New August 17, 2011

Democrats Keep Senate Seats

You can expect a more moderate agenda from Wisconsin Republicans, after the final recall elections cut the Senate’s G-O-P majority from five members to one. Democratic incumbents Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch survived their recall challenges yesterday, giving the G-O-P a 17-to-16 majority in the state’s upper house. Holperin, of Conover, defeated Tea Party founder Kim Simac by a 10-point margin, 55-to-45 percent. Pleasant Prairie Democrat Bob Wirch had a wider 58-42 margin over Jonathan Steitz. Senate G-O-P leader Scott Fitzgerald says his smaller majority means there will be less contentious measures coming from his chamber. The governor’s office said Republican Scott Walker looks forward to working together to create jobs and quote, “get more Wisconsinites back to work.” State Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate said the nine recall contests gave his party momentum for what he called “big wins” next year. All three Democrats who were targeted this summer won their recall votes, while Republicans lost two-of-six contests. The recalls were spurred by the G-O-P’s approval of strict limits on collective bargaining by most public employee unions – and a move by Senate Democrats to leave the Capitol for three weeks in an failed attempt to block the measure. Fitzgerald called for more bi-partisanship, but he still scolded Democrats for pushing what he called a “permanent campaign cycle.” In his words, “The Democrats need to start working with the other side of the aisle, not just moving on to their next recall target.” Democrats still say they’ll try to recall Walker next year. Wirch said people are quote, “sick and tired of the extremism they’re getting out there.” Kozlowski Denied Conditional Release

8/17/11 – A Milwaukee man, who was involved in a murder in Horicon 39 years ago, was denied release during a court trial yesterday in a Dodge County courtroom. Gregory Kozlowski is currently incarcerated at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute. The 60-year-old has been committed since 1973 after being found “Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity” for the June 1972 killing of 21-year-old Kenneth Glasse of Milwaukee. Kozlowski is covered under a law that allows him to return to Dodge County on an annual basis to plead his case for release to either a judge or jury. Because the murder took place in Horicon, the Dodge County District Attorneys office has followed the case for decades. Managing Attorney Bob Barrington says Kozlowski’s request for conditional release was granted a couple years ago. He was placed in a group home in January 2008, but it did not work out and he returned to Winnebago four months later. Barrington says Kozlowski was seeking conditional release with hopes of returning to his home in Milwaukee – which he has managed to keep all these years – and start a business.

Friend of Kozlowski Victim Relieved By Decision

8/17/11 – Shortly after his 1972 homicide arrest in Dodge County, Kozlowski reportedly confessed to the murder of a Red Cross volunteer while he was stationed in Vietnam. Ginny Kirsch of Erie, Pennsylvania was what was known as a Donut Dollie. The 21-year-old, who was stationed in the same camp as Gregory Kozlowski, was stabbed repeatedly in August of 1970. Kozlowski had been a suspect in the murder but no one was ever convicted. Kozlowski did confess the murder to former Sheriff Edwin Nehls and a short time later the military closed the case on the killing. Susan McLean trained as a Donut Dollie with Kirsch and tells us she was devastated by the murder. She traveled from her home in Florida to Wisconsin in 2006 and spoke personally with Kozlowski at Winnebago. McLean says Kozlowski admitted to everything and explained in great detail that the voices in his Sergeant’s head commanded the voices in his head to kill an innocent person so that all the children of the world do not wind-up in hell. McLean says Kozlowski thinks he is married to Ginny and she comes down from Heaven every day with their son who was conceived by Immaculate Conception. McLean has worked at three different psychiatric hospitals throughout her career and says she does not frighten easily but when it comes to Kozlowski she fears for her life. When his conditional release was granted in 2008, McLean says she purchased a gun and installed security alarms. If Kozlowski is ever released again, McLean says she believes there will be more victims.

Falkowski Gets Probation For Police Chase

8/17/11 – A Horicon man pleaded “no contest” yesterday to charges that he ran from police with a car full of guns. Officers executed a high-risk traffic stop in February and arrested David J. Falkowski. According to the criminal complaint, the 43-year-old was fighting with his girlfriend and loaded his minivan with an assortment of guns. Falkowski saw police as he exited his driveway and accelerated rapidly. The responding officer says he was forced to drive his squad car backwards at a high rate before “initiating an evasive maneuver” that allowed him to narrowly miss the suspects oncoming vehicle. A brief pursuit followed that ended with Falkowski exiting his minivan near North Palmatory and East Walnut. Officers drew their rifles as Falkowski made a move toward the back of his van but then he quickly complied. He told investigators that he was trying to keep his girlfriend from damaging the firearms left to him by family. And he said that he panicked when he saw police and fled because he didn’t want his neighbors to see. Falkowski was placed on probation for one year yesterday after pleading to a pair of reduced misdemeanor charges and placed on deferred prosecution for a felony count of Reckless Endangerment, so if he stays out of trouble for the next year, he will avoid a felony record.

Teen Murder Suspect Prelim Delayed

8/17/11 – A teenager accused of shooting a Jefferson County man to death, and then dumping the victim’s body in a storage unit, has asked a judge to drop his homicide charge. 19-year-old James Richards made the request in court yesterday before he was supposed to have a preliminary hearing. The dismissal request will be considered August 25th. And the preliminary hearing was moved back to September eighth. Richards’ co-defendant, 51-year-old James Richardson, waived his right to a preliminary hearing – in which the judge was supposed to decide if there’s enough evidence to order a trial. A plea is the next step in Richardson’s case. He and Richards are both charged with homicide, hiding a corpse, and theft in the death of 28-year-old Beau Butschke of Ixonia. Prosecutors said Butschke was shot with a gun the defendants stole from him a couple weeks before the mid-July shooting. His body was found at a storage facility in Ixonia 12 days after he was reported missing. Prosecutors said Richardson and Butschke were neighbors in a duplex – and they had ongoing arguments over Richardson’s refusal to properly maintain his half of the property.

Dodge County Fair Begins Today

The Dodge County Fair officially enters its 124th year today. The five-day event features live music, a carnival midway and, of course, plenty of food. We’ll find out tonight who will be this year’s Fairest of the Fair. Also on the calendar: Open Class Judging in the Farm Progress Arena, Arts and Crafts Building and Under the Main Grandstand; Children’s Story Time is in the Youth Building at 5pm and 6pm. Rodney Atkins is on the main stage beginning at 8pm. The cost to enter the fair before 2pm is $6 and after 2pm its $10. Kids under age 9 are free. There is no additional charge for the grandstand acts or parking.

Fitzgerald Supports Fast Tracking Mining Projects

8/17/11 – The Wisconsin Senate’s majority leader says one of his top priorities this fall is to speed up the process for approving new mining projects. And this time, Republican Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau promises to get minority Democrats involved in shaping the measure. That’s after Republicans failed to ram through a bill this spring that would have reduced the state’s review process from seven years to about 300 days. It could have allowed Gogebic Taconite to build a proposed iron-ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties much quicker. But Senate Democrat Bob Jauch – who represents the area of the proposed mine – said the G-O-P bill was written by the industry with few opportunities for local input. Jauch also said it would have made it easier for mining companies to violate terms of the new Great Lakes water protection act. He says he’s open to speeding up the state’s review process to about 2-to-3 years. Jauch said it would still provide enough time to determine the environmental impacts of new mining projects, and let people have their say. The Gogebic Taconite mine is on hold until the state acts on a faster review process.

EEOC Files Lawsuit Against Aurora Health Care

8/17/11 – The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission says Wisconsin-based Aurora Health Care did not do enough to investigate claims of harassment and racial discrimination by an African-American employee. The EEOC filed suit against Aurora Tuesday. Investigators say the worker repeatedly complained about the way her white supervisor was treating her. The woman was eventually fired. In its suit, the federal agency is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and is demanding the health care system create new processes to make sure similar cases don’t happen in the future.

Fall River Schools Budget Talks Underway

8/17/11 – Facilities and football drew more talk than next year’s budget at Monday night’s Fall River Schools’ meeting. The District is facing a list of heating, ventilation, and AC repairs. Technology upgrades and a proposal to establish a new football field are also listed as needs. The Board is considering bringing these needs to a public referendum or referenda. Meanwhile, the proposed budget met with little resistance. Reduced state aid and reductions in spending have led to a projected $2.1 million dollar tax levy. The District mil rate will be going up from $9.56 dollars this year to $10.05 per thousand next year.

Underage Teen Arrested Following High Speed Chase

8/17/11 – Law enforcement officials say the 14 year old driver of a minivan reached speeds of 90 miles per hour while leading officers on a high-speed chase last weekend. The officer pulled the minivan over in Shawano Sunday night because it was driving in the dark without its headlights on. The driver took off and police pursued. The underage driver crashed the minivan shortly after driving onto the Menominee Reservation. She was treated for minor injuries at a Shawano Hospital and released to the custody of a parent.

Drunk Driver Turns Herself In

8/17/11 – Law enforcement normally has to pull teeth to arrest a drunk driver. But in central Wisconsin, sheriff’s deputies had a case fall right into their laps. Officials said 29-year-old Amy Tabaka of Merrill was making the 20-mile trip home from Wausau early Monday when she decided she was too drunk to drive. So she drove up to a Marathon County squad car where a deputy was writing reports in a tavern parking lot – and she turned herself in. Field sobriety tests showed that her blood alcohol level was point-15, almost twice the minimum for intoxication. Sheriff’s Lieutenant Randy Albert quoted Tabaka as saying she was drinking at a home in Wausau – and she decided she shouldn’t be driving. Tabaka was given her second O-W-I arrest.