Saturday State News Briefs: FAA gives response on EAA charges
WASHINGTON D.C. - The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a response regarding a $500,000 charge to the Experimental Aircraft Association for costs associated with AirVenture in Oshkosh.
In a statement, the FAA says they are not instituting new user fees and requests the amount to cover "incremental costs" associated with the event during a difficult budget environment. The FAA says the request covers travel and cost of staffing the home positions of employees working at the event. The FAA says they have received the letter from Tammy Baldwin, Ron Johnson and 26 other U.S. Senators and are drafting a response.
Marquette University's College of Nursing has announced a partnership with the Milwaukee Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The partnership aims to prepare nursing students and fill a growing need for nurses at VA hospitals. The five-year, five-million dollar partnership will help fund ten additional full-time nursing faculty members and increase the program's freshman class size by 20 each year, to a maximum enrollment of 150 students.
A Japanese soy sauce company is giving one-million dollars to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to study safe and sustainable drinking water. Kikkoman, which operates a soy sauce plant in Walworth, made the gift to establish the Kikkoman Healthy Waters Environmental Health Laboratories at the School of Freshwater Sciences on the Milwaukee harbor. The announcement was made during a news conference in Fontana.
A court-appointed psychiatrist says there is not enough evidence to show that Iraq War veteran Ben Sebena was insane when he allegedly killed his wife last Christmas Eve. The finding was announced at a court hearing today. A second psychiatric report is expected in two weeks. The 30-year-old Sebena has pleaded innocent by insanity to killing his wife Jennifer, who was shot-to-death while on duty as a Wauwatosa police officer. Also, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski plans to rule in two weeks on a defense request not to let a jury hear what Ben Sebena told police about the slaying - specifically, that he ambushed his wife while she was on an overnight patrol. Ben Sebena's attorney said investigators may have questioned the man improperly, without reading his Miranda rights during the first several hours he was at the police station after the killing. Police officials contend that they were merely trying to comfort Sebena - and he was free to leave at any time.
A Milwaukee man was sentenced today to six months under home confinement, for his role in the botched sting operation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. 28-year-old Chauncey Wright helped promote a fake storefront which the ATF ran in Milwaukee last year. Authorities said he encouraged people to sell guns and drugs at the facility. He was charged with gun-and-drug violations after the sting operation was shut down. While he was working, Wright reportedly did not get much more than a small amount of cash, shoes, and cigarettes. Wright told the Journal Sentinel he had no idea that the storefront was a sham, and that federal agents were running the place. He said quote, "I thought they were my people." Wright spent six months in jail while his case was going through the court system. Officials said Wright had brain damage, with an IQ of just 54 when the ATF employed him. The newspaper has chronicled numerous mistakes in the ATF operation - including a burglary to the store, the theft of an agent's weapon, and more.
The Obama White House added fuel today to the fiery debate over whether grey wolves still need federal protections. Those protections vanished a year-and-a-half ago in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Now, the administration wants to end the endangered status for other wolves in the lower 48 states, with the exception of a fledgling population of Mexican wolves in the southwestern U.S. Most wolves live in 10 states, Wisconsin included. A number of scientists and members of Congress say protections need to continue, so a steady stream of wolves from the 10 states can move elsewhere. In an interview with the AP, director Dan Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said a species that nearly became extinct in the last century has rebounded nicely with over 61-hundred wolves roaming the western Great Lakes and Northern Rockies. Wisconsin has more than twice as many wolves than what wildlife experts expected when the species was reintroduced almost four decades ago. Last year, Wisconsin wolf hunters were much more successful than many had predicted. It took only about half of the planned season to shoot the state's quota of 117. Wolf hunts have killed around 1,600 animals nationally in the past few years - and with federal protections out of the way, state wildlife agencies have shot problem wolves that have damaged livestock and farm crops. Even so, animal rights' groups continue to oppose state control of wolves. A lawsuit was filed a few months to put Wisconsin wolves back under federal protections.
The Wisconsin State Senate will soon decide whether veterans should have preference over others in registering for UW and technical college classes. The state Assembly passed the bill 94-1 yesterday. Middleton Democrat Diane Hesselbein sponsored the bill with the goal of saving state tax dollars, by trying to get more veterans to graduate before their federal GI benefits expire. Students need to use up their federal benefits before the state GI package kicks in. The veterans tuition has applied to UW campuses, and the new bill would extend it to technical colleges starting next year.
The UW Board of Regents voted this morning to seek state approval to grant the first pay raises to university employees since 2008. Meeting in Milwaukee, the Board agreed to ask the State Employment Relations Office to include UW employees in any pay hikes given to other state workers across-the-board. The Regents also sought autonomy to use its own resources to grant further salary increases in order to keep talented faculty and staffers from moving elsewhere. Board member John Drew said UW staffers have gone way too long without raises - and they need to understand they have the Regents' support. UW officials say their employees have been shut out of pay hikes for five years due to furloughs, and the Act-10 requirements to pay more of their own health care and retirement costs.
Lots of Wisconsinites will want to hit the road once summer finally gets here. State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is warning travel-hungry residents to be wary of scams - especially those involving time-share units. In April, five employees of the Thor Corporation's travel club were charged for allegedly scamming Wisconsinites out of free trips or money. Right now, the Justice Department is handling a pair of complaints against travel clubs in the Appleton and Waukesha areas for alleged marketing violations and misrepresentation. Van Hollen says he's urging people to "do their homework" before committing hundreds or thousands of dollars to what may be a scam. He says to be wary of unsolicited calls and messages from companies you're not familiar with, know that robo-call solicitations are illegal, don't believe things that seem too good to be true, don't take high-pressure sales tactics, ask for specifics, don't give out credit card information, check out the company's reputation before agreeing to anything, and use only licensed brokers. Also, Van Hollen says that if one time-share seller scams you, another may offer to help get your money back - if you pay them.