May 7, 2014

Special Prosecutor Mulling Appeal Of John Doe Decision


5/7/14 – A special prosecutor expects to appeal a federal judge’s ruling from Tuesday, which halted a secret John Doe probe into Republican campaign activities during Wisconsin’s recall elections.  Milwaukee Federal Judge Rudolph Randa said one of the targets — the Wisconsin Club for Growth — had its free speech rights violated.  The judge said the group and its treasurer found a way to circumvent campaign finance laws, and the move should be recognized as a way to promote political speech instead of restricting it.  Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz says he’ll need to consult with other prosecutors in the case, and his own attorney, before deciding on an appeal of Randa’s decision.  The judge said prosecutors were scrutinizing group consultant R-J Johnson as a hub who coordinated activities for Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and several groups that included the United Sportsmen and Wisconsin Right-to-Life.  Prosecutors were looking for violations of the law which prohibit campaign coordination between candidates and outside groups. The Club for Growth said it was unfair that the probe only targeted conservatives.  The investigation centered on the 2011-and-’12 recall contests, including that of State Senator Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau. Walker became the nation’s first governor to survive such an effort.  Judge Randa ordered the return of all evidence seized during the probe, plus the destruction of any materials gathered by prosecutors.  Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm started the probe in mid-2012.


Columbus Grants Developer Conditional Use Permit


5/7/14 – The Columbus Commerce Center was granted a Conditional Use Permit  last night for construction of the new Sentry Foods and Ace Hardware Store planned for the city’s west side. Plans for the new stores were delayed in two previous council sessions due to zoning, easement and customer parking issues. A crowd filled city council chambers to hear from developer Mike Eisenga as he requested action on the permit decision. After nearly two hours of discussion on zoning and zero lot line issues, compromise was reached on a conditional use permit with a December 30, 2014 deadline. Commerce Center attorney Mathew Fleming assured council members that the conditional use permit would not have an impact on future developments in industrial zones. The action will allow developers to start the construction process within a few weeks. Meanwhile, the council will be discussing possible future changes to the city’s zoning ordinance.


Waupun Woman Enters Plea To Embezzlement


5/7/14 – A Waupun woman who embezzled from a Mayville business has entered into a plea agreement with Dodge County prosecutors. Teresa Ruch pled “no contest” yesterday to three reduced misdemeanor charges and was placed on deferred prosecution for felony Theft. That means she could avoid a felony record if she stays out of trouble while on probation. The terms of her sentence will be discussed at a hearing later this month. The 35-year-old stole over $50,000 from Mayville Vision while she was employed there between 2009 and 2012. An employee at the business had noticed discrepancies in the deposits; money that was taken in but never made it to the bank. Over the four-year period, approximately $32,000 in payments was never deposited. Another $15,000 in goods and services were given to family and friends of Ruch without payment. Ruch left Mayville Vision in 2012 when she purchased Jan’s Optical in Waupun. Prosecutors noted that Ruch and her husband are in debt and owe about $21,000 from a 2011 court judgment.


Road Salt Cost Overruns Funded


5/7/14 – Highway departments will not have to worry about cutting back on road maintenance this summer.  The state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee agreed Tuesday to give the D-O-T almost 27-and-a-half million dollars.  It’s supposed to cover the state and the counties’ extra costs of plowing snow and buying road salt during the brutal winter.  Some counties said they had already spent their entire 2014 snow-and-ice control budgets — and more.  Without the extra state funding, they feared cutbacks in summer highway maintenance.  The state was forced to buy an extra 150-thousand tons of salt at premium prices.  Also yesterday, the finance panel agreed to have the firm of Sun Mountain Kegonsa manage the state’s new 25-million-dollar venture capital fund to help new Wisconsin businesses get off the ground.


Lawmakers Endorse Venture Capital Contract


5/7/14 – State lawmakers have agreed to hire a company to manage a tax-funded venture capital account, aimed at helping new Wisconsin businesses get off the ground.  The Joint Finance Committee voted 12-to-3 yesterday to endorse a modified contract with Sun Mountain Kegonsa.  The company will contribute 300-thousand dollars, and raise five-million more, on top of 25-million in state venture capital funds approved by the governor and Legislature.  The panel approved changes in management fees, plus other possible state expenses over a ten-year period.  Senate Democrats Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse and Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie voted no, as did Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend.  Grothman said he did not believe the money would be used for small start-up firms.  However, Senate Republican Joe Leibham — who’s running against Grothman for a U-S House seat — said he believed the law has reasonable checks-and-balances, and it would be a boost to the Wisconsin economy.


Highway Deaths Lower Than Five-Year Average


5/7/14 – The cold-and-snowy winter had at least one positive effect — fewer people dying in Wisconsin traffic crashes.  According to the Department of Transportation’s preliminary figures, 27 people were killed in 21 mishaps throughout the Badger State last month.  That’s the lowest number of traffic deaths for an April since the end of World War Two in the 1940’s.  The total was two less than a year ago, and 15 less than the average for the past five years.  For the first four months of this year, 115 people have died in crashes — 18 fewer than the year before, and 22 less than the five-year average.  Dodge County has experienced four of those fatalities and Washington County three. Meanwhile, the annual Memorial Day “Click It or Ticket” seat belt enforcement campaign is about to begin.  It runs from May 19 through June 1.


Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony Next Wednesday


5/7/14 – A ceremony will be held next week to christen a memorial for law enforcement officials who lost their lives in Dodge County. The Dodge County Executive Law Enforcement Association raised around $25-thousand dollars in donations to erect the monument, which is located outside the Dodge County Administration Building in Juneau. The ceremony begins at 11:15am next Wednesday, May 14. Those who would also like to attend a noon luncheon following the ceremony have until today (Wed) to make reservations with the Association. Contact: DCELEA Secretary Dave Beal, 128 East Cross Street, Juneau WI 53039 – – (920) 386-4810.


National Correctional Officers Week


5/7/14 – Dodge County Sheriff Pat Ninmann is praising the more than 100 men and women who work in the County’s Detention Facility during this National Correctional Officer and Employees Week. She says, “The correctional staff are key members of the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office.  These law enforcement professionals play a vital role in the County’s criminal justice system and often do not receive the recognition that they deserve.”


Coffee with a Cop In Horicon


5/7/14 – The Horicon Police Department is the latest to join forces with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department to host Coffee with a Cop. The two-hour program is gives community members a chance to ask questions and share concerns with law enforcement in a neutral setting over a cup of coffee. It begins at 8am Wednesday monring at Mother’s Day Restaurant on East Lake Street in Horicon.