Church coalition urges prison reforms; No revelations within newly-released Doe probe documents; 15 more state stories
No bomb-shells came out Wednesday, when a federal court released 14 more pages of sealed documents in the Walker John Doe probe.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago released the records Wednesday, after appellate Judge Diane Wood ruled Tuesday there's no need to keep them secret.
Federal Judge Rudolph Randa halted the two-year-old investigation a few weeks ago, and said he agreed with the group's argument that prosecutors violated the group's free-speech rights.
Prosecutors are appealing to get the probe restored.Previously-released records included a prosecutor's theory that Gov. Scott Walker helped arrange an effort to have outside groups illegally coordinate recall election campaigns for Walker and GOP senators in 2011-and-'12.An attorney for special prosecutor Francis Schmitz later said Walker was not a target of the John Doe and no has been charged as a result of the investigation.
New foreclosures fall to pre-recession rates New foreclosure cases in southeast Wisconsin are finally down to what they were before the 2008 recession began.Just over 2,850 new cases were filed from January through June against homeowners delinquent on their mortgages in Milwaukee and six other counties. That's the lowest 6-month total since 2006 and it's less than half the peak of foreclosure cases during the recession.Almost 6,300 new cases were filed in a six-month period in 2009 in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington, Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties.The housing market had a glut of buyers about a decade ago, many of whom apparently assumed that their investments would keep rising. But experts said too many bought homes they couldn't really afford, and the market eventually crashed helping contribute to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930's.UW Whitewater professor Russ Kashian said foreclosure rates were so high for so long, that he was concerned that homebuyers would accept them as normal and it was nice to see that they didn't.Kashian tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the problem could return if interest rates rise, and people take too much financial risk again by going to adjustable-rate mortgages to buy more expensive houses.
Governor's race: Walker war-chest nearly triple challenger Burke's The latest financial figures in the Wisconsin governor's race sparked a debate over how much Democratic challenger Mary Burke should chip in.The former Trek Bicycle executive put up $400,000 of her own money soon after she announced her bid last fall. On Wednesday, the Burke camp said she has not had to put up any more since then -- because she raised $3.6 million from others during the first half of the year.Joe Zepecki of Burke's campaign says she's had "tremendous support," but state GOP director Joe Fadness said she's either not willing or able to spend more on what he called a "losing venture."Zepecki said Burke would contribute more before the race is over.Republican incumbent Scott Walker raised more than twice as much as Burke, with $8.2 million between January and June. Going into July, Walker had $7.6 million in his war-chest, while Burke had $2.5 million. Both campaigns released new figures Wednesday, well before the state's deadline of July 21.
Church coalition urges Wisconsin prison reforms A coalition of church groups is calling for drastic reforms in the Wisconsin Corrections Department.Over 100 members of the umbrella group WISDOM demanded Wednesday that the state release up to 3,000 prisoners who are eligible for parole.They were sentenced before the state's no-parole law took effect in 2000, and the group contended that many have been behind bars much longer than their sentencing judges intended. Those releases could save the state $96 million a year.The group also wants to end over-crowding in the state's prisons, and to put an end to solitary confinement.The group held a news conference to unveil its new campaign called "Reform Now." They then crowded a meeting of a state criminal justice advisory board.Members said they were frustrated, because the state has not made much progress in their call from 2012 to reduce the state prison's population in half to around 11,000 inmates by 2015.Corrections Secretary Ed Wall told an Associated Press reporter that a committee in his agency is looking at solitary confinement issues and he believes his department and WISDOM can find agreement on other subjects.
Harley recalling 66,000 Touring 'cycles MILWAUKEE -- Harley-Davidson is recalling over 66,000 motorcycles after warranty claims turned up a safety defect.The recall includes 2014 Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles with anti-lock brakes, which were built between last July 1 and May 7.The Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson says the front brake line can get pinched between the frame and the fuel tank, possibly causing fluid pressure in the front brake to increase and locking up the front wheel.Harley said it knows of five crashes related to the defect. Two people suffered minor injuries in those mishaps.Harley says it will notify affected owners later this month, and they can get repairs for free.
Marshfield Clinic scraps dental school, returning $10 million grant MARSHFIELD -- The Marshfield Clinic's director said its decision to scrap a new school to train dentists came down to questions of cost and service.The clinic said Wednesday it would not build a new $20 million school to prepare dentists to practice in rural areas, which was on the drawing board since 2010.Marshfield will return a $10 million grant from the state for the project, plus another$10 million allocated by the clinic's Security Health Plan.The Wisconsin Dental Association opposed the project, and so did the state's only other dental training school at Marquette.Marshfield Clinic executive director Brian Ewert said the decision came to down whether the new dental school would have been a prudent use of its resources and whether it would have best served its central and northern Wisconsin service territory.Marshfield and other health systems have been cutting costs amid a recent decline in patients.Ewert said the clinic had looked for six months at various options to meet dental training needs. Among other things, six dental clinics opened by the Clinic's Family Health Center have areas to train students -- and Marshfield has started a post-graduate residency program which can handle up to ten candidates.Ewert said the clinic would also be open to training fourth-year students in partnership with a dental school.
Tax breaks awarded firms that sent jobs overseas MADISON--Wisconsin's job creation agency gave state tax breaks to two companies which later sent jobs to foreign countriesTelevision station WKOW has reported the Eaton Corporation of suburban Milwaukee was awarded tax credits in 2011, outsourced workers in 2013, and was then awarded another state tax break almost a year later.Plexus of Neenah was awarded millions in tax credits in 2011-and-'12, before laying off workers who were later awarded federal benefits because their jobs were shipped overseas.Mark Maley of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said his agency works routinely with companies to ensure that jobs stay in Wisconsin. He said the loss of even one job from the state is "one too many."Maley said Eaton has met part of its long-term job creation goals for its Menomonee Falls plant, and has been given $190,000 so far. He said Eaton will not seek tax credits for its second project. Plexus has been given $4.7 million in credits for meeting its Wisconsin job expansion goals.
Roundy's shedding 18 MSP storesMILWAUKEE -- Roundy's of Milwaukee will transfer its ownership of 18 Rainbow Foods' stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to new owners in the next two weeks.Ten of the stores will become part of the Cub Foods chain. Two will become Byerly's. Other owners will acquire six Rainbow stores.In the meantime, Roundy's is in the process of selling its nine remaining stores in Minnesota. The firm earlier said it would close the nine stores this year if it could not find buyersRoundy's divestiture is also blamed for the closing of a food distribution center it owns in Stevens Point.The company recently said the shutdown would be complete by the end of September, and almost 200 employees will be out of work.“The economic downturn over the last few years, coupled with an increased competitive footprint in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Market, has made it difficult for Roundy’s to keep the Rainbow banner competitive," said Roundy’s CEO, chairman and president Robert A. Mariano in a statement to investors. "However, we believe the sale of these Rainbow stores to this group of local operators will provide those stores better stewardship in serving their communities in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market going forward. The transaction will also allow us to better focus strategically on growing our Mariano’s banner in the Chicago market and strengthening our business in our core Wisconsin markets.”
Shipper, rancher fined for shipping TB-exposed young stock A cattle company from Iowa and a farmer from southwest Wisconsin have been fined for shipping and holding animals that had tuberculosis.Farmer Roger Vogt of Glen Haven and cattle company owner Duane VanderVeen have agreed to pay civil forfeitures totaling about $1,500.Officials said calves exposed to tuberculosis were shipped by the Westview Cattle Company from its gathering facility in Michigan to locations in Minnesota and Iowa.Minnesota investigators later learned that 666 calves were diverted to Vogt's Grant County farm in 2012, and were held there for several months.Officials said the cattle were not allowed to enter Wisconsin because they did not get have negative TB tests or proper identification or inspections.Follow-up tests on Vogt's other cattle showed no trace of TB.
Ore shippers still playing catch-up on Great Lakes The rough winter is long gone, but some rougher side effects will be felt for some time to come.Iron ore shippers on the Great Lakes are the latest to feel the pain. Their loads at the end of June were 17 percent less than a year ago, due mainly to the thick ice on the Great Lakes that took a longer time to melt.Glen Nekvasil of the Lake Carriers Association says a warm summer and fell would help carriers make up for at least some of their lost tonnage but he says it will be tough for the industry to catch up.The colder than normal waters on the Great Lakes produced less evaporation. That, plus heavy rains and snows, caused water levels on Lake Superior to rise by over a foot in recent weeks.
Citizen-input sought on Wisconsin water quality MADISON -- Wisconsin's water quality standards are reviewed every three years and the state DNR is starting the latest review by asking for people's opinions.State officials are seeking public input on 22 water quality standard topics for Wisconsin lakes and rivers related to the protection of public health, recreation, fish and other aquatic communities.This process, which occurs every three years, is called the triennial standards review. The topics under consideration address things such as levels of pollutants, algae and nutrients as well as guidance for implementing water quality criteria.Citizens can submit ideas on the DNR's Web site through Aug. 7th.Also, officials plan a public hearing July 30th in Madison to go over the review process and residents can see that meeting online for those who can't attend in person.The DNR will use the input to help establish a final list of water quality topics to be addressed. Any changes would have to be approved by the state Natural Resources Board, the governor and Legislature, and the federal EPA.For more information, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/news/weekly/article_lookup.asp?id=3018
Driver dead after van-semi crash WILD ROSE -- A van driver was killed after colliding with a semi-truck in central Wisconsin. It happened just after 1:45 yesterday afternoon near Wild Rose in Waushara County. The State Patrol said a van pulled from a stop-sign on County Trunk "P" into the path of a semi-truck coming from the left on Highway 22. Officials said drivers at the stop sign have limited visibility looking left on 22 because of a gradual hill that crests a few hundred feet away. The van driver died at the scene of the crash. The trucker was taken to an area hospital for treatment.Wild Rose is located about 40 miles southeast of Stevens Point.-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Boy suffers head wound in shooting, under investigation JANESVILLE -- Authorities continue to investigate a shooting incident involving two boys in a cornfield near Sharon in Walworth County.Sheriff's deputies said one boy was shot in the head Wednesday afternoon, and was taken to a Janesville hospital. The other boy was being questioned by investigators at last word.Undersheriff Kuret Picknell said it was too early to know if the shooting was accidental or on purpose. The wounded boy's condition was not immediately disclosed.Sharon is located near the Wisconsin-Illinois border, about 20 miles east of Beloit.
Case involving murdered cook goes to jury MILWAUKEE -- A jury in Milwaukee was expected to decide Thursday whether a 29-year-old man is guilty of murdering a cook who tried to break up a fight at a George Webb's restaurant.Delorean Bryson testified in his own defense Wednesday, in the third day of his trial on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide.Prosecutors said Bryson was a part of a group that was terrorizing restaurant customers and employees last Dec. 20th.Reginald Evans, 21, was shot and killed while coming out of the kitchen to break up the melee. Bryson said he shot his gun to protect his cousin but he didn't realize that the bullet struck Evans.Three other alleged instigators are facing separate trials on lesser charges that include harboring a felon, and disorderly conduct.Police said they identified the suspects quickly because one of them used a credit card to pay for what they'd eaten.
Former cop facing murder charges allegedly harrassed many women MILWAUKEE -- The former West Allis police officer charged with dumping the bodies of two murdered women -- including a woman from Farmington, Minn. -- in suitcases was forced to resign in 2001, after he allegedly harassed at least a half dozen other women.The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained personnel records Wednesday for 52-year-old Steven Zelich, who served for 12 years on the West Allis police force.The records showed that investigators uncovered a pattern of inappropriate incidents, including the stalking of a hair stylist even after she had another boyfriend and a baby.The paper said Zelich also stalked exotic dancers, and demanded dates while at their clubs. One dancer said Zelich contacted her 1,0000 times over eight years.The last straw for West Allis Police apparently came in May of 2001, when a woman fled Zelich's apartment in just her underwear while crying.Zelich was charged in June with two counts of hiding a corpse, after he allegedly killed women in Rochester, Minn. and Kenosha County and dumped their bodies in separate suitcases near Lake Geneva. Prosecutors say homicide charges will be filed in the places where Laura Simonson and Jenny Gamez were killed.