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Wisconsin roundup: Man faces eighth OWI after motorized bike incident; gas pump prices to rise; 8 more state news stories

BLACK RIVER FALLS — A Jackson County Man is facing his eighth drunken driving offense — this one while operating on a motorized bike.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says the 52-year-old man from Black River Falls was spotted weaving between lanes of traffic without a light on his bike last Saturday night in the Town of Brockway. He was out on bond from his seventh drunken driving arrest in May. He was booked into the Jackson County Jail.


Oil analysts: Expect higher gas prices for Labor Day

If you're planning a Labor Day weekend trip, you'll pay more at the pump.

The Wisconsin automotive group AAA says the average gallon of regular unleaded costs $2.37 Wednesday — $0.015 more than Tuesday and 10 cents more than one month ago. But on a percentage basis, the Wisconsin price hike is only about half the national jump of 7 percent since oil refineries shut down due to Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

About one quarter of the nation's refineries are flooded out in the Houston area. Analyst Jim Ritterbusch says futures prices for wholesalers are at their highest in more than two years — and it could translate to a price hike of up to 25 cents a gallon before they drop to their previous levels by Halloween.


Feds: Milwaukee police damage community relations

MILWAUKEE — The U.S. Justice Department says Milwaukee Police rely too much on data in fighting crime, and it distracts officers from building trust with the people they serve.

That's according to the federal government's comprehensive review of the Milwaukee police force — which Chief Ed Flynn requested in 2015 to try and build public trust following an officer's shooting that killed Dontre Hamilton. The Journal Sentinel obtained a draft copy of the Justice Department's report, which said police do not communicate clearly enough with the public.

The department does not have enough black, Hispanic, and female officers in proportion to the city's population and it makes too many traffic stops and targets blacks much more than whites, the report states. The report also notes the Milwaukee department is inconsistent when disciplining officers. A spokesman for Chief Flynn says the draft report was "riddled" with inaccurate data and wrong assertions, and they should be "rectified" when the Justice Department releases the final report.


Six arrested as pipeline protest shuts down construction

SUPERIOR — Six people have been arrested after their protests halted work on a crude oil pipeline replacement southwest of Superior.

It was the third time in nine days that protesters shut down heavy equipment along a replacement of Line Three, the Enbridge facility between Alberta Canada and the company's terminal in Superior. The opponents say the new line would hurt water quality, while Enbridge says it will eliminate problems with its current 50-year-old pipeline — and the firm has received approvals to work in Wisconsin and Alberta with a request to Minnesota still pending.

No arrests were made in the first two protests, but Enbridge vowed to press charges if the work disruptions continued. The arrested protesters are ages 23 to 38 from Cloquet, Minnesota, Michigan, South Dakota, and Saskatchewan — and they face charges of trespassing and obstructing justice.


Wis. man claims airline agent humiliated him due to his name

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee man has filed a federal lawsuit against United Airlines, saying a reservation agent harassed and humiliated him because of his last name.

William Dicks says he was repeatedly embarrassed during a 48 minute phone call in February — and he took it because he needed to get flight information for a trip to New Orleans. According to the lawsuit, Dicks says the male reservation agent asked him what he would do if the two were alone — he asked if Dicks used "protection" with his girlfriend, and where he has pictures on social media.

The agent said the caller's name was "controversial" but he "liked it." United is the only defendant in the lawsuit. The airline says it's reviewing the suit and it has "zero tolerance for harassment of any kind."


Wis. Coast Guard, Red Cross send dozens to Texas

Wisconsin's Red Cross and U.S. Coast Guard stations have sent about 80 people to Texas to help those flooded out by Hurricane Harvey.

Patty Flowers, CEO of the state's Red Cross chapter, says she expects to see a "lot of devastation" when she arrives in the Houston area in the next couple days. Flowers says shelters are only being placed where there is not much flooding, and her volunteers will only go where it's safe.

The state Red Cross has sent almost 60 people to the hurricane region, and many more are waiting to be called out. The massive rains in the Houston area have pretty much ended, but the hurricane is expected to make a second landfall further east at the Texas/Louisiana border in a place that's already had lots of rain this summer.


Sessions in Wis.: U.S. needs ‘comprehensive antidote’ to opioid addiction

GREEN BAY — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions tells a Green Bay audience that a "comprehensive antidote" is needed to reduce opioid abuse.

Sessions spoke Tuesday at a meeting of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, were he accused some politicians and reporters of sending mixed messages on drugs. He said the United States should create a "culture that's hostile to drug use," focusing on prevention, law enforcement, and treatment — although he said "treatment often comes too late." Sessions and his Justice Department recently formed a pilot unit aimed at cracking down on health care fraud related to opioids. Wisconsin had 800 drug overdose deaths in 2015, and Sessions pointed to preliminary data indicating 60,000 overdose deaths in 2016 in an epidemic he called the "deadliest in American history."


State DNR chief joins feds

MADISON — Outgoing DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp says the Trump White House gave her an opportunity she "couldn't ignore."

Stepp is resigning after six- and a-half years of heading the state's environmental and outdoor recreation agency. She'll become the deputy administrator of the federal EPA's Region 7. Stepps' tenure as DNR secretary was marked by controversies involving staff cuts, agency reorganization, reduced enforcement of pollution laws, and water issues involving large farms.

In a memo to staffers, Stepp said, "More people see us now as an agency that makes decisions using sound science, the law, and common sense." She said the agency now ensures that business plans are not "delayed by bureaucracy." Deputy Secretary Kurt Thiede becomes the interim secretary on Thursday.


Former Walker aide Archer loses federal appeal

MADISON — A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker lost an appeal of a federal court ruling rejecting her lawsuit alleging that prosecutors in the now-closed John Doe investigation overstepped their constitutional authority.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected the appeal filed by Cindy Archer. She had asked the court to overturn a 2016 ruling tossing her lawsuit against Milwaukee County prosecutors, who were in charge of the secret investigation in 2011 that focused on former Walker aides and associates when he was Milwaukee County executive.

Archer alleged that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and his investigators violated her 1st and 4th Amendment rights when they searched her home in 2011. U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled in 2016 that the prosecutors were immune from such lawsuits and the federal appeals court today upheld Judge Adelman's ruling.


Church embezzler due to be sentenced in November

MADISON — A La Crosse County woman is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 9 for embezzling $832,000 from a church.

Fifty-nine-year-old Barbara Snyder of West Salem has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Madison to charges of wire fraud and filing false income tax returns. The money was taken from St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Onalaska from 2006 through 2015. Prosecutors say Snyder destroyed collection records and made fake accounting entries to use part of funds given at the collection plate for her gambling habit.