Weekend State News Briefs: Supreme Court declines to hear Ellis appealWisconsin News
-- The Wisconsin State Supreme Court declines to hear an appeal from convicted murderer Walter E. Ellis.
MADISON - The Wisconsin State Supreme Court declines to hear an appeal from convicted murderer Walter E. Ellis.
The Milwaukee man pleaded no contest to charges of first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree murder in 2011 and got a life sentence. He has appealed his conviction, saying he only accepted a plea deal because he thought pre-trial publicity made it impossible to get a fair trial in Milwaukee County. He’s saying he should have been granted a change in venue. Ellis killed seven women over a 21-year period. An appeals court upheld his conviction.
A bill being drafted at the state Capitol would change Wisconsin law to allow third-party financing for solar power projects. Backers of the legislation say this state is missing out on a wave of solar power development being seen around the country. Clean energy companies back the bill being crafted by Democratic state Representative Chris Taylor of Madison and Republican state Representative Gary Tauchen of Bonduel. The Legislature is expected to debate several energy issues now that the debate over mining regulations is done. Experts say nearly three-fourths of the solar market last year came from third-party investment.
A West Allis man made his third attempt at his initial court appearance in Racine County Court last Friday. He and a man who tried to act as his attorney had been held in jail for a few days since an outburst in court. Grant D. Gall faces several drug charges. The man trying to represent him was not a lawyer. At one point, Gall and the second man were shouting at Circuit Judge Tim Boyle. The two men are a part of the Sovereign Citizen Movement. Its members are anti-government and have adopted a right-wing, anarchist ideology. Gall has told the court he isn’t a citizen subject to Wisconsin laws and demanded to be released from jail. It didn’t happen. His next hearing is scheduled for Friday.
A consultant is telling the state Department of Natural Resources repairs need to be made to the eastern Wisconsin pipeline which spilled gasoline last July. That consultant says an inspection found nine section of pipe were degraded where they cross the Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area. They report suggests they need to be reinforced with a metal sleeve to eliminate the risk of another spill on the publicly-owned recreation and hunting land. Last year’s mishap dumped an estimated 54 thousand-600 gallons of gas in the Town of Jackson. A welded seam gave way on the pipe in a farm field. The repair project planned for Jackson Marsh has been approved by the state.
Officials with the Green Bay Water Utility say the costs from that December water main break likely won’t result in big rate increases. The price tag might reach a half-million dollars. The three-foot pipeline broke on Green Bay’s east side December 29th. About eight million gallons of water were leaked, covering roads and disrupting service to thousands of customers. The city has hired an outside engineering firm to determine the cause of the leak and whether or not other water mains are at risk for similar failure. That investigation alone could cost $200,000.
The wires are humming on the 32-mile long Rockdale-to-West Middleton transmission line. The $219 million project is aimed at improving the reliability of the region’s power supply. The project took four years to complete. That line is capable of carrying more than 1260 megawatts, enough electricity to power 239 thousand homes. The project was first brought to a public discussion nine years ago, and it got the approval of the Public Service Commission in 2009. Much of the opposition centered on the possible environmental and visual impact along the proposed route.
Central Wisconsin prosecutors say they have video-taped evidence 19 year old baby sitter Jennifer Cronin was beating a four month old boy. Cronin faces felony child abuse charges. The infant’s father installed a secret video camera because he was worried the teenager wasn’t carefully watching his children. The victim’s two year old brother had fallen down some steps. The criminal complaint alleges Cronin repeatedly struck the small child in the head and face while he was in a swing. She also is accused of grabbing his wrist and violently yanking him from the floor into the air.
The average middle income family would save about $1,100 a year in federal taxes if the budget plan by Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan ever gets adopted. And the top one-percent of wage-earners – those making over $575,000 – would get a much bigger proportional tax break of $225,000. Ryan, the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee chair from Janesville, has proposed flat individual tax rates of 10-and-25-percent, and a corporate rate of 25. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center overall average taxes would drop by three-thousand dollars a year per taxpayer – and it would raise people’s after-tax incomes by five-percent. The House package also eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax. The Tax Policy Center says the Ryan plan would reduce revenues by $5.7 trillion dollars over a decade – and all of that would have to be made up with tax increases or spending cuts so Congress does not add to the deficit.
Ryan again defended his federal budget blueprint Friday, when he spoke to thousands at the CPAC conference. The House Budget chairman appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington. Ryan said his package offers the chance to improve people’s lives. It would cut six trillion dollars from proposed federal spending over the next decade – and it would scale back Medicare and Medicaid, and other programs. A day after Ryan made his plans public, Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray (D-Washington) proposed smaller cuts in deficits with both spending reductions in tax hikes. Ryan told the conservative convention that Democrats talk about balancing the budget but they never do. Ryan said an impending national debt crisis would cheapen our currency and be a moral failure. He said the prevailing Democratic policies are hurting working families – and they’re sending a message that quote, “If you plan ahead, make sacrifices for your kids, (and) save, you’re a sucker.”
A support group for those molested by Catholic priests is holding a demonstration in Chicago today, in the hopes of getting to meet with the new Pope Francis. Peter Isley, who heads the Milwaukee chapter of the Survivors Network, is among those urging Chicago Cardinal Francis George to arrange a meeting for his group. The Survivors’ Network noted that the new pope had time to briefly greet Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned as the Boston Archbishop in 2002 after it was learned that he covered up for abusive priests. The survivors’ group is based in Chicago. And before this week’s papal conclave, Cardinal George mentioned the need to remain diligent in cleaning up the sex abuse scandal.
An 18-year-old Nekoosa High School student has been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, after he threatened in a social media chat to quote, “kill everyone.” Steven Dzieglewicz faces action in Wood County Circuit Court, but a date for an appearance was not immediately set. According to prosecutors, a fellow student at Nekoosa High told a counselor that Dzieglewicz indicated he took a gun to school – and he had a way to kill everyone and end it all. School officials sent students home early Monday afternoon, checked the building, and did not find a gun.
Wildlife experts in Madison have determined that a tundra swan found dead in Alaska had become extremely thin. The swan was one of two found dead on New Year’s Eve at the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge in Juneau Alaska. One of the swans was sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison to be checked. The center said the bird was emaciated, but it could not be determined why. Poisoning was ruled out. Alaskan officials say about 100 swans visit Juneau each year on a migratory path. State biologist Ryan Scott says they often head to the tidal salt marshes, where they feed on aquatic vegetation.