High court considers Wisconsin-focused church-state case; Assembly mulls new landlord-tenant law; new 'Alice' crowned
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Supreme Court might announce Monday whether it will take a Wisconsin case, and decide whether a public high school can hold a graduation ceremony in a church.
The Los Angeles Times says the justices have been discussing the Elmbrook Church case since March 29 in their weekly private conferences, but they have not reached a decision on whether to come up with a final ruling.
If they don't take the case, an appeals court ruling from last July will stand. It said that Brookfield Central and East high schools violated the First Amendment ban on a government endorsement of religion by holding their commencements at the non-denominational Elmbrook Church.
The double-decked church hosted the ceremonies for most of the last decade until a new school field house opened in 2010.
Luke Goodrich of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said that if the appellate ruling stands, a "wave of threat letters" will go out to schools across the country that hold events in churches and they could end up having to pay damages and heavy court costs.
Nine plaintiffs said the Elmbrook arrangement violated the separation of church and state. But Goodrich said "The Constitution does not require the government to treat churches as contaminated buildings are uniquely unfit for public events."
The Elmbrook School District took the case to the Supreme Court after losing in the Chicago appeals court.
Furnaces continue to run as temps remain unseasonably cold
SULLIVAN -- Furnaces were running and plants were covered in much of Wisconsin overnight Sunday as the state continues to trudge through the winter that never seems to end.
Saturday's blustery northwest winds brought snow showers to northwestern Wisconsin off and on. An observer near Clayton said the ground there was covered white midday Saturday until sun broke through again and quickly melted the snow away.
It was down to 21 degrees at 4 a.m. at in Rhinelander, Land O'Lakes and Tomahawk. It was expected to get even colder before daybreak with frost advisories and freeze warnings posted for much of central and northern Wisconsin until 7 a.m.
In the far north, the National Weather Service didn't bother posting freeze warnings because there has not been much of a growing season north of Hwy. 8 anyway.
Clear skies and light winds allowed the unseasonable cold to move in from the northwest. A high pressure system is moving east Monday. Forecasters say it will bring in warmer temperatures and southwest breezes. Highs were expected to reach the 60's in southern Wisconsin Monday.
Parts of the state could see the 80's Tuesday before highs cool off a bit to the 70's for the rest of the week.
Next DNC nomination is Hillary Clinton's -- if she wants it, speaker predicts
RIPON -- Hillary Clinton would almost certainly get the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination if she wants it. That's what New York Times' statistician Nate Silver said at Ripon College Sunday, where he took part in a panel discussion and spoke to graduates.
Silver accurately predicted the winners of all 50 states in last November's White House contest.
In answering an audience question, Silver said the next Democratic nomination is Clinton's for the taking. She lost her party's bid to Barack Obama in 2008, but Silver says her stature is higher after her four years as secretary of state.
Clinton has been under fire for the Benghazi incident in Libya last year in which four Americans were killed at their embassy. Silver does not believe the controversy would seriously damage her political chances.
He said Clinton's success against a Republican in 2016 would depend on the state of the economy and Obama's popularity at the time.
Silver told a reporter that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker should be taken seriously as a potential GOP White House candidate. He said Walker has succeeded in pushing the agenda to the right in a state that has voted for Democrats for president since 1988.
Honor Flight with many Korean War vets in DC today
MOSINEE -- Another Honor Flight took off from Wisconsin Monday. This time there are mostly Korean War veterans aboard.
The Honor Flight program started several years ago so the dwindling number of WW II veterans could see their national memorial in Washington, D.C., before they die.
On Monday, 95 Korean War vets were on the latest one-day Honor Flight from the Central Wisconsin Airport at Mosinee. Three of the vets were from WW II and one other served in Vietnam.
Honor Flight organizer Jim Campbell said WW II vets are still the first in line, but they're seeing more veterans who served in Korea.
He said one of the biggest misconceptions about the Honor Flights is that they're only for combat troops. That's not true. He said 90% of veterans in the major conflicts were in support roles, and the trips are for them as well.
Veterans are greeted with high praise at every stop. They fly for free while guardians pay $500 each.
Monday's Wausau area flight had 54 guardians. They took off around 6:30 a.m. and were due back around 8:30 Monday evening.
Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Assembly will vote on new landlord-tenant legislation
MADISON -- The Wisconsin Assembly is expected to vote Tuesday on a bill to let landlords dispose of any property left behind by evicted tenants unless both sides agree otherwise in writing.
Lobbyists and attorneys for landlords say the measure would create standard statewide rules for dealing with what tenants leave behind if they're evicted.
Opponents say it could create violent confrontations between landlords and evicted tenants. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said the state measure takes away tenant protections under his city's regulations for landlords.
Assembly Republican Duey Strobel of Saukville is the bill's main sponsor. The Wisconsin Realtors Association and Housing Alliance support the measure, along with the Apartment Association of South Central Wisconsin.
Legal Action of Wisconsin - a group that provides legal help to the poor - is among the bill's opponents. Its members say the bill has been rammed through the legislative process with very little debate.
DNR board action will help shape mining rules, incentives
MADISON -- The state Natural Resources Board is expected to adopt rules next week for carrying out the new mining incentive package approved by Republicans.
A scope statement will be up for approval on May 22.
Gov. Scott Walker gave his blessing to the statement soon after he signed the mining bill. It gives a general list of objectives, plus the expected economic impact on small businesses. DNR staffers say the new rules should not have such an economic effect.
The new mining law sets a time limit for the agency to act on requests for mining permits. It also relaxes certain environmental rules.
The law was designed to help Gogebic Taconite open a new iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties. Last week, the firm applied for a permit to conduct exploratory drilling at the site.
Officers who responded to Sikh Temple shooting are honored
OAK CREEK -- The first group of Oak Creek police officers who responded to the Sikh Temple massacre received their national Top Cop awards Sunday evening.
The National Organization of Police Organizations presented its 20th annual awards a day after President Obama honored the recipients at the White House. The entire first shift of eight Oak Creek officers was honored.
Lt. Brian Murphy has received the biggest acclaim for slowing down the gunman by taking 15 of his bullets at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin last August.
Murphy said last week he was happy that the entire shift was being recognized. At last night's ceremony, Murphy, 51, told WTMJ TV he plans to retire soon.
He has not returned to active duty since the shootings - and he probably would not be able to continue in a traditional policing role so he'll leave on a high note. Murphy said he might pursue teaching.
Officer Sam Lenda, who fired one of the final shots before the gunman killed himself, was also honored.
The others are Kelly Romel, Dean Kleinhans, Michael Schultz, Derick Slamka, John Finco and Julie Graberger.
Marian educator will assist in study about military suicides
FOND DU LAC -- A professor at Marian University in Fond du Lac will help the Marines find out why more of Marine troops have killed themselves since 2010.
Janet McCord, an associate professor in Marian's school of health professions, will interview friends and relatives of Marines who committed suicide while on active duty from 2010 through last year.
The Marines hope to identify risk factors that could be unique to the organization. McCord told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that survivors often have a lot of guilt, but many are willing to talk about the deaths to try and get answers on why they happened.
They also believe it would help other military members and families. The Marines have started several programs encouraging members who are depressed or stressed to get help.
At least 48 Marines committed suicide last year, and six other deaths are being investigated. The total is way up from 32 deaths in 2011. There were also large spikes in Marine suicides in 2008 and 2009 before dropping in 2010.
Yahoo CEO Mayer visiting her home state
Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer is back in her home state of Wisconsin, highlighting her company's computer and mobile products in a series of concerts.
The "Yahoo on the Road Tour" stopped in Milwaukee last night with performances by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, along with Wisconsin native Skylar Grey.
The tour was to continue Monday evening in Madison with a show by the Chicago area band Fall Out Boy.
Mayer, 37, is a Wausau native who became Yahoo's new leader last July. She moved from Google, where she was 20th on the management list.
Mayer has made a couple of high-profile moves like her ban on employee telecommuting and extending Yahoo's parental leave policy. She recently told analysts that Yahoo's long-term success would be defined by "a series of sprints."
Mayer said her first priority was getting customers to believe in Yahoo, followed by product development and doing better in executing the company's business strategy.
Mother's Day marks disappearance of Chicago lad at Wisconsin Dells
WISCONSIN DELLS -- It was two years ago Sunday when a six-year-old boy disappeared in Wisconsin Dells.
Timothy Pitzen was last seen on a security camera video at the Kalahari Resort. That was a few days after his mother, Amy Anderson, took the youngster out of a suburban Chicago school and traveled throughout southern Wisconsin.
Authorities said Anderson took her own life on May 12, 2011 in a hotel room in Rockford, Ill.
She left a note indicating that her son was alright. Officials say they've been searching for young Timothy ever since.
Police in Aurora, Ill. continue to investigate. They're still taking public tips on the boy's whereabouts.
Suspect in custody following death of 3-year-old
MOUNT PLEASANT -- Authorities may offer some idea of what killed a three-year-old boy in Racine County late Friday morning.
Charges are pending against a man who was arrested during the weekend in the death of Hunter Wise.
Police and paramedics were called to a home in Mount Pleasant -- about 30 miles south of Milwaukee -- on Friday morning, where they found the young boy unresponsive. He died at a hospital about 20 minutes later.
An autopsy was performed during the weekend. The results are expected to be released Monday.
The suspect was later booked into the Racine County Jail on a possible charge of first-degree intentional homicide.
Newest 'Alice in Dairyland' crowned
BRILLION -- Kristin Olson will begin her one-year term as Wisconsin's Alice in Dairyland on June 3.
Olson is from Windsor in Dane County. She was crowned the 66th Alice during the weekend at a program in Brillion.
Olson grew up showing dairy animals. She's now the dairy advertising coordinator at Accelerated Genetics in Baraboo.
Olson will spend the next year promoting Wisconsin's food products and helping teach youngsters about the state's $59 billion agricultural industry.
She'll replace Rochelle Ripp of Lodi.