News February 2, 2009

Columbus Man Killed in Snowmobile Accident

2/2/09 – A 38-year-old Columbus man was killed last evening in a snowmobile accident in Columbia County. The D-N-R said the rider failed to stop at a snowmobile crossing on Highway 60 near Columbus, and was hit by a car. It happened around six p-m. Authorities said alcohol was not a factor. The victim’s name was not immediately released. He was with another snowmobiler, who made it across the road just before the victim tried to cross. It’s the 17th snowmobile death in Wisconsin this winter. Officials said high speed was a factor in all but three-of-the-16 deaths before last evening.

Waupun School Board to Discuss Referenda

2/2/09 – A Fox Lake area citizen’s group will present their ideas to the Waupun School board tonight on how to prevent closing two elementary schools if a referendum question fails later this month. With the district facing a budget deficit of around $1-million for the 2009-2010 school year, the board voted to send three referendum questions to the public. That includes a question that would allow the district to exceed its revenue cap for three years and nearly $5-million to continue operating a number of schools as they currently do. District Administrator Randy Refsland has said that if the referendum were to fail, and no other logical and legal alternatives are brought forward, he will recommend closing Fox Lake and Alto Elementary. The board will meet tonight in the Middle School lecture hall at 7pm.

State Addicted to Spending says Policy Research Institute

2/2/09 – A conservative think tank says it’s the not the recession that put the next state budget five-and-three-quarter-billion dollars in the red. The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute blames an “addiction to spending” by both parties in Madison. According to a new report, the state spent more than its revenues in nine-of-the-last-10 years. And they’ve tried to make the average taxpayer think otherwise, by moving money into new accounts which give the impression that the state has lowered general spending. The research institute cites the cigarette tax as one example. It said the money from last year’s dollar-a-pack increase went into a “health care quality” fund, instead of the state’s general fund. Also, the group says both parties have used one-time money – like lawsuit proceeds – to pay for ongoing, permanent programs. And the institute says government has been “running on fumes” by not having enough of a surplus to cover emergencies.

Assembly to Vote on Campaign Reform

2/2/09 – The state Assembly’s Organization Committee is expected to act Wednesday to stop members from raising campaign money while the budget is debated. For years, lawmakers have held fund-raisers where special interests made donations, while budget items for their industries were still pending. Watchdogs say it gives the appearance of government-for-sale. Now, Democratic Majority Leader Tom Nelson says the proposed fund-raising ban at budget time is the most significant campaign reform in a generation. But it includes no penalties for violators – and it only affects individual members, and not the two parties’ fund-raising arms. Also, it would not apply to senators, who have shown no interest in changing the status quo.

First Farmer?

2/2/09 – She’s been chosen by America. Now, Claire Strader of Madison needs President Obama’s approval to become the first White House Farmer. Several groups have asked Obama to start an organic vegetable garden at the White House, as a symbol of going green. They have not gotten an answer – but it didn’t stop them from holding an Internet election for a proposed First Farmer. Strader got 16-percent of about 55-thousand votes. Carrie Ann Little of Washington State got 15-percent. Margaret Lloyd of Davis California took third with nine-percent. Will Allen – an urban farmer from Milwaukee – placed fourth, even though he said the job was not

for him. But Strader says it’s for her. And if the White House approves the farm project, she’d be honored to run it