News – April 18, 2016

Chapter 980 Law Change Has Unforeseen Consequences

 

4/18/16 – The recent change in state law regarding the placement of violent sex offenders has had unforeseen consequences. The attempted placement of two so-called Chapter 980 offenders next door to children in Dodge County last year caught the attention of local legislators. State Representative Mark Born authored changes that, for the first time, set a minimum amount of distance between an offenders residence while under supervision and dwellings with vulnerable individuals. The bill also allows, for the first time, local law enforcement to have an opportunity to weigh-in on the placement. That has resulted in community notification before the placement was finalized. A Reeseville home that was in the process of being purchased for the eventual placement of the two sex-offenders was suddenly taken off the market. During a hearing for Jonathan Miller last month Dodge County Circuit Judge Brian Pfitzinger ordered that law enforcement not disclose the addresses of potential placement houses to the public.  The sheriff, expressing disappointment, told us at the time that the public played a key role in the sex offenders not being placed near children.

 

State Representative Mark Born told us Friday on WBEV’s Community Comment that in authoring the legislation it was not anticipated that a judge would prohibit the disclosure of the residence prior to its being finalized. Born says that is not something that was talked about but occurred in this instance. The Beaver Dam Republican says they accomplished the purpose of the legislation which was to give law enforcement the ability learn about the area and to give local police a chance to offer input because they know communities better than state officials. Born says there were “bumps in the road to say the least” in the most recent development but that is something local law enforcement and the state will have to work through.

 

As far as the legislature revisiting the statute to make any changes, Born says we’ll have to see what future developments occur. He says he is open to amending statutes if something doesn’t work and his office will probably sit down with the department and other stakeholder groups at some point to talk about how they think the charges are working. Born says if there is something that is not quite right that does not work itself out in work rules or court orders or if court orders appear to work against the intent of the bill the amendments may be considered. However, he says, it’s too early to tell. Robert Larson Jr. and Jonathan Miller remain at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston and will be back in court on May 6. No word yet on where the state will attempt to place the two Chapter 980 sex offenders.

 

Dodge County Hopes To Have Human Service Director By Summer

 

4/18/16 – Dodge County hopes to have a new Human Services and Health Director in place by the end of summer. Janet Wimmer was terminated late last week.  County Administrator Jim Mielke could not comment on the circumstances tied to Wimmer’s termination, but Wimmer was placed on paid leave on March 18.  Prior to that, she was suspended one week in late February for allegedly failing to report to work on December 3 and for requesting a gasoline reimbursement for an August 2015 meeting she attended via telephone.  Based on past experiences of hiring department heads, Mielke hopes to recommend a candidate to the county board by August or September.  In the meantime, Mielke says three division managers within Human Services and Health will handle day-to-day operations.  They will report to the county administrator until a new director is in place.

 

Sheriff Critical Of SNL Heroin Skit

 

4/18/16 – Dodge County’s sheriff is calling for a national television network to apologize for a program that he feels made light of heroin use.  NBC’s Saturday Night Live featured a skit called ‘Heroin AM’ this weekend.  The skit depicted a number of adults advertising a boxed form of heroin similar to cold remedies commonly found on retail shelves.  In a press release, Sheriff Dale Schmidt says the segment made light of something that some have labeled an epidemic in the United States. He called the skit (quote) “distasteful, inappropriate, and irresponsible.”  The sheriff sent a letter to NBC asking them to avoid discussing opiate drugs in future skits, join the fight against heroin, and apologize to affected families.  In recent years, a number of local groups have held events to raise awareness for heroin use.  Dodge County has created programs to help people with addictions, and District Attorney Kurt Klomberg gave a series of presentations to discuss the legal implications of using heroin.  The ‘Heroin AM’ video can be seen on WBEV’s Facebook page.

 

Empty Seat On High Court Could Impact Wisconsin Cases

 

4/18/16 – The empty seat on the U-S Supreme Court could affect some major Wisconsin cases. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the vacancy from the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia could create some tie votes from the other eight members. And that would uphold appellate court decisions on Wisconsin’s redistricting, voter I-D law, abortion, and the former John Doe probe into Governor Scott Walker’s 2012 recall campaign. All those issues appear to be headed to the nation’s highest court, starting with a constitutional challenge to the Republicans’ 2011 redistricting that’s up for a trial in late May by a panel of three Wisconsin federal judges. Also, state Attorney General Brad Schimel recently asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a 2013 law in which abortion clinic doctors must have hospital admitting privileges.

 

No Reported Zika Virus Cases In Wisconsin

 

4/18/16 – Wisconsin is among a handful of states that have not reported a case of the Zika virus in residents that have traveled to the Caribbean or Latin America. However, state health officer Karen McKeown says such a case is inevitable, after neighboring Minnesota reported 12 travel-related Zika cases and Illinois ten. Mosquitoes carry the Zika virus. One of the affected species — the Asian tiger mosquito — is thought to be in southern Wisconsin, but U-W Madison entomologist Susan Paskewitz tells the Wisconsin State Journal the chance of getting Zika from an insect in the Badger State is “close to zero.” Federal health officials say the virus is more dangerous than originally thought, after being known to cause severe brain defects in babies.

 

Former DOC Secretary To File Whistleblower Claim

 

4/18/16 – Former Corrections Secretary Ed Wall will file a whistleblower retaliation claim against the state of Wisconsin.  Wall was fired after he sent a letter to the governor’s chief of staff containing a suggestion a public document should be shredded.  Wall resigned as secretary in February during a growing scandal over allegations of inmate abuse at the Lincoln Hills youth prison and was replaced by Jon Litscher of Beaver Dam.  Wall anticipated returning to his previous position with the state.

 

‘Alice’ Organizers Explain Dodge County Selection

 

4/18/16 – Tickets are on sale for next month’s Alice in Dairyland finals weekend.  Dodge County was selected to host this year’s 69th annual event which will crown the state’s new agricultural ambassador.  Former Alice and Current Committee Member Christine Lindner says Dodge County was selected after a two-year application process.  Since the decision was made, Lindner says hundreds of people have worked on planning the final weekend of events.  Committee Member David Laatsch believes this is an opportunity to showcase Dodge County agriculture.  He says one in five Dodge County workers are in an agricultural field.  Laatsch says agriculture is responsible for one-third of the county’s economic activity, which totals $2,000,000,000.  This year’s six finalists will appear on WBEV’s Community Comment on May 6.  That night, a dinner and candidate discussion panel will be held from 7 to 9 pm in Waterloo.  Cost is $15 per person.  On Saturday night, a banquet and the finals program will run from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm in Watertown.  Cost is $25 for both Saturday events or $5 for just the finals program.  Tickets can be ordered at aliceindairyland.com.

 

Bulk Garbage Pickup Announced For Beaver Dam

 

4/18/16 – It’s that time of the year for Beaver Dam residents to collect their bulk garbage as one of two annual pick-ups is scheduled next month. Public works officials have announced that bulk pick-up will begin on Monday, May 1 and continue through Friday, May 5 for residents who receive city-provided waste collection services from Advanced Disposal.  Bulk waste should be placed on the curb no sooner than 24 hours prior to each collection and by 7am on the day of pick-up.  Bulk waste is defined as, but not limited to, non-metal furniture, wooden doors and windows and rolled carpet, not exceeding six-feet in length.  No metal items like bed springs, doors, windows, appliances and pipes will be collected.  There is a metal bin located at the City Garage for disposal of such items. Also, no bundled or loose piles of lumber or building materials are accepted; those items must be broken down and placed in the weekly collection cart.  The only other bulk pick-up this year will be the first waste collection day of October. Bulk waste can be dropped off twice a month at Myrtle Road and Beltline Drive near the wastewater treatment plant; that’s on first Wednesday’s (from 4pm to 7pm) and third Saturday’s (from 8am until noon).