WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: State lawmakers considering recommendations on roadway farm equipment
MADISON - A study group has sent a report of roadway farm equipment recommendations to the state legislature.
The Implements of Husbandry study group prepared the report on farm equipment requirements and safety on Wisconsin roadways. The report includes feedback from several town hall meetings and public input. David Vieth is the director of WisDOT’s Bureau of Highway Maintenance, and says one important point of the report is clarity of the law. Recommendations include proper lighting on farm equipment and weight limits for bridges and roadways. Vieth says it’s a balancing act of the state’s growing and ever-evolving Ag economy on roadways not designed to handle it. The recommendations are available to the public on the department’s website at DOT-dot-WI-dot-gov (www.dot.wisconsin.gov/business/ag/index.htm).
In the wake of some political pressure, Governor Scott Walker believes there’s a chance that President Obama will delay implementation of the health care law. Walker is one of many Republicans calling for a repeal of “Obamacare”, which includes a requirement for health insurance beginning in January. The U.S. House last week passed government funding and cutting billions of funding from federal health care, delaying a government shut-down. Walker says the delay is not political, but for the good of the country.
A Racine County teenager has been ordered not to play video games because of a recent outburst. The 17-year-old’s mother says her teen is addicted to gaming and gets angry. His latest outburst led to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct when his mother allegedly disconnected the Playstation 3. According to the criminal complaint, the teen then went on a rampage of threats and throwing things. While on signature bond, the teen has been ordered not to play games until his court date next month.
The president of Wisconsin's United Sportsmen said he resigned from a state council because of health concerns and a need to reduce his workload. Andy Pantzlaff said he was weary after a flurry of negative publicity about his group, which tried-and-failed to get a half-million dollar state grant to promote hunting and fishing. In a long e-mail to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Pantzlaff said he and his family need time to quote, "heal from the abuse I've taken over trying to make a difference." Pantzlaff resigned yesterday from the state's Sporting Heritage Council. He did not indicate if he would stay on as president of his United Sportsmen group. Critics called Republican lawmakers on the carpet, after they refused to let some other outdoor groups with more teaching experience apply for the grant. That brought Democratic accusations of cronyism. Pantzlaff defended himself, saying people think he's a quote, "great villain out for money" when in reality he never accepted a dime from the United Sportsmen. Pantzlaff also mentioned his volunteer work as a grade school football coach, and he turned down pay-and-expenses as a constable. Governor Scott Walker reversed a decision to give the United Sportsmen the state grant after questions about the group's tax status, and Pantzlaff's 2005 citation for shooting a bear with an improper license. Pantzlaff questioned why that had to be reported. He said quote, "I thought the USA stood for people-helping-people, and giving people a second chance. Well, I guess I was wrong." Pantzlaff also said his e-mail would be his final comment on the matter.
A 16-year-old boy was found injured in a ditch early today, just hours after a homecoming prank. Grafton Police said they were called around 11:30 last night, after a hospital security official said several youngsters parked their vehicles in the hospital lot and ran off. When officers arrived they saw the community's traditional toilet-papering of trees at Grafton High School. The teens ran away, but officers did not chase them. Five hours later, around 4:30, the parents of a 16-year-old called police to say he didn't make it home. He was later found in a ditch near the toilet-papering. They said he apparently hit his head and fell down an embankment. The boy was flown to Milwaukee Children's Hospital. His condition was not immediately disclosed. Police say they've started to issue citations in the homecoming toilet-papering incident.
A pit bull was euthanized after attacking a 17-year-old girl and her friend in an alley in Milwaukee. The incident happened last evening. Police said a nearby resident heard the screams, and used a shovel to try-and-stop the attack. That apparently didn't work, so the resident's son shot the pit bull as it kept attacking. There was no word as of mid-day about the conditions of the girl and her friend.
A half-dozen public employee unions asked a Madison judge this afternoon to hold state labor relations officials in contempt-of-court. That was after Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled last week that his decision from last year which struck down parts the Act-10 bargaining limits applied statewide. The head of the two-member Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, James Scott, continues to abide by the law -- and he's proceeding with about 400 annual recertification elections that various unions requested for this fall under Act-10. Madison Teachers Incorporated and a Milwaukee city employee union were the plaintiffs in the Colas lawsuit, and they asked for an injunction to block the other union re-certification votes. Colas rejected the injunction while clarifying that his ruling from last year did not apply just to the two plaintiffs. Among the plaintiffs asking the contempt citation is the Kenosha teachers' union. The state de-certified the group for not holding a fresh election -- and the union said it did not have to hold such a vote under Colas's ruling. State officials have pointed to federal rulings in other lawsuits which have upheld Act-10.
Schools throughout Wisconsin are saving money with Act-10, the law which ended most public union bargaining and made employees pay more toward their health care and retirement. Marshfield News-Herald media says the school district in that city is paying its lowest amount for teacher salaries since 2008. That's a total of almost $17-million, $1.3 million less than just three years ago. Marshfield school business director Pat Saucerman said Act-10 does not get all the credit but it's had quote, "a positive effect on our ability to control costs as we move forward." School officials and the Marshfield teachers' union are negotiating pay raises -- the only thing that's allowed under Act-10, and the raises cannot be bigger than inflation. This year's hike is limited to 2.07 percent. The Marshfield district has more young teachers who are generally paid less than their older predecessors. Thousands of local public employees in Wisconsin retired just before the union law was adopted two years ago. Many feared that Governor Scott Walker would take away their pensions -- something that never happened.
Governor Scott Walker told Wisconsin county leaders today that he's optimistic about the economy. He did not, however, mention his 2010 campaign promise to create a quarter-million private sector jobs in his current four-year term. The Republican Walker told the Wisconsin Counties' Association's annual meeting that economic success is not about reaching a number. He did mention that 134,000 were lost in Wisconsin when Democrat Jim Doyle was the governor during the Great Recession. Recent federal figures show that Wisconsin had created about a third of the 250,000 jobs in the Walker promise, more than halfway into his term. Walker also told the counties' group that he'll soon hold a meeting in the Hudson area to tell companies from neighboring Minnesota what the Badger State has to offer. He cited a similar meeting near the Illinois border which brought several firms to Wisconsin -- including the U-line shipping products company. Walker also promised he would disclose details this week on his latest economic proposals he wants the Legislature to consider in October.
The student newspaper at Marquette University is calling on the school's president to say more about why he's leaving. Father Scott Pilarz is resigning at the end of the fall semester after two-and-a-half years in office. The Milwaukee Jesuit school issued a statement last Friday announcing the move. Today, the Marquette Tribune editorialized that it's not like Pilarz to say nothing directly to the student body. The paper's online editorial noted that Pilarz has issued almost 40 personal messages to students -- everything from Marquette's move to the new Big East Conference, to his annual "poetry month" e-mails. In the school's statement, Pilarz is quoted as saying that after 10 years as a university president, it's time to consider quote, "other apostolic opportunities for me as a Jesuit priest."
A Milwaukee man is facing possible drug charges after Racine County officers stopped him for a vehicle violation, and they found marijuana and $14,000 in cash. The sheriff's department said today that the man and his wife were in an SUV stopped last Tuesday on southbound Interstate-94 in the town of Yorkville. Officers said the inside of the vehicle had strong odors of marijuana and air fresheners. As deputies searched the SUV, they found a small amount of pot and two plastic-wrapped packages of money -- one for eight-thousand dollars and the other for six-thousand. Deputies seized the cash. The woman said she had no knowledge of either the marijuana or the money. The man claimed he was merely saving the cash. He was arrested and taken to the Racine County Jail.
Charges are expected this afternoon against a man arrested for the strangling death of another man in Green Bay. 49-year-old Daniel Kuehl was murdered at his apartment in May. Police told reporters this morning that DNA evidence and stolen guns led them to Jeffrey Wickman. Police officials are recommending charges of homicide, burglary, theft of a firearm, and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Wickman has been in custody since about a week after the killing for violating a previous probation. He's now being held at a state lock-up in Waupun.
Sixteen men in eastern and central Wisconsin have been arrested in a sting operation aimed at netting Internet child sex predators. Eight of the suspects were picked up in Brown County -- and two of them have ties to the Green Bay School District. The other eight were from Door, Outagamie, Winnebago, Shawano, and Marathon counties. Door County sheriff's investigator Jim Valley said officers portrayed children who were being solicited for sex -- and they had around 15-hundred chats with possible suspects between last Wednesday and Saturday. Online ad services were also used to attract suspects, as well as social media. Half of the 16 suspects were charged as of last night -- including a Green Bay elementary school library specialist and a driver for the school's contracted bus service. Green Bay Superintendent Michelle Langenfeld said her district is doing its own investigation. She called the matter "unsettling and troubling," and stressed that student safety is a top priority. Authorities say they're continuing to investigate.
Two Wisconsin companies have won almost $50-million worth of federal military contract extensions. The Oshkosh Corporation is getting just over $23-million to extend a current Army contract to build equipment designed to protect trucks from rocket-propelled grenade attacks. Also, the Pentagon is giving Dental Health Products of New Franken just over 23-and-a-half million dollars to modify a contract to make a host of medical-and-surgical products. The items will be produced in New Franken, which is east of Green Bay, with a new completion date of next September. The medical items will be supplied to the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force.