Monday State News Briefs: Obama rally draws thousands to downtown MadisonWisconsin News
-- Thousands of people jammed the State Capitol area this morning to hear President Obama and rock music legend Bruce Springsteen. The speeches began before the president was to arrive.
MADISON - Thousands of people jammed the State Capitol area this morning to hear President Obama and rock music legend Bruce Springsteen. The speeches began before the president was to arrive.
Democratic U.S. House candidate Mark Pocan of Madison spoke up for gay rights when he asked quote, “Do you want a government who tells you who to love, and whose family matters?” The throng replied, “No.” Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin was also scheduled to speak at the rally, before making her final swing around the Badger State on this Election Eve. Republican Senate hopeful Tommy Thompson is also making a final swing around Wisconsin. And Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney is represented by his son Tobin. He’s joining Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Missouri Senator Jim Talent in Green Bay, Appleton, and Fond du Lac. Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan is campaigning in five states today before he holds a late night airport rally in Milwaukee. After leaving Madison, Obama and Springsteen will appear in Des Moines, Iowa and Columbus, Ohio.
Bruce Springsteen greeted thousands of fans and Obama supporters in Madison this morning, by starting with an acoustic version of the song “No Surrender.” The rock legend is appearing with the Democratic president in three battleground states on this Election Eve – and Wisconsin was their first stop this morning. Springsteen told a throng of thousands off the Capitol Square that he was quote, “Fired up … Fired up!” Obama appeared after Springsteen. The two appeared about three-and-a-half hours after gates opened along King Street between the Capitol and Monona Terrace convention center. By 8:30, Madison Police said 16,000 went through the gates, braving temperatures that were below freezing at that point. Baldwin fired up her hometown supporters, promising she would be a senator who listens and fight for quote, “ordinary people” and not banks, employers that send jobs out of the country, or the Tea Party. Baldwin’s GOP opponent, Tommy Thompson, is campaigning around Wisconsin – and Baldwin also hit the road after speaking at the Obama rally.
Milwaukee is one of 20 U.S. cities named as finalists in a national competition to encourage innovative solutions to urban problems. Over 300 cities entered the contest, sponsored by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Milwaukee’s entry is called “Home Grown.” It involves the use of foreclosed properties to grow and distribute nutritious food to city residents – many of whom do not live near large grocery stores where healthy foods are sold. The entry says up to 69-percent of Milwaukeeans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. The proposal – submitted by Mayor Tom Barrett – involves the use of empty lots and houses for urban farms, large kitchens, and distribution centers. Entrepreneurs will have a chance to own the properties. The Victory Garden Initiative won a local contest for the Bloomberg competition. The group’s Gretchen Mead says quote, “It is important that we reclaim the empty spots of the city and literally plant new life.” Chicago and Saint Paul are also among the 20 finalists. They’ll discuss their ideas to a panel in New York early next year. Barrett says the project will proceed in Milwaukee, whether the city wins the contest or not. The winner will get five-million dollars to devote to the urban improvement project it submitted. Four runners-up will get a million dollars each. Mayor Bloomberg’s family foundation is putting up the award money.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday in Oshkosh for Carol Owens, who spent 16 years in the Wisconsin State Assembly. The 81-year-old Owens died on Saturday at her home. She served as a Republican in the Assembly from 1993 to 2008. Owens was 76 when a family health issue forced her to step down. At the time, she said her family needed her more than her colleagues did. Owens was especially active in issues involving children-and-families. She was a 4-H leader in the Oshkosh area for 29 years. Owens was a town clerk and a Winnebago County board member before being elected to Madison – and she was involved in a number of school-and-community groups. Governor Scott Walker issued a statement saying he was honored to serve with Owens when both were in the Assembly. Walker said she worked hard for her district, and she quote, “reminded us all to behavior like our mothers would want to us to behave.”
Three people were injured after a shooting incident this morning at an eight-unit apartment building in Sheboygan Falls. Police Chief Steve Riffel said a physical fight broke out among three men and a woman around six o’clock. He said gunshots were fired both inside and outside of the building. Two people suffered gunshot wounds to their legs, and a third person had undisclosed injuries. They were all taken to area hospitals. The chief said the shooting suspect was arrested at the apartment building. And he said officers were also questioning a woman at last word.
A 19-year-old Fond du Lac County woman will be sentenced this morning, for causing the deaths of three of her friends in a so-called “hill-jumping” crash in February. Prosecutors have recommended five years of probation for Carly Ottery of Campbellsport as part of a plea deal. But Circuit Judge Dale English can still sentence her to up to 30 years in prison, after she pleaded no contest to her three original charges of homicide by negligent driving. Authorities said Ottery drove an SUV at up to 109-miles-an-hour before it went over a hillcrest, hit a bump, and flipped over in a field. Katie Berg, Caitlin Scannell, and Sabrina Stahl were killed. Six other teens, including Ottery, were injured. All nine played girls’ soccer at Campbellsport High School, and they had left an overnight sleepover before the crash occurred. Alcohol was not involved.
Today is the third anniversary of the Fort Hood shooting massacre – and a survivor from Madison says her fallen-and-wounded colleagues are not getting a fair shake. Dorothy Carskadon said the 13 people killed and 32 wounded are not getting Purple Heart awards, because the tragedy was labeled as an act of workplace violence. And she said those killed at Fort Hood – including Wisconsin soldiers Amy Krueger of Kiel and Russell Saeger of Mount Pleasant – should be included on the lists of those who gave their lives during the war-on-terror. The Purple Heart award would provide more benefits – but Carskadon says she’s not seeking one for herself because she gets VA benefits. The 50-year-old Carskadon is now a social worker at the Vets’ Center in Madison. She has rarely talked publicly about the Fort Hood massacre – but she spoke to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel because she fears that people will forget the sacrifices her colleagues made that day. She was the part of the 467th Combat Stress Control unit that was training at Fort Hood to help other troops cope with their personal troubles. After the shootings, the members were given a choice to stay home – but all of them went to Afghanistan for a year. The shooting suspect, Major Nidal Hasan, was training with the Madison unit at the time. He still faces a military trial on 13 charges of premeditated murder, and 32 counts of attempted murder. Six of the 32 survivors were from Wisconsin.
Beloit Police say a man wanted for a murder yesterday is also a suspect in an attempted homicide seven months ago. 28-year-old Tevon Marley of suburban Chicago is wanted for the shooting death of 19-year-old Ricky Sims Jr. of Chicago. Police said he was found late yesterday morning in a yard in Beloit – and he was shot multiple times. Sims died a short time later at a Beloit hospital while undergoing surgery. Police said Marley and Sims were in separate vehicles just before yesterday’s shooting. Officials said also Marley was wanted for an attempted homicide in Beloit on April 5th.
Authorities in Milwaukee are investigating a weekend house fire that killed a 66-year-old man. Donald Webber was found dead in a bedroom on the first-floor. The blaze occurred late Saturday night. Police said the fire appears to have started in the bedroom, but officials are still investigating.
A small power plant that serves Milwaukee’s large medical complex will be out of commission for the next few days, due to a fire yesterday morning. Officials in Wauwatosa said the blaze was confined to a 25-foot-deep coal hopper on the sixth floor of the power plant. It took several hours to get the fire under control, and no one was hurt. We Energies says it’s unloading the coal to determine how the blaze started. The unloading process will be finished today or tomorrow. The plant provides electricity and heat to the Medical College of Wisconsin, Froedtert Hospital, and Milwaukee Children’s Hospital. Those facilities did not have any outages as a result of the fire. For now, they’re getting their power from elsewhere. Cathy Schulze of We Energies said coal began to smolder in a part of the plant where it shouldn’t be burning. It was in a place where coal is stored before it feeds into one of three boilers.