Undecided voters could spell difference in Tuesday's primary results; rising water laps at Mitchell Field; DNR chief defends subordinate, more briefsWisconsin News
Pollsters say that thin 2 percent of Wisconsinites undecided about whether to recall or reward Gov. Scott Walker will carry a lot of clout in Tuesday's recall primary. Also, a Madison couple has claimed $1 million as CBS' 'Amazing Race' completes its 12th week, plus details on a WDNR controversy, and more state briefs
MILWAUKEE -- Some polls show that only 2 percent of Wisconsinites are undecided about whether to vote for Scott Walker or his Democratic recall election opponent on June 5th, but those undecided voters could have more of a say in Tuesday's five-way Democratic recall primary.
Last week’s Marquette Law School poll gave Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett a 17-point lead over former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. Doug La Follette and Kathleen Vinehout remain further back, and Gladys Huber is on the ballot as a fake Democrat who ran to guarantee that the finals would be pushed back to next month.
Undecided voters interviewed by the Associated Press include those who sympathize with the public union workers who lost most of their bargaining privileges but still believe the Republican Walker earned the right to serve his full four-year term.
Others want to find out if a Democrat can do better in creating jobs. A couple of voters said they didn’t like Walker’s confrontational tactics – even though they agreed with what he did.
Some said they haven’t seen any new ideas from Democrats for improving the state’s fiscal condition.
Minor flooding seen after weekend rains
Two rivers in Wisconsin are over their banks due to the recent heavy rains – but only minor flooding has been reported so far.
The National Weather Service says the Black River is a half-foot over its flood stage in Black River Falls but it’s expected to drop back below its 47-foot flood stage later Monday.
In southern Wisconsin, the Fox River near Berlin is just over a foot above its banks. A slight rise is expected, and moderate flooding is predicted before the Fox River is due to fall below its 13-foot flood stage again tomorrow. Also, the Black River at Galesville continues to rise and the Weather Service says it will go above its 12-foot flood stage for a brief time on Wednesday. Only minor flooding is expected. Leftover showers from yesterday are due to leave far eastern Wisconsin by mid-afternoon. More rain is due in Tuesday but forecasters say it will be dry-and-mild for the rest of the week.
Thomas More High School in Milwaukee was closed Monday, due to flooding from heavy thunderstorms overnight. Milwaukee was hit with almost two-and-a-half inches of rain during a second wave of heavy thunderstorms in southern Wisconsin Sunday.
Lightning started a fire that destroyed a 100-year-old barn near Muskego and a lightning fire damaged a house in Franklin.
Flights were delayed at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International, after two feet of water built up on street around the airport. Earlier in the day, one-inch hail fell near Janesville, Edgerton, and Pardeeville. Once the storms left, it was dry during the night throughout Wisconsin. But a flood watch remained in effect until four a-m for Winnebago, Calumet, and Manitowoc counties. It was foggy in parts of northwest Wisconsin. Forecasters say it will remain dry today in most of the state, with highs in the 50’s-and-60’s but more rain is expected, as a mid-level disturbance sags down from the north.
River Falls recorded 2.87 inches of rain during a heavy thunderstorm that hit about 3 a.m., Sunday.
Madison couple win $1 million in 'Amazing Race' finale
A Madison couple won a million-dollars in Sunday evening's finale of “The Amazing Race” on CBS.
Iraq War veteran Dave Brown and his wife Rachel beat out 10 other couples in 12 legs of a race around the world. The Browns won eight of those legs – a record in the 20 seasons of “The Amazing Race."
They almost blew the final competition when they missed an obstacle in Honolulu and when they first got to the finish line, they had to go back to complete the task. Rachel quickly did it by sliding down a hill on a dry sled, and then rolling a ball into a makeshift goal similar to bowling. Actually, the Browns won the prize last December – but they couldn’t talk about it until the show aired last night.
The couple watched it with other teams and fans in New York. They’ll do media appearances Monday. The Browns are in their 30’s. Dave is with the National Guard, and he’s an ROTC instructor at U-W Madison. Rachel is a project manager for Epic Systems.
Between her business travel and his military duties, they agreed the best part of the race was the time they spent together. They whisked through five continents, nine countries, and 22 cities.
Critics allege DNR appointee wasn't tough enough on environmental violator
MADISON -- The Wisconsin DNR's third-in-command arranged to settle a violation against an Oconomowoc waste hauler, instead seeking prosecution from the Justice Department.
Former DNR Secretary George Meyer called it a case of political influence unlike any he’s ever seen. The Wisconsin State Journal said Scott Gunderson asked prosecutors last year to fine Herr Environmental $4,300. It was the minimum penalty for a waste-spreading violation that the newspaper said could have resulted in a $40,000 fine had the Justice agency handled it.
A DNR memo said Herr spread three times as much human waste from septic tanks onto farm fields than its permit allowed. An agency investigator said it was so excessive, it threatened poisoning up to 40 private water wells nearby.
Gunderson said his action forced the company into compliance more quickly than the Justice Department might have done.
Gunderson received $750 from Herr’s owner when he served as a Republican in the state Legislature but an official said Gunderson did not violate ethics laws, because he was not in the Assembly at the time. Gunderson said it didn't influence his decision anyway.
The State Journal also said one of Herr’s legislators, Assembly Republican Joel Kleefisch, pushed for lenience but DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said Sunday evening that the agency never cut its number of violations due to Kleefisch’s contact, adding that “Our administration holds itself to the highest ethical standards.”
Bayfield rescinds B & B restrictions
BAYFIELD -- One of northern Wisconsin’s top tourist spots has decided to scrap controversial limits on bed-and-breakfast places.
The City Council in Bayfield is expected next Monday to repeal restrictions imposed last summer. That was when the city required bed-and-breakfast owners to use their business addresses on their driver’s licenses, and to be registered voters in Bayfield.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed suit on behalf of two bed-and-breakfast owners and the city has recently agreed to strike down key parts of the measure.
Bruce and Barb Hoekstra – who wanted to sell their 12-year-old business – said the restrictions unduly limit their potential buyers. Their lawyer said a number of Bayfield officials or their relatives own bed-and-breakfasts and they’re just trying to protect their share of the market.
Mayor Larry McDonald disputes that. He said the ordinance was only meant to protect neighborhoods in Bayfield, whose winter population of 500 grows by several thousand during the summer.
State law already requires bed-and-breakfast owners to use their personal homes – and the owners must live there when rooms are rented.
Search continues for Sherwood bank robber
MANITOWOC -- Authorities in eastern Wisconsin continue to investigate a small-town bank heist from last Friday.
A lone robber claimed to have a gun when he got away with an undetermined amount of money from the Calumet County Bank in Sherwood. The man was last seen heading east on Highway 114, and sheriff’s deputies considered him armed and dangerous.
They also said they were looking for a person-of-interest in the case, 45-year-old Jeffrey Lowrey – a 5-8, 180-pound white man with brown hair, a goatee, and tattoos on both arms. Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the Calumet County Crime-Stoppers program.
Child eletrocuted in fall from bed
MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee’s Child Welfare Bureau is investigating the death of a three-and-a-half month old girl who was electrocuted after falling off her bed.
The medical examiner’s office said yesterday that Diamond McDuffie fell next to an uncovered baseboard heater with exposed metal coils. She was electrocuted when her head touched the metal bed frame. We Energies said there were 118 volts of electricity floating around the heater. An investigator reported getting a shock when touching both the heater and the bed frame.
The incident happened early Friday after the baby, her two-year-old sister, and her mother all went on the sleep on the same bed. Efforts to revive Diamond failed. We Energies says the incident should remind everyone to check the wiring in their homes – make sure there are no frayed wires – and that their appliances are safe.
Kids hospitalized after swallowing gasoline
MADISON -- Two young children were hospitalized Sunday evening after swallowing gasoline.
Dane County sheriff’s deputies were called to the town of Medina, after a three-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy went into a neighbor’s car and swallowed gas from a can in the back.
Their parents couldn’t find them right away and deputies said the family went on a frantic search and called 9-1-1. After they were found, one child was flown to a hospital while the other was taken by ambulance
There was no immediate word on the youngsters’ conditions.