$2 million marketing campaign urges companies to move here; District asks judge to keep fired janitor off school property; more briefsWisconsin News
Wisconsin will spend $2 million to start up a new marketing campaign to encourage businesses to locate and expand here. The Eleva-Strum school district wants a judge to continue a restraining order to keep a fired custodian off school property.
Wisconsin will spend $2 million to start up a new marketing campaign to encourage businesses to locate and expand here.
A new brand was unveiled Wednesday called “In Wisconsin.” The brand will highlight the benefits of starting and operating a business in the state.
The campaign includes ads that will run from October through December, featuring the stories of five successful Wisconsin companies – Organic Valley, Schneider National, Virent, Trek Bicycles and Rockwell Automation.
The brand also has its own Website, inwisconsin.com. The promotions will be aimed at Minnesota and Illinois. Some of the ads will be shown in Wisconsin as well.
Gov. Scott Walker and Economic Development Corporation Director Paul Jadin announced the new brand and marketing campaign at a news conference in Madison. The event was moved from the building’s ground floor to the sixth floor after Walker protestors showed up.
District asks judge to keep fired janitor off school property
ELEVA-STRUM -- A western Wisconsin school district wants a judge to continue a restraining order to keep a fired custodian off school property.
David Booth, 54, was fired from the Eleva-Strum schools on Sept. 12. According to court records, school officials were concerned that Booth would take his life and involve students and or staff members in the process.
The district received a restraining order against Booth, and it asked a judge Thursday to extend it. But a Trempealeau County judge said school officials did not have proper legal representation at the hearing, and the matter was delayed until Oct. 17. By then, the Eleva-Strum School Board is expected to decide how long it wants the restraining order to continue.
Officials said Booth violated school policies by taking his daughter and three other girls to a boys’ high school locker room so he could take their pictures while they wore football uniforms.
According to court documents, Eleva-Strum officials got concerned Sept. 18 when he told school employees he would not soon “be around.” Booth’s ex-wife also asked for a restraining order, but the judge turned it down. Other than the photos, school officials said the girls were not the victims of any improper behavior.
Concealed-carry training standards still not adopted
It will probably be next year before specific training standards take effect for those who want state permits to carry concealed weapons.
The Department of Justice is still operating under temporary rules that were put in place when the concealed carry law took effect last November. Those rules expire Oct. 16, and the state Legislature’s rules committee will decide today whether to grant a second extension until Dec. 15. The first extension was granted in mid-August to give the DOJ more time to finalize the rules.
Those rules are ready now, but standing committees in both houses must approve them and those panels won’t meet until lawmakers reconvene in January.
The temporary rules require permit applicants to get training to carry hidden weapons, but they do not spell out anything specific.
The new rules require lessons on the use deadly force and how concealed weapon holders can avoid such situations. They would also have to learn about the safe use of firearms and bullets, and classes could have no more than 50 students.
Dems want progress on health-care reform; governor says no
Democrats say Wisconsin is running out of time to design a major part of the federal health care reform law to the state’s own advantage.
Wednesday three dozen Democratic lawmakers called on Republican Gov. Scott Walker to get working on a part of the law that states control – the creation of health insurance changes, designed to spell out choices for buying the private insurance the law will require people to have.
States that don’t create their own exchanges might get a one-size-fits-all plan from Washington.
Assembly Democrat Jon Richards of Milwaukee said Walker has until Jan. 1 to get the job done or the state will lose out on a chance to design a package that works best for Wisconsinites.
But Walker and several other GOP governors around the country refuse to touch what they call ObamaCare. They’re counting on voters to elect Mitt Romney as president next month and give Republicans the majority in both houses of Congress under the assumption they’ll throw out the health law.
Richards said that’s far from being a given, and the state shouldn’t scramble at the last minute because of the complex decisions required in setting up a health exchange, which is scheduled to begin operating in 2014.
DOT warns: No political signs on road rights of way
Highway signs along the pavement should tell people how to drive – not how to vote.
The state Department of Transportation has issued its traditional reminder not to put campaign signs on the public rights of way.
Allan Johnson of the DOT’s highway maintenance bureau says it’s not a matter of politics, it’s a matter of public safety. He said any signs that create safety hazards will be removed.
Political signs are not the only ones banned from shoulders and terraces. Any non-traffic signs – including garage and thrift sale signs – are also banned from the rights of way.
The law carries fines of up to $500. It applies on interstate, federal and state highways, along with county and town roads, municipal streets and alleys, and bike and pedestrian paths.
‘Denial of service’ attack plagues U.S. Bank customers
U.S. Bank is assuring its online customers that their accounts and personal information were not stolen in a cyber-attack.
Customers had trouble logging onto the bank’s Website from mid-morning Wednesday until late in the afternoon. U.S. Bank called it a “denial of service” attack, and it’s apparently a coordinated effort to slow down the internet operations of the country’s biggest banks.
Spokesman Thomas Joyce said the worst thing that happened to customers was that they could not access their online accounts without trying a few times. He called it a coordinated volume of high traffic designed to slow down the system.
U.S. Bank, the former First Wisconsin, is now headquartered in Minneapolis.
Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and the Bank of America had similar attacks last week. Wells Fargo Bank was hit Tuesday, and a group that claimed responsibility promised to hit PNC Bank today. That company said it’s ready.
A posting on pastebin.com said the online bank attacks would continue until a video that insults the Islamic prophet Mohammed is taken off-line.
U.S. Senator Joe Liebermann of Connecticut said the bank attacks are supported by leaders in Iran after U.S. sanctions were placed on that country due to its nuclear weapons program.
State development board members say they weren’t told that funds were mishandled
Members of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors said they were kept in the dark about a harsh criticism given to the agency by the federal government.
The Wisconsin State Journal dug up a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which said the state’s job-creation agency mishandled federal funds in several ways.
The letter was sent Aug. 16, and state Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch replied Sept. 12. The development agency’s board met eight days later, but not a word was given to members about the matter.
A Democratic lawmaker who’s on the board is upset. Stevens Point Senator Julie Lassa said it’s inexcusable that the HUD’s letter was not shared with the board.
She said board members are supposed to provide an oversight of tax dollars, but they can’t do it if the staff withholds important information.
Assembly Democratic leader Peter Barca confirmed that the board was not told about HUD’s concerns.
Agency spokesman Tom Thieding had no immediate comment. An administration official said the state was working with HUD to resolve the issues involving mishandled funds.
HUD said the state failed to check the financial conditions of two companies that got almost $1.5 million in federal grants. The report also said 11 of 20 block grant loans since 2011 were forgivable in violation of state policies that allow such conditions only in extreme circumstances.
Also, HUD said the state gave out $20,000 per job to Kapco of Polk County – twice as much as its policies allow.
And HUD questioned an $8.6 million withdrawal of federal block grant funds by a former controller in the state’s Economic Development Corporation to pay for various projects at the end of 2011.
Mailman pleads guilty to stealing Menards rebate checks
A man from Superior has pleaded guilty to stealing mail he was supposed to deliver when he was a postal carrier in nearby Duluth, Minn.
Giang Nguyen, 48, admitted taking Menards rebate checks and Big Game money cards from mail he was supposed to deliver between March of 2010 and January of last year. As a result, the residents on his route lost out on about $1,500 they were supposed to get.
A sentencing date for Nguyen has not been set.
Lands’ End lays off 200 in Dodgeville
Lands’ End plans to cut almost 200 jobs in its hometown of Dodgeville.
The seller of trendy apparel and home products said it would reduce employment in its call center by 29%, and it will streamline other operations. That’s because almost 80% of the company’s U.S. sales are now made on the internet.
The first cuts were made Wednesday. Fifty fulltime employees were let go at the Lands’ End corporate offices, and 25 layoffs took effect at the call center.
Almost 124 other jobs will be eliminated after the holiday sales period. They include a mix of full- and part-time call center positions.
Lands’ End now employs about 3,000 people in Dodgeville.
Golatt convicted of strangling woman
A La Crosse man was convicted late Wednesday of strangling a 35-year-old woman and leaving her body in a dirt lot on a cold morning in March.
Jurors deliberated for over two hours before they found Izelia Golatt, 45, guilty of first-degree intentional homicide. He’ll be given a mandatory life prison sentence, but a judge can decide whether Golatt will be eligible for a supervised release someday.
Golatt killed Kristen Tabbert Rodgers, 35, on March 6 after the two exchanged text messages about her desire to buy cocaine.
Golatt did not testify, but the defense brought in a pathologist who said Rodgers died from hypothermia and a cocaine overdose and not strangulation as prosecutors had contended. Dr. Shaku Teas said Rodgers had no obvious signs of strangulation.
But jurors believed the state’s medical examiner, Vincent Tranchida, who said the victim’s injuries were consistent with a manual strangulation.
Funeral association head, advisors fired
The head of the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association has been terminated along with two brothers who served as investment advisers.
John Wirth, a court-appointed receiver, said he wanted “fresh eyes” to deal with a $21 million shortfall in the association’s fund that covers the costs of pre-paid funerals. The group represents over 500 funeral homes in Wisconsin.
A Dane County judge put the organization in the hands of a receiver last Friday to keep the group going while he determines what caused the shortfall in the funeral fund.
Wirth, a Milwaukee attorney, said he hired the capital management firm of Ziegler Lotsoff and its Red Granite Division to give advice on the best way to handle the funds that were originally paid to local funeral homes by customers who wanted pre-paid funerals. Wirth said he would conduct a search for a new director.
Scott Peterson, the statewide group’s director since 2006, was released along with investment advisers Michael and Patrick Hull.
Wirth said the only reason he made the move was to have a clean slate as he sorts through various issues involving the books of the funeral directors group.
Meanwhile, state securities and justice officials are investigating. Officials said the funeral directors association broke securities laws in its handling of the trust, and customers might not have received the interest they were promised in their investments.
State’s population grows by 16,000
Wisconsin’s population grew by about 16,000 people last year, according to the state’s annual estimates released Wednesday afternoon.
Officials said the state had 5.7 million residents at the end of 2011, up .3% from 2010.
Brown and Dane counties in the Green Bay and Madison areas had the biggest percentage increase in populations at .9%.
Forest County, which has the state’s smallest population, lost about 100 residents. That leaves only 9,200 in the county that includes Crandon.
Overall, 42 counties gained residents last year. Nineteen had declines, and 11 counties were relatively unchanged.
Wisconsin is expected to keep growing for at least the next 30 years. State officials predicted in July that Wisconsin would gain over 800,000 people by 2040 for a population of roughly 6.5 million.