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State budget hearing in Baldwin today; Man pulls air-soft gun from garbage, ends up surrounded by police; more briefs

The committee that will consider changes to the proposed new state budget will hold its final public hearing today (Thursday, April 18) in Baldwin.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee plans a day-long proceeding which begins at 10 a-m at Baldwin-Woodville High School.

Co-chairman John Nygren said he expects to hear comments similar to those at the panel's three previous hearings in Green Bay, Lake Delton and suburban Milwaukee. The major issues have been Gov. Scott Walker's refusal to take new federal Medicaid money and his plans to expand private school vouchers to nine new school districts. Often, statewide groups get their local members to testify at hearings on how the proposed budget affects them, but there are always regional issues that come up as well.

The finance panel will start reviewing the governor's budget next week and make possible changes. Normally, the biggest issues are saved until the end of the panel's review process - right before the budget goes to the full Legislature.

The hearing is scheduled to end at 5 p.m.


Man pulls air-soft gun from garbage, ends up surrounded by police

A Waukesha man went on TV to apologize for scaring students at Carroll University.

Michael Weidemann, 50, was cited for disorderly conduct after he was seen carrying an air-soft gun. A couple of students thought it was a real gun and notified authorities Tuesday. The Carroll campus and other Waukesha schools were then placed on lockdowns.

Weidemann told WTMJ TV in Milwaukee he didn't mean to startle anyone, but he could see the reason for all the fuss, just a day after the Boston Marathon bombings.

He told a reporter he was checking people's garbage to look for "treasures" he could sell, and he took the air-soft gun from a trash can, thinking he could sell it to a friend for $5 to $10.

Weidemann said he went to get cigarettes, returned home with the gun and was greeted by about 30 area squad cars as an officer handcuffed him.

Weidemann said he made a "dumb mistake," and it won't happen again.


Father gets three life terms plus 105 for killing kids

The man who killed his four children and burned down his house to collect the insurance money will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Armin Wand III, 33, of Argyle was sentenced Wednesday to three life terms plus 105 more years behind bars on three counts of homicide plus single counts of arson, attempted homicide and the felony murder of an unborn child.

Lafayette County Circuit Judge Thomas Vale refused to consider a supervised release on Wand's homicide convictions. If he ever gets out, 35 years of extended supervision would await him.

Wand set fire to his home last September, killing his young sons Allen, Jeffrey, and Joseph. His wife Sharon escaped but was severely hurt, and she lost an unborn daughter. Their two-year-old girl escaped without physical injury.

Wand also had two attempted homicide charges dropped in a plea deal. As part of that, he must testify against his brother Jeremy, who's accused of helping him burn down the house in exchange for only $300 of the insurance money Armin was planning to get. Jeremy is scheduled to go on trial in mid-July.

During yesterday's hearing, a statement was read on Sharon Wand's behalf. She said she would not let him defeat her.

She wrote, "You got what you want. You're famous. You're Armin Wand, who killed his children."


Police union files lawsuit against counties

A dispute that's brewing over collective bargaining has led to a court battle between two of Wisconsin's best-known lobbying groups.

The state's Professional Police Association filed a lawsuit in Madison Wednesday against the Wisconsin Counties Association. The police union says it's been stymied in getting the counties group to turn over things like audits and county financial data.

The Counties Association says it's a private organization, and it's not covered under the state's Open Records Law.

The police union is trying to obtain the data to try to stop individual counties from classifying their jailers as general employees instead of law enforcement personnel. Under that change, the jailers would lose their current exemption to the law which virtually eliminated collective bargaining by most public unions.

The police union wants a judge to declare that the counties group is subject to the Open Records Law, that the group has violated that law and that it should turn over its requested documents to the police union and pay its legal fees.


Unidentified substance shuts down Beloit clinic

The State Crime Lab will try to identify a substance inside an envelope that caused 15 people at a Beloit clinic to be treated at a hospital.

National Guard unit examined the powder Wednesday, but those tests failed to pinpoint the content. Beloit Police captain Vince Sciame said it was not a biological or chemical agent.

He said a patient at the Beloit Area Community Health Center delivered the envelope Wednesday morning. It had a payment for a bill, but the man denied putting a foreign substance inside, and he said he was "dumbfounded" by what happened.

Sciame said the man "gave us no indication of malintent."

Three clinic employees who handled the envelope had discomfort and burning in their noses and eyes. Fifteen people were taken to a hospital as a precaution, and all were later released. Fifty-six others, mostly employees, were quarantined inside the clinic. Sciame said they were sent home late yesterday with advice to call their doctors if they get symptoms.


Man accused of starting fatal fire

A southern Wisconsin man is due in court tomorrow on eight criminal charges connected with a mobile home fire that killed a man last weekend near Beaver Dam.

Jose Hernandez, 21, of Cambria was charged Wednesday in Dodge County with misdemeanor counts that include battery, theft, trespassing, criminal damage and disorderly conduct. Officials say more charges are possible as an investigation continues.

Last Saturday's fire killed Victor Aguilar-Bustamante, 18.

Prosecutors said Hernandez went to retrieve a car, but it was locked. Officials said he then broke into a mobile home, assaulted the victim and took the car keys. Investigators said Hernandez apparently lit matches to get enough light to look for his cellphone and threw the matches on the floor.

Aguilar-Bustamante died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the resulting fire.


Man accused in cyber-attack on Koch companies

A Fox Valley man is free on a $25,000 bond on federal charges that he helped a group of hackers with a cyber-attack on Koch Industries.

Eric Rosol, 37, of Black Creek made his initial appearance Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Wichita, Kan., where the energy firm is headquartered.

Magistrate Judge Karen Humphreys ordered Rosol not to communicate online with the group "Anonymous." Prosecutors said Rosol joined the hacker group in jamming Koch's website so it shut down in 2011. He's also accused of sending a code that damaged a Koch computer.

Rosol's lawyer, Kurt Kerns, told the Associated Press that nothing was hacked and none of Koch's protected information was lost. Kerns said his client is innocent of any federal crime, and they look forward to proving it.


Johnson votes no, Baldwin votes yes on background checks for gun buyers

Wisconsin cast a split vote when the U.S. Senate said no to expanding mandatory background checks for gun buyers.

Republican Ron Johnson helped strike down the mandate, while Democrat Tammy Baldwin favored the requirement to check the backgrounds of buyers at gun shows and private transactions.

The mandate fell five votes short of the 60 needed for passage. It marked a stunning defeat for President Obama, Capitol Hill Democrats and relatives of mass shootings like those in Oak Creek and Brookfield last year.

Johnson called the proposal for background checks "fatally flawed." He recently said he was especially against the requirement for gun sales among family members.

Baldwin called the measure a "common sense" idea and said, "Washington failed to produce results and failed the American people."

By larger margins, senators also said no to banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Johnson voted against both those proposals. Baldwin voted yes to both.


Farm Tech Days will be in Walworth Co. in 2016

Wisconsin's largest annual farm show will head to Walworth County for the first time.

Officials of Wisconsin Farm Technology Days have selected the far southeast part of the state for the 2016 show in the county that includes Elkhorn and Lake Geneva.

The show used to be called Farm Progress Days until the name was changed in 2003. It normally attracts around 60,000 visitors over three days as it highlights the latest in farm equipment and techniques, plus home-related demonstrations.

This year's Farm Technology Days is set for July 9-11 at the Breezy Hill Dairy near Dallas in Barron County.

The 2014 show is scheduled for the second week of August near Plover. The 2015 show takes place in late August near Sun Prairie in Dane County.