News 6/9/2010

Council Petitions Legislature To Clarify Municipal Court Powers

6/9/10 – The Beaver Dam Common Council this week approved a resolution that asks the legislature to change the law that prevents municipal courts from handling certain minor offenses. The resolution was prompted by a policy change in the Dodge County District Attorney’s office. Citing budget cuts, the DA told local municipalities in April of last year that it would no longer prosecute some minor first-time, stand-alone, adult drug offenses, in addition to first time Operating After Revocation violations. The council last month approved an ordinance change that allows their municipal court to handle marijuana possession charges with money collected from fines now staying in the city. State statute however currently prohibits municipalities from prosecuting cocaine or prescription drug offenses, or revocation violations. Council President John Litscher says the petition asks the legislature to assist the city in defining the authority of the municipal court and the responsibility of the DA. The resolution states, (quote) “The DA has refused to perform his sworn duty to uphold the law and prosecute these criminal offenses.” Litscher says that it is not meant as a criticism of the DA’s office. The resolution was approved 9 to 4.

District Attorney: ‘Legislature Needs Backbone’

6/9/10 – Dodge County District Attorney Bill Bedker says he read the city’s of Beaver Dam’s recently adopted resolution and was disappointed to see some of the politically charged language. He says he feels like they’re blaming the messenger and pointed out that he doesn’t hold the purse strings. While he says he understands the impact the economy is having on all sectors of the state government and that cuts have to be made, Bedker contends that there “isn’t anyone in a position of leadership at the state capital that is standing up and saying, ‘here is what my priorities are’.” He says the problem is the across-the-board approach to cutting the state budget. Bedker says, “DA’s around the state are the ones that have to have the backbone and make the tough decisions because no one in Madison seems to be doing it.” And he added that he taken a clear position and while he feels like a middle man, he says that’s ok; he can stand the heat and he will stay in the kitchen. Bedker tells us he will continue with the new policy until funding to his office is restored. In the meantime he says it allows his department to focus on more serious crimes, like child sexual assaults.

Most Area Schools Make The Grade Under NCLB

6/9/10 – No Beaver Dam Schools were on a list put out by state education officials yesterday (Tu) that did include 145 public schools that failed to make “adequate yearly progress” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In fact Watertown’s Riverside Middle School was the only area school that appeared on a list of those identified for improvement. Other parts of the state did not fare as well and four entire districts failed to meet the state’s academic goals: Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, and Racine. The vast majority of schools are in Milwaukee. But some suburban schools were also said to lack yearly progress – mainly because of low performance by students with disabilities.

Sauer Sentenced For Farm Implement Thefts

6/9/10 – Seven months in jail for a Cambria man who stole farm equipment from area farmers and businesses. Gene Sauer entered a “no contest” plea yesterday (Tu) to a felony count of Theft of Movable Property and had two other felony charges dismissed but read into the record. The 40-year-old was arrested after one of his victims spotted his stolen hay mower in a Green Lake County farm field that Sauer was renting. The find led to the discovery of other stolen farm implements, including a John Deere lawn tractor and Gator taken from Ballweg Implement. In addition to seven months in jail with Huber work release privileges, Sauer was placed on probation for five years. A restitution hearing will be held at a later date.

Beaver Dam Enters Phase II

6/9/10 – Phase Two of the downtown Beaver Dam revitalization project is moving forward. The plan was sparked by damaging floods in 2008 that led to the last year’s Phase One removal of ten buildings along the Beaver Dam River, as well as the culverts in the Tower Parking lot. Bids were approved this week for the construction of a pedestrian bridge in the Tower Parking lot by Janke General Contractors of Athens at a cost of $84,500. Ptaschinski Construction will perform concrete resurfacing in the parking lot at a cost not exceed $63,500. Landscaping from low-bidder McKay Nursery of Waterloo will cost $11,500. Fahrner Asphalt Sealers of Waunakee will seal and paint the parking lot for $4300. The project will be paid for with a mix of 50-50 matching grant funds and money from TIF District #3.

No Call List Record High

6/9/10 – More Wisconsinites than ever are saying “no” to telemarketers before the phone even rings. State officials say that over two-point-one million phone numbers are on the “do-not-call” list that’s being given to telemarketers this month. The list has steadily grown since it began in 2003. And it got a big boost in ’08, when the governor and Legislature agreed to add cell phones to the list. 43-percent of all numbers on the no-call list are cell phones – in which the recipients often have to pay for the messages that come in. The state updates the list four-times a year. The next one will be published in October – and if you want to be on it, more information is available on the Internet at NoCall-Dot-Wisconsin-Dot-Gov.

Raw Milk Lawsuits Pending

6/9/10 – Two lawsuits against the state that are connected with farmers who sell raw milk will have court hearings in the next week. Mark and Petra Zinniker of Walworth County sued the state after it shut down its dairy farm last fall. That was after 35 people reportedly got sick from the raw milk sold on their farm. The couple said it later lost its regular dairy license when nearby processors stopped buying their milk. Their attorney, Elizabeth Gamsky Rich, says the couple’s lawsuit is meant to preserve their property rights. Rich is also representing Wayne and Kay Craig of Calumet County. They said the state failed to renew a license for their organic food store, claiming they made too much from the raw milk sales offered privately to members. The cases are coming to light after Governor Jim Doyle vetoed the bill that would have let farmers sell raw milk. The Zinnikers are asking a judge to reinstate their dairy license so they have income while challenging their larger lawsuit. That hearing is set for tomorrow (Th) in Elkhorn. Like the Craigs, the Zinnikers allowed members to own a share of their cows so they can drink raw milk legally. A judge in Madison is expected to decide next Tuesday whether the Craigs’ lawsuit against the state should proceed, or if it should be dropped for a lack of evidence. Rich said the Craigs have followed the law by forming a limited liability corporation. State lawyers have not commented on either case.

Next Time Just Hug The Tree

6/9/10 – Two UW-Madison students will pay 700 dollar fines for stealing a 20-foot maple tree from a downtown street. The tree was yanked out of the ground and brought into an apartment. It didn’t take police very long to find the thieves. Police spokesman Joel DeSpain says officers are used to following blood trails – this one turned out to be a dirt trail they followed right back to the apartment. Officers found the door wide open, the occupants asleep, and what police are calling a clue sitting in the living room: the tree. The two young men did try to save the ill-gotten vegetation by replanting it at its original location.