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WISCONSIN NEWS BRIEFS: Former Archbishop moved cemetery funds to trust account

MILWAUKEE - Former Milwaukee Archbishop Tim Dolan got permission from the Vatican to move $57-million dollars from a cemetery fund to a trust account allegedly related to the church’s bankruptcy. A letter from Dolan, and the Vatican’s response, were among thousands of pages of documents released by the archdiocese this afternoon.

The release was part of a deal reached between the archdiocese and its creditors – most of whom had claimed to be molested by priests over the last several decades. The victims’ lawyers had accused Dolan of trying to hide the money as the Milwaukee Archdiocese was preparing to declare bankruptcy. The church filed for bankruptcy over two-and-a-half years ago, saying it could not afford the potential payments of millions in sex abuse claims. Dolan, who’s now the Archbishop of New York, issued a statement that any suggestion of his hiding money from victims was quote, “an old and discredited attack.” Archdiocese spokesman Jerry Topczewski said the money was always allocated for the church’s cemetery care – and moving it to a trust fund only made that formal. Current Archbishop Jerome Listecki said the documents would involve abuse cases dating back for 80 years.


Wisconsin’s League of Women Voters has asked the State Supreme Court to declare the state’s photo ID voter law unconstitutional. The league’s attorneys have asked the justices to review an appeals court decision in May which said the ID mandate was constitutional. The appellate ruling reversed a Dane County circuit judge’s decision from last year, which agreed with the plaintiffs that the photo ID law created an additional qualification for voters that’s not in the state constitution. The law remains on the shelf, while state appeals a second judge’s dismissal of the ID requirement. Two federal lawsuits are also pending in the matter. 


A Racine state Assemblyman says he’s thrilled that Governor Scott Walker has signed a provision in the budget, making kringle the official state pastry. Democrat Cory Mason says the provision was mostly the only part of the budget that received bipartisan support. Mason says the provision will give Southeast Wisconsin a “shot in the arm” to their economy. 


Wisconsin U.S. House Republican F. James Sensenbrenner calls the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate last week “the most radical amnesty proposal in our country’s history.” The Menomonee Falls lawmaker wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Times, in which he called the Senate’s pathway to citizenship a catch-phrase for amnesty. House Speaker John Boehner says his chamber will pass its own immigration bill without the proposed pathway to citizenship. Sensenbrenner says it normally takes 25 years for an immigrant who follows the rules to become a U.S. citizen. The Senate bill changes the time length to 13 years. Sensenbrenner calls that a quote, “12-year head start, granted as a reward for illegally entering the country.” He said it’s not compassion. Quote, “It’s just unfair to law-abiding individuals seeking to enter our country legally.” Sensenbrenner praised the amendment approved by the Senate which calls for spending millions in enhanced border security. However, he says border security should be considered separately. Sensenbrenner says the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is chairman, has begun a quote, “measured approach” to tackle the issue one step at a time instead of all at once. When he chaired the Judiciary panel several years ago, Sensenbrenner proposed making it a felony for anyone to be in the country illegally. That measure never went anywhere. 


Northern Wisconsin is getting its normal invasion of mosquitoes – but southern Wisconsin is not. You would think with all the rain that fell last month, folks in the south would constantly be itching. However, U-W Madison entomologist Phil Pellitteri says the repeated soakings are washing away the stagnant water that mosquitoes need to breed. He says the same water needs to be standing for up to 12 days for the blood-sucking skeeters to breed. He also said last summer’s drought could still be having an impact. The National Weather Service said southwest Wisconsin had its wettest June ever. Prairie du Chien had the most with almost 13-and-three-quarter inches. Lynxville, Stueben, Genoa, and La Farge also set new rainfall records for the month. Also, La Crosse had its second-wettest January-through-June on record. That city had 24-and-three-quarter inches of liquid precipitation in the first half of the year, second only to the nearly 27-inches that fell in La Crosse in the first half of 1993.