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No room in Milwaukee for Chinese bikers? Polk County man pleads guilty to killing fiancé; more briefs

Gov. Scott Walker has invited Harley-Davidson riders from China to attend the company's 110th anniversary in Milwaukee during the Labor Day weekend. But the question is whether they could find a place to stay.

The Journal Sentinel says hotel rooms are already scarce, and homeowners are placing ads to rent part of their humble abodes.

Some arrangements are far from cheap. A Pewaukee homeowner advertised on Craigslist that up 30 tents can be pitched on two acres of property with a going rate of $100 a night for the privilege of sleeping on the ground.

Brent Foerester of Visit Milwaukee says the pickings will remain slim even as people cancel reservations. Rooms that were $200 a night a few months ago are higher now.

The Iron Horse Hotel has the most exquisite weeklong package at a cost of $9,900 for two people. That includes a deluxe room plus tickets to all the Harley anniversary events.

Over 100,000 visitors are expected. Walker issued his invitation to Chinese bikers yesterday when he helped open a Harley dealership in Tianjin. It was part of his 10-day trade mission to China.


Polk County man pleads guilty to killing fiancé

A northwest Wisconsin man will be sentenced June 26 after he struck a plea deal in the brutal beating death of his fiancé.

Scott Youngmark, 45, of Milltown escaped an impending life prison sentence Tuesday by pleading guilty in Polk County to a reduced charge of second-degree intentional homicide. Four previous felony counts and two traffic charges were dropped as part of the plea deal, but as always, they'll be considered in the judge's sentencing order.

Youngmark admitted stabbing and beating Kari Roberts, 47, at their apartment. She was found dead last Dec. 1.

Authorities said Youngmark was freed on a reduced bond for bail jumping just 15 days before the killing. That charge was connected with a stabbing and an assault incident in 2011.


Woodchuck hunting hearing set

Wisconsinites will get their say next week on a bill to create a hunting season for woodchucks.

The state Assembly's Natural resources Committee will hold a public hearing on the measure next Wednesday in Madison.

Lawmakers of both parties support the idea. It would remove woodchucks from the state's protected species list, and it would let hunters take an unlimited number of woodchucks from March through December. Small game or trapping licenses would be required.

Supporters of the hunt say woodchucks are getting more numerous, and they're digging up land. Three neighboring states - Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan-- have woodchuck hunts.


Five rivers near flood levels

Flood warnings continue on parts of five rivers in Wisconsin, and with heavy rain and snow in the forecast, officials are keeping a close eye out for other flooding as well.

The National Weather Service says the heaviest rains are expected tonight throughout the state, and it could freeze in the northwest. Wisconsin Emergency Management says 1 to 4 inches of rain are possible.

On top of that, northwest Wisconsin expects to get six inches of new snow from tomorrow afternoon into Friday morning. A winter storm watch is in effect for that period in Polk, Barron, Rusk, St. Croix, Pierce and Dunn counties.

The flood warnings continue on the Rock River at five locations in Rock and Jefferson counties; the Fox River in Kenosha, Winnebago, Green Lake and Waushara counties; the Black River in Jackson County; the Crawfish River in Jefferson County; and the Trempealeau River in Trempealeau County.

Tod Pritchard of Wisconsin Emergency Management says over 500,000 sandbags are in place in various parts of the state, ready to protect flood-prone areas where necessary.


Assembly bill could slash pay for Milwaukee County Board

The Wisconsin Assembly is scheduled to consider a bill this afternoon that would hand Milwaukee County Board members a 50% pay cut plus a reduction in their powers.

The annual salaries of Milwaukee supervisors would be slashed from $51,000 a year to $24,000. If the state approves it, county voters would have the final say in a binding referendum.

Assembly Republican Joe Sanfelippo, a former Milwaukee County supervisor, authored the bill.

It would also increase the county executive's power, reduce the board's resources and authority and cut board members' terms from four years to two.

Opponents say it could lead to similar attempts in other counties, but the bill's supporters say they only wish to put Milwaukee County's governing body on a diet.

Gov. Scott Walker, who used to be the Milwaukee County executive, supports the changes. One Assembly Republican says the Senate probably would not act on the measure until this fall, and it would give the County Board a chance to make its own reforms.


Committee considers audit of GAB

The agency that runs Wisconsin's elections and investigates public corruption could soon be investigated itself.

The Republican co-chairs of the Legislature's Audit Committee will hold a hearing next Wednesday to consider a formal audit of the Government Accountability Board.

Green Bay Senator Rob Cowles said the GAB has not been audited since 2008 when it replaced the old elections and ethics panels. He said those two areas have been the subjects of concern, and an audit would uncover new information about the GAB's management and performance.

Accountability board Director Kevin Kennedy suggests the proposed audit be expanded to study a possible need to replace older voting equipment.

The formation of the GAB was the Legislature's response to its own scandal in the last decade, in which several lawmakers and aides were convicted of illegal campaigning.

Six retired judges run the board with the idea of bringing neutrality to a pair of agencies that had political appointees in the past. Senate Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald recently suggested that those partisan panels be brought back.

But the idea has not gone anywhere, amid criticism from national academics who say the GAB is a model for fairness.

Republicans disagree, saying the board favored Democrats in the procedures over the recall elections of the past two years. Board officials say Democrats have beefs, as well and that proves that the agency runs itself right down the middle.


Three kids who died in fire were locked in bedroom

Prosecutors said a West Allis woman locked three of her children into a bedroom before starting her first day of a new job, and the kids died in a fire at their house the same day.

Angelica Belen, 24, was charged Tuesday in Milwaukee County with three felony counts of child neglect causing death.

Officials said Belen first claimed that her sister was supposed to babysit the youngsters last Thursday. But the sister denied it, and prosecutors said Belen could not find someone to watch the kids while she worked for three hours.

Four-year-old twins Adrian and Alexis Colon died in the blaze, along with their five-year-old brother Nayeli. A fourth child, a one-year-old boy, was with away with his father at the time.

A court appearance was not immediately set on Belen's new charges.

She's due in court May 3 for a final pretrial conference on six misdemeanor child neglect charges filed in late March. Officials said she and another child went into a store, while three other kids were left in her car. Prosecutors said the four-year-old twins got out and walked around the parking lot, and another vehicle almost hit them.

Officials said Belen's children were found in need of protective services as of March 28, but the mother was allowed to keep her kids.


UW-Madison worker dies when equipment falls on him

A UW-Madison employee was killed Tuesday when an industrial lift unit fell on top of him.

Campus police said the 62-year-old maintenance man was working at a loading dock at the Arts Loft Building when the lift collapsed and fell on him from above.

The UW says its physical plant will investigate the left mechanism to figure out what caused the collapse.

The man died at a hospital. UW police said his name would be released today after an autopsy.


Sister, brother charged with stealing racing sausage

A brother and sister have been given non-criminal citations for disorderly conduct for allegedly stealing one of the Milwaukee Brewers' famed racing sausages.

Cedarburg police claim Klement's, the company that owns the sausages, pieced together the gossip on social media to identify the suspects.

Kristin Moze, 32, of Cedarburg and her brother Timothy Forrer, 26, of Mequon were each given $429 tickets for disorderly conduct. Each was also given a $390 bill for a missing duffel bag and for repairs and cleaning to Guido, the racing Italian sausage stolen from a fundraiser in Cedarburg in February.

Once the word hit the media that Guido was missing, two anonymous people claimed responsibility in a note to USA Today. That note had pictures, one of which showed Guido dancing the Harlem Shake in a music house right after the woman said they showed off the sausage in a bar. They turned the costume, but not themselves, in to a Cedarburg tavern.

The woman later apologized to USA Today saying, "We have morals."

Besides the fines, police said a judge could also order that the suspects donate to a food pantry.


Appeals courts says it's OK for workers to pay more for benefits

Wisconsin Republicans scored two legal victories Tuesday in a pair of challenges to the law that limits public union bargaining and makes employees pay more for their benefits.

The Third District Court of Appeals said it was OK for Eau Claire County to make Sheriff Ron Cramer and County Treasurer Larry Lokken pay more toward their health and retirement benefits.

In Milwaukee, the First District Appellate Court said Milwaukee police officers cannot negotiate the health benefits they pay from their own pockets.

The two Eau Claire leaders tried to exempt themselves from Act 10. They said they were elected officials, and by law, their compensation could not change during their terms. The appellate court said compensation does not include benefits, which reversed an earlier ruling from Circuit Judge Steven Cray.

The attorney for Cramer and Lokken is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

In Milwaukee, the police union challenged a provision in the last state budget which prevents police and fire unions from having a say over their health coverage - even though they were exempt from the rest of Act 10.

The Milwaukee union filed suit, saying members could still negotiate for their own expenses like co-pays and deductibles. Circuit Judge Dominic Amato agreed, but the appellate court reversed that decision. The union has not said whether it would consider an appeal.