Afternoon State News Briefs: DNR to close nude beach near Mazomanie during the weekWisconsin News
-- Too much outdoor sex and drug use has the Department of Natural Resources deciding to close down a nude beach near Mazomanie on weekdays.
MADISON - Too much outdoor sex and drug use has the Department of Natural Resources deciding to close down a nude beach near Mazomanie on weekdays.
State officials have been struggling to stop the sex and drug use, without much success. During one nine-day period, 26 people were arrested for illicit sex and another 16 for drug offenses. That roundup was conducted two years ago. The DNR announced earlier today it is going to close the beach, surrounding islands and wooded areas starting immediately. The beach will still be open on weekends from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Chippewa tribes in northern Wisconsin are being accused of challenging a long-standing relationship by increasing the number of walleye they plan to harvest this spring. The six bands are saying they intend to spear nearly 60,000 of those fish. That number would mean the limits for non-tribal fishermen would be cut from five to three, or maybe even fewer. The state of Wisconsin acknowledges the tribes have a legal right to hunt and fish to any levels they wish in the ceded territory. This could damage a troubled relationship already impacted when the state started allowing a wolf hunt and lawmakers eased certain mining standards over objections from the tribes.
Madison police say thieves took copper from the roof of a McDonald’s restaurant which was closed for renovations. Police were called to the location on East Washington Ave. Monday afternoon when a person reported seeing a man on the roof and a second man standing below who appeared to be a lookout. The man on the ground told responding officers he was just hanging out and didn’t know anything about a man on the roof. When the man above came down, he was carrying a backpack full of copper. He admitted to stealing the valuable metal. The two men eventually admitted they are “scrappers.” A local recycling company told police it is currently paying about three dollars a pound for copper. John T. Patt Senior and Brian J, Mitchell of Madison were arrested at the scene.
A new poll shows that a slight majority of Wisconsinites favor an expansion of school choice – in which low-income kids get tax-funded vouchers to attend private schools. The governor’s proposed state budget would expand the program to up to nine districts where it’s not offered now. The Marquette University Law School polled just over a-thousand people on the issue – and one of every three was from Milwaukee, which has had a voucher program for over two decades. The poll said 52-percent wanted the choice program expanded either statewide, or at least to larger districts which have some underperforming public schools. 42-percent said the program should not expand – or it should be scrapped altogether. Six-percent had no opinion. Also, the poll showed that 72-percent have a favorable view of Wisconsin’s public schools, which 18-percent had an unfavorable view. Ten-percent had no opinion. The margin-of-error in the Marquette is plus-or-minus five-percent.
A state appeals court ruled today that a suburban Milwaukee couple and a police officer can proceed with a joint lawsuit filed against a railroad after a 2009 train crash. By a 2-1 vote, the First District Appellate Court in Milwaukee overturned a circuit court ruling which said the suit was not allowed due to federal railroad laws. Monica Ensley-Partenfelder was on her way to Elm Grove’s Memorial Day parade when her van stopped on railroad tracks in heavy traffic. Her husband Scott and Elm Grove officer John Krahn were seriously injured while trying to save the couple’s two-year-old son from the van, just before it was hit by a passing Canadian Pacific train. The railroad blamed negligence on the van driver, but the Partenfelder lawsuit claimed that the railroad knew there’d be more traffic that day – and it should have taken steps to prevent a mishap.
Wisconsin airports both large and small are bracing for the possible closings of their air traffic control towers as part of the federal sequestration cuts. The airports had until yesterday to explain why they should be spared – and the F-A-A and Congress have until Friday to decide. The cuts would begin April 7th. At Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee, officials hope their service is ranked high enough to avoid the cuts. State Senate Republican Jerry Petrowski of Marathon said he and others in Madison have no say on what Washington does. But he said the state is preparing to do what it can to help where it’s needed. In Milwaukee County, officials expect Mitchell International Airport to lose its controllers for late night flights – while Milwaukee’s much smaller Timmerman Field will lose its control service altogether. County Supervisor Patricia Jursik said it’s unacceptable that towers are being closed in densely-populated areas like Milwaukee. The closing of the towers will not stop the flights themselves. Officials say pilots will use “see and observe” operations, just like those commonly used at small airfields.
The Walker Administration is about to issue new emergency rules for protestors at the State Capitol. Protests continue, two years after Governor Scott Walker first proposed the near-elimination of collective bargaining for most public employee unions. Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis tells the Madison Capital Times the new rules will formalize current enforcement policies in the state’s code, and update rules so they conform with recent court rulings. The Cap Times said the administration indicated that it wants quote, “greater compliance from user groups in order to protect public safety and welfare.” Rules that were newly enforced last year require groups of four-or-more to get state permits for holding protests and other events inside the Capitol. The new rules would further describe the definitions of events and exhibits – and they would say that even common materials can pose hazards. The administration’s drafting document to the Legislative Reference Bureau did say bring up the possibility of closing the Capitol for public forums, like the U.S. Capitol and some other states have done. But the document said the idea is quote, “not recommended.”
About one-of-every-six homes with active mortgages in Wisconsin are underwater – and that number is rising. The California firm of Core-Logic said today that 16.5 percent of Wisconsin homeowners owed more on their properties than what they’re actually worth. That covered the period from last October through December, and the rate was eight-tenths-of-a-percent higher than the same time the year before. Wisconsin’s increase went against a national decline in underwater properties. Core-Logic said 21.5 percent of U.S. home mortgages were underwater – down by one-point-three percent from the previous year. Almost 10.5 million U.S. homes have negative equity. Nevada has the nation’s highest percentage of underwater mortgages, with almost 52.5 percent. Florida, Arizona, Georgia were next on the list.
The head of Gov. Walker’s Administration says the Republican governor makes smart choices in proposed state budget – while creating jobs and making government more efficient. Mike Huebsch made the remark today, as the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee started hearing from department heads who will explain their spending requests over the next week or so. A Democrat on the panel, La Crosse state Senator Jennifer Shilling, said party is concerned about a number of budget items. The biggest include a proposed income tax cut, driving a number of Badger-Care clients to the Obama insurance exchanges, and expanding private school vouchers. After the agencies make their cases, the finance panel will hold four public hearings around the state to get people’s input – and then they’ll consider changes to the governor’s package.
Wisconsin TV viewers are just starting to be reminded that there are two statewide elections two weeks from today. Candidates for the State Supreme Court and state public school superintendent put out their first general election TV ads. Supreme Court challenger Ed Fallone took out a 30-second ad in Milwaukee and Green Bay, the state’s two largest TV markets. A narrator says incumbent Pat Roggensack, quote, “refused to hold David Prosser accountable for choking another justice.” Fallone was referring to the alleged 2011 chokehold Justice Prosser placed on colleague Ann Walsh Bradley. Both have said Prosser did not apply pressure. Prosser was targeted with an ethics complaint, but it’s been nullified – at least for now – because Roggensack and three other justices have said they would not rule on a punishment for Prosser because they were direct witnesses to the incident. Roggensack’s campaign consultant, Brandon Scholz, said it’s disappointing that Fallone is running a negative campaign. Meanwhile, state Superintendent Tony Evers has the first TV ad in his race with Assembly Republican Don Pridemore. He’s also targeting the state’s two largest markets, saying he was against the cuts in state school aid in Governor Scott Walker’s first budget in 2011. Evers said the budget was quote, “balanced on the backs of kids.”