Senator will testify to PSC about wind-turbine links to health troubles; study shows voter ID laws could shape White House race, more briefsWisconsin News
A state senator who wants more limits on wind energy turbines says he’ll give evidence to the Public Service Commission Wednesday on the medical risks of living near those turbines. Also, an AP review shows new voter ID laws could have a real effect on the White House race this fall and two drownings were reported in Wisconsin over the weekend, plus more state briefs.
MADISON -- A state senator who wants more limits on wind energy turbines says he’ll give evidence to the Public Service Commission Wednesday on the medical risks of living near those turbines. At a news conference Sunday, De Pere Republican Frank Lasee said he wants the PS-C to pass strict rules banning high-tech windmills within a mile of people’s homes, and to require the consent of nearby residents before they can be built.
Currently, the limit is 1,250 feet. Sue and Darryl Ashley of rural Glenmore in Brown County told reporters they had to move last summer, to give their 16-year-old daughter relief from headaches and sleep deprivation caused by turbines from the nearby Shirley Wind Project.
Alyssa Ashley said her health problems subsided after the family moved but it left them paying two mortgages. Dr. Herb Coussons said the noise from wind turbines can cause elevated blood pressure, diabetes, and a higher risk of heart disease for those living close by.
In 2010, the PSC’s Wind Siting Council said there was not enough evidence of negative health effects to justify stricter limits. Soon after taking office last year, Gov. Scott Walker pushed for longer setbacks for new wind farms at the request of the state’s Realtors.
A legislative committee voted to strike down PSC rules which sought to encourage new wind farms, but after lawmakers failed to pass subsequent measures, the PSC’s rules were put back in place after the legislative session ended in March of this year.
Dueling interests squabble in quest to gird Wisconsin’s police dogs with vests
MILWAUKEE -- If you’re a Milwaukee Brewers’ fan, you’ve probably seen a TV ad on the statewide game broadcasts about a new group that’s raising money to buy bullet-proof vests for police dogs. But the Journal Sentinel says another group has provided all of Wisconsin’s 200-plus K-9 officers with vests for the last five years and because the two groups have not coordinated their efforts, Donna Morgan of the five-year-old Wisconsin Vest-a-Dog group said both groups could suffer from lower funding – and the police dogs could suffer as a result.
The new group, the Police Canine Vest Foundation, plans to hold a fund-raiser in Greenfield on Saturday featuring Brewers’ players Cody Ransom and Mat Gamel. Group spokeswoman Debra Lopez said her group’s founder has tried repeatedly to get in touch with the existing Vest-a-Dog group – and it could not make contact, so they started their own group.
The existing group gave vests to the state’s final police dogs earlier this year and it has raised $66,000 to replace older vests and provide automatic door openers for dogs in squad cars to cool off on hot days. Lopez says her group can still provide a service, because a growing number of police dogs will need new vests every 3-to 5 years. The group hopes to raise $20-thousand dollars from Saturday’s Brewers’ event. Morgan says she’d like to see the new group focus on law enforcement’s future needs. Greenfield Police Captain Jay Johnson, a former president of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Canine Handler Association, says there’s room for both efforts – and they should work together to achieve the same goals.
AP review shows voter ID laws could affect White House race
Over 1,200 ballots in Indiana and Georgia were thrown out in the last presidential election in 2008, because the voters never produced photo I-D’s.
The Associated Press said hundreds more were blocked this spring in sparsely-attended primaries in Indiana, Georgia, and Tennessee. Over two dozen states now have laws requiring voters to show ID’s at the polls and they could make a difference in this fall’s race for the White House, considering that George W. Bush was elected in 2000 by only a 537-vote margin in Florida.
Wisconsin was among 11 states passing voter ID laws in the last two years, at the urging of Republicans who said the laws were needed to fight voter fraud. But earlier this year, a circuit judge struck down the ID requirement in one of four lawsuits that challenged the mandate.
Another judge delayed a ruling in another case. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen pushed to have appellate courts rule on both cases in an attempt to put the photo ID law back in place. But he recently said those courts have shown no sense of urgency on the matter – and he’s not optimistic that a ruling will be made before this November’s presidential contest.
The circuit judges agreed with advocacy groups who said the voter ID mandate discourages many elderly, poor, and minority voters from casting ballots.
The AP review dealt with provisional ballots cast by those who didn’t bring ID’s to the polls.
Many didn’t count, after those voters failed to prove their identification to local government clerks in the days after the elections.
'Internet Doomsday' virus lands today
If your Internet works this morning, don’t worry – your machine does not have the much-hyped “Internet Doomsday” virus.
By last week, the security firm of Deteque said only about 45,000 U.S. computers were still infected and since Wisconsin is about average in population, the math tells us that around 900 computers in the Badger State may have lost their Web service when the FBI shut off its temporary servers at 11:01 Sunday night.
Millions of computers throughout the world were originally infected by the virus, which re-directed people’s Internet searchers to servers that sucked in $14 million in ad revenues for their hackers.
When authorities busted the malware scam last fall, a judge ordered that the FBI use temporary servers to keep infected computers running until they could be repaired. Experts say it’s an easy problem to fix.
If your Internet’s out this morning, a call to your service provider will probably get you back in business. Reuters says providers still have access to the bogus servers, and Gunter Allmann of the security firm Damballa says there are plenty of tools available to make an easy repair.
Six people were charged in Estonia with Internet fraud in connection with the scam. A seventh suspect, who lives in Russia, is still being sought.
Heat diminishes, but drought expected to continue
SULLIVAN -- The intense heat is over for now but a summer-long drought will continue this week in much of Wisconsin.
Some parts of the Badger State had highs in the 90’s Sunday but for the first time in almost two weeks, the mercury is not expected to hit 90 anywhere in Wisconsin Monday.
Parts of the far north had up to a half-inch of rain Sunday after intense thunderstorms dumped up to four-inches of rain on the area late last week, but yesterday’s rainfall diminished as it entered southern Wisconsin, where it has hardly rained at all this summer.
A few showers moved into that region late last night but by midnight, the rain moved east into Lake Michigan.
The National Weather Service says high pressure will prevail for most of the week. A weak system might bring a few showers through tomorrow, but lots of clear weather is expected all week. Temperatures will be near normal in the 80’s for the first part of the week. But the 90’s could return to southwest Wisconsin as early as Thursday.
Beer tax revenues down 3 percent in 2010
MADISON -- Sales are down for one of Wisconsin’s best-known products. Beer tax revenues in the Badger State are down 3 percent last year, compared to 2010.
Gannett’s Wisconsin newspapers said beer tax payments were at their lowest in at least five years but t the malted brew is still immensely popular. Gannett said taxes were paid on 394,000 barrels in April alone – which translates to over 130 million 12-ounce servings.
State records indicate that Miller-Coors and Anheuser-Busch sell four of every five beers in Wisconsin but foreign brews made up of less than 1 percent of sales – products like Corona of Mexico and the Dutch beer Heineken.
A variety of micro-brews throughout Wisconsin are getting more popular including Potosi beer and O’so of Plover.
Pete Madland of the Wisconsin Tavern League says more folks are enjoying their favorite beers at home, while tavern patronage has gone down.
Borgnine's death prompts nostalgia in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- Actor Ernest Borgnine, who died Sunday at age 95, had a special bond with Wisconsin in his many appearances at Milwaukee’s Great Circus Parade.
His love for the circus kept him coming back as the Grand Clown over a number of parades that spanned for almost four decades. The last one was in 2009. Borgnine was 92 then, and he called the Circus Parade “the most wonderful thing in the world.” Co-chairman Jack McKeithan said Borgnine was absent only once because of his filming schedule.
Mayor Tom Barrett said Borgnine loved Milwaukee and was gracious to his fans – and in return, Wisconsinites loved him back.
“He will be missed from here to eternity," said Barrett.
Borgnine starred in the film classic “From Here to Eternity” as the villain who beat Frank Sinatra to death. Borgnine won an Oscar in 1956 as a butcher looking for love in the low-budget film “Marty.” He also starred with Spencer Tracy in “Bad Day at Black Rock” – and he was also in “Johnny Guitar,” “The Dirty Dozen,” and “The Wild Bunch” among other films.
In the 1960’s, he captained a bunch of misfit sailors in the T-V hit “McHale’s Navy,” which also became a movie. More recently, he was the voice of the Mermaid Man in the cartoon “Sponge Bob Square Pants.” And WISN TV said Borgnine was in Wisconsin not too long ago to be a voice in an animated feature being produced by Tom Hignite.
Ernest Borgnine died from renal failure at a hospital in Los Angeles.
Two drownings marr Wisconsin weekend
WEST ALLIS -- A search continued Monday for a West Allis man who’s missing and presumed drowned in Wind Lake in Racine County.
Authorities said the 57-year-old man was at a family outing on Saturday when he dived from a boat to take a swim, and did not re-surface.
Wind Lake Fire Chief Rob Robins said rescuers have searched a wide area of the lake, using virtually all of their technology – including a sonar unit and a camera that shoots video underwater. He said the man disappeared in the deepest part of the lake, with depths of up to 40 feet. The chief said visibility was a problem, since divers could not see for more than 10 feet at a time. The victim’s name was not immediately released.
Meanwhile, the body of a 20-year-old woman was pulled yesterday from the Wolf River in Menominee County.
Lina Castandea went under while she was rafting at Smokey Falls. Authorities were called late Saturday afternoon. They said dangerous water conditions ended the search on Saturday night.
It resumed Sunday morning, and Castandea’s body was found just before 8:15 a-m.
Head-on with sheriff's squad leaves woman critical
GREEN BAY -- A Milwaukee woman was hospitalized in critical condition at last word, after her vehicle collided head-on with a sheriff’s squad car just west of Green Bay.
According to the State Patrol, Brown County deputy Rueben Meisner lost control of his squad on Saturday while pursuing a stolen vehicle on the Highway 41 expressway in Howard.
Meisner swerved to avoid a tire-busting device when his sheriff’s car crossed into the opposite lanes and hit an oncoming car driven by 27-year-old Michelle Lecker of Milwaukee. She was reported to be in critical condition yesterday at a Green Bay hospital. The deputy and a man in Lecker’s car both had non-life-threatening injuries.
Meanwhile, a man was killed after his motorcycle overturned northeast of Fond du Lac.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to a crash around 4:30 yesterday morning on a rural road in the town of Taycheedah. Officials said a man from rural Malone was pinned underneath the bike. He died at the scene. An investigation continues.
Appleton 'Buca' reopens after fire
APPLETON -- A new Italian restaurant near Appleton will re-open this morning, after a fire late last week.
Buca di Beppo was closed after a fire on Thursday night. Authorities said a kitchen wall ignited, and it took about an hour to put out the fire. The restaurant had to be evacuated.
The cause remains under investigation.
Buca di Beppo recently opened near the Fox River Mall in the town of Grand Chute just west of Appleton.