“News – April 23, 2011”

Statewide Smoking Ban Compliance Spotty


4/23/11 – Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls says about half of the bars they checked for compliance with the statewide smoking ban this week have freely allowed smoking. Nehls says they have been asking business owners for voluntary compliance. Bar checks on Monday resulted in two violations in the Township of Rubicon where patrons were said to be openly smoking. Deputies conducted as many as eight more checks Thursday night in the Horicon and Lomira areas, and he says that turned up more instances of patrons and bartenders “blatantly” smoking. Deputies have also made some arrests during the checks. Last night a man was arrested for possession of marijuana and another on an existing arrest warrant. Another man was temporarily detained after he showed aggression towards the deputies conducting the checks. Other violations noted included serving already intoxicated patrons. The Sheriff Department is working with the Dodge County Tavern League in an effort to educate their membership and gain voluntary compliance. Nehls says many of the complaints have come from other businesses. Nehls stresses that they are looking for voluntary compliance with these smoking checks but will begin to issue formal citations if there are repeat violations.


Poll Shows Residents Skeptical of Walker’s Intentions


4/23/11 – Polling done by St. Norbert College finds Wisconsin residents skeptical about the reasons for Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to remove collective-bargaining rights for most public employees.  Wisconsin PUblic Radio commissioned the two-week canvass.  Governor Walker has said the law on collective bargaining will help balance the state’s budget and aid local governments dealing with deep cuts in state funding.  Pollsters found 57 percent of those contacted thing the effort was more about reducing the power of unions, while just 31 percent say it’s about dealing with budget shortfalls.  Another 59 percent say they disapproved of state Senate Democrats leaving the state to delay action on the controversial measure.  Four hundred Wisconsin residents were contacted.  The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus five percent.


Judge Denies Request for Extension


4/23/11 – The judge in the lawsuit that temporarily put Wisconsin’s new collective bargaining plan on hold has denied a request to delay the case.  The Dane County District Attorney asked for an extra week to file briefs in the case, citing staff shortages among other reasons. Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said she’d normally grant the request, but called this “the exceptional case”. She noted the Walker Administration has asked the state Supreme Court to take it up directly.  Sumi’s order means the DA and lawyers for Republican legislators will have to file their briefs and replies by May 23rd. It’s unclear how the case could proceed after that, but unless something changes, the collective bargaining plan remains on hold.


8 Senators Facing Recall


4/23/11 – Sixteen Wisconsin state Senators are being targeted for recall, eight Democrats for leaving town to delay vote on the budget repair bill and eight Republicans for backing the measure and its union cutbacks.  So far petitions have been submitted to recall eight senators, five Republicans and three Democrats.  Governor Scott Walker says in the past lawmakers have faced recall elections after instances of misconduct in office and not over a single vote.  Walker says if you have a recall after every vote, you could have those continuously, one-after-another-after-another, and it makes it very hard to get things done.  The Republican Walker says some could argue that the move by Senate Democrats to flee the state for three weeks was misconduct in office, but that will be up to voters to decide.


Some Offering Incentives for Signing Petitions


4/23/11 – Organizers of recall efforts against two Democratic senators are accused of offering payment for signatures on petitions, but there may not be anything wrong it.  State Senator Dave Hansen says an ad on Craigslist offered 50 cents to people who would sign a petition to recall him from office.  And, a resident of Senator Robert Wirch’s district reported a bartender was trading free shots for recall signatures.  Reid Magney with the state Government Accountability Board says those offers don’t appear to actually break any laws.  Magney says GAB officials reviewed state laws and found no prohibition on offering anything in exchange for a signature on a recall petition. He says it would only be illegal if payments were being made to vote in an election.


WI DA’s Layoffs or Furloughs Would be Illegal


4/23/11 – Wisconsin district attorneys say the state can’t lay off or furlough assistant prosecutors.  The Walker administration had said there could be statewide layoffs if assistant prosecutors didn’t agree to take six more furlough days by June 30.  The DAs say doing that without their consent would be illegal and could substantially impact community safety.  A letter sent to the executive director of the Office of State Employment Relations says neither that office nor the Department of Administration has the power to lay off prosecutors without the consent of their elected supervisors, the county district attorneys.


Bill Would Simplify Deer Hunting Rules


4/23/11 – The Wisconsin Assembly Natural Resources Committee takes up a bill simplifying the state’s deer season next week.  Hunters could take a buck without having to get a doe first under the Republican-sponsored legislation.  It would eliminate requirements that hunters have to kill an antlerless deer before they take their first buck.  It would also do away with the early season gun hunts before the traditional nine-day November hunt.  If it passes, the new rules would be a big victory for Wisconsin deer hunters who have complained for years about earn-a-buck and a complex grouping of early season hunts.  The DNR has said in the past that earn-a-buck and the extra hunts are important to keeping the state’s deer herd under control.


Authorities Confirm Military Training


4/23/11 – Fond du Lac and Green Lake County dispatchers report getting a lot of phone calls Thursday morning from people worried about their homes shaking.  Several people called a local radio station about it.  Fond du Lac Deputy Police Chief Kevin Lemke got confirmation that fighter jets were training in the area.  Lt. Colonel Jackie Guthrie, the Director of Public Affairs at the Wisconsin National Guard said pilots were flying maneuvers in the area, but couldn’t confirm whether they caused any sonic booms.  The jets that took off from Volk Field were supposedly in an area about 30 miles west of Fond du Lac when the reports were being called into area law enforcement.  The shaking from the sonic booms was reportedly felt from Beaver Dam to Two Rivers.


Local Journalist Passes Away


4/23/11 – A longtime journalist who worked for the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen for 35-years has passed away.  Connie Dornfeld was a fixture on the city of Horicon beat and was well known throughout the county for her work.  Dornfeld died on Thursday at Marvin’s Manor in Horicon.