January 16, 2013

Robbery at Auto Zone in Beaver Dam


Authorities are looking for two men that robbed the Auto Zone store in Beaver Dam last night. Detective Ryan Klavekoske says the men, one armed with a shotgun and the other a handgun, entered the North Spring Street business around 9pm last night and ordered the employees to the ground. An employee was hit in the head with the shotgun after struggling with one of the suspects. The two men fled east on Seippel Boulevard in what witnesses said was a newer silver or gray SUV. Klavekoske says the suspects got away with an undetermined amount of cash but left the shotgun behind. Beaver Dam EMS took the injured worker to Beaver Dam Community Hospital. The men are described as likely being white and in their mid 20’s. They were wearing black ski masks and black hooded sweatshirts. Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact the Beaver Dam Police Department.


Walker Gives State of the State Address


Governor Scott Walker said last night that Wisconsin is moving forward with quote, “bold vision and bright hope for the future.” In his annual State-of-the-State address, the Republican Walker said unemployment is down and the economy is improving. He also made general comments about a less divisive agenda he’s seeking for the next two years which highlights tax cuts, job creation, more options for education, and fewer state rules on businesses – including miners. Walker brought a group of unemployed private union contractors to the podium, to help punctuate his desire for what he called “safe, environmentally-sensitive mining” legislation. Majority Republicans are expected to unveil their mining proposal today. Walker’s gesture was a stark contrast from two years ago, when he and public unions were at odds over his bill to virtually eliminate their collective bargaining privileges – and thousands protested. A few dozen protestors shouted in the Capitol Rotunda during last night’s address, but they could hardly be heard in the chamber. Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chris Larson called Walker’s speech “high on theatrics but low on substance.” Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said Walker needs to start working with Democrats on bills to create jobs and train more workers. Barca said the G-O-P must quote, “stop spending large amounts of time on polarizing, less-pressing partisan issues.” This afternoon, Walker will highlight his State-of-the-State remarks during visits to Hartford and Green Bay.


Civic Leaders Discuss Gun Violence


1/16/13 – On WBEV’s Community Comment Tuesday we hosted a panel of civic leaders to discuss the growing problem of violence in our schools and communities. The recent school shootings have revived conversation about not only gun control in America but also the steps we are taking to treat those with mental illness. Ed Ormont with Dodge County Human Services says the mentally ill have been wrongly stigmatized in the debate. He says mental health is a risk factor if left untreated but the majority of those with mental health issues are not a problem in the community. Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg agrees and says just because a person is mentally ill it does not necessarily mean they are going to commit crimes. Even though Human Services resources across the country are stretched thin, Ormont says those seeking counseling and mental health services should contact his department. If they can’t been seen by county officials quickly they can be referred to the appropriate source. We’ll hear more tomorrow from those who participated in Tuesday’s Community Comment panel. Beaver Dam Superintendent Steve Vessey and Rev. Mark Molldrem of Beaver Dam’s First Lutheran Church will discuss common thread of alienation in recent violent acts and the role that family and community plays in proactively addressing the problem.


Search for Columbus Administrator to Start


The candidate search for a new Columbus City Administrator is about to get underway. Administrator Boyd Kraemer submitted his letter of resignation on December 19th. Mayor Bob Link said that Kraemer had a long list of accomplishments during his six years as administrator. City Finance Director Kim Manley and Clerk Anne Donahue are currently serving as “Co-Administrators” while the search for a new administrator is carried out. The council will be deciding what kind of administrator they want and selecting a professional firm to manage the hiring process at their February 5th meeting.


Council Approves Bonds for Gateway Project


The Columbus Council approved the sale of $1.9 million dollars in general obligation industrial bonds for use in the Gateway development project last night.  Low issuance expenses mean that the City will have more project money available than anticipated. Financial advisors had additional good news regarding the City’s debt service. Estimated debt service levy decreases in 2018 and 2021 will mean that the City will have the ability to borrow more for anticipated expenses for the state’s Highways 16 and 60 reconstruction project. The bond purchase bid was awarded to a Milwaukee underwriter who offered a 2.3163 % interest rate.


Domestic Abuse Incidents Down


1/16/13 – The state Justice Department is reporting that almost five-percent fewer domestic abuse incidents were reported to police in 2011 compared to 2010. Officials said that almost 29-thousand cases were reported to police and referred to prosecutors – about 14-hundred fewer cases than the previous year. Officials with the domestic violence shelter that serves Dodge County did not see a similar trend. Jamie Kratz-Gullickson, the Executive Director of People Against Violent Environments, says in both 2010 and 2011 they served around 650 clients. She believes there was not a decrease in occurrences, just a decrease in reporting of the violence. The common penalties for domestic abusers in 2011 were financial – namely restitution and fines. Jail or prison confinement was the second-most common punishment. And third were behavioral conditions like a ban on possessing firearms, and ordering no contact with a particular individual. Kratz-Gullickson says a lack of substantial penalties for the offender may contribute to domestic violence incidents going under reported. She cited the Azana Spa shootings in Brookfield last October where the shooter had a decades-long history of assault against the victim with only limited accountability.  According to the state figures, arrests were made in 71-percent of domestic abuse calls in 2011. Less than one-percent of the cases had more than one arrest.  Kratz-Gullickson urges victims of domestic violence to contact the shelter. She notes that PAVE is not a mandatory reporter, meaning they will not contact authorities unless the victim wants them to.


Republicans Vote to Keep Power for Divided Senate


1/16/13 – Wisconsin Senate Republicans have voted to keep their power throughout the next two years, even if the G-O-P loses its three-vote majority and becomes split with Democrats. In the last session, the Senate was split with 16 Republicans and 16 Democrats for four months, after Wausau’s Pam Galloway resigned. Both parties then split their power evenly until Democrats won temporary control last July. Voters gave Republicans their power back in November. Yesterday, the Senate approved new rules which would give the G-O-P the upper hand if there’s a split chamber before the 2014 elections. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau would keep his chairmanship of the Organization Committee, which decides what bills come to the floor. The committee would grow from five members to six to reflect the equal party make-up, but Fitzgerald would still control what issues it brings up. The power surge was part of package of Senate rules approved Tuesday on an 18-14 vote, with Democrats voting no. It also includes new restrictions for spectators. They cannot have signs or use electronic devices while in the galleries. Violators would be removed for at least 24 hours – and three-time violators could be banned from the Senate proceedings for the rest of the session. Alma Democrat Kathleen Vinehout questioned the constitutionality of the new rules, to no avail. Republicans want to avoid a repeat of the rowdy behavior by protestors in the last session, when two of them locked themselves to railings in the Senate galleries.