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Voters will decide $500 million in school projects; faked endorsement causes flap in Wausau; 7 more Wisconsin stories

MILWAUKEE -- Some polls were busy and some were not Tuesday morning, as Wisconsinites started casting ballots in the November governor's election.

Milwaukee's Sherman Park School had lines before the polls opened at 7 a.m. Steady turnouts were reported in the first 2.5 hours at Jefferson Elementary in Wauwatosa.

Not all polls were busy. Lydell School in Whitefish Bay had no lines in the early going.

The statewide turnout is projected to be 56.5 percent, with races for Wisconsin governor and attorney general on the ballot. There are also contests for the U.S. House, including an open seat to replace retiring Fond du Lac Republican Tom Petri.

All 99 state Assembly seats are up, along with half the 33-member Senate. Voters also have a plethora of county offices to decide, along with 52 school referendum questions in 40 districts.

Racine voters are deciding whether to raise their school taxes by $8.5 million a year for 15 years. Over $500 million in school building projects are also on the ballots throughout the state.

The biggest is a $99 million package in Hudson for a new high school and a renovation of the current one.

There's also a statewide referendum on a constitutional amendment to not raid gas tax revenues for any other use besides transportation, thus preventing previous raids to bolster public schools.

All polls close at 8 p.m., Tuesday.

Forged endorsement causes a stir in Wausau contest

WAUSAU -- A founder of the conservative Wausau Tea Party was none-too-pleased to see her name in a newspaper ad with supporters for state Assembly Democrat Mandy Wright. Meg Ellefson said she never told the Wright campaign of her support -- and neither did Dave and Lori Torkko, who were asked at church on Sunday if they switched parties.

The ad appeared in the latest weekly Wausau City Pages.

Wright campaign manager Chase Tarrier said included postcards with their door-to-door literature, asking if they want to be listed as supporters or have yard-signs. It's a relatively standard procedure among candidates but Ellefson said somebody forged her signature.

Tarrier said he didn't think twice about it, because many people from both parties support Wright, and he just assumed that Ellefson did, too. Ellefson said she doesn't even live in Wright's district, and campaigns should have to verify their supporters before publishing them. But she admits it would be a lot of work.

Ellefson filed a legal challenge, but Tarrier said the matter could have been resolved with a simple phone call.

Ellefson said that's not totally true, because City Pages is a weekly and any correction couldn't be printed until after the election.

-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

Judge in first Walker 'Doe' probe now being sued

MILWAUKEE -- A Waukesha attorney is suing the presiding judge in the first Walker John Doe probe into the governor's former aides when he was the Milwaukee County executive.

The Journal Sentinel newspaper reported Christopher Wiesmueller accuses Reserve Judge Neal Nettesheim of not being "detached and neutral" in approving search warrants as part of the probe.

In the process, the attorney said the judge violated the subjects' constitutional rights. Wiesmueller also accused Nettesheim of having a financial interest in pursuing the John Doe, since reserve judges are paid according to the tasks they perform.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court, and it was referred to Milwaukee Judge Rudolph Randa.

Wiesmueller represented ex-Walker staffer Darlene Wink, who was convicted of a pair of misdemeanors for doing campaign work for Walker on taxpayer time.

Media reports said Wiesmueller avoided being charged for removing files from Wink's work computer, and instead took a reprimand for violating ethics rules for attorneys.

Wausau-area man gets jail for cock-fighting, gambling

WAUSAU -- A Wausau area man has been sentenced to three months in jail for running a cock-fighting and illegal gambling ring.

Bee Her, 35, must also spend four years on probation, after he struck a plea deal to host of Marathon County charges.

Her pleaded no contest to running a cock-fighting operation, being a party to mistreating animals, and operating illegal gambling machines. Six other charges were dropped in the plea deal.

Her was arrested earlier this year, after police said they were tipped off about criminal activities at his pool hall in Schofield.

Officers said they conducted a pair of raids in which they found gambling records, guns, almost two dozen injured chickens, and thousands of dollars in cash. He faces similar charges in neighboring Minnesota. At the time of his arrest, authorities said Her may have also been involved in drug trafficking. Five charges to that effect were filed in August, along with three counts of bail jumping.

He's scheduled to stand trial in that case on Jan. 14.

Missing Superior man found dead near his home

SUPERIOR -- A man missing in Superior since Saturday was found dead Monday evening.

Police found the body of 55-year-old James Seiler about six blocks from where he lived. That was after somebody noticed the body and called 9-1-1 around 5 p.m. Monday.

Seiler was last seen Saturday afternoon. His disappearance was reported to police on Sunday.

Officials say they're still investigating, but they do not believe foul play was involved.

Beautiful but chilly Madison makes list of places to avoid

MADISON -- A number of groups list Madison as among the best places in America for its scenic beauty, schools, and livability. But one thing Wisconsin's capital cannot avoid are cold winters. As a result, Madison is ranked 25th by a web site for the "25 Coldest Large American Cities You Should Avoid This Winter." The list singles out cities of over 50,000 people with the coldest average winter temperatures.

Madison's average is just over 16 degrees-- the same as Anchorage, Alaska. With its four lakes, says the city has a "humid continental climate, marked by variable weather patterns and great temperature differences."

It said summers are normally "quite hot," while winters are "chilly with moderate to heavy snowfall."

Four other cities also made the 25 coldest -- Eau Claire was 8th, La Crosse 20th, Green Bay 21st, and Appleton 23rd.

If it's any consolation, neighboring Minnesota has 13 places on the list -- including Minneapolis, St. Paul, and some of its suburbs.

Duluth also made it, but not its Wisconsin neighbor Superior.

Read more about the comparisons at

Man who killed 10-year-old claims self-defense

MILWAUKEE -- The man accused of killing a 10-year-old girl at a Milwaukee playground claims to have acted in self-defense. That's what jurors were told Monday, as the trial of Sylvester Lewis began.

In his opening statement, defense lawyer Scott Anderson said the 19-year-old Lewis was so focused on a man who shot at him, he never saw young Sierra Guyton in the playground.

Police said Lewis got into a confrontation with a group of men, and he later fired a shot after one of them pulled out a gun.

Young Sierra was killed in the crossfire, and her 12-year-old sister was wounded.

The incident happened in May at the Clarke Street Elementary School playground on Milwaukee's north side.

The crimes triggered outrage in Milwaukee among those who lamented that kids can't play outside without being subject to gun violence.

Lewis is on trial for reckless homicide, reckless injury, and illegally possessing a gun as a convicted felon.

Another suspect, Jamey Jackson, is scheduled for a trial later this month for illegal gun possession.

Fivesome facing charges in Superior homicide all appear

SUPERIOR -- All five people charged in the death of a man during an attempted robbery in Superior appeared in court Monday.

The alleged shooter, 17-year-old Chance Andrews, was ordered to stand trial on a Douglas County charge of felony murder. He's scheduled to enter a plea on Dec. 3.

Prosecutors said Teah Phillips, 17, drove the other four defendants to the home of Garth Velin in September, where a drug-related robbery escalated and ended in the killing of the 20-year-old Velin.

All five suspects are charged with felony murder, even though they may have had small roles in the slaying.

Kane Robinson, 20, was supposed to enter a plea Monday. He asked for a new lawyer, and his arraignment was delayed until Dec. 3.

Dallas Robinson, 19, and Kyham Dunn, 20, were also bound over Monday.

Robinson is due to enter a plea Dec. 3 and Dunn is scheduled to do the same the next day. Phillips pleaded innocent Monday, and her trial is tentatively set for Jan. 27. She's the only defendant free on bond.

'Go Packers' message erased from Viking stadium-bound girder

LA CROSSE -- Gov. Scott Walker tried to sneak in a cheer for the Green Bay Packers on a piece of steel for the Minnesota Vikings' new stadium -- and it didn't work.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, the Republican Walker was campaigning at a steel fabrication shop near La Crosse where a beam was being made for the new Vikings' stadium in Minneapolis.

Walker autographed the beam and wrote "Go Packers" on it. Last Friday, he bragged about it during a campaign stop near Wausau.

But the stadium's main contractor, Mortenson Construction, said the message was erased from the beam.

Senior vice president John Wood said a power grinder easily erased what would have a permanent Packers' cheer in Vikings' territory.

The beam was made at River Steel in West Salem, a supplier to the stadium's main steel fabricator.