November 13, 2014

Dodge County Board Adopts 2015 Budget


11/13/14 – Dodge County’s 2015 budget was passed Wednesday by the county’s board of supervisors.  Total expenditures are up five-and-a-half million from the current year to $106,000,000.  County Administrator Jim Mielke says that the increase is in large part due to the county’s investment in infrastructure and employee compensation.  He says that the cooperation of everyone involved in preparing the budget made for an overall smooth process.  Mielke says that he is pleased with the way that everything leading up to the publication went and with the final product.  He notes that plenty of opportunity was given for input from both the board supervisors and the general public.  Mielke feels that the new year’s budget does a good job of meeting the needs of the residents of Dodge County.  The total tax levy for the coming year is $33,000,000, which is up $650,000 from 2014.  The mill rate for 2015 is down to $5.68, a drop of two cents.


Supervisors Approve County Administrator Salary Increase


11/13/14 – The Dodge County Board of Supervisors approved an increase in the salary paid to the county administrator.  At yesterday’s meeting, it was decided that the position’s 2015 salary will exceed $106-thousand dollars.  That is up over $2,500 from the current year, and $8-thousand from seven years ago.  This is the sixth amendment to the county administrator contract, which has seemingly become an annual happening.  However, the executive committee is working to change the process so that a set percentage raise can be granted each year, and the matter doesn’t have to continue to be revisited.


Dodge County Seeking Two Additional Prosecutors


11/13/14 – As part of its 2015 state budget request, Dodge County is seeking the funds to create two new prosecutor positions for the District Attorney’s Office.  District Attorney Kurt Klomberg says that one position would be for an additional general prosecutor while the other attorney would focus on treatment prosecution.  The push for the creation of these positions came from a recent review by the legislative audit bureau that stated that Dodge County is currently 1.36 persons below staffing in terms of prosecutors.  In recent years, that number has been substantially higher.  Klomberg says that the need for additional persons has existed at least since the time when he became district attorney in 2010.  Counties in Wisconsin are supposed to have one prosecutor for every 10-thousand residents.  Dodge County currently has four full-time prosecutors, which translates to one per every 22-thousand people.


Johnson Provides Unique Insight Into Notification Process


11/13/14 – There was a unique insight into the darkest hours in the lives of a Gold Star Family during this week’s Tribute to Veterans broadcast on AM1430 WBEV. Andrew Johnson of Mayville shared with us the details of his son’s death in Afghanistan. 24-year-old Army First Lieutenant David Johnson was killed by an IED in January of 2012. During his first public discussion of the ordeal, Andrew Johnson recounted in great detail the days that followed David’s death. Among the things he disclosed: the Johnson family received a low-key visit from the governor at their Mayville home; the morning following the terrible news, the family discovered their yard filled with American flags; also, no one was home when military officials attempted to notify the family of David’s passing but Johnson says he knew what happened as soon as the pastor from a local church contacted him. The family was taken by State Patrol escort to Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee where they boarded a flight to Dover Air Force Base. Johnson says that each family is assigned a “Casualty Assistance Officer.” He says the officer was “very frank and honest” in his dealings, explaining that it would be a hard process. It was just what Johnson needed to hear as there were a lot of difficult decisions that had to be made. He recounted being asked if the funeral should be delayed until all of his son’s body parts were found.  Johnson credits the Casualty Assistance Officer for guiding the family through difficult decisions and says he was also critical in planning the funeral and memorials.  And the outpouring of support from the public during those memorials meant a lot to the Johnson family. We’ll bring you that aspect of this story on Friday.


State Budget On Fast-Track


11/13/14 – Legislative leaders say they’re willing to act on a new state budget quicker than normal, thus letting Governor Scott Walker hit the presidential campaign trail if he wants.  However, leaders of both parties say they won’t sacrifice the tedious process of passing Wisconsin’s most important two-year document.  G-O-P finance co-chair John Nygren says the process has basic things that cannot be given up — like statewide public hearings, committee reviews on each department’s spending, and detailed analysis along the way by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.  Republican finance committee member Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield says revenue projections often change after tax returns are filed in April — and that cannot be moved up.  The Republican Walker would have to decide soon if he wants to run for president, to round up the support he’d need before the Iowa caucuses in 14 months.  There’s talk that the governor could submit his budget to the Legislature in January instead of the normal February.  Walker has not mentioned a timetable for getting it passed, but he hopes it can be quick. Finance committee Democrat Cory Mason of Racine says the budget needs the usual scrutiny, regardless of the governor’s plans.  In Mason’s words, Walker is “the governor — he’s not God on the throne.”  With Republicans controlling both the legislative and executive branches, the last two budgets were approved much faster than those in the recent past — in which political snags caused months of delays. Lawmakers approved the budget around mid-June in both 2011-and-’13, allowing them to take effect July first as scheduled.


Two Seeking To Succeed Grothman


11/13/14 – We don’t know yet when a special election will take place for Congressman-elect Glenn Grothman’s state Senate seat.  But we do know that two Republicans are now interested in replacing him.  Ozaukee County Board chairman Lee Schlenvogt has announced his candidacy, along with Assembly Republican Duey Strobel from Saukville.  Schlenvogt is a dairy farmer, and has been on the County Board in Port Washington for seven years.  Strobel gave up his Assembly seat to run for Congress.  He lost to Grothman in the August G-O-P primary.  Governor Scott Walker will call the special election for Grothman’s seat after the senator resigns.  The district includes parts of Washington, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Calumet, and Fond du Lac counties.


Rindfleisch Appeal Denied


11/13/14 – Former Milwaukee County Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch failed Wednesday to escape her criminal conviction for illegal campaigning.  On a 2-to-1 vote, the First District Court of Appeals did not buy the Columbus woman’s argument that a search warrant against her was so sweeping that it was unconstitutional.  Judge Ralph Adam Fine was the only dissenter.  He said the other judges nullified the Constitution, by legitimizing what he called an overly broad warrant.  Rindfleisch pleaded guilty to a single count of misconduct in office in 2012, after the judge in that case refused to let her plead no-contest.  She was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation.  She was trying to help Brett Davis get elected lieutenant governor in 2010, while she was supposed to be doing her job as the deputy chief-of-staff to Governor Walker when he was the Milwaukee County Executive.  Her attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, says he’ll appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court.  He said the split decision could make it easier for the justices to decide to hear the appeal.


Expert Says Geyser Able To Stand Trial In Slenderman Case


11/13/14 – After about three months of mental health treatment, an expert testified Wednesday that 12-year-old Morgan Geyser is able to stand trial for the Slender Man stabbings.  Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren will hold another hearing next Tuesday, before deciding if Geyser’s case will proceed.  If so, a preliminary hearing will be scheduled, to determine if there’s enough evidence to put her on trial for attempted homicide.  After that, her attorney can pursue his desire to have Geyser tried as a juvenile.  Geyser and 12-year-old Anissa Weier are accused of stabbing school-mate Payton Leutner 19 times in a wooded area in May — apparently to try and please the fictional character Slender Man.  Geyser’s lawyer asked that she stay at the Winnebago Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh for the rest of her court case, instead of being transferred back to a juvenile detention center in Washington County.  Geyser had been ruled mentally-incompetent to stand trial in August.  A similar request for Weier will be considered in mid-December.  News media honored a request from the Leutner family to withhold her name, until Payton and her parents identified themselves and told their story on A-B-C’s “20-20” in September. That was after she recovered enough to return to school.


Town of Beaver Dam Tavern Break-In Under Investigation


11/13/14 – The Dodge County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a breaking and entering at a Town of Beaver Dam tavern. According to department records, a burglary was reported early yesterday morning by the owner of Hogz and Honeez on Highway 33. It would have occurred after closing time Tuesday evening and prior to authorities being contacted Wednesday morning. Anyone with information should contact the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.


DNR Advises Hunters To Put Safety First


11/13/14 – Wisconsin’s gun deer season is nine days away — and already, state officials are trying to put safety into hunters’ heads.  The state has had a stellar safety record in recent years, with no shooting deaths in three of the last four November gun seasons.  The only other time that happened was in 1972.  The D-N-R urges hunters to treat every firearm like it’s loaded, always point them in safe directions, be sure of their targets, and empty the weapons when climbing in-and-out of tree stands.  Over 600-thousand hunters will hit the woods for a nine-day season which begins a week from Saturday.


Nine Car Versus Deer Accidents Reported In Dodge County


11/13/14 – There have been several motor vehicle versus deer accidents reported in Dodge County over the past 24 hours. According to police reports, nine such wrecks occurred between 7am Wednesday and 5am this morning. No serious injuries were reported.