February 13, 2014

Jay Hoeft Suing Beaver Dam For $392K


2/13/14 – The former owner of the Fountain Inn Tavern is suing the city of Beaver Dam. Jay Hoeft filed a lawsuit on January 27 in Dodge County Circuit Court. In the complaint, attorney’s for Hoeft accuse the city of illegally pocketing money from the federal government that was directed by law to pay relocation costs to the owners of ten properties displaced by the 2008 floods.


Beaver Dam, via the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, received $3.7 million dollars in federal funding for the acquisition and demolition of ten, flood-raved, riverfront properties. Hoeft contends that because the money came from the federal government, the Uniform Relocation Act (49CFR24) mandates that displaced property owners be fairly compensated for costs associated with moving, along with 100-percent of the pre-flood market value of the properties. The owners were originally offered 65-percent of the assessed value of their property; the alternative given was losing everything and still paying the costs for demolition of their buildings. The city later offered 100-percent of assessed value; like the first offer relocation costs were not included. All the property owners accepted the offer, except Hoeft who haggled with the city and state for years.


In December of 2012, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development made it clear that the state and the city had to use the federal dollars to pay not only relocation costs but also 100-percent of the pre-flood market value – not the assessed value – of the affected properties. Hoeft asserts that the 65-percent offer was tantamount to a threat and the city’s below-market-value offer was a violation of his civil rights. In addition, Hoeft says he lost a source of income and was unable to re-establish his business in a replacement location. Hoeft did initially re-open in the same location in the fall of 2008 before closing his doors for good in the spring of 2011. He says the uncertainty created by the city’s refusal to pay him the federally-mandated relocation costs eventually doomed his bar.


In July of 2013, Hoeft filed a relocation claim seeking $392,810.92. In September, the lawsuit says that the city of Beaver Dam forwarded a check to Hoeft in the amount of $20,000. Hoeft refused the money and the lawsuit seeks the full amount, $392-thousand dollars, along with interest and litigation costs. Beaver Dam Mayor Tom Kennedy declined comment on the lawsuit and accusations. The city has 45 days from the date of filing to respond to the lawsuit in writing. A review hearing is scheduled before Judge John Storck on April 29.


17 Car Pile-Up on Highway 151


2/14/14 – The southbound lanes of Highway 151 were completely closed down for two hours Thursday afternoon in Dane County following a 17 vehicle pile-up. Columbus Fire Department Public Information Officer Jerrod Fox says his department was one of several that responded to the accident. It all started around 11am at County Highway V, exit 111 near Sun Prairie. Fox says a core group of three-or-four vehicles was at the center of the chain reaction accident with the rest of the cars colliding accordion style. There was one semi-tractor trailer involved; that driver attempted to avoid the pile-up and fish-tailed, spinning out into the median where the semi struck a vehicle. Columbus Fire responded with the jaws-of-life but Fox says extrication was not needed and crews were used instead for traffic control. Two people were transported to the Columbus Community Hospital with apparent non-life-threatening injuries. Over half the vehicles were able to drive away from the scene. The southbound lanes were closed for two hours but the Dane County Sheriff’s Office remained on-scene to investigate.


Suspected Child Molester Proceeding To Trial


2/14/14 – Dodge County Judge John Storck found probable cause and a Beaver Dam man was bound over for trial yesterday on charges that he molested a young girl over the period of several years. Steve A. Brown appeared in Dodge County court for a Preliminary Hearing Thursday. The 59-year-old is facing felony charges of First Degree Sexual Assault of a Child Under the Age of 12 and Repeated Sexual Assault of a Child. The alleged incidents began in the year 2000 when the victim was around ten years old and continued for over four years. Brown was friends with her parents and she used to babysit for him. The woman came forward last year after extensive counseling led to her contacting an attorney who advised her to go to the police. Brown reportedly admitted to investigators that there was inappropriate contact but denied anything else took place. If convicted, the charges carry a combined maximum of 100 years in prison. Brown will be arraigned next month.


Rindfleisch Emails Go Public Next Week


2/14/14 – We’ll find out next week what ex-Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch did not want the public to know, as she appeals her conviction for illegal campaigning.  State appellate court officials said Thursday that they will release 27-thousand pages of e-mails and over 430 other documents next Wednesday.  A judge ruled last week that the Columbus woman could not keep all of her evidence secret as she appeals her circuit court conviction for illegally doing Republican campaign work while she was supposed to be working as an aide to Governor Scott Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive.  She was given a six month jail sentence after she pleaded guilty in 2012.  Earlier this week, the Republican Walker said he didn’t know if any e-mails he sent would be included in next week’s release.  Rindfleisch could have had a month to challenge the release of individual e-mails which might have had personal information.  Her attorney declined the offer, saying it wouldn’t be enough time.


Fitzgerald on School Accountability Bill


2/14/14 – A bill that tries to make Wisconsin schools more accountable, without punishing them, was endorsed Thursday by a state Senate committee.  The education panel voted 8-to-1 to make all schools which get tax money report a slew of data to the state — and you could see it all in the state’s report cards that are currently given to public schools.  The bill would force private schools to submit their student performance data, if they receive state-funded vouchers to teach low-income kids as part of the long-running choice program.  The voucher-and-charter schools are already required to start reporting such data in the 2020 school year.  The new bill speeds that up to 2015. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald vowed to propose a limited school accountability package, after proposed sanctions for the worst-performing schools attracted heavy opposition.  The Juneau Republican favors a limited package now, with a possible re-consideration of sanctions in the next session. Governor Scott Walker has insisted that some type of school package be adopted before lawmakers adjourn for the year in April.


Bill Cracks Down On Non-Relative Adoptions


2/14/14 – Wisconsin couples would need government approval to transfer custody of their kids to non-relatives, under a bill passed by the state Assembly.  Thursday’s vote was 97-to-nothing.  The bill also prohibits couples from advertising online for informal adoptions.  A similar ban already exists for T-V and newspapers.  Oconomowoc Republican Joel Kleefisch said government needs to get involved in out-of-family adoptions, to make sure the children are protected.  Last year, the Reuters News Service reported that couples were using Yahoo and Facebook to pass off their kids to homes outside their own states.  A Manitowoc County couple shipped their adopted child off to Illinois, without knowing that the mother was previously forced to give up her biological children due to concerns about violence.  The bill makes informal child transfers a criminal misdemeanor.  Kleefisch said he hoped Wisconsin could set an example for child protection.  The measure now goes to the Senate.  Also, the Assembly approved tougher laws against human trafficking.  On a voice vote, lawmakers expanded the definition of trafficking to include any schemes to control individuals.  Victims who are prostitutes could try to have previous sex convictions expunged.  That bill also goes to the Senate.


GOP Launches Attack Ad Blitz Against Burke


2/14/14 – A group that represents the nation’s G-O-P governors is about to run a major T-V ad blitz that attacks Scott Walker’s Democratic challenger.  The Republican Governors Association has announced a six-figure purchase for ads starting next Wednesday on broadcast and cable T-V.  Group spokesman Jon Thompson said the ad would focus on Democrat Mary Burke’s service under former Governor Jim Doyle.  Burke was Doyle’s commerce secretary for two years, and she’s a former executive at Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle.  With the election still eight-and-a-half months away, two-thirds of voters in a recent Marquette poll were not ready to form an opinion about her yet.


Chase Suspect Abandons Moving Car With Kid Inside


2/14/14 – The suspect in a high speed chase in Dane County Thursday abandon his still moving vehicle leaving a three-year-old special needs child in the backseat. According to the Wisconsin State Patrol, the pursuit was sparked around 5:30pm when a patrolmen attempted to stop a vehicle with multiple equipment violations at Dane County Road BB and Highway 51. The driver refused to stop and led the officer on a short pursuit before abandoning the still moving vehicle with child still in the backseat. The vehicle then crashed into the garage door of an apartment building. The driver fled on foot into the apartment building where he was later located and taken into custody. The child in the backseat was uninjured and was cared for by another officer until the mother was contacted. The driver of the vehicle has been charged with Fleeing an Officer, Reckless Endangerment, Obstruction, Child Neglect, and Hit and Run.