“News – April 26, 2011”

Dodge County Recount Price Tag is $8000


4/26/11 – The first statewide recall in more than 20 years gets underway Wednesday and Dodge County Clerk Karen Gibson feels it will take the full 13 days allotted to complete.  Incumbent Supreme Court Jusitice David Prosser beat challenger Joanne Kloppenburg by about 7300 votes and her campaign asked for a recount, which will be paid for by the state.  In Dodge County, more than 22,000 ballots were cast and now Gibson and her staff must go through and verify that all of the numbers add up.  She says many of the ballots will then be run through the electronic voting machine again. However, ballots cast on the touch screens must be counted one-by-one.  The total cost of the recount is expected to be around $8,000.


Hartford Republican Wants Earlier Election


4/26/11 – A public hearing will be held Wednesday on a bill to move Wisconsin’s fall partisan primaries back by one month, to the second Tuesday of August. Assembly Republican Don Pridemore of Hartford proposed the bill, which he says would make several election reforms. The measure would end the ability to choose one party instead of picking all of its candidates. But Pridemore says it would not end the 30-year-old practice of letting voters register at the polls – something many conservatives say is needed to reduce the risk of voter fraud. Wisconsin has been under pressure to change its mid-September primary date because of a new federal law that requires troops and other overseas residents to get their absentee ballots within 45 days of a November election. The state got around the requirement last year by having a longer deadline for overseas ballots to arrive after the elections.


To Phone Or Not To Phone


4/26/11 – Now that cell phones are getting smarter, some Wisconsin schools are thinking twice about making kids go without them. The Eau Claire School Board is considering changes in a student ban on cell phones that’s been in place since 2004. And schools in Superior, Wausau, and La Crosse have updated their policies. Kelly Meyers of the Wisconsin School Administrators says her office has received more requests for sample policies on cell phone use.  Currently in Beaver Dam, students can have their cell phones with them at school but can’t use them in class. Superintendent Steve Vessey says they’ve had ongoing conversations about how they could implement the devices in the classroom. Meanwhile, in Eau Claire, they would still be banned in restrooms, locker rooms, and during tests. But Superintendent Ron Hielman says today’s smart phones with Internet access can be a teaching tool – and Eau Claire’s proposed policy would let students use their phones in study halls, lunch, and classes if teachers allow them. But Board member Bob Janke still favors a total ban. He says he can’t point to any valid research which shows that cell phones enhance the educational process. But Meyers says the trend is still toward allowing them – especially as statistics show that 50-percent of learning will be on-line.


Woman Accused Of Smuggling Cocaine Into WCI


4/26/11 – A Milwaukee woman is accused of smuggling cocaine into the Waupun Correctional Institution. Krystal Robinson is charged with a felony count of Delivering Illegal Articles to an Inmate. The 23-year-old reportedly brought the cocaine into the prison last April, folded in paper and given to an inmate like they were passing a note.  Another inmate alerted corrections officers to the scheme and they were waiting with a search warrant to strip search Robinson when she visited a couple weeks later. There was no more contraband found on Robinson but during an interview she is said to have admitted to bringing in the cocaine and said she was pressured by the inmate. A signature bond was set at $1000 yesterday and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for June.  If convicted, Robinson could spend up to three-and-a-half years in prison.


Mayville Man Accused of Sparking Chase


4/26/11 – A Mayville man is accused of sparking a police chase.  Matthew Rantala is charged with a felony charge of Attempting To Flee or Elude a Traffic Officer in connection with an alleged pursuit last week.  Authorities in Mayville say the Rantala vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed on North Main Street with a headlight out and the dome light on when they turned around to initial a traffic stop.  The 36-year-old allegedly sped to County Road TW where his eastbound car entered the northbound ditch, struck a culvert and went airborne.  The vehicle made it back onto the roadway but then entered the southbound ditch where it got stuck in the snow.  Officers executed a high risk traffic stop and the suspect surrendered at gunpoint. Rantala is being held on a $2500 cash bond and will be back in court on Thursday.  If convicted, he could spend up to three-and-a-half years in prison.


Fondy Man Charged With Hit and Run Injury


4/26/11 – A Fond du Lac man is accused of running into a car last month and leaving the scene of the accident. Joseph Krezman Jr. is charged with a felony count of Hit and Run Involving Injury, which carries a maximum sentence of nine months in jail upon conviction.  According to the criminal complaint, the 23-year-old passed a slowing car on Highway 49 and then struck that car as it turned left. A passenger sustained soreness to her neck.  Krezman allegedly sped away but the other car followed him and he was apprehended a short time later. He denied any knowledge of being in an accident. A signature bond was set at $1000 yesterday and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for early June.


Wausau Woman Fined Over Laxative Cookies


4/26/11 – A Wausau woman admits her “stupid practical joke” was a bad idea.  Becky Riiser has apologized in court, after being fined 300 dollars for putting a laxative in cookies she gave to her college instructor.  The “Marshfield News-Herald” reports the 39 year old woman pleaded no contest to the charges, admitting she used Ex-Lax in the cookie batter.  She gave the cookies to her UW-Marathon County biology professor.  The teacher was warned by another student about the laxative-laced cookies, but he had apparently already eaten one and was slightly ill the next day.


Deadline Passes on Recall Petitions


4/26/11 – Recall efforts have failed against two Wisconsin Democratic senators. Petitioners did not file signatures by a deadline of yesterday against Fred Risser of Madison and Lena Taylor of Milwaukee. That leaves 14 senators who could still face recall elections because of their actions involving the bill to limit collective bargaining by public employee unions. The Government Accountability Board is reviewing petitions for recall elections against eight senators – five Republicans and three Democrats. Organizers have until today to file petitions against Senate Democrat Spencer Coggs of Milwaukee. The two senators who escaped recall efforts are among the most secure members of the Senate. Both Risser and Taylor were unopposed when they ran for re-election in 2008 in heavily Democratic districts. Risser is the nation’s longest-serving lawmaker in his 55th year in office. Taylor has been in the Legislature for almost a decade.


Weather Delays Hurting Area Farmers


4/26/11 – A cold-and-wet spring has delayed Wisconsin farmers, as they try-to-get their fields ready for crop planting. Officials say only seven-percent of spring tillage work has been done in the Badger State. That compares to 56-percent a year ago, when farmers were ahead of schedule. U-W Extension adviser Steve Huntzicker said only a small amount of field work has been done in southwest areas – and very little planting has taken place. And Wisconsin’s not the only one that’s behind. The U-S-D-A said only nine-percent of the nation’s corn crop has been planted as of Sunday, compared to the five-year average of 23-percent. Of the 18 major growing states, only Kansas is ahead of the norm – and that’s due to extremely dry conditions.


4-K Participation Up


4/26/11 – More Wisconsin parents are taking advantage of pre-kindergarten programs than those in most other states. A new report says the Badger State had the nation’s sixth-highest participation rates in tax-funded pre-school programs in the last year. Just over half of Wisconsin’s four-year-olds and one-percent of its three-year-olds were in pre-kindergarten programs in the term ending last June. Those enrollments grew by six-percent in one year, and 172-percent over the last decade. And Wisconsin’s spending for pre-kindergarten grew by 100-dollars per child over the last two years. State Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend is criticizing the trend saying the state should cut off funding for new four-year-old kindergarten programs.  Grothman contends that fourth-grade reading scores have plummeted, saying early childhood education has quote, “harmful psychological effects.” But U-S Education Secretary Arne Duncan took issue with the senator’s claims and cited research showing that early childhood education is quote, “the best investment we can make that will pay dividends later on.” Eighty-five percent of Wisconsin schools now have four-year-old kindergarten and by this time next year nearly every area district will have a program.


Rove Speaks in Milwaukee


4/26/11 – Republican strategist Karl Rove had glowing words for Governor Scott Walker when he spoke last night to hundreds of people at U-W Milwaukee.  Rove said “Your governor did an extraordinarily courageous thing by standing up.” He was referring to Walker’s efforts to virtually strip most public employee unions of their collective bargaining powers. Rove said every state faces the same issue, and he says proposals similar to Walker’s are gaining traction elsewhere. Rove said local governments and school districts have quote, “basically bought the peace” when they increased employee benefits that don’t have to be covered for years after the officials who approved them leave office. Rove says we’ll either get reforms, or systems that go bankrupt. Rove also spent a good part of his Milwaukee speech slamming President Obama’s domestic policies. He praised the budget plan brought by Janesville House Republican Paul Ryan, while calling Obama’s proposal a disaster that will quote, “sink our country.”