Thursday State News Roundup: More light snow expected in southeast WisconsinWisconsin News
-- More light snow is expected today in southeast Wisconsin, where up to 15-inches fell in a two-day burst in Sheboygan.
More light snow is expected today in southeast Wisconsin, where up to 15-inches fell in a two-day burst in Sheboygan.
Kenosha had around 14 inches, Racine 13, and Milwaukee 10. Places further inland had less – as much as eight inches in Waukesha and seven in Madison, to just a couple inches or less in many other parts of the Badger State. Two deaths in Wisconsin were blamed on the snow – part of a second massive storm in a week that’s caused much more havoc in places like Kansas and Missouri. Kansas had six storm-related deaths, tens-of-thousands lost electricity in Michigan, and up to 100 flights were delayed or canceled at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. In Walworth County, 44-year-old Carlos Cantu of Lake Geneva died Wednesday after his pick-up slid on a snowy Highway 11 near Delavan and hit an oncoming milk truck. And a 71-year-old Milwaukee man collapsed-and-died yesterday afternoon after snow-blowing his driveway. Milwaukee County EMS officials said at least three people injured their hands and lost fingers while attempting to unclog their snow-blowers. Forecasters say southern and eastern Wisconsin will get more light snow and flurries today – and strong winds will continue statewide. A dry weekend is expected.
World-renown conservationist Jane Goodall will observe Earth Day in Madison this year. She’ll be the keynote speaker at the Nelson Institute’s Earth Day Conference on April 15th at Monona Terrace near the State Capitol. Goodall is best known for her studies of chimpanzee behavior in Tanzania. Her lecture is called “Conservation Everywhere, Sustaining Natural and Cultural Diversity.” Primate behavior is one of the topics to be discussed at the Earth Day gathering – along with climate change, cultural conservation, and the way nature is portrayed in films and TV.
State transportation officials are telling drivers to plan for traffic delays in Sturgeon Bay starting on Monday. That’s when maintenance work resumes on the historic Bayview Bridge on Highway 42-57 in the Door County seat. The bridge will be closed to both vehicles and walkers while it gets structural steel repairs, improved machinery and electrical systems, a new paint job, and an overlay of the bridge’s deck and approaches. The structure will remain closed until around the Fourth-of-July. Commuters are being told to use the city’s other bridge to cross the bay. Officials do not expect other services in the immediate area to be affected. More information is available on the DOT’s Web site, accessible at Wisconsin.gov.
A court filing indicates that the Golden Guernsey Dairy is about to be sold, and possibly re-opened. Accord Financial, one of the dairy’s creditors, said a bankruptcy trustee is apparently negotiating a sale of the Waukesha plant, and all the equipment inside. One media report quoted a Golden Guernsey employee as saying a deal could be set as early as May. A private equity firm from Los Angeles bought the dairy from Dean Foods last fall, and then closed the Waukesha plant on January fifth with virtually no advance notice. Over 100 people became unemployed – and hundreds of Milwaukee area schools that relied on the dairy had to scramble to find new milk suppliers. The company filed for Chapter-Seven bankruptcy a short time later, and proceeds from the plant’s sale would go to creditors and investors.
The manufacturing economy continues to be on the mend in southeast Wisconsin and northern Illinois. That’s according to a monthly index from Marquette University and corporate purchasing members of the Institute for Supply Management. The overall index of the factory business climate was 56.4 this month, up from 51.3 in January. The figure has been on the rise for three straight months. Anything over 50 indicates growth. Anything below 50 shows a decline. The report said that factory orders are on the rise. Some shops have had issues with capacity, and they face higher costs for materials.
Wisconsin’s attorney general said residents have received almost $144-million from a national settlement of a consumer lawsuit against mortgage lenders. J.B. Van Hollen said just over three-thousand borrowers in the Badger State have gotten some type of relief – and the average settlement per borrower is just under $47,000. Van Hollen also said the total awards in Wisconsin were a bit larger than the amount which was first projected, 140-million dollars. The national settlement was reached with Bank of America, Citi-group, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Residential Capital. It totaled $25-billion, and it accused the lenders of abusive practices in foreclosing on delinquent home loans.
State lawmakers were told yesterday that a bill to charge large fees for deleting confidential data from public records would make it easier for governments to shove their misdeeds and bad news under the rug. The concerns were raised at a committee hearing on a bill that nullifies a State Supreme Court ruling from last year. The court said Milwaukee Police could not charge the Journal-Sentinel four-thousand dollars to redact confidential parts of records for news stories on how the department classifies crimes. Former sheriff Garey Bies, an Assembly Republican from Sister Bay, sponsored the bill. The panel delayed a vote on it. A number of police, local government, and UW leaders said those who want public records need to share the cost of preparing them for public release. Media attorney Bob Dreps said many records are maintained electronically – so it should not cost that much to delete what’s confidential. Dreps said the bill would make it easier to discourage requests for records by demanding thousands-of-dollars – and governments would be more likely to charge it if the information is sensitive or damaging. Curt Witynski of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities vowed it would not happen. Michael Juley of the Journal-Sentinel called the bill a “serious threat” to the state Open Records Law, it goes against the intentions of those who passed it in 1981.
A new report says an Indian tribe that fears pollution from possible mining near its reservation has other pollution problems of its own. The federal EPA says the Bad River tribe near Ashland has had dozens of water quality violations at its sewage treatment plant. The conservative Media Trackers’ group first reported on excess E-coli and phosphorus in the Bad River sewage plant – and it pointed to signs of possible fecal contamination and the harming of aquatic animals. The New York Times recently said the Bad River had the most EPA water pollution violations from 2004-through-’08, with 241. The plant reportedly keeps running without an EPA permit – and the tribe has not been fined. Bad River Tribal chairman Mike Wiggins has been one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine, saying it would have hard time following the tribe’s water quality standards. Wiggins blames human error and poor reporting for the tribe’s sewage violations. He told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quote, “It’s something we’re working proactively to fix.” He also said the water downstream from the sewage plant shows that it’s safe for humans to drink.
Milwaukee’s police chief is urging U.S. senators to approve a nationwide ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Ed Flynn told the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington today that seven of his officers were shot with semi-automatic and assault weapons over the last three years. Flynn repeated his earlier contention that a nearly constant string of murders in Milwaukee represents quote, “slow-motion mass murder every single year.” The chief also pointed to the 20 students killed in the Newtown Connecticut school massacre, asking quote, “Is 20 babies enough to say these implements of murder should not be distributed?” The bill pending in the Senate would also require standardized background checks for all gun purchases, including one-to-one sales and those at gun shows. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham asked the Milwaukee chief how many cases he pursued against those failing background checks. Flynn responded quote, “We don’t chase paper. We chase armed criminals.” The bill faces an uncertain fate in the Democratically-controlled Senate, and certain opposition in the GOP House.