News April 3, 2009

Former surgeon Mark Benson was ordered this morning to stand trial on charges that he violated conditions of his bond in a case involving multiple traffic deaths. He’s scheduled to enter pleas on May 8 in Waukesha County on two felony counts of bail jumping. The 56-year-old Benson was free on a half-million-dollar bond when police caught him last month with firearms in his house, and medicines from Florida which his doctor did not prescribe. Both violated the terms of his bond in his criminal traffic case. Benson is accused of being high on prescription medicines when his car rear-ended another in Oconomowoc last April. Assistant high school Principal Jennifer Bukosky was killed, along with her unborn child and her 10-year-old daughter. The crash happened just days before Benson was scheduled to report to jail for his third O-W-I conviction. That fact spurred calls from the governor and some state lawmakers to make three-time drunk driving a felony. Meanwhile, a judge will decide May eighth if Benson’s mother and her husband will have to forfeit the half-million-dollars they posted to free the defendant in February. Benson now needs just over one-point-one million dollars to go free again. His attorney doubts it will happen.

On Community Comment yesterday we spoke with three of the six candidates vying for a seat on the Beaver Dam School Board. Marge Jorgenson, Del Yaroch and Gary Spielman all provided varying answers when asked their opinion about the state’s QEO law. The Qualified Economic Offer limits annual salary and benefits increases to 3.8% if the school board and union are unable to come to agreement. Incumbent Marge Jorgenson says it’s not a good idea to repeal the QEO on its own without also looking at the state-imposed revenue limits, or risk even higher increases during arbitration. Former school board member Gary Spielman says the QEO law has definitely hurt education and should be repealed, so that districts can go back to regular negotiations. Del Yaroch says he agrees with the QEO to some degree because if it’s rescinded, there will be some major budget issues. At the same time, Yaroch says the matter needs to revisited by the legislature. Spielman, Jorgenson and Yaroch, along with Erin Broome, Dan Feuling (file-ing) and Bob Castro are all competing for three open seats on the Beaver Dam School Board in next Tuesday’s election.

Authorities are reminding the public to secure their boats. That’s after emergency officials responded to Lake Sinnissippi in the Town of Hustisford Thursday morning following reports of an overturned watercraft. After an investigation, officials with the state DNR and Hustisford Fire Department determined the vessel was abandoned. The boat, which hasn’t been registered since 1998, was towed to shore and secured. DNR Warden Paul Nell says they always err on the side of caution when a boat is overturned in the water, but man hours were needlessly used today because of someone’s carelessness.”

The Kohler Company announced another 455 layoffs Thursday. The Sheboygan County-based maker of bathroom fixtures has idled 650 employees in four rounds of layoffs since last October because of the recession and slumping home sales. Spokesman Todd Weber says the newest layoffs involve employees in Kohler’s corporate operations and its global power, bath, and kitchen groups. Those hired since 1994 were included in the releases. Kohler still employs 63-hundred people as one of Wisconsin’s five-largest private companies.

Fond du Lac is losing a second university president. U-W Fond du Lac Dean and CEO Daniel Blankenship will be leaving at the end of the spring semester to become Executive Vice President and Provost at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. He will begin his duties at Cardinal Stritch this summer. Blankenship has served as the U-W Fond du Lac Campus Dean since July of 2002. He led the campus during a time of increasing enrollments, expansion of bachelor’s degree competition programs and creation of the new FastTrack program of accelerated blended

courses for adult students. Recently Marian University President Josefina Castillo Baltodano resigned from her position.

One of the two Randolph men arrested in connection with the Memorial Day weekend robbery of the Randolph Citgo was sentenced to one year in jail. 20-year-old Mark Fischer was also placed on probation for three years and had a 64-month prison sentence imposed and stayed. In December his accomplice, 20-year-old Jesse Bunker, pleaded “no contest” to a felony charge of Armed Robbery with the Use of Force and had a felony count of Theft dismissed on a prosecutors motion. Fischer drove the getaway car for Bunker who pulled a gun on the clerk before fleeing the scene with a duffle bag containing around $800 in cash. Authorities used in-store video surveillance to track down the suspects. Bunker faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Lawmakers hope to scale back the ability of health insurance companies to deny coverage. State Representative Jon Richards says if people pay for health insurance coverage, they should get it. Richards chairs the the Assembly Health Committee. He says when determining insurance coverage, his proposal states that insurance companies can only look back one year in a client’s medical history for a preexisting condition. Also, he defines a preexisting condition as something that has been treated, or at least discussed with a doctor. There are some concerns about the bill’s social and fiscal impact. Senator Kathleen Vinehout, who sponsored similar legislation in the Senate, says this measure would not change Wisconsin statute in a way that is different from what many other states are doing.

The Department of Consumer Protection is out with its annual list of the top 10 complaints filed with the office during 2008. Division Administrator Janet Jenkins says telemarketers received more than two thousand reports, once again claiming the top spot on the list. Complaints against telemarketers have been at number one since the “No Call” list was created in 2003. Second on the list were complaints about landlord-tenant disputes. Jenkins says the third spot is filled by problems with telecommunications companies. New entries this year were complaints about Internet Service Providers, Satellite TV companies, gas prices and travel agencies.