News – March 12, 2009

Supreme Court Candidates Hold Debate in Milwaukee

3/12/09 – Wisconsin’s chief justice says she refuses to be labeled. At a debate in Milwaukee yesterday, Supreme Court challenger Randy Koschnick again tried to put the activist label on 33-year incumbent Shirley Abrahamson. Koschnick, a Jefferson County circuit judge, said Abrahamson has demonstrated many times that she legislates from the bench. She denied it, saying she never imposes her personal views instead of interpreting the law. Koschnick describes himself as a judicial conservative. Abrahamson asked him if that’s a promise he’ll rule on certain cases one way or another. The chief justice said she won’t do that and quote, “I’m not pro-or-anti anything.” Meanwhile, the public can submit questions for a Supreme Court debate planned for March 27th in Madison. We the People-Wisconsin is sponsoring the forum – and those interested in attending or asking questions can long onto WTPeople-Dot-Com-slash-2009.

Emerald Ash Borer Here to Stay

3/12/09 – It appears that the tree-killing emerald ash borer is in Wisconsin to stay – and officials now say their focus will be to slow the spread of it. The agriculture department says an infestation found last summer near Newburg in Washington and Ozaukee counties is too big to remove completely. Forty-four infestations of the ash beetle have been confirmed in the village of Newburg. Throughout the area, several hundred trees are known to be infected in seven-and-a-half square miles. Up to 50-thousand ash trees are at risk there. The Milwaukee River corridor is the hardest hit so far. But the ag department’s Melody Walker says surveyors are still trying to find the edge of the outbreak. Wisconsin is among 10 Midwest and eastern states with the emerald ash borer, along with Ontario and Quebec in Canada. A quarantine on firewood, ash nursery stock, and other as products remains in Washington, Ozaukee, Fond du Lac, and Sheboygan counties. Up to nine-thousand traps will be set up around the state this year, to see if the ash borer has taken hold elsewhere.

Wisconsin Elections Agency Supports Special Election for Vacant U.S. Senate Seats

3/12/09 – The head of Wisconsin’s elections agency testified yesterday in favor of holding special voting to fill vacant U-S Senate seats. Kevin Kennedy told a Senate panel it costs about three-million dollars to hold a special election in the Badger State. But he called it an “investment in democracy,” and said the added public confidence makes the process worth it. Feingold said he had nothing against the new senators who have been appointed by various governors since the last election. But he said the prospect of corruption emerged when Illinois’ former leader was indicted for allegedly selling his state’s open Senate seat to the highest bidder. Wisconsin is one of just five states in which the voters fill vacant Senate seats. Menomonee Falls House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner proposed the Feingold amendment in his chamber – and lawmakers from both parties joined watchdogs in supporting it yesterday. But Matthew Spaulding of the Heritage Foundation said a complex constitutional change is not necessary. There’s been a proposal to do it legislatively – by allowing appointments and then putting those people up for election in 90 days.

Gokey Makes it Through First Round of Finals on American Idol

3/12/09 – Wisconsin’s “American Idol” contestant survived his first week as a finalist. Danny Gokey of Milwaukee got enough votes from viewers to make it to the next round. Exact totals are never publicized, but host Ryan Seacrest said 33-million votes were cast after Tuesday night’s show on Fox – in which the finalists sang Michael Jackson songs. Jasmine Murray and Jorge Nunez were the first to be sent home after getting the lowest votes. One finalist will be sent home each week until late May. But in a new twist this year, the judges can vote to keep the lowest vote-getter around for another week. If that happens, two would be voted off the following week