News – December 14, 2011

Juneau Holds First Reading On Utility Restructuring

12/14/11 – The Juneau Common Council held first reading on an ordinance Tuesday night that would restructure the city’s publically-owned Utility Commission. The proposed change comes after every other elected and appointed city official received an 18% reduction in annual salary and per-meeting stipends. The council voted earlier this year for the pay decreases but chose to exempt the Utility Commission, which is city-owned but self-sustaining using virtually no tax dollars. The exemption drew heavy criticism from Bosak who said commissioners were not being “team players” in these tough economic times. The ordinance he is proposing would reduce the number of citizen commissioners from five to three and they would serve staggered three-year terms. Two alderpersons with voting powers would also sit on the commission in one-year terms along with the mayor who would only vote to break a tie. While alderpersons on the commission would receive per-meeting compensation, they would not get an additional salary. Pay for the three citizen commissioners would be cut by 45%. In addition, the ordinance would change the way utility employees are hired and compensated by consolidating various personnel committee’s into one committee that answers to the common council with recommendations from the Utility Commission.

Former Alderman and Utility Commissioner Dan spoke against Mayor Bosak’s restructuring plan. Jahnke refuted the mayor’s claims that the restructuring would save the city $10,000 over five years. He says the $2000 that could be saved next year has already been spent on attorney fees. Jahnke also says it’s not a good idea to have too many alderperson on the commission because an alderman could be gone after a two-year term. Commissioners serve five-year terms and Jahnke says he learned from experience that it takes a couple years to learn the ropes. Water and Wastewater Superintendent Randy Schaefer was among three utility employees last night speaking in favor of the restructuring plan. Schaefer cited a 2013 project to relocate a malfunctioning sewer that runs behind East Oak Street approximately100 feet to the south to the center of Acorn Alley at a cost of $150,000. He says the commission refused to consider a $30,000 plan to reline the sewer, a one-day job that would cause considerable less disruption to private property. The Juneau Common Council will consider restructuring of the Utility Commission and related salary reductions at their meeting on January 10.

Klomberg Will Run for 2nd Term as DA

12/14/11 – Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg announced last night that he will be running for a second term next fall. It will be Klomberg’s first campaign for the position after being appointed to finish off former DA Bill Bedker’s term in 2010. Klomberg says he’s got a passion for Dodge County and its people and called the position his dream job. Klomberg made the announcement last night at the Waupun City Council meeting after speaking to them about the heroin problem in the county. The council was the 40th municipality to get a visit from Klomberg since February. Klomberg says at least six people have overdosed on heroin since 2008.

Hearing on Abortions Draws Comments from Both Sides

12/14/11 – A Republican state senator says she keeps hearing that vulnerable women are being pressured by others to have abortions. Mary Lazich made the remark yesterday at a public hearing on her bill to require doctors to meet privately with patients, to see if the abortions they want are truly voluntary. Also, the bill requires doctors to be in the same room when they administer abortion drugs, instead of using a Web camera to give instructions. Doctors who violate the measure could face felony charges. Lisa Subeck of Pro-Choice Wisconsin said the Web cam procedure is not used in Wisconsin, and the law already requires abortions to be voluntary. Mark Grapentine of the State Medical Society said the measure would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. But Susan Armacost of Wisconsin Right-to-Life said the current law doesn’t do enough to make doctors verify that abortions are voluntary.

BDPD Receives DOT Alcohol, Seatbelt Grant

12/14/11 – A grant from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will help the Beaver Dam Police Department crack down on seatbelt and alcohol violations. Twenty-thousand dollars ($20,000) of the grant is for overtime costs to staff additional law enforcement during select times of the year, while another $5000 will be used for equipment to enhance highway safety. Police Detective Ryan Klavekoske says the goal is not to simply issue citations but to save lives, prevent injuries and educate the public on alcohol and seatbelt laws. The grant cycle runs through October.

Two BD Men Arrested For Selling Marijuana

12/14/11 – Following a two-month investigation, authorities executed a search warrant late last week in Beaver Dam that led to the seizure of three ounces of marijuana, numerous items of drug paraphernalia and money that they believe was used in the drug operation. It happened at a residence in the 200 block of DeClark Street. Police say 18-year-old Adam Nehls and 24-year-old Tyler Zondag, both of Beaver Dam, were arrested. Both are charged with Possession of THC, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession with Intent to Deliver THC and Maintaining a Drug Trafficking Place. The two have preliminary hearings set for next month. Agencies involved in the investigation included the Beaver Dam Police Department, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department and the Dodge County Multi-jurisdictional Drug Task Force.

OSHA Fines Watertown Company

12/14/11 – A Watertown company that makes frozen pizzas is facing a $76,000 fine for alleged health and safety violations. The U-S Occupational Safety-and-Health Administration announced the citations Tuesday against Emil’s Pizza. The government said employees were exposed to an atmosphere deficient of oxygen when they processed pizzas in a liquid nitrogen freezer. OSHA said no one got sick or injured because of the conditions. The agency also said the company failed to train employees on the hazards of liquid nitrogen and did not use proper safety equipment. Emil’s Pizza has not commented. It has two weeks to pay the fines, challenge the citations, or ask for a conference with OSHA.

Omro Teen Pleads In Puppy Beating

12/14/11 – A 19-year-old Omro man faces up to a year-and-a-half in prison, after he pleaded no contest to killing a puppy with a baseball bat. James Albright-the-Third was convicted in Winnebago County of felony Animal Mistreatment Causing Death, and Bail Jumping. As part of a plea bargain, prosecutors agreed to ask that Albright’s bail jumping sentence be served at the same time as his term for animal mistreatment. Sentencing is set for February eighth. Prosecutors said Albright killed his Rottweiler-mix named Harley in a field on September fifth. That was after police told him and his roommate to get rid of their two dogs due to poor living conditions. Albright reportedly told police “If I can’t have Harley, nobody can.”

AG Holder Vows to Enforce Civil Rights Protections in 2012 Elections

12/14/11 – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says states like Wisconsin will have to prove that their new voter I-D laws don’t discriminate. Holder vowed yesterday to enforce civil rights protections in next year’s elections. His speech came just hours after the ACLU filed suit in Milwaukee’s federal court to try and strike down the Wisconsin I-D law which takes effect next year. The A-C-L-U said six classes of people will find it harder to vote. That includes senior citizens who never got birth certificates, and will now have to pay what the group calls a “poll tax” to get the documents they need to obtain their I-D’s. One of the defendants, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, said the new state law is constitutional. His spokesman said 15 other states have some type of voter I-D requirement, and it’s necessary to prevent fraud and preserve the integrity of elections.

Officials Turn Mittens Into Mitten Aid

12/14/11 – Wisconsin officials have turned a controversy over mittens into a campaign for charity. Governor Scott Walker and Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett asked people today to donate new or gently-worn mittens at seven tourism centers at the Wisconsin borders. The mittens will then be given to local charities to help those in need this winter. Wisconsin was recently called to task by a Michigan promoter, for using a mitten as a design on the Travel Wisconsin Web site. That riled up some folks in Michigan, which is known to many as the “Mitten State” because Lower Michigan is shaped like a mitten. Now that people have moved on to the next great debate, Walker says tourism officials in both Wisconsin and Michigan hope to use the mitten debate to do some good. Mittens can be donated at state tourist centers and participating chambers-of-commerce through January 15th. You’ll find more information at Travel Wisconsin-Dot-Com.