Afternoon State News Briefs: Gov. Walker names Reed Hall to head WEDCWisconsin News
-- A retired head of Wisconsin’s largest private medical group will try to fix some of the problems in the state government’s job creation agency. Former Marshfield Clinic executive director and general counsel Reed Hall was named by Governor Scott Walker this afternoon as the interim director of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
MADISON - A retired head of Wisconsin’s largest private medical group will try to fix some of the problems in the state government’s job creation agency. Former Marshfield Clinic executive director and general counsel Reed Hall was named by Governor Scott Walker this afternoon as the interim director of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The move comes a day after reports surfaced that the agency never monitored tax-funded job creation loans – and over eight-million-dollars of those loans are late in being paid back. The governor says Hall will serve for 2-to-3 months, until a permanent director can be found to replace Paul Jadin. He’s leaving at the end of the month to run a regional economic development agency in the Madison area. There were reports that Walker wanted to have his former staff official Ryan Murray be the interim director. But instead, Murray remains the chief operating officer and Hall’s top assistant for now. Walker also said the agency’s chief financial officer, Mike Klonsinski, resigned yesterday in the wake of the loan snafu. Murray told the corporation’s board today that his staff members had no idea what the status was for the tax-funded loans in question. He said it was a duty that was not transferred from the former state Commerce Department, when it became a quasi-public agency last summer. During its short tenure, the Economic Development Corporation has helped numerous businesses locate and expand in Wisconsin. But it’s also been mired in controversies which included funding a business if it had won a state education contract – and improperly handing federal block grant funds. Hall was a top attorney and leader at the Marshfield Clinic for two dozen years before he retired in 2010. His first day in the economic development agency will be November second.
First Lady Michelle Obama defended her husband as a man of integrity who will do what he promises. In a 35-minute speech in Racine, Obama addressed some of the major points addressed by the president during the campaign – that teachers and fire-fighters should not pay higher tax rates than billionaires. She also defended the auto industry bailout, and she praised her husband for rejecting advice to let the Detroit automakers go bankrupt. An estimated 21-hundred people filled Racine’s Memorial Hall to hear the First Lady. She also went to Wausau for a speech this afternoon. Recent polls show her husband and Republican Mitt Romney in a virtual tie for Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes.
Economic uncertainty in Europe is causing headaches for a company in Wisconsin. Manpower Incorporated, the worldwide job placement company from Milwaukee, does about two-thirds of its business in Europe – where high public debt levels have industries cutting back on their hiring. As a result, Manpower’s net income for July-through-September dropped 21-percent from the previous year. Profits totaled $63-million-dollars, down from almost $80-million in the same quarter of last year. And earnings plunged from 97-cents a share to just under 80-cents in the most recent quarter. Manpower’s total revenues dropped by 10-and-a-half percent. But most of the decline was due to foreign sales being converted to the weak U.S. dollar. In spite of the lower numbers, Manpower did better than what Wall Street expected. Earnings were still 11-cents higher than what outside analysts had projected.
A Capitol Police officer is suspended when a gun accidentally fired inside the governor’s mansion. The incident happened last night at 10:45 p.m. inside the security office. No one was injured. Governor Scott Walker and his family weren’t home at the time. A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Administration says the officer has been suspended with pay while an investigation is conducted. It should be completed by Monday.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn says the city is seeing more shootings and domestic violence incidents. That’s why a report covering the first eight months of the year show aggravated assaults up 18 percent. Overall violent crime reversed a trend by climbing 2.7 percent after four years of reductions. Milwaukee police report the number of serious crime reports were down a little over seven percent. Chief Flynn delivered the crime numbers at a Common Council finance committee hearing today.
Madison police say they are looking for five young men who beat up two teenagers last weekend. One of the victims was hit by a bottle. The incident reportedly started when an 18 year old man from Madison confronted the five because they were laughing at a woman who had fallen. He was hit in the face and, when his 19 year old friend tried to intervene, he was hit with the bottle. The 19 year old fell to the pavement and was punched several times. Stitches were needed to treat a cut below his eye. He also suffered a head wound. Police say the five suspects are only described as white males in their late teens to early 20s.
Wisconsin’s early voting is about to begin. And heavyweights from both major parties are criss-crossing the Badger State to get as many of their voters as possible to pick up absentee ballots. First Lady Michelle Obama is spreading that message today in Racine and Wausau. Former President Bill Clinton will visit Green Bay tonight to urge Democrats to vote early. And Vice President Joe Biden’s wife Jill plans to speak on the subject in Kenosha on Sunday. Republicans are also beating the drums for early voting. National GOP chairman Reince Priebus from Kenosha is heading up a statewide bus tour today-and-tomorrow – and he’s joined by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) and former Congressman Mark Green of Green Bay. Election clerks say voters are already getting the message. Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske said the Democratic Party called her this morning, and told her to expect 50 people at her counter by eight on Monday morning. She said 8,300 Green Bay residents voted absentee in the last presidential contest in 2008. Half voted in person – and with the race for the White House so close, she expects to see even more people wanting absentee ballots. The same is true in Sun Prairie, where City Clerk Diane Hermann-Brown expects even more than the 35-percent who voted absentee in ’08. The in-person early voting in Wisconsin will end on the Friday before the November sixth Election Day. State officials expect 69-percent of eligible voters to cast ballots.
Last night’s U.S. Senate debate was the second-most-watched TV show in its time period – at least in Milwaukee, which is the state’s only metered TV market. Wisconsin Public Television showed the one-hour forum with Republican Tommy Thompson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin – and so did Milwaukee’s NBC affiliate, WTMJ. Almost 63,000 households in Metro Milwaukee had their sets tuned to the debate, for a rating of six-point-six during the seven o’clock hour. “Last Resort” on the ABC channel had a 5.1 rating, and baseball’s National League Championship Series on Fox picked up a 3.2 rating. The comedies on CBS ruled the hour. “The Big Bang Theory” had a rating of 13.4 more than twice as high as the debate. “Two-and-a-Half Men” at 7:30 had a slightly lower rating of eight-point-seven. Earlier in the week, all four Milwaukee network affiliates showed the presidential town hall debate. And together, they attracted 293,000 viewers.