'Point City Council on-record opposing UW cuts; citizens voting in Hammond, Hudson, Prescott today; 11 more Wisconsin stories
STEVENS POINT -- Deficit or no deficit, Stevens Point wants the state to preserve funding for the city's largest employer -- the four-year UW campus.
On a unanimous vote last night, the Point City Council called on the state Legislature to scrap Gov. Scott Walker's budget plan to slash $300 million in state funds for the UW system over the next two years.
The aldermen asked that lawmakers find the money to fund the university as recommended by the Board of Regents -- which called for an additional $95 million statewide, mainly for an initiative to develop key talent for Wisconsin industries. Stevens Point residents argued that their school is a critical part of the local economy.
Mayor Gary Wescott said UW-Stevens Point generates $408 million a year, while supporting almost 5,700 jobs and generating $16 million in tax revenues.
With those numbers, Wescott says the university is "more than an economic engine."
The mayor also took issue with Walker's comment that professors should work harder and teach more. Wescott said Walker does not consider that many university employees have served on city and community panels and given of their time.
Walker says his funding cut comes with the opportunity for UW schools to gain more autonomy and when Democrat Jim Doyle was hit with the same funding dilemma, all he did was raise tuition.
-- Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau
Tuesday primary features mainly local contests
It's primary election day. Wisconsin voters will elect a new state senator, and choose finalists for a host of local government and school board positions.
In western Wisconsin, there are contests for school board at Hudson, village board leadership at Hammond and scattered township races in Pierce County. Voters in the Prescott School District will decide whether to add a large auditorium to the new high school, now under construction.
Three Republicans are running for the Senate seat vacated by Glenn Grothman after he was elected to Congress.
Former Assembly Republican Duey Strobel of Saukville is running, along with Ozaukee County Board Chairman Lee Schlenvogt and former National Guard and Army Reserve member Tiffany Koehler. Technically, Tuesday's winner advances to a general election in April but no Democrats are running in what's considered a heavily-Republican district.
Also, state Senate Republican Paul Farrow of Pewaukee is one of four candidates in a non-partisan primary Tuesday for Waukesha County executive. They hope to replace Dan Vrakas, who's retiring. Also, Racine Mayor John Dickert is facing three opponents.
All polls close at 8 p.m.
Democrats again urge Walker to accept Medicaid funds
MADISON -- Wisconsin Democrats are again asking Gov. Scott Walker to accept federal Medicaid funds from Obama Care, a smaller amount than Walker rejected two years ago.
Milwaukee Rep. Daniel Riemer and Middleton Senator Jon Erpenbach unveiled a plan Monday to seek a partial Medicaid expansion. It could cover a lot of the 77,000 childless adults above the poverty line who lost their Badger-Care last year, many of whom were expected to apply for Obama Care and didn't.
Reimer said the Democrats' new plan would generate $240 million to offset other cuts in the new state budget Walker proposed two weeks ago.
Robert Kraig of Citizen Action of Wisconsin said it would help the Joint Finance Committee undo what he called "unpopular, damaging choices and dis-investments" in the proposed budget.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos came out against the Democratic plan, saying Wisconsin has found a "good middle ground" on Badger Care.
He said the federal government takes care of people "not in poverty," while Wisconsin "takes care of people who are."
He referred to Walker's plan from two years ago to give thousands of impoverished mothers and children the state-funded care they had never received before.
Pewaukee lawmaker wants schools to get 1-year waiver on 'Badger Exam' scores
MADISON -- An opponent of Wisconsin's Common Core education standards is working on a bill to have schools not submit the scores of a new state achievement test to be given next month.
Senate Republican Paul Farrow of Pewaukee wants to give schools a one-year waiver from having to report the results of the new Badger Exam, which is tied to the Common Core standards.
Farrow said schools shouldn't let the state publish the results of the exam -- which would be scrapped under the governor's proposed state budget -- in favor of alternative tests.
Education officials say the state is required to give out the exam, as part of a federal agreement and not honoring it would put $500,000 federal education dollars at risk.
An aide says Farrow's bill would be crafted to preserve the funding. The measure also seeks to prohibit schools from using next month's exams as the basis for teacher evaluations and the state's report cards for public schools and districts.
Waukesha's superintendent has asked for a one-year waiver from the Badger Exam, without penalizing his district's state evaluations.
Other Wisconsin school officials are critical of scrapping the exam, saying it would essentially wipe out two years of student preparations.
The Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District said it would waste $10,000 it had to spend on computer equipment to give out next month's Badger test.
Walker names new Dept. of Administration leader, other junior cabinet members
MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker shuffled his cabinet Monday, changing the head of his administration and bringing back a couple of familiar names to state government.
Scott Neitzel is the new administration secretary, replacing Mike Huebsch, who held the post since Walker first became governor in 2011.
Neitzel comes in from Madison Gas & Electric, where he was a senior vice president. Huebsch moves over to the utility-regulating Public Service Commission, replacing Doyle appointee Eric Callisto whose term is about to end.
Commissioner Ellen Nowak will chair the PSC starting March 1. Current chair Phil Montgomery -- who, like Huebsch, is a former GOP legislator -- becomes a regular commissioner.
Bob Seitz will become Nowak's top aide. He used to be with the state DNR, and was most recently a lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite as it tries to open a new iron ore mine in far northern Wisconsin.
Also, former state treasurer, revenue secretary, and Assembly member Cate Zeuske returns to state government. She'll be Neitzel's deputy administration secretary.
Tricia Braun gets a promotion in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. as its new chief operating officer. GOP strategist Brian Schimming will become the new chief operating officer of the state's Housing and Economic Development Authority, which Walker wants to merge with the WEDC.
Walker administration will delay debt payment
MADISON -- Lawmakers of both parties were critical, after it became public Monday that the Walker administration will delay $108 million in state debt payments to help balance the current budget.
The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said the GOP administration will only pay the interest on certain obligations that are scheduled in May.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said it means higher paybacks from taxpayers in the future, including an extra $19 million in the next budget which takes effect in July.
Administration spokesman Cullen Werwie said the delayed payment is allowed under the terms of its borrowing agreement and former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle did the same thing.
It does not need legislative approval, but that didn't stop Assembly Democrat Gordon Hintz of Oshkosh of accusing Walker of borrowing from the future to pay for his tax cuts from today.
Senate Republican Rob Cowles of Green Bay called "bad budgeting" regardless of which party is responsible.
Protesters gather outside Walker's home
WAUWATOSA -- Over 100 people protested outside of Governor Scott Walker's home in suburban Milwaukee last night. They rallied in the family's Wauwatosa neighborhood against Walker's proposed budget cuts in the UW System, while keeping K-to-12 school aid and revenue limits essentially flat for the next two years.
Jodi Elliott, who had her two children at the rally, told Milwaukee's WTMJ TV there's a lot at stake for her children's future.
Walker's office responded by highlighting parts of the governor's plans that opponents don't mention -- that the U-W cut includes the authority and flexibility the university has wanted for years, while increasing certain types of K-to-12 aid programs.
Hit & run driver jailed under $7,500 bond
WAUTOMA -- A central Wisconsin motorist has been charged with killing a bicyclist and not stopping.
Eric Banaszak, 42, of Redgranite had a bond hearing Monday in Waushara County, where prosecutors filed a felony charge of fatal hit and run.
Authorities said Banaszak struck bicyclist James Shafer, 56, of Redgranite early last Saturday morning on CTH EE in the town of Leon, and kept going.
He turned himself in on Saturday night. Court records do not list an attorney for Banaszak.
He's scheduled to have his initial appearance Feb. 24, when he'll be asked if he understands the charge against him. He remains jailed under a $7,500 cash bond.
-- Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau
Former girls' BB coach charged with child enticement
KENOSHA -- A bond hearing was held Monday for a former Kenosha teacher and girls' basketball coach suspected of kissing a 16-year-old player, and sending sexual text messages to her and another girl.
Prosecutors expect to file charges later this week against Jeffrey Spencer, 25, who's being held under a $20,000 bond.
He resigned from Kenosha Indian Trail High School soon after police started investigating him earlier this month.
Over the weekend, police searched Spencer's home and arrested him. They reported seizing a desktop computer, two laptops, and a cellphone. Spencer was booked on possible charges of child enticement.
Relatives suing county for slow fire dispatch time
MADISON -- Relatives of a Madison man who died in a fire 16 months ago have filed a wrongful death suit against Dane County.
The family of Christopher Williams said a delayed dispatching of firefighters contributed to his death. They're seeking unspecified damages, while alleging that 9-1-1 employees took almost four minutes to send firefighters to the blaze.
When units got there, the 51-year-old Williams had collapsed at his front door. He later died from smoke inhalation.
Last year, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi ordered changes at the county's 9-1-1 call center to shorten the response times for emergency crews.
An official said Monday Dane County had not yet been served with the lawsuit, and he had not commented.
Resignation of accused Sheboygan trustee accepted
SHEBOYGAN -- On a 12-0 vote, the Sheboygan Common Council Monday night accepted the resignation of a fellow alderman charged with molesting a teenage boy.
Four-year incumbent Kevin MatiChek was planning to run for his third term in April, but that was before he was charged last week with repeated child sexual assault, for allegedly having a past relationship with a boy who's now 15.
MatiChek, 33, is due back in Sheboygan County Circuit Court Wednesday afternoon for a preliminary hearing in that case.
Police said he also sexually-assaulted a 17-year-old, and officers continue to investigate the possibility of other victims.
-- WHBL, Sheboygan
Girls accused of stabbing school-mate schemed restroom attack
WAUKESHA -- Defense witnesses were expected to testify Tuesday in the preliminary hearings of two Waukesha girls accused of stabbing a classmate to please the fictional horror character Slender Man.
Morgan Geyser, age 12, and Anissa Weier, 13, are both charged as adults with attempted homicide, after Payton Leutner was stabbed 19 times during a sleep-over last May.
According to police testimony, Leutner was stabbed during a game of hide and seek in a wooded area, after the defendants decided against two other attempts to kill their classmate.
Detective Michelle Trussoni testified that Weier came up with a plan to stab Leutner while she slept, but Geyser called it off around 2 a.m. The officer also said the girls scrapped a plan to kill Leutner in a park restroom the next day, so blood evidence would disappear down a floor drain.
Geyser's lawyer has asked that her charge be reduced from first-degree attempted homicide to second-degree because the lower charge would be required to be considered in juvenile court, where both clients are trying to get their cases to end up.
If they're bound over as adults Tuesday, their lawyers are expected to seek "reverse waivers" which would no longer charge them as adults, thus replacing the possibility of long prison terms with treatment.
Victims of weekend anti-Semitic attacks weren't targeted, police say
MADISON -- Madison Police now say that over two dozen victims of an anti-Semitic crime spree were apparently not targeted due to their race or religions.
About 25 houses and vehicles were damaged or defaced on Madison's west side late Friday night or early Saturday.
Jim Stein, president of the Jewish Federation of Madison, had his car damaged.
Police said the vandals spray-painted swastikas, Ku Klux Klan references, and sexual images. Officials say they're investigating leads, but they have no evidence that the residents were targeted.
Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said it could have been done by teens making bad decisions. Stein said he agreed the residents were probably not targeted but the incident is still troubling, and he believes it's more than what he called "adolescent hi-jinks."
The incidents occurred soon after the release of an annual report showing that anti-Semitic incidents in Wisconsin took a dramatic rise last year, compared to 2013.
Beloit-Regal says quarterly losses tied to falling oil price
BELOIT -- Falling oil prices are not good for everyone. The Regal-Beloit Corporation said the trend reduced the company's exposure in Venezuela in the fourth quarter of last year. As a result, Regal-Beloit reported a loss of $116 million for the period, a larger loss than the $33 million reported from October through December the previous year.
Stockholders lost $2.61 a share in the last quarter, compared to a 34-cent loss a year ago.
Regal-Beloit said it had impairment charges of $117 million, plus another $42 million for long-lived assets and those charges were primarily due to sharp declines in prices for oil and other commodities.
Its sales rose by 6.6 percent, and it still had positive earnings for the year of $31 million dollars, down from $120 million for 2013.
Regal-Beloit makes electric motors, motion controls, power generation, and power transmission products. Read more about the company here: http://www.regalbeloit.com/