Attorneys split over whether MPS open records exemption sets new precedent; former Gov. Lucey remembered; more state news
MILWAUKEE -- Experts disagree on whether a recent court ruling could keep more public records sealed throughout Wisconsin.
Until now, the state Open Records Law did not require Wisconsinites to identify themselves, or explain why they want government records -- and Ardell's attorney, Rebecca Mason, tells the Associated Press that the appellate ruling changes all that. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is also concerned for the same reason.The law prohibits those incarcerated from obtaining many public records and the appellate court said it was okay to include Ardell in that group, even though he was never in jail and never charged criminally with abusing the woman.Attorney Mason said the court decision sets a precedent in which those who don't agree with certain viewpoints can have their public record requests denied. Milwaukee assistant city attorney Melanie Rutledge disagrees, saying that the court was only trying to clarify that employee safety should be considered in handling records' requests. Rutledge calls the court decision a narrow one. Ardell plans to appeal it to the State Supreme Court.
Former Gov. Lucey remembered for UW merger, 18-year-old law
Wisconsin's longest-serving legislator says former Gov. Patrick Lucey will be remembered as one of the state's most influential citizens.State Senate Democrat Fred Risser of Madison said Lucey turned Wisconsin into a "two-party state." The 96-year-old Lucey died Saturday night at the Milwaukee Catholic Home where he lived for several years. He had a brief illness.Many have credited Lucey with the rise of Wisconsin's Democratic Party in the wake of the Joe McCarthy era.The La Crosse native chaired the state Democrats in the 1950's -- and he helped former President John F. Kennedy win a key primary in the Badger State in 1960. Lucey became governor a decade later, serving the first four-year term in that post. He served for most two terms, and was credited with the merger of the UW and the old State University System in 1972. He also reduced the "Age of Majority" in which the age for voting, drinking, marriage, and other adult responsibilities dropped from 21- to 18.Lucey also appointed the first female justice to the State Supreme Court -- Shirley Abrahamson, who remains the chief justice. In 1977, Lucey became the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. In '80, he ran for vice president as an independent with John Anderson. He later remained politically involved as a professor at Marquette and Harvard, and as a supporter of Democrats John Kerry and Barack Obama in the past decade.Republican Gov. Scott Walker praised Lucey as a "dedicated public servant who loved Wisconsin." Funeral arrangements are pending.
Oconto High School reopens after major fire
OCONTO -- Oconto High School in northeast Wisconsin is opening today for the first time since a fire 26 days ago caused $5 million in damage.For the past three weeks, students have attended classes at a middle school where extra space was available. About 300 students and 40-plus staff members were affected, after a 16-year-old boy reportedly started the blaze by smoking a home-rolled cigarette in a restroom stall and an ember smoldered in a toilet-paper dispenser.
Authorities said it was an accident, but prosecutors continue to consider possible charges against the youngster.WLUK TV of Green Bay said a smoke detector is in the repaired restroom for the first time and plastic stall partitions were replaced with flame-resistant metal walls.Superintendent Sara Croney told the TV station that the Oconto district might seek voter approval in November for other school improvements, including sprinkler systems.Oconto is located along Green Bay, about 40 miles north of that city.
Storms in Fox River valley leave thousands in the dark
Almost 5,500 hundred Wisconsin electric customers were without power this morning, after heavy thunderstorms put a damper on Mother's Day outings.The Wisconsin Public Service utility reported over 2,900 outages in the Oshkosh area at 5:15 a.m.We Energies had just over 1,000 customers out around Seymour. Workers were busy during the night getting power restored. Wisconsin Power & Light reported over 2,000 customers out of power in Fond du Lac County at 5 a.m., but just 15 minutes later, the utility's Web site said the numbers of outages were down to about 350.In western Dane County, power lines fell late Sunday in Cross Plains, where a tree caught on fire.In Black Earth, heavy rains and a brief hail-storm caused minor flooding. Near Janesville, gusts up to 60 miles per hour caused a fallen tree to block a road and numerous tree limbs fell at nearby Footville.Beaver Dam had continuous lightning and half-inch hail late Sunday afternoon.Western Wisconsin received heavy rain overnight Sunday with River Falls recording 1.33 inches as of 5 a.m.The National Weather Service said a warm front brought warm, humid, and unstable air to much of the state.Kenosha, Janesville, and Wautoma all had highs of 81 Sunday before the storms came through. Another warm front was expected to push through Wisconsin Monday from south to north -- bringing more warm temperatures and another chance of heavy storms on and ff through Monday night.
Departments split on how to implement rules allowing Narcan
One of Wisconsin's new anti-heroin laws allows trained law enforcement officers to carry the heroin antidote Narcan.But police and sheriff's officials in parts of central Wisconsin are in no hurry to have the drug on hand in their squad cars just yet. Melissa Dotter of the Marathon County "Push-Back Against Drugs" campaign says she'd like to see officers carry Narcan but she notes that the drug has a high cost and a limited shelf life so grant funds may be needed.Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks tells WSAU Radio in Wausau that his agency will probably have to do some research before moving ahead with it.Wausau Police and Portage County sheriff's officials say they'll probably let their local ambulance crews handle Narcan.Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel says paramedics arrive as quickly as officers to emergencies but it's something they'll review before making a final decision.Racine County officers were the first in the state to add Narcan to their squad cars earlier this month.Assembly Republican John Nygren of Marinette proposed expanding the accessibility of Narcan as one of his four anti-heroin bills which became law in the last legislative session.-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Toddler drowns after apparent fall into river
RHINELANDER -- A toddler who drowned near Rhinelander was identified yesterday as 15-month-old Kaleb Kennedy. His mother told authorities that she was outside with the boy and one of his siblings early Saturday afternoon. She went in the house to move laundry from a washer to a dryer and when she returned, the little boy was gone. That's when she called 9-1-1. An Oneida County sheriff's deputy found the youngster about 30 minutes later, downstream from the home in the Pelican River.The boy was rushed to a hospital, where he died a short time later. The incident remains under investigation.-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Woman dies, man shot after fracas involving Beloit police
BELOIT -- State and local authorities are investigating an incident in Beloit Sunday night, in which a woman was killed by a driver who was just starting to flee officers. Beloit Police said they responded to a complaint about an unwanted person in a house around 7:40 p.m. and they found Sheila Rosenbaum,47, and a 40-year-old man inside.Officers said they tried arresting the man, but he jumped into a vehicle and struck Rosenbaum while trying to get away.Officials said the Beloit officers fired shots at the man's vehicle, and it crashed a short time later. The man reportedly tried running off, but police caught him. He was taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound.Officials said the man and Rosenbaum knew each other, but they were not sure how.State justice investigators are looking into the police shooting.
Deputies treating body-find as a homicide
SHAWANO -- The discovery of human remains in Shawano County is being investigated as a homicide.Sheriff's officials said two people discovered the remains late Saturday afternoon in a wooded area in the town of Richmond, west of Shawano along County Highway MMM.Sheriff Randy Wright said the remains, artifacts from the scene, and other pieces of evidence were shipped to the State Crime Lab for review.Media reports quoted a neighbor who speculated the remains may be those of woman missing since last summer. Authorities did not say anything about that. They don't expect to release other information until the crime lab completes its review of the forensic evidence.
Truck rollover claims life, knocks out power
PLOVER -- A man killed in a traffic crash near Plover that knocked out power to 2,400 residents has been identified as Gabriel Migut, 37, of Vesper.Portage County sheriff's deputies were called to the crash site on Highway 54 about 1:15 a.m., Sunday.Investigators said Migut's pick-up truck veered into a ditch, tried getting back onto the road, and rolled over three times across the opposite shoulder.The truck then hit a power pole, where Migut was ejected.Crews from the Wisconsin Public Service utility replaced the pole, and those who lost their power had it back around 4:30 yesterday morning -- more than three hours after the crash.-- Raymond Neupert and Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Two fatalities occur within an hour in Racine County
Caledonia in Racine County had two fatal vehicle crashes within an hour of each other on Mother's Day.The first one happened around 4:20 in the afternoon. Police said Leonard Boczkowski, 32, of Racine died after his truck went through a stop sign, collided with a semi-truck from his right, and then hit a utility pole. The 35-year-old semi driver was not hurt.About 50 minutes later -- around 5:10 p-m -- a 21-year-old woman died in an off-road motorcycle mishap in Caledonia. It happened on residential property. Officials said alcohol did not appear to be a factor, and the accident is still under investigation.The woman died at a Racine hospital. Her name was not immediately released.
Shootings claim two lives in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- Police are investigating a pair of shooting deaths from Sunday. The first happened around 2:30 a.m. at Big-"C's" Blues Lounge on the city's north side. Police said two men got into a physical altercation, the suspect went for a handgun and later shot a 47-year-old man to death.Police said witnesses were cooperating with investigators but no one was in custody at last word.Another shooting death occurred about 12:30 Sunday afternoon about a mile west of Milwaukee's downtown. Police said a 33-year-old man was shot in the street. Rescuers performed CPR, but the victim died at the scene.
Overnight fire kills one, injures another
Authorities in Waukesha County are trying to figure out the cause of a house fire that killed one person and injured another.The blaze was reported at 1:15 a.m., Sunday in the town of Ottawa. North Prairie firefighters were the first to respond, and several other fire departments helped out.Investigators said the blaze was contained to a bedroom. A man died at the scene, and another victim was taken to a hospital for treatment.More information about those people was not immediately released. Sheriff's deputies are handling the investigation.