“News – April 22, 2011”

Grulke Asks Board To Review Complaints


4/22/11 – A secretary at the Beaver Dam High School is asking the school board to change how they deal with discrimination complaints.  Cheryl Grulke, who is currently embroiled in an open records lawsuit against the district, recently asked the school board to change the policy to allow employees, with what she called unresolved discrimination complaints, to address the board directly. The board has hired an outside consultant to go through all of their policies.  Board President Bev Beal-Loeck says they’ve known for some time that they needed to be updated and they hope to have the revisions in place by the end of the year.


Attempted Break-In At Reeseville Pharmacy


4/22/11 – Authorities arrested a 19-year-old woman Thursday after she allegedly tried to break in to the Village Pharmacy in Reeseville.  Sheriff Todd Nehls says deputies responded to an alarm at the business around 1:45am, and with the help of the upstairs neighbor, were able to locate the woman within an hour. Nehls says she is facing charges of criminal damage to property, attempted burglary and operating while intoxicated.  She is also a suspect in a burglary at the same pharmacy a couple of weeks ago.


GAB Considers Outside Investigator


4/22/11 – Wisconsin elections’ officials said Thursday they would not back away from their investigation into Waukesha County’s handling of the Supreme Court election. JoAnne Kloppenburg – who has asked for a recount after losing the election – said the Government Accountability Board is too close to County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus to conduct an objective investigation of her activities. And she asked for an outside investigator to look into the clerk’s “actions and words.” Accountability board director Kevin Kennedy says his agency is required by law to probe government irregularities – and while they do employ outside investigators, they work under the agency’s direction. Spokesman Reid Magney said it would be up to the full board to decide whether to grant Kloppenburg’s request and hire an outside investigator. The chief of staff for Waukesha County’s executive says Kloppenburg’s request is premature, because the accountability board is still investigating Nickolaus. The board said this week it found no major irregularities with the county’s votes, after the clerk omitted Brookfield’s votes in her Election Night tally. A canvass uncovered those votes. And the board said it was still looking into other parts of the clerk’s operations.


First Democrat Recall Petitions Filed


4/22/11 – The first recall petitions were filed Thursday against Democratic Wisconsin senators. Petitioners gave thousands of signatures to the state Government Accountability Board to order recall elections against Dave Hansen of Green Bay, Jim Holperin of Conover, and Bob Wirch of Pleasant Prairie. The Hansen group was the first to arrive at the board’s Madison office. Organizers for all three attempts said they got five-to-six-thousand more signatures than the minimum required to hold recall votes. The board now has 31 days to determine if there are enough valid signatures to order the elections. But officials say they’ll seek an extension to finish all the paperwork – and to schedule all the elections on the same day. Meanwhile, a major announcement was planned today by a group that’s trying to recall Senate Finance chairwoman Alberta Darling of River Hills. Petitions have already been filed for elections to recall four Republican senators – Dan Kapanke, Randy Hopper, Sheila Harsdorf, and Luther Olsen. State Democrats plan to spend hundreds-of-thousands of dollars on those races, to try and win back the majority in the Senate. Democrats need to gain three seats in this year’s recall votes to break the G-O-P’s total control of the legislative and executive branches which voters gave them last November. The Republicans are targeted for voting in favor of the limits on public union bargaining. The Democrats are targeted for leaving Madison for three weeks to try and stop a vote on those limits.

 Woman Arraigned For Legislator Threats

4/22/11 – A Dane County woman pleaded innocent Thursday to two misdemeanor charges that she threatened 16 state legislators. 26-year-old Katherine Windels of Cross Plains entered her pleas to counts of making e-mail threats. The judge will review the status of her case May 16th, and pleas are expected later to two related felony charges. Prosecutors said Windels sent an e-mail threat to Senate Republican Rob Cowles of Green Bay on March 9th, the day Republican senators voted to pass limits of collective bargaining by public unions without any of the 14 Democrats present. Another e-mail threat was reportedly sent later to 15 other G-O-P lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau. Windels is free on a signature bond, but the court ordered her not to visit the State Capitol, communicate with the targets of the e-mail threats or the owner of an account that was allegedly used. Also, a judge said Windels cannot use the Internet except for work, school, or finding a job.


Jury Finds Kuenzi In Pedestrian Fatality


4/22/11 – A jury in Waupaca County has found a man guilty of lying at a John Doe hearing about a 2004 hit-and-run crash that killed a pedestrian. Jurors deliberated for just over an hour Wednesday, before convicting 25-year-old Walter Engel of perjury. He’s scheduled to be sentenced May second. Engel was in a pick-up truck driven by Rory Kuenzi. It struck-and-killed Kevin McCoy as he was leaving a nearby underage drinking party. Authorities said Kuenzi stopped and pushed McCoy’s body into a ditch. But Engel testified at the John Doe hearing that Kuenzi never stopped after hitting McCoy. That allowed Kuenzi to claim that he assumed he struck a deer. Kuenzi was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the crash. The investigation was dormant until Kuenzi made statewide headlines by allegedly killing six deer in a stolen snowmobile in early 2009. Kuenzi’s role in the 2004 crash came up, and the state Justice Department decided to pick up that probe. Kuenzi’s deer charges are still pending.


Fighter Jets Prompt 911 Calls


4/22/11 – Area law enforcement got a lot of phone calls from residents worried about their homes shaking Thursday morning. There was plenty of speculation as to the cause, but Fond du Lac Police got confirmation from the Federal Aviation Administration that fighter jets were training in the area. The same thing occurred in the region a couple of years ago when some fighter jets were training above Lake Winnebago. The shaking from the sonic booms was reportedly felt from Beaver Dam to Two Rivers.


Jeff Hall Loses Draw In Council Race


4/22/11 – Take a card, any card. That’s how a City Council election was decided in Oshkosh. Tom Pech Junior led Jeff Hall by 14 votes after the Election Night tally. Hall asked for a recount – and it showed that he and Pech each had 54-hundred-90 votes for the last of three Council seats. So by law, the winner was chosen by a drawing – and both candidates agreed to use a deck of cards. Pech won the Council seat by pulling the queen-of-spades. Hall came up short with a three-of-spades, but all is not lost for him. Another alderman still needs to be elected to replace Burk Tower, who was elected as the mayor of Oshkosh. And Hall says he’ll run for that seat when the election is scheduled.


BDUSD Employee Files Discrimination Complaint


4/22/11 – A Beaver Dam School District employee filed a discrimination complaint against the District yesterday claiming that it violated the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act.  Attorney Bob Schumaker filed the complaint with the Department of Workforce Development yesterday on behalf of Cheryl Grulke, claiming the district and Superintendent Steve Vessey failed to provide her a reasonable accommodation for a health issue so that she could perform her job as a secretary at the high school.  The complaint states that two different doctors, including one picked by the district, determined that Grulke has a serious health condition as the result of being harassed by former high school principal Don Patnode and two other employees.  Grulke believes a reasonable solution would be to move the two employees to other positions and allow her to return to her job in the high school office.  Grulke went on medical leave in the fall of 2009 and when she returned to work in the spring of 2010 she was assigned to Jefferson Elementary.  She went on leave again earlier this year and is due back in September.  A request for comment from the district’s attorney was not immediately answered.


Rules for Supreme Court Recount Set


4/22/11 – The first major issue in the State Supreme Court recount was smoothed out yesterday, when a judge approved a compromise on how the ballots will be tallied. Both incumbent David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg agreed to have the ballots counted by hand in parts of 31 counties where older voting machines do not allow data to be copied. Elsewhere, the ballots will be re-run through scanning machines. Kloppenburg had indicated she might want all the ballots counted by hand statewide – and Prosser’s lawyers had planned to fight any recount, calling it “frivolous” considering the margin. Prosser attorney James Troupis says he’s comfortable with the compromise, even though he believes that Prosser’s 73-hundred vote victory margin from the county canvasses will hold up. Kloppenburg attorney Susan Crawford called the agreement “fair,” and said her client has every right to have the ballots checked again. Prosser’s victory margin was less than one-half-of-one-percent, which means taxpayers will cover the costs of the recount. The state Government Accountability Board is expected to give formal approval to the process on Monday – and the tally could begin as early as next Wednesday.


Residents Unsure on Recalling Walker


4/22/11 – Wisconsinites appear to be split on whether they would recall Governor Scott Walker if they had the chance. A poll by Wisconsin Public Radio-and-Saint Norbert College shows that 48-percent would keep the Republican Walker in office – while 47-percent would remove him. The poll has a five-percent margin of error either way. Walker has been under fire for trying to end most collective bargaining for state-and-local public employee unions. Recall drives are taking place against 16 state senators over that issue. But state law requires politicians to stay in office for at least a year before they can be recalled – and means Walker can’t be touched until next January.


Fight Breaks Out at Press Conference in Baraboo


4/22/11 – A small scuffle broke out at a political news conference in Baraboo yesterday. Sauk County Democrats held the event where Representative Fred Clark announced his candidacy to run in a recall election against Senate Republican Luther Olsen. According to the Baraboo News-Republican, Clark was being introduced when Olsen supporters entered the room and started insulting the Democrats. During a pause in Clark’s speech, the paper said a tussle broke out in the back of the room – and when a photographer tried to take a picture an Olsen supporter grabbed his camera and twisted the lens.  The Olsen campaign denied that a disturbance ever took place.