News September 1, 2011

Jacob Gassen’s Way Unveiled

9/1/11 – Well over a hundred people turned out yesterday for a street renaming ceremony to honor a fallen Beaver Dam soldier. School Street was renamed Jacob Gassen’s Way during a ceremony yesterday attended by local officials, members of the military and a strong contingent of Freedom Riders who joined family and friends of Gassen. Jacob Gassen’s Way is located across from the Beaver Dam High School, which is where Gassen graduated in 2008. The 21-year-old Army medic died last November during an ambush in Afghanistan, becoming the third Beaver Dam resident to die in the Middle East. Speakers included Mayor Tom Kennedy, two of his former high school teachers and Jacob’s mother Barb Gassen, who thanked her husband Greg and children Chris and Jesse for being so supportive even while they were grieving themselves. The tarp covering the new Jacob Gassen’s Way street sign became tangled during the unveiling, but an Army National Guard Colonel standing nearby sprung into action and hoisted Gassen’s younger brother (pictured) up the pole so he could get a better handle in removing the covering.

Pool-Goers Sickened By Cryptosporidium

9/1/11 – A half-dozen people or more were sickened this summer after swimming in a couple of public pools in Dodge County pools. The county’s Public Health Officer Jody Langfeldt says those who got sick had been infected with the parasite cryptosporidium. Langfeldt says while they could not determine an exact source, all the people who got sick had a history of being in public pools in Beaver Dam and Fox Lake in late July and early August. Langfeldt says they worked with pool operators to rid the water of cryptosporidium, which is a parasite that causes diarrhea among other symptoms. When asked if they ever inform the public of such incidents Langfeldt says this was the first time they’ve dealt with an outbreak of cryptosporidium this size.

Escape Artist Going To Jail

9/1/11 – A Columbus man who managed to elude arrest on domestic abuse charges for most of the month of June was sentenced yesterday to seven months in jail. Michael Lasiewicz was wanted by police in early June following an alleged domestic incident. Officers went door-to-door searching for the 29-year-old but later learned he had fled the scene before they had gotten there. About a week later, a deputy clocked the suspect’s vehicle traveling 80-miles per hour in the Town of Elba. He pulled over but then jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the basement of a nearby residence. The owners of the home were outside at the time and told the deputy the suspect had to be in the basement because there was only one way out. After a short time, Lasiewicz was taken into custody and placed in the back of the patrol car. For safety reasons, the deputy cracked one of the windows before going back into the basement to retrieve the suspect’s driver’s license. When he came back out, Lasiewicz was gone. At the end of June, authorities received a tip about his whereabouts and as they closed in he again fled the scene, sparking a chase that went for a couple of miles before Lasiewicz crashed into a parked car and was taken into custody. Lasiewicz still faces a variety of charges in Columbia County related to the domestic abuse incident.

Former Assemblymen Wood In Trouble Again

9/1/11 – Former state Representative Jeff Wood might be in trouble again. Chippewa County prosecutors are considering possible charges, after the V-A’s medical clinic in Chippewa Falls told police that Wood might have changed the amount of a prescription he received for a controlled substance. Police captain John Liddell told the Chippewa Herald he was not sure what the drug was. He said Wood was detained on Monday for violating probation. He said the former lawmaker has cooperated with police. The 41-year-old Wood is currently on probation for the last of three impaired driving convictions that occurred in Columbia, Marathon, and Monroe counties since late 2008. The first conviction was driving drunk in Columbia County – and the last two were for driving under the influence of excessive prescription drugs. He served in the State

Assembly for eight years ending in late 2010. He withdrew his Republican affiliation in 2008, and was an independent in his final term. G-O-P lawmakers tried but failed to remove Wood in his final year – but he ended up being censured by the Assembly. He did not run for re-election last time, and Republican Tom Larson won his old seat.

Feds Asked to Review Photo ID Voting Law

9/1/11 – The U-S Justice Department has been asked to review Wisconsin’s new photo I-D requirement for voting – and to watch how it’s carried out. The request comes from Sally Stix, head of the State Bar Association’s civil rights’ section. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Stix said the law could suppress the votes of thousands of Wisconsinites without solving problems with voter fraud – which Republicans said was the main reason for the law. Stix asked the Justice Department to review the process used in passing the law, to make sure legislators did not have any unlawful intent. And she wants Washington to make sure the measure does not violate federal voting or civil rights’ laws. The voter law takes effect next February. Besides showing photo I-D’s, voters must sign poll books – and they must have lived 28 days at the current addresses instead of the previous 10 days.

School Starts As Districts Scramble To Fill Vacant Positions

9/1/11 – School begins today for most of Wisconsin’s public school kids. But some won’t see their favorite teachers, and others will be in larger classes thanks to a larger number of retirements than normal. Records reviewed by the Associated Press show that almost five-thousand Wisconsin public school teachers called it quits last spring – almost double the number in each of the last two years. Almost 11-hundred U-W System employees also retired – up from 480 the year before. And in total, almost 10-thousand public workers hung it up by June 30th – a 93-percent jump from the year before.

Green Bay high school German teacher Ginny Fleck blames what she called an eight-thousand-dollar pay cut due to the higher shares public workers are paying for their health insurance and pensions. That’s part of the new law which limits most public union bargaining to salaries at-or-below inflation. The Beloit public schools lost about 10-percent of its teachers – and officials said only 40 of the 60 instructors who retired have been replaced, resulting in larger class sizes. State administration spokeswoman Carla Vigue said decisions have not been made on how many state workers will be replaced. She said each agency is still looking at its needs. One U-W analyst said a few months ago that the union bargaining limits should not be entirely blamed, because more workers than normal are hitting their retirement ages anyway since they were part of the big Baby Boom generation. Fleck said a lot of experience walked out the door with her. She said all the leadership in her school is gone – and morale is down because some of the younger teachers cannot find experienced mentors. But the Walker administration has touted the money that’s being saved as lower-paid new instructors get hired – and schools find savings from the higher employee contributions.

WEAC Wants Walker To Negotiate Pay Raises

9/1/11 – Wisconsin’s largest government employee union wants the Walker administration to negotiate pay raises for its 22-thousand members. The Wisconsin State Employees Union asked the Republican governor’s people to bargain with the group – and after getting no response, the union sent the same request to state legislators. Under the new state bargaining limits, the union can ask for pay raises at-or-below inflation – and nothing else. Union chief Marty Beil (beel) says the law allows unions to seek a total increase of three-point-six percent in the two-year period that ends in mid-2013. Administration spokesman Carla Vigue says the union’s request is being reviewed, and a response will be given soon. Two other unions have made similar requests. They’ve been without contracts since mid-2009. Democratic lawmakers scrambled to approve new deals last December before they lost control of the Legislature. But the Senate’s Democratic

leader at the time, Russ Decker, rejected the deals on his way out the door. Walker has not talked with the unions since then. Beil said if Walker remains silent, his union will pressure legislators – and perhaps take legal action.

3 Officials in State Juvenile Corrections Office on Paid Administrative Leave

9/1/11 – Three top officials at the state juvenile corrections’ office in Milwaukee have been put on paid administrative leave. The Journal Sentinel says their bosses want to know why two teens, which were on supervision for previous crimes, were allowed to allegedly kill a pregnant woman last month. The paper said 18-year-old Jimmy Scales had been released from juvenile confinement 11 months earlier than scheduled for being a getaway driver in a 2008 murder. And 16-year-old Mical Thomas was freed three months before his term would have been up for robbery and auto theft. Had they served their full terms, they would have been confined on the day they’re accused of killing a pregnant Sharon Staples in front of her 13-year-old son. That happened August seventh while Scales, Thomas, and another teen reportedly stopped the woman to rob her on a west side Milwaukee street. State corrections’ officials confirm an internal investigation, but they’re not commenting further. The governor’s office said Scott Walker was briefed about it, but they’re not saying anything more, either.

Charges Filed Following YouTube Beating

9/1/11 – The victim’s parents filed a police report when they saw their son’s beating on YouTube. Police in Wauwatosa say they are investigating the beating of the 15-year-old. It happened in June, but was not reported for more than two months. The YouTube video reportedly shows two boys beating the victim so badly he had to go to the hospital. The parents say that his attackers need to be brought to justice. The teen has since recovered from his injuries.

Deal Appears Close for Ryan to Step Down

9/1/11 – A meeting of the Sheboygan City Council was abruptly canceled for last night. And one alderman says some type of resolution might be in the works involving the Council’s effort to remove embattled Mayor Bob Ryan. The Council was expected to name former U-S Attorney Steve Biskupic as a special prosecutor to investigate two formal complaints against Ryan involving his recent drinking binge. But the mayor issued a one-sentence statement yesterday that the meeting was canceled quote, “in light of continuing discussions with Council President Eric Rindfleisch.” Rindfleisch has not commented. Alderman Don Hammond told the Sheboygan Press the Council wants to make sure it considers all its options before it calls a hearing similar to a trial on the question of removing the mayor. The Council ordered the procedure because Ryan rejected a call by the aldermen to resign after he was involved in three high profile alcohol incidents.