News – February 8, 2011

Walker: Union Leaders Influencing Senate Dems


3/8/11 – Governor Scott Walker says national union leaders appear to be influencing the 14 state Senate Democrats who left Madison to delay a vote on Walker’s budget repair bill. During the taping of a radio show in Waukesha last night, the Republican Walker said the Democrats appeared to be returning to the capital. But the governor said he guessed that Minority Leader Mark Miller quote, “got a phone call from one of the union bosses in D-C who said, ‘You cannot go back there and let them have a vote.’” The governor’s staff and G-O-P lawmakers met with some of the Democrats last week. But they did not reach a compromise on Walker’s plan to virtually end collective bargaining powers for most public unions. Yesterday, Miller asked for a face-to-face meeting with Walker near the Illinois border. But Walker said no, and questioned whether Miller was actually leading his group. Miller later issued a statement that Walker could negotiate with any Democrat of his choice. Other Democrats fumed at Walker’s comments about Miller and said an agreement is nowhere to being close. At a news conference, Walker said there are concessions he can make but he won’t drop the basic union bargaining limits – because local governments need the option of reducing their labor costs to help off-set a huge cut in state aid for next year. During the radio show taping, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett asked why the G-O-P senators did not separate the union provisions and vote on them separately without the Democrats being there. He figured they wouldn’t have enough votes to pass.


DC Board to Vote on Contracts


3/8/11 – The Dodge County Board is expected to vote on contracts for seven local unions at their meeting tonight.  The one-year contracts would cover 650 county employees retroactively to January 1st.  The contracts include no increase in wages or benefits, but do not have represented employees paying more into their pension or health care accounts. If the contracts are approved and the Governor’s budget repair bill were to pass, non-represented employees would begin immediately paying 5.8-percent of their earnings toward their retirement account, while union workers would not have to do the same until after the contract expired on December 31st.    A press release last month stated that those involved in negotiations felt it would be beneficial to have the agreements in place for the remainder of the year in order to focus on what changes, if any, would be needed to ensure quality services in the county in the months and years to come. The County Board meets tonight beginning at 7:30pm at the Dodge County Administration Building in Juneau.


Attorneys Question Capitol Operation


3/8/11 – A union attorney questions whether the Walker administration is following the terms of a judge’s order to resume normal public access at the State Capitol. Michael Bauer asked the Justice Department yesterday to make sure the governor’s people are following last week’s order. Dane County Circuit Judge John Albert ordered that the Capitol’s public access be the same as it was on January 28th – before protestors to Walker’s proposed union restrictions jammed the Capitol day-and-night for two weeks. But in his letter, Bauer said only two of the Capitol’s six entrances were open yesterday – while all of them were open back on January 28th. He also said rallies and protests were not restricted to the ground floor back then – but they are now. Still, a few hundred protestors managed to be heard yesterday both inside and outside the Capitol, while people walked freely through the building. That’s after they were checked at the doors by a larger-than-normal number of officers with metal detection wands.


Man Gets 6th OWI Citation


3/8/11 – A 48-year-old man was cited for his 6th OWI last night in the town of Calamus.  The Dodge County Sheriff’s Department received a call from a motorist reporting that a car driven by Roy Hence was swerving on Highway 151 near Columbus.  Hence was pulled over and taken to jail.  It happened around 8:30 pm.


Columbus Council and Aquatic Center Board Clash


3/8/11 – Disputes between the Columbus Area Aquatic Center (CAAC) Board and the City are continuing. The City Administrator has drafted an agreement that removes the Board from most of its previous program management functions. When the latest lease agreement was drafted, the Board turned it down. The City plans to transfer most management responsibilities for the outdoor pool from the Board to the City Recreation Department. The current Board has decided to step aside and let the City try their hand at running an outdoor community pool.


Vehicle Destroyed in Weekend Fire


3/8/11 – A fire destroyed a vehicle in Waupun over the weekend but firefighters were able to limit damage to a nearby house.  It happened Saturday night around 10:30 at a home on Fond du Lac Street.  Waupun Fire Chief Jeff Berry says the fire was called in by a neighbor as a garage fire and once on scene they were able to get the blaze under control rather quickly.  Berry says the vehicle had been parked for more than 10-hours and believes the fire started in the engine compartment.  Berry gave credit to the nearly 30-firefighters who responded in limiting damage to the siding on the garage.  Crews were at the scene for about one-hour.


DNR Holding Discussions on Deer Management


3/8/11 – The state D-N-R has started holding 35 public meetings this month to discuss a host of deer management concerns. Officials are talking about the results of last year’s hunting seasons as well as recommendations for this fall, ways to increase participation by hunters, and new deer research. Biologists are attending each meeting to answer questions. The meetings began yesterday in Ladysmith and Big Bend. Two more are scheduled today in Mercer and Winter. You’ll find the complete list on the D-N-R’s Web site, accessible here.