Wisconsin roundup: Trooper killed in interstate crash; Kind's district among most divided in nation; 8 more state news stories
WISCONSIN DELLS — A Wisconsin State Patrol trooper was killed Tuesday morning after his squad drove off Interstate 90/94 and struck a tree.
The trooper, whose identity was not immediately released by Sauk County authorities, was pronounced dead at the scene — on the interstate near eastbound mile marker 89. According to the release, the crash, which occurred at about 4:30 a.m., involved the on-duty trooper losing control of his eastbound squad and entering a ditch, where it struck a tree.
The crash is under investigation by the Sauk County Sheriff's Office.
Report: Ron Kind's House district among nation's most divided
WASHINGTON — A new report shows that La Crosse Democrat Ron Kind has one of the most "purple," or politically split, U.S. House districts in the nation.
The Cook Political Report analyzed how each House district voted for president last fall, compared to 2012. It shows that Kind's western Wisconsin district, which includes Pierce County, went with Republican Donald Trump by five points, after endorsing Democrat Barack Obama by 11 points in the last White House contest in 2012.
Kind's district was one of just eight rated as "even" by Cook — and six of the others are close to the West Coast with the eighth one in Florida. Kind, a former prosecutor, is in his 21st year in the House — and he did not have a major party opponent last November.
Manhunt subject's stepdad fears 'suicide by cop' possible
MADISON — The Rock County sheriff says more federal resources are being brought in to look for Joseph Jakubowski, the subject of a manhunt that's now in its sixth day around Janesville.
Meanwhile, his stepfather Donald McLean tells WKOW-TV in Madison the 32-year-old Jakubowski is "bristling against authority" — and he fears the manhunt could end in a showdown with officers in what McLean called a "suicide by cop" scenario which he fears the most. McLean also said he and his wife have not spoken with Jakubowski the past two years, and it's possible the suspect could head to Texas where his biological father lives.
Sheriff Robert Spoden says the federal government is adding both manpower and technical equipment to the search, with 165 total officers now involved. Meanwhile, state Assembly Republican Amy Loudenbeck has canceled a listening session for Tuesday in Clinton due to security concerns.
Eight hospitalized after Beaver Dam apartment fire
BEAVER DAM — Eight people were taken to a hospital after an apartment started on fire in Beaver Dam during the night.
Television reports say either one or two of the injured were firefighters — one who was bit by a dog he was rescuing. Seven others were reportedly hurt but not hospitalized.
All 24 families in the apartment building were displaced as the result of mainly smoke damage, as the fire itself was confined to one unit. Crews were called around 12:10 a.m. Tuesday — and after they rescued several people on the second floor, it took them about 35 minutes to put the fire out.
Drowning victim ID'd, was at birthday party
EAGLE RIVER — A 6-year-old girl who died in a hotel swimming pool in far northern Wisconsin has been identified as Grace Canada of Three Lakes.
Eagle River Police say the youngster apparently drowned on Sunday, when an adult saw her at the bottom of the pool at the Days Inn. Officials say Canada was attending a birthday party with other kids at the time. Rescuers tried CPR, but the girl died later at an Eagle River hospital.
Johnson staff intercepts protest potatoes
MILWAUKEE — U.S. Senate Republican Ron Johnson countered critics who tried sending protest potatoes to his Milwaukee office to shame him into holding an in person town hall meeting.
The board game maker Cards Against Humanity invited Johnson's critics to donate $5 to sponsor one potato with a sticker reading "Hold a Town Hall" — which many Republicans are shying away from, after seeing colleagues get ambushed by Trump critics at their gatherings.
The group was planning to ship almost 1,900 spuds to Johnson this week, but on Saturday, a Johnson staffer intercepted the potatoes. And on Monday, the senator told an audience at a Milwaukee church the potatoes would be donated to food banks. Johnson got the last laugh, telling people that "Rather than spending $5 on a 37-cent potato, donate that five dollars to a food pantry — a far better use of your money."
Lautenschlager's son running for attorney general
MADISON — A son of former state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager hopes to follow his mom's footsteps and become the state's top law enforcement officer.
Josh Kaul announced his candidacy Monday, tweeting that being the attorney general "means protecting families, not playing politics." Kaul, a Democrat, is the first to oppose Republican AG Brad Schimel who's expected to run again in 2018.
The 36-year-old Kaul is a former federal prosecutor in Baltimore and is now with a Madison law firm. Lautenschlager chaired the state Ethics Commission until she stepped down last week amid speculation that her son would run for the job she used to hold from 2003 through 2007.
UW-Milwaukee fire damage now in 'millions'
MILWAUKEE — The dean of the UW-Milwaukee arts school now says damage is in the "millions" from the Saturday fire that heavily damaged the theater, with lesser damage to the attached music and art/design buildings.
Officials now say the fire started near welding and power equipment in the theater's scenery shop, but the cause remains unknown. Scott Emmons, dean of the UW-M Peck School of the Arts, says 100 classes were moved plus some performances — and the theater will stay closed until next fall while the music building is due to reopen for classes next Monday, and the art and design section reopens a couple days later. About 2,200 students are affected. Emmons says 30 grand pianos escaped damage — but as he dealt with the aftermath, Emmons says it was clear that the original damage estimate of one-million dollars was written on the "back of the napkin without trying very hard."
Liberals, unions report inroads in school elections
MILWAUKEE — Groups for working families and Democrats say they've made some inroads in Wisconsin's elected school positions after last week's elections.
A relatively new liberal group, Wisconsin Working Families, is said to be aligned with new elected majorities on the Milwaukee and Racine school boards. That group, headed by former Milwaukee County Board chair Marina Dimitrijevic, is part of a network created in 10 states to groom left-leaning candidates for local government and school board contests.
Also, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the longtime Democratic recruiting group Wisconsin Progress says 77 percent of the candidates they supported won last week. Also the head of the Milwaukee teachers' union said all the candidates it backed were elected to the Milwaukee School Board.
Measure calls for no state tax on Olympic winnings
MADISON — Olympic medal winners in Wisconsin wouldn't have to pay taxes on their winnings under a GOP proposal.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. Joe Sanfelippo said Monday they’re circulating a bill that would repeal state taxes on Olympic and Paralympic winnings. Olympic medals are worth a few hundred dollars and come with cash prizes ranging from $10,000 for a bronze medal to $25,000 for a gold medal. Under the measure, neither the medals nor the cash winnings would be taxed. If passed, the legislation would retroactively apply to 2016 and would be in place for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.