the after-effects of the tragedy – and Krishna said it was even more tragic that it happened in a place of worship and peace. Krishna, Ambassador Nirupama Rao, and consul general Dutta Toma also visited a hospital where Punjab Singh is still being treated. He’s the only survivor still hospitalized, and he remains in serious condition. The FBI says it continues to investigate the shootings.
A 16-year old Madison girl is charged with battery to a police officer. Madison police say the teenager pulled the hair and punched a female officer in the face several times. She also faces charges of resisting and obstructing, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass. The offer got help from a Janesville man who saw the confrontation and tackled the girl. The officer had gone to the three thousand block of Darbo Drive shortly before 8 p.m. to question the girl about an earlier incident. Police had been told the suspect had tried to pick a fight with a 14 year old girl.
Appleton City Council members have voted to override the first-ever veto by Mayor Tim Hannah. Members voted 11-5 on a question about workers compensation claims. Hannah had never vetoed a move by the city council since he took office. The decision last night means the city’s fringe benefits policy will reimburse city workers for the first three days of their workers compensation claim. Alderman Jim Clemons said if workers are losing money, they might return to work too soon and make their injury more serious. The mayor said the benefit exceeds what state law allows. He says beyond vacation, the city of Appleton offers workers six days of paid time off each year and they can carry up to three days per year to compensate for an unexpected claim.
The head of Wisconsin’s elections agency says it will not ask a judge to extend the deadline for the state’s military and overseas voters to return their ballots. Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney asked the state’s Government Accountability Board to extend the deadline, after 58 communities were late in sending their November ballots overseas. All of the affected ballots were sent out by the end of Monday – and Board director Kevin Kennedy says voters will have time to mail the ballots back to their local clerks by the state’s deadline of November ninth. The Romney campaign has filed similar complaints in Michigan, Vermont, and Mississippi. Romney spokesman Ryan Williams says his campaign is considering a lawsuit against Wisconsin over the matter. Reid Magney of the accountability board said any details in mailing overseas ballots was relatively short – and clerks were more successful in following the overseas ballot laws than in the past.
A rural Shawano man has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly killing a woman and her brother in Oconto County. 29-year-old Daniel Schmidt is scheduled to enter pleas October 26th to two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. He’s accused of shooting-and-killing 32-year-old Kimberly Rose and 21-year-old Leonard Marsh in May of 2009 at the home they shared near Gillett. At a preliminary hearing, witnesses testified Rose loaned Schmidt a-thousand-dollars for a motorcycle – and then she had to pressure him to pay it back. Rose’s teenage son testified that she and Schmidt often argued about marijuana. Prosecutors said Schmidt began to have an affair with Rose – but he and his wife later agreed to try and fix their marriage. Schmidt is being held under a two-million-dollar bond. The state Justice Department is prosecuting the case.
A woman killed by a pick-up truck while walking on a Green Lake County highway was identified today as 49-year-old Lisa Hansen of Princeton. Sheriff’s deputies said Hansen and another woman were walking on County Trunk “T” just south of Princeton when the victim was hit by an 84-year-old male driver. The other pedestrian was not hurt. The mishap occurred around three yesterday afternoon. It’s still being investigated.
The chair of the Wisconsin state Senate’s mining committee says his panel will offer a new bill in the next session on the process for issuing state permits. But Janesville Democrat Tim Cullen says the panel will first have to cut through what he called “misinformation” during the Legislature’s debate on the mining issue earlier this year. The committee recently held public hearings on what should be included in a new package. Cullen said mining experts cleared up misconceptions that were raised just before the Senate killed a package sought by Gogebic Taconite – which ended up scrapping plans for an iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Cullen told the Janesville Gazette that the recent hearings hammered home two main points for him. First, the state DNR is not the only agency that must issue mining permits. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also has a say – and if those agencies work together, it’s possible they could review a new mining proposal in 6-to-7 years. That’s a lot longer than one-year time period sought by Republicans. Cullen also said a Wisconsin Mining Association member told his panel that tougher environmental standards do not hinder mining, as some in the G-O-P had claimed. Cullen noted that Gogebic Taconite never said publicly that Wisconsin’s environmental standards were a problem. Cullen also said it’s a misconception that neighboring Minnesota has a faster mining permit process than Wisconsin. He said the Gopher State has not approved a totally new iron ore mine in 40 years – and one mining application is in its ninth year of review.
An 18-year-old Milwaukee man pleaded no contest today to killing a suburban couple in a drunk driving hit-and-run crash on New Year’s Day. Kelly Duke was supposed to go on trial next week on nine charges for the deaths 61-year-old Ed Thaves of New Berlin and his 52-year-old wife Jean. But this morning, Duke struck a plea deal – and five charges were dropped when he was convicted of two counts of drunken homicide, one count of hit-and-run while causing death, and causing harm while driving with a suspended license. Duke faces up to 45 years in prison when he’s sentenced on January 11th. Police said Duke sped through a Milwaukee intersection in a stolen car, and slashed the roof off the vehicle driven by Ed Thaves. He fled to his home, and was arrested a short time later. Thaves’ son Edwin told the Journal Sentinel that Duke needs to be brought to justice – and if he’s not, the quote, “epidemic” of drunk driving will keep plaguing the community. Thaves also asked state lawmakers to pass minimum mandatory sentences for drunk drivers. He said it would prevent quote, “activist judges from letting sympathy get in the way of common sense and public safety.”
Wisconsin gasoline prices are about a dime cheaper than a month ago. But that’s not the case in California, while pipeline and refinery problems drove up the cost of gas by 20-cents-a-gallon overnight. The AP said some gas stations in the Golden State were charging over five-dollars a gallon – and other stations shut off their pumps until the prices come down. Elsewhere around the country, the Triple-“A” says fuel prices range from $3.50-to-4.10. Wisconsin is about in the middle of that range. The average statewide of unleaded regular was 3.83 this morning – just over 10 cents less than a month ago. And in the state’s largest metro, gas is even cheaper. Milwaukee Gas Prices.com reports an average of $3.71 today, down almost 25-cents over the past month. Some Milwaukee area stations were charging as little as $3.59 this morning.
A congressman says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not meet a deadline of 2014 to come up with a strategy to keep the invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Michigan House member Dave Camp said the Corps notified him about the delay. And Camp said he would quote, “hold the Corps accountable.” The agency originally set a deadline of 2015 to study the options for closing waterways between the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan, so the bloated carp does not enter the Great Lakes. But a number of environmental groups and state governments – including Wisconsin – said a solution cannot wait that long. So Congress and President Obama approved a bill to speed up the study’s deadline to January of 2014. Camp also said the Army Corps only plans to release a list of possible options to close the link to the Great Lakes – and he called that unacceptable. Corps officials have not commented. State officials fear that the Asian carp would ruin Wisconsin’s commercial fishing industry if the fish takes over the Great Lakes. But Illinois has been concerned about a possible cut-off of merchandise boats to the Chicago area.
Madison native Phil Hellmuth has won the World Series of Poker’s Europe Championship in Cannes, France. He calls it one of the most prestigious titles in poker, and he’s humbled to win it. Hellmuth said he played the best poker of his life in France, and he’s just as proud of this title as he is with the World Championship that he won in 1989. Hellmuth earned his 13th career gold bracelet, and his second this year. He won just over a million Euros, and he’s now the leader for the World Series’ player-of-the-year.