“News-May 5, 2011”

Recount Completed in Dodge County


5/5/11 – The State Supreme Court recount has been completed in Dodge County.  Clerk Karen Gibson says they finished recounting the nearly 22,000 votes yesterday around noon with no change in the margin of victory for incumbent Justice David Prosser.  Gibson says Prosser picked up an additional five votes as did challenger Joanne Kloppenburg.  That gave Prosser 61-percent of the vote to Kloppenburg’s 39-percent, a difference of almost 4900 votes.  The recount cost county taxpayers an estimated $8,000.  So far 61 of the states 72 counties have completed their recounts with just a couple of days left before the deadline.  Prosser had a 40,000 vote lead as of yesterday.


Sewing Weekend Gearing Up


5/5/11 – Nancy’s Notions President and founder Nancy Zieman says her annual Sewing Expo has been a great way for her stay in contact with her customers and find new inspiration. Over 3000 sewing enthusiasts are expected throughout the course of the three-day expo, which begins today. Zieman, the founder and president of Nancy’s Notions, says 300 people turned out in 1985 when she held the grand opening of her first official warehouse in Beaver Dam. She says there’ll be more creative people in Beaver Dam this weekend than any other place in the country. She also expressed her thanks to local residents for their kindness and courtesy in helping out-of-towners find their way around the city and “rolling out the welcome mat.”


Columbus Mulling Demerit Point System


5/5/11 – The Columbus Council is considering a proposal to amend the City’s liquor license ordinance. Police Chief Dan Meister is recommending a “demerit point system” be added to the current ordinance regulating revocation and suspension of City liquor licenses. The Chief likened the demerit system to the current system of “points” issued to Wisconsin drivers who receive citations. A draft of the Ordinance amendment will be coming before the Council in the next few weeks after review by the City Attorney.


Jail Time Ordered In Drunken Chase


5/5/11 – A Madison man will spend 60 days in jail for leading Dodge County deputies on a drunken high-speed chase that ended with he and a passenger at UW Hospital. 30-year-old Anthony Pekarske pleaded “no contest” to felony Reckless Endangerment and Fleeing and misdemeanor OWI Causing Injury and had two other charges dismissed. Authorities clocked Pekarske’s Ford Mustang traveling 73mph in a 55mph zone on Highway 33 at Highway 26 in May of 2009. After a nine-mile pursuit that reportedly reached speeds of 130mph, his vehicle crashed in the median on Highway 151 and Hemlock Road. Pekarske and a passenger were both ejected and sustained serious injury. His blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit for driving. Pekarske was also placed on probation for six years and lost his license for one year.


We Energies Earnings Top $171M


5/5/11 – Wisconsin’s largest electric and natural gas utilities had record earnings in the first quarter of this year. Wisconsin Energy, the parent company of WE Energies which serves much of southern and eastern Dodge County, reports a profit of 171-million dollars from January-through-March, up 32-percent from the same time a year ago. Earnings totaled 72-cents a share, six-cents higher than what outside analysts predicted. The company said people used more natural gas due to colder weather – and there were strong revenues from the utility’s new power plants in Oak Creek. As a result, Wisconsin Energy stock closed at an all-time high yesterday, at 31-dollars and 61-cents a share. But after-hours trading brought the price down below 31-dollars. Still, Wisconsin Energy’s stock is worth 18-percent more than a year ago.


Concealed Carry Hearings Scheduled


5/5/11 – Public hearings will be next Thursday on the Republicans’ latest effort to legalize the carrying of concealed weapons in Wisconsin. Testimony on separate Assembly and Senate bills will take place in Wausau and Madison. Neither house is expected to vote on the measure this month. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau says there needs to be an agreement on language in the two bills. He says he’ll leave it up to the main sponsors – Wausau Senator Pam Galloway and Crivitz Representative Jeff Mursau – to negotiate the matter. Wisconsin and Illinois are the only two states that don’t allow concealed carry. Lawmakers in the Badger State had voted twice to end the ban, but former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle vetoed both bills. An effort to override a Doyle veto came within one vote of passing a few years ago. Former Assembly Democrat Gary Sherman, who cast the deciding vote to uphold that veto, is now a state appeals judge.


Assistant D-A’s Reject Furlough Days


5/5/11 – Wisconsin prosecutors have said no to taking six unpaid furlough days by July second. So they now face the risk of either being laid-off – or losing their full-time status and fringe benefits. The Association of State Prosecutors voted on the state’s proposal over the last several days. Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Feiss said over 90-percent of assistant D-A’s voted. And without giving vote totals, he said the result was “not particularly close.” Former Governor Jim Doyle ordered all state employees – including assistant D-A’s – to take 16 unpaid furlough days over the last two years to help balance the current state budget. But the prosecutors said they took furloughs in 2003 when other state workers did not – and as a result, their current contract allowed them to take just 10 furlough days this time around. Elected district attorneys have said they don’t believe the state has the authority to order the new layoffs and pay cuts. And several D-A’s have approved grievances filed by assistants in their own departments. The state issued layoff notices last month to the prosecutors. They said that if prosecutors refused to take the six furlough days in question, the state would have to pay 11-million-dollars to other workers who did take the furloughs.


Landline Deregulation Hearings Underway


5/5/11 – Wisconsin lawmakers have been hearing testimony the last couple days on a bill to de-regulate the state’s landline phone industry. Republican lawmakers say it’s needed to let companies like A-T-and-T invest in new technologies – and it would let those firms compete with new cell companies which are not bound by the landline rules. The supporters also say the measure would create jobs, but critics don’t believe it. U-W Madison telecommunications expert Barry Orton has said it would let the biggest phone companies escape state oversight – and it would hurt the elderly and small-town residents who still rely on landline phones. A similar bill was introduced in the last session, and it got support from both parties – but it failed to pass during a big scramble to get things done near the end of the 2010 floor period. Assembly leaders expect a vote in their house on the measure later this month.


Pedestrian, Bike Path Funding Slashed


5/5/11 – Bicyclists and pedestrians have suffered a political defeat at the State Capitol. The state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee has approved Governor Scott Walker’s plan to cut five-million-dollars from the next budget for biking-and-walking programs. All 12 Republicans on the panel supported the move – and all four Democrats said no. It was the Democrats who first supplied the funding two years ago. The Republican Walker says there’s plenty of federal money for bike-and-pedestrian programs. His budget says almost 18-million dollars for bike-and-walking paths will be provided through federal transportation improvements in the next two years – and up to 23-million more dollars could be made available in congestion mitigation grants. But Kevin Hardman of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin said the state grants were still important – because it let communities design bike-and-pedestrian networks so they can be more usable.


Federal Gray Wolf Protections Lifted


5/5/11 – The U-S Fish-and-Wildlife Service said Wednesday it will remove federal protections for the grey wolf in Wisconsin and much of the Upper Midwest and Northern Rockies. It’s been done several times before in the Badger State – and each time, federal judges reversed it by approving lawsuits from environmentalists and humane officials. But this time, the Obama administration gave a defense against possible court action. It highlighted new studies showing that the Midwest has met its goal for re-instating wolf populations, and therefore protections under the Endangered Species Act are no longer needed. Wisconsin has close to 700 grey wolves. And once the animal is de-listed here, the Badger State will again bring back its own management plan which allows wolves to be killed if they damage farm crops or livestock. Adrian Wydeven of the state D-N-R says Wisconsin’s all in favor of the de-listing effort. Washington officials said the de-listing is not nationwide – one thing that could help the latest move prevail. But Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity says wolf recoveries are not finished in the group’s opinion – and it’s disappointed in Wednesday’s action. Members of Congress in the Rocky Mountain states inserted an item in a budget bill which prohibits legal challenges to the de-listing of the gray wolf there. It’s the first time Congress ever moved to strip animal protections under the Endangered Species Act.