Tailgating underway as Brewers open their season; Tuesday's vote is last one statewide for 2013; more state news
MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee's biggest cookout will be renewed Monday when Brewers' fans fire up the grills for the baseball season's first tailgating outside of Miller Park.
The usual sell-out crowd of 42,000-plus is expected for the Brewers' Opening Day contest against the Colorado Rockies. Game time temperature was expected to be about 60 -- under the stadium's retractable roof, but it was to be much colder for the pre-game partying. A high of only 34 degrees was expected, under sunny skies.
Milwaukee's normal high for the date is 48. Inside the ballpark, fans were invited to play on a 25-foot climbing wall in the "Dew Deck" above the right field bleachers.
Yovani Gallardo will make his fourth straight Opening Day start for the Brew Crew. The team won its division two years ago, but struggled last summer before rallying to finish at 83 wins, 79 loses, just barely missing the playoffs. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m.
Wisconsin has large contingent on congressional budget committees
WASHINGTON D.C. -- Paul Ryan gets most of the headlines, but Wisconsin also has six other members on the House and Senate budget committees. The total of seven is the most of any state - including California, which has five times as many members of Congress.
Fox Valley Republican Reid Ribble says Wisconsin may not get a direct benefit from having so many of its lawmakers on the budget panels but he says they get a better understanding of how the federal government operates that they don't get on other panels.
Ryan, last year's GOP vice-presidential nominee from Janesville, has authored his party's budget blueprints for the last three years. And he gets most of the praise, as well as the heat, from his plans to slash spending and turn Medicare into a voucher program with new coverage limits.
In the Senate, Wisconsin is the only state to have both its members on the budget panel - Republican Ron Johnson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Johnson has used the post to try and carry out his campaign promise to reign in federal spending. Baldwin is the polar opposite of Johnson politically. Still, she agrees that at least some spending cuts are needed as part of a balanced approach that includes tax hikes.
The Republican House and Democratic Senate have passed their budget plans, and President Obama's package is due out April 10th.
News report on GPS-tracking prompts talk of an audit
MADISON -- The head of the state Assembly's corrections committee says an audit might be needed, to see if Wisconsin's satellite tracking system for sex offenders is working properly.
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism interviewed a dozen offenders who said the system often makes mistakes and there are major reliability concerns about GPS units in seven other states.
Republican Garey Bies of Sister Bay says he knows of no problems with Wisconsin's system, but he agrees that an audit might be in order.
State corrections' officials reported no problems with the tracking system, which the state leases from a Colorado firmm but James Morgan said the unit he wears has lots of problems. He says he's afraid to use the bathroom in his Madison home, because his GPS device has mistakenly alerted authorities several times that he was out of his tracking range when he was not.
Morgan spent 26 years in prison for sex crimes and like similar offenders, he's under GPS monitoring for the rest of his life.
Wisconsin is tracking almost 650 offenders, and officials say the number could rise 50 percent in the next two years.
Jury selection underway in Schaffhausen trial
A jury will be picked in Hudson Monday decide whether Aaron Schaffhausen was sane when he killed his three daughters last July in River Falls.
The verdict will determine if the 35-year-old Schaffhausen will go to a mental institution or spend the rest of his life in prison.
That's after he pleaded guilty last week to homicide and attempted arson.
Schaffhausen admitted slashing and stabbing his young daughters Amara, Sophie, and Cecilia, ages 5 to 11. Prosecutors said Schaffhausen wanted to hurt his ex-wife Jessica, because he thought she was seeing another man. Defense lawyer John Kucinski doesn't buy that. He said Schaffhausen has a "major depressive order" and he promised that it would be explained fully during the sanity trial.
Several mental health experts have interviewed Schaffhausen. Three of them are expected to testify - one appointed by the judge, one by the state, and the third by the defense.
Assistant attorney general Gary Freyberg says he'll still call most of the witnesses who were planning to testify in the criminal phase of the trial, which was called off after Schaffhausen's guilty pleas last Thursday.
Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday to decide 6,800 offices -- including a Supreme Court seat
Four candidates are getting most of the publicity for Tuesday's elections in Wisconsin - but almost 10,000 people are on ballots statewide.
Reid Magney of the state Government Accountability Board says there are 9,587 people running for almost 6,800 offices - mostly local government and school board seats.
There are also 76 referendums of various types on ballots Tuesday, along with two statewide races.
State Supreme Court Justice Pat Roggensack faces a challenge from Marquette law professor Ed Fallone and state public school Superintendent Tony Evers is challenged by state Assembly Republican Don Pridemore. Both incumbents are going for their second terms.
Magney says about one-of-every-five eligible voters will go to the polls Tuesday, and that's about the normal for an April election.
It's the last statewide election scheduled this year.
Walker's first labor secretary will lead Milwaukee job-training group
Gov. Scott Walker's first labor secretary will become the new leader of a struggling job-training group in Milwaukee.
Manny Perez has been named the general manager and top adviser to Esperanza Unida. Perez was Walker's first appointee as secretary of the state Workforce Development Department but he left after just five months.
Esperanza Unida had its non-profit status restored in January, after it failed to properly file its income taxes for three straight years. A $260,000 federal tax lien was filed against the agency, and Perez says plans have been worked out to pay the money back.
The Journal Sentinel said the group had trouble paying its employees in both 2008 and 2010. Two of the group's workers were fired after taking complaints to the Hispanic group Voces de la Frontera which filed allegations with the National Labor Relations Board.
Esperanza ended up paying them $20,000 in back wages.
Dane deputies rescue 3 ice-fishers Sunday
MADISON -- People are still falling through the ice on Wisconsin lakes, as they make their final attempts at ice fishing.
On Easter Sunday, Dane County rescuers were called to three spots where anglers fell in - one on Mud Lake, and two on Lake Mendota in Madison.
Sheriff's lieutenant Gerald Hundt said all three people were rescued unharmed. He says anglers should be aware of their surroundings, and especially stay away from springs and currents where ice hardly ever forms.
With the colder-than-normal weather, Waukesha County Sheriff's lieutenant Paul Renkas says the early spring thaw appears to be going slower than usual but the ice is thawing faster than it appears. That's because of the recent high temperatures in the 40's.
Mequon physician who pioneered Lyme treatment remembered
MEQUON -- A memorial service is planned April 13th in Mequon for a doctor who created the first treatment for Lyme disease in the United States.
Dr. Rudolph Scrimenti, 80, died March 22nd. According to the book "Inside the Lyme Epidemic," Scrimenti was a dermatologist at Marquette's medical school when he was challenged to treat a fellow doctor in 1968.
Author Pamela Weintraub said the patient went grouse hunting in north central Wisconsin, and he had a growing rash after being bit by a tick. He was hospitalized for a headache and hip pain.
Scrimenti attempted a treatment used by a doctor in Sweden on a patient with a similar rash. The hunter recovered in just 48 hours.
Lyme disease got its name from a town in Connecticut where children were infected in the 1970's. Doctors at the Marshfield Clinic uncovered more about the disease a decade later and thousands of Wisconsinites have been infected and treated for Lyme over the years.
Green Bay lawmaker wants funding for anti-lamprey gizmo
MADISON -- A state lawmaker is asking his colleagues to help sponsor a bill to control the sea lamprey, a parasite that kills fish in the Great Lakes.
Senate Republican Rob Cowles of Green Bay says he wants to give the DNR more funding to increase its management of the sea lamprey in Lakes Michigan and Superior.
The measure would also create a new barrier on the Nemadji River, to prevent the lamprey from going into Lake Superior. Cowles says he wants to fix a broken barrier on the Kewaunee River near Lake Michigan. He calls the sea lamprey a "rotten invasive species."
Several environmental groups say they're more concerned about other invasive species, but they're not against what Cowles is trying to do.
Sheboygan-area crash claims two Sunday; homicide investigated in Milwaukee
Two people were killed on Easter Sunday in a two-car crash in Sheboygan County.
Sheriff's officials said it appeared that a car with just the driver inside crossed a center line, and slammed into the other vehicle which had the two victims. It happened around 4 p.m. on a road in the Sheboygan County town of Herman. The driver of the first car escaped injury. Meanwhile, Milwaukee Police are investigating an apparent murder on Easter Sunday.
Officials said a 49-year-old man was found dead in a north side alley, and it looked like he was beaten. Police say they're interviewing witnesses - but at last word, they had no suspects and they could determine a motive. The victim was pronounced dead around 2:10 p.m. Sunday.
Friends complete 1,100-mile Ice Age Trail hike
It took five years, but two Wisconsin women have completed a hiking journey on all 1,100 miles of the state's Ice Age Trail.
Cheryl Gorsuch, a teacher from Manitowoc, and Ann Vogl, a college librarian from Portage - spent one weekend almost every month fighting insects and rough weather, among other things.
Both are members of the Ice Age Alliance, a group that protects the trail. After hearing stories about other hikers, they decided to try it themselves.
Gorsuch, age 63, said it's not nearly as fun as people might think. There was a white-out snowstorm on the day of their launch in March of 2008, but they started walking anyway. She and Vogl also braved hot and cold weather, rain and snow, horse flies, mosquitoes and ticks during their weekends which averaged about 11 miles.
But they said their respect for nature and Wisconsin's beauty kept them going. Gorsuch said hiking the Ice Age Trail is a beautiful way to see the Badger State.