WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Governor's race still tied according to MU poll
Governor Scott Walker and his main Democratic challenger Mary Burke remain in a dead heat in the state's largest independent poll.
The Marquette University Law School poll released this afternoon gives the Republican incumbent a one-point edge. That's well within the poll's margins of error of three-and-a-half percent among the 804 total registered voters surveyed -- and four-point-three percent for 549 people who said they're likely to vote in November. Walker leads 46-to-45 percent among registered voters, and 47-46 among likely voters. Half of all voters are still not able to give an opinion about Burke, with less than three-and-a-half months before Election Day. Even so, Burke is favored by women 48-to-41 percent, while men give Walker a ten-point advantage and married couples also endorse the governor. Two-thirds of those polled agreed that Walker gets things done -- and only 22-percent said the state budget was in worse shape. Fifty-six percent favored a higher minimum wage, but that's seven points less than the previous Marquette poll in May. Forty-three percent agreed with federal numbers showed that Wisconsin lags behind other states in creating jobs. Just 37-percent favor the state's ban on gay marriage, as the state appeals a federal judge's ruling which struck it down. Voters were polled between last Thursday and Sunday, while Walker and Burke were debating the outsourcing of jobs overseas.
Wisconsin's attorney general says gay marriage is like abortion -- there's no fundamental right to it, and state laws are reasonable in requiring one-man/one-woman unions. J.B. Van Hollen made those arguments in a 188-page document filed today with the federal appeals court in Chicago. That's where both Wisconsin and Indiana are appealing in a combined case, after federal district judges in both states struck down state gay marriage bans recently. Madison Judge Barbara Crabb said Wisconsin's ban violated the equal protection and due process rights of same-sex couples. Van Hollen said Crabb's decision amounts to the creation of a new right to gay marriage -- and it wrongly extends federal authority into an area normally handled by the states. Van Hollen said the U.S. Supreme Court's dismissal of the federal Defense-of-Marriage act last year showed that it's up to the states to set requirements for marriage.
Unemployment rates went up last month in all 12 of Wisconsin's metro areas. State labor officials said today that Racine had the largest preliminary seasonally-adjusted jobless rate for June at 7.6 percent, up six-tenths of a point from May. Janesville was at 6.9, and Metro Milwaukee was 6.7. Madison traditionally has the state's lowest unemployment -- the same was true in June with a figure of 4.3 percent. Preliminary totals show that Madison lost 1,200 jobs last month, while Milwaukee gained 8,300. Also, 61 of the state's 72 counties had higher unemployment rates in June than in May. Menominee County had the highest unadjusted rate at 17.8 percent. Dane and Saint Croix counties were the lowest at 4.2.
The owner of a suburban Milwaukee restaurant is under investigation for putting drugs in women's drinks -- then molesting the women and taking nude photos after they passed out. The 34-year-old man awaits charges after federal, state, and local officers raided his restaurant in Cedarburg and his home in Wauwatosa. According to a search warrant affidavit, the officers seized cameras, computers, and drugs which included a numbing chemical that's used in minor surgeries. The man was first investigated in 2008, after women said they were offered drinks and had faded memories about it afterward. One women said she was texted a photo of herself without pants, with a phrase that asked, "Round-Two?" Cedarburg Police said the investigation was renewed after new allegations surfaced in April.
A man convicted of causing a traffic death near Wisconsin Dells will keep living with his mother and get his own mental health treatment. Twenty-eight year old Casey Wright of the Dells was found innocent-by-insanity to a negligent homicide charge in an August 2012 crash that killed 22-year-old Lisa Mikec. The victim's family was upset with the state's recommendation to place Wright in a community setting for treatment, instead of the normal institutionalization. Sauk County Circuit Judge Patrick Taggart said he did not have much choice other than to follow a case manager's suggestions. Taggart said the state apparently believes that somebody "dropped the ball" in getting treatment for Wright -- and he found it hard to disagree. Wright said he was trying to escape demons when he slammed into Mikec's oncoming vehicle. Taggart ordered Wright to submit to random drug tests, and take his medication and psycho-therapy. If he doesn't, the judge promises tougher action.
About 300 Wisconsin jobs will move to North Carolina. The Sealed Air Corporation said today it would move a total of 1,300 jobs to Charlotte over the next three years, as part of a major consolidation. The Wisconsin jobs are with the Diversey cleaning products division which is based in Sturtevant, just west of Racine. The other jobs are being moved from South Carolina, Connecticut, and New Jersey where Sealed Air is based. The company says the jobs will be moved in phases, and it will either sell its facility in Sturtevant or lease it to somebody else. The move does not affect a Diversey distribution center in Sturtevant. Earlier today, a North Carolina committee endorsed a tax break for Sealed Air. It will get up to $36-million over 12 years, if it meets designated goals for jobs and investments.
Governor Scott Walker has asked for federal disaster aid to help communities which had broken water mains and other damage from the record-cold winter. The state applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for over $11-million to repair public amenities. The request covers eight counties where damages exceeded the thresholds to qualify for FEMA grants. Those counties are Milwaukee, Kenosha, Fond du Lac, Winnebago, Wood, Marathon, Clark, and Chippewa counties. Should the state's request be approved, Walker said more damage assessments would be performed to see if other counties could also get aid. Initial reports showed that all but three of Wisconsin's 72 counties had a total of $25-million in damage to things like water pipes, water towers, and streets. Walker said the severe cold "overwhelmed" many counties, cities, villages, and towns -- and the federal aid would help them cover their unexpected damages. Wind-chill factors got down to 55-below in far northern Wisconsin in early January, and the severe cold extended well into the spring season.
A former Marshfield Clinic executive who later headed a national health care trade group is returning to central Wisconsin to become the clinic's first CEO. Susan Turney will begin her new post on September first. She served in various clinical and administrative roles for Marshfield Clinic for 22 years. She most recently served as president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association near Denver. Marshfield Clinic doctors used to make all the decisions for one of the nation's largest multi-specialty groups. Earlier this year, the IRS approved the formation of an independent board headed by former state Revenue Secretary and UW-Madison Research Park official Mark Bugher. The board oversees all parts of the Clinic's organization, which has rapidly grown in central and northern Wisconsin over the past 35 years. Six doctors started Marshfield Clinic in 1916. The clinic's current Health System was formed in 2012. It now has a total of 700 doctors, 6,600-employees, and around two-billion dollars in annual revenues.
Milwaukee Police are still trying to find out who killed a 30-year-old man outside a restaurant -- and why. Officials said Jimmy Nash was shot around 10:30 last night while he was standing outside an eatery of Milwaukee's north side. No arrests were made as of late this morning. Police said they were still trying to determine a motive.