WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Lions' prez apologies for insults from Raiola to UW Band
MADISON - The president of the Detroit Lions has apologized for obscenities and offensive remarks that center Dominic Raiola made to the University of Wisconsin Marching Band at Sunday's Packer game.
A band member wrote on Facebook that he was marching up the field to perform the national anthem when Raiola questioned his sexuality -- and among other things, he shouted obscenities to a trombone player and a female band member later on. The veteran Raiola tells Fox Sports the story has been blown way out-of-proportion, and the Lions have more important things to worry about like wins-and-losses. Apparently, Raiola's bosses don't agree. Lions' president Tom Lewand promised a full investigation when he called the UW and apologized yesterday. Coach Jim Schwartz said he'd also look into it. UW Band director Mike Leckrone told WISC-TV in Madison that Raiola went beyond the normal razzing that band members get from opposing players -- and the insults got really personal and offensive. Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy said he didn't know what Raiola was thinking -- and he said the Packers love the Badgers, and fans love the UW band when they play at Lambeau.
Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke at a rally at UW-Madison where he asked the makers of consumer electronics to stop using minerals from the Congo. Rodgers told several thousand people that minerals are the lifeblood of the Congolese warlords who are committing atrocities in other parts of the world. Rodgers has a new teammate from the Congo, Packers linebacker Andy Malumba. He appeared at the UW rally, along with actress Emmanuelle Chriqui. Rodgers plans to join Chriqui in a visit to the Congo after the current football season. Chriqui says it's "incredible" to have Rodgers as an ambassador -- because he opens up awareness of the issue to a whole new group of people, namely sports fans.
A Wisconsin Marine who died over the weekend in Afghanistan is on his way home. The body of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Jeremiah Collins Jr. of Milwaukee arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The Pentagon confirmed yesterday that Collins died on Saturday at Camp Leatherneck in the Afghan province of Helmand. The military did not say how he died, and his family says the cause remains under investigation. Collins was an intelligence specialist in Afghanistan. He joined the Marines 16 months ago, and was promoted to lance corporal in May. He served in the Second Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
The FBI and Calumet County authorities say they have no leads in the release of two-thousand mink from a farm near New Holstein last weekend. The FBI calls the incident "domestic terrorism," an indication that an animal rights' protest group was responsible. The Animal Liberation Front, which has pulled off several releases of Wisconsin mink in the past, has not claimed responsibility for the latest incident. The group's Peter Young told WLUK-TV in Green Bay that it supports the action. Friends and neighbors scrambled to recover about 1,500 of the two-thousand mink on Saturday from Bonlander Farms near New Holstein. Virginia Bonlander says about at least 100 are still missing. Young said there have been at least eight raids on fur farms throughout the U.S. in the last two-and-a-half months -- and more could be on the way.
About 900 civilian workers are due back at Fort McCoy today -- including a veteran who spent her furlough as a volunteer to keep Chicago school students safe. Staff Sergeant Catherine Threat returned from Afghanistan in July, and went to work as a civilian at the Army base near Sparta. That was until the federal government shutdown a week ago, when she was sent home. Instead of sitting around, Threat took part in a patrol by veterans in the Chicago Public Schools' "Safe Passage" program. The group "No Veteran Left Behind" coordinated the effort, helping youngsters stay safe while traveling to school in Chicago. Despite the brief tenure, Threat she said hoped her efforts helped. Hundreds-of-thousands of U.S. civilian military personnel were called back to their jobs over the weekend. Fort McCoy welcomed some workers back yesterday. The rest, like Threat, were due in today. About 840 Wisconsin National Guard technicians are also back on the job as the federal shutdown enters its eighth day.
Week-Two of the federal government shutdown begins today -- and for 18 Marquette students, it's an interesting experience to say the least. They're in Washington as interns at the university's Les Aspin Center for Government. They attend classes and spend three days a week volunteering at federal agencies and congressional offices. Three of the 18 interns are out of work right now. The rest are on Capitol Hill taking phone calls and messages from constituents who are sharply divided over the shutdown. Marquette senior Emily Wright tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel it was a nice to get a break for the first couple days -- but as the shutdown drags on, it's getting more frustrating. Wright fears it will be quote, "stressful and crazy" when the shutdown's over and she goes back to work. She figures it will happen soon. Wright believes the mid-October deadline for raising the debt ceiling will forge a deal. Yesterday, President Obama said he'd be willing to support an increase in the debt limit to avoid a default. Meanwhile, the shutdown is not the only thing the Marquette students have seen first-hand. They live about a half-mile from the Naval Yard where a gunman killed 12 people almost a month ago.
The federal government spent 24-percent less in Wisconsin in the last fiscal year than it did in the previous year. The Wisconsin Procurement Institute, which helps companies secure federal contracts, said Washington spent just over three-billion in the year ending September 30th. That's down from almost four-billion the previous year, and seven-point-two billion in fiscal-2011. The ending of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan hit Wisconsin especially hard -- especially the Oshkosh Corporation, which is a large manufacturer of military vehicles. The Procurement Institute said there were 2,515 federal contractors in Wisconsin during the last fiscal year -- down 20-percent from the year before. The Badger State ranked 29th in terms of federal dollars received, down from 28th last year and 23rd in 2011.
Thanks to the federal government shutdown, we have no idea how Wisconsin's crop harvest is going. The USDA normally issues an update every Monday, but those reports have been delayed. Reuters projects that about 20-percent of the U-S corn crop has been harvested, up from 12-percent a week ago. The national soybean harvest is estimated at 22-percent, twice what it was the previous week. Both figures are well behind a year, when over two-thirds of the corn was taken out of the fields. The Wisconsin harvest was just getting started, according to the report issued a week ago. At that time, three-percent of the state's corn-for-grain was brought, along with 54-percent of the corn for feed.
Wisconsin's outgoing attorney general says a prosecutor would be his best replacement. J.B. Van Hollen announced yesterday that he won't run for a third four-year term next fall. Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said he would consider running as a Republican -- and he expects to make an announcement in a couple days. Two Democratic state representatives also said they might throw their hats in the ring. Milwaukee Democrat Jon Richards said he has thought about the attorney general's post for some time -- and he expects to make an announcement soon. Madison Democrat Chris Taylor, a former Planned Parenthood leader, said she's also considering a bid. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel listed other possibilities who have not commented. They are Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne, and former state Senate Democrat Jessica King of Oshkosh. Van Hollen says he hopes the job stays in Republican hands. He was first elected in 2006. He said he achieved his first big campaign promise of eliminating the state's backlog of DNA evidence processed at the state crime labs. Van Hollen also mentioned crime-fighting efforts to protect children, and the concealed weapons law as some of his other major accomplishments. Van Hollen says he'll focus on completing his term over the next 15 months, and is not sure what he'll do after that.
Democrat Mary Burke promises to make job creation a focal point of her campaign against Governor Scott Walker next year. The former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive held her first news conference yesterday afternoon, after announcing her bid in a YouTube video. Burke ran the commerce department for two years before the Great Recession hit. Now, she said Wisconsin is recovering a lot more slowly than most other states. Burke repeatedly pointed out that Wisconsin is the sixth-worst state in projected job growth. She said the state has 84,000 fewer jobs now than it did before the recession when she served under former Governor Jim Doyle. Burke did not say what she might do to boost the economy if she's elected. She also made no promises about Walker's signature legislation which virtually ended most public union bargaining. Burke said she believes that collective bargaining is appropriate for public employees, but did not say if she'd try to repeal the law. The Republican Walker said a few months ago that his campaign message would be the same with any Democrat running against him -- that the opposing party would take Wisconsin back to the days of high taxes, high deficits, and high unemployment. Yesterday, Walker said all those things about Burke. It's not known whether Burke will have a primary opponent. Senate Democrat Kathleen Vinehout of Alma will decide early next year whether she'll run.
Over 100 people attended a memorial service in Pulaski to remember five young girls struck-and-killed by a car 25 years ago. Brenda Hylok, Laura Karcz, Jodi Prokop, and Jessica McKeefry, all 13 -- were killed along with 12-year-old Nicole Watia. They were walking together on a sidewalk on October 7th of 1988, when a speeding car driven by a 17-year-old boy jumped a curb and struck the girls and then slammed into a tree. The driver had epilepsy, and he suffered a seizure just before he lost control of his vehicle. He was not charged. Last night's tribute was held at a park in Pulaski where a memorial honors the five girls. Five white doves were released to honor each of the fallen youngsters.
The Kenosha City Council has paved the way for Amazon.com to open a new distribution center. The vote was 13-0 late last night to approve a development agreement and use permit for the project -- plus $18.2 million in tax incremental financing for related streets and utilities. Mayor Keith Bosman says Amazon will hire 11-hundred full-time people to distribute a host of merchandise from the Internet giant. About 25-hundred seasonal workers are also expected. Developers plan to start construction as soon as possible, and open the warehouse by next fall. State assistance is still possible. Officials have not said anything about that publicly.
The attorney for a Dane County man accused of killing his autistic half-brother is now considering an insanity plea. 29-year-old Jeffrey Vogelsberg was scheduled to go on trial in two weeks for first-degree intentional homicide. Defense lawyer David Karpe now says he has to re-work his strategy, after it became possible for the defendant's wife to testify against him. Shannon Remus, a military police officer in Washington State, was recently convicted of two misdemeanors after authorities said she helped Vogelsburg bury the victim's body. Vogelsburg is accused of beating 27-year-old Matthew Graville to death last year, while the two lived together in Mazomanie. Their landlord, Robert McCumber, was accused along with Remus of helping bury Graville's body -- which was found in a wooded area near Lone Rock last November. McCumber's case is on hold until the Vogelsberg case is settled. Karpe has until November seventh to tell the judge what about his new strategy and possible insanity plea for Vogelsburg. All parties involved will meet December second to possibly set a new trial date.
A weekend tornado in Marquette County was rated yesterday as an "F"-Zero, the weakest classification from the National Weather Service. The Saturday night storm toppled trees, tore off part of a metal roof, and knocked a tree onto a car and a house. Weather Service investigators checked the damage, and concluded that the twister was on the ground for seven minutes. The damage followed a path one-and-three-quarter miles long near Endeavor. The tornado was part of a massive storm system throughout the Midwest last Thursday through Saturday, which also dumped several inches of rain in much of Wisconsin. All that's gone now, and Wisconsin is enjoying drier-and-warmer weather on the back side of a high pressure system to our east. Highs will reach the mid-70's over the next couple days, as much as 10 degrees above normal. More rain is expected on Friday, and into the weekend. A cool-down is predicted for Sunday.
Asbestos has been found in a rock sample at the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine -- and one opposing group says the project should be tabled because of it. The DNR said yesterday that mineral fibers of the cancer-causing asbestos were confirmed by the state's Geological and Natural History Survey. That's after a DNR geologist suspected the carcinogen during a visit to the proposed mine in Ashland-and-Iron counties this spring. Gogebic Taconite has been conducting exploratory work at the site of the four-mile-long mine that could cost up to one-and-a-half billion dollars. Members of the Penokee Hills Education Project inspected wetlands yesterday, and later said the mine should be put off because of the asbestos that was found. The DNR says the extent of the asbestos is not known yet. State hydro-geologist Larry Lynch says that if Gogebic Taconite applies for the mine, it would have to determine the amounts of the chemical, and explain how it would control the spread of airborne emissions. The company said earlier it did not believe asbestos was at the site, based on exploratory work done by U.S. Steel several decades ago. Gogebic spokesman Bob Seitz says his company will conduct its own studies to determine the extent of the asbestos.
Another baby has died in Milwaukee from unsafe sleeping conditions. The medical examiner's office said a three-month-old girl was sleeping in the same bed as her mother and another youngster, and the infant became unconscious. It happened early Sunday morning at an apartment on Milwaukee's north side. Fire-fighters tried reviving the baby, but could not. She was the 12th known infant to die from unsafe sleeping conditions in Milwaukee this year. Advocates urge parents to have their babies sleep alone on their backs in their own cribs. On Sunday, Milwaukee's religious leaders will create community awareness of the problem during its third annual Safe Sleep Sabbath.
The state Division of Motor Vehicles will close its customer service centers next Monday. Staff members will be tied up with training, and will get updates on their job procedures. Officials tried to pick a day that affects the general public the least. Next Monday is Columbus Day. State government offices remain open -- but it's a federal holiday, and officials say the numbers of visitors to the DMV is normally smaller that day. DMV phone centers will also be closed Monday, as the live voices will be busy with training. The department's automated phone line will remain available -- along with all services on the agency's Web site at WisconsinDMV.gov.