Kids injured after abduction and car crash; person who tossed duct-taped cat into river sought; request for boys to be charged as juveniles in great-grandmother’s death; more briefsWisconsin News
Abducted kids, man crushed by paper, corn crop in poor shape but soybeans are improving, the latest Wisconsin troops heading to Afghanistan will learn how to prevent being killed by the people they try to help.
Three kids injured after abduction and car crash during chase, man faces charges in three cities
MENOMONEE FALLS -- Three children were injured last evening after a man abducted them in Fond du Lac and crashed his vehicle in Menomonee Falls while being chased by police.
The suspect is a 29-year-old Milwaukee man, and he’s in jail this morning awaiting possible charges.
It all started in Oshkosh, where the man allegedly assaulted a woman in a domestic dispute. Authorities said the man then drove to Fond du Lac, where the woman’s three children -- ages 3, 4, and 5 -- were taken from a home.
A statewide Amber Alert was issued at that point. Police said the youngsters rode with the man into the Milwaukee area where a police chase began after his vehicle was spotted in Menomonee Falls.
Officials said he tried running away after he crashed his vehicle, but he was taken into custody a short time later.
The children were taken to Milwaukee Children’s Hospital, their conditions were not disclosed.
Authorities say the man faces kidnapping charges, as well as other charges in Menomonee Falls, Fond du Lac, and Oshkosh.
Wisconsin told to improve the way it handles federal grants
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Both state and federal officials say they’re confident that they can resolve their differences over the way Wisconsin spends federal block grant funds.
Laura Feldman of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said yesterday that the state had nine violations of spending rules for HUD development grants. That’s up from the normal one to two violations per year.
State Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch said it’s conducting more oversight to make sure the public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation follows the HUD spending policies.
Huebsch rejected the idea of hiring a full-time administrator to run the block grant program, in which the Badger State doles out around $23.5 million in grants per year. He said the Administration Department has a lot of experience in handling complicated regulations and large contracts.
HUD recently told the state to improve the way it handles federal grants. Among other things, officials said Wisconsin loaned out more than the maximum in job-creation funds to a Polk County firm but failed to check the ability of two companies to pay HUD loans, and irregularities in allocating almost $9 million block grant dollars at the end of last year.
Some problems dated back to Jim Doyle’s time as governor, and others were blamed on the transition in which the state’s Commerce Department became partially private and became the Economic Development Corporation.
Judge asked to charge boys as juveniles in grandmother’s bludgeon death
SHEBOYGAN -- A judge in Sheboygan will be asked today to let two 13-year-old boys be tried as juveniles for what a prosecutor called one of the most callous crimes he’s ever dealt with.
Antonio Barbeau and Nathan Paape are both charged as adults with first-degree intentional homicide -- and if they’re not sent to juvenile court, they’ll have preliminary hearings this afternoon to determine if there’s enough evidence to put them on trial.
Both are charged in the bludgeoning of 78-year-old Barbara Olson at her home in Sheboygan Falls last month. Olson was Barbeau’s great-grandmother.
Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco said the boys admitted going to Olson’s house with the intent to rob and kill her, but he did not say why.
Police said the boys attacked Olson with a hatchet and a hammer after they ransacked her house, and she came home and caught them.
DeCecco said the boys then put some of her jewelry and other items in her vehicle and drove it to a Sheboygan bowling center, where they left the keys inside in the hopes that somebody would steal it and become implicated in the murder.
The D.A. said the boys then went to eat pizza, and later bought cleaning supplies to wipe their fingerprints off Olson’s car.
Person who threw duct-taped cat into river being sought
MANITOWOC -- Police in Manitowoc are trying to find a person who bound a cat with duct tape and threw the animal into the Manitowoc River.
A fisherman called police after he found the dead cat floating in the river on Sunday evening. Police said the pet was a larger, older, orange cat that just recently died. Manitowoc County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $200 for information that leads to the arrest of the cat’s abuser.
Most voters want Asian Carp kept out of Lake Michigan
MADISON -- Here are some poll numbers that a politician can only dream of -- three of every five Wisconsin voter agrees that a water link between the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan should be cut off so the invasive Asian carp does not get into the Great Lakes.
Wisconsin and several other Midwest states have a lawsuit pending to try and get a permanent barrier established near Chicago to keep the carp out of Lake Michigan.
The Army Corps of Engineers is studying the question, and plans to make recommendations next year.
It also showed that 75% of Wisconsin voters support the long-range cleanup and restoration plan for the Great Lakes.
A task force named by former President George W. Bush proposed a $20 billion package, but only $1 billion have been allocated for the work during President Obama’s term.
Shooting at Papa John’s leaves man dead, suspect in custody
MILWAUKEE -- A man was shot to death overnight at a Papa John’s pizza restaurant in Milwaukee and a suspect is in custody.
Police did not say if the victim worked at the restaurant, located in a strip mall on Milwaukee’s south side. The shooting was reported just after one this morning. Sources said police interviewed people nearby who were shopping at the adjacent Game Stop store for a just-released video game. There was no word on a possible motive for the shooting.
Federal judge drops lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s “Year of the Bible”
MADISON -- A federal judge has dropped a lawsuit filed by Madison’s Freedom from Religion Foundation against a measure in Pennsylvania which declared this year as the “Year of the Bible.”
Judge Christopher Connor agreed with House Republicans that the lawsuit should be dropped due to legislative immunity. But Connor still scolded lawmakers, saying they used language that’s “proselytizing and exclusionary.” The judge also said the Year-of-the-Bible designation was “pandering to provide a re-election sound bite.” He said Pennsylvania lawmakers could better use their resources for “meaningful legislative efforts” to benefit all people.
Republican GOP leaders were happy with the decision, and a leader of the Freedom-from-Religion Foundation was glad the ruling noted injuries to non-Christian believers.
Much of corn crop in poor shape, soybeans doing better
MADISON -- Almost a quarter of Wisconsin’s corn crop has been harvested -- that’s up from 12% a week ago, and 7% over the past five years.
Thirty-eight percent of the corn is in poor-to-very poor condition due to this year’s drought. Almost 30% is in good condition, and 7% is rated excellent. Just over a quarter of the state’s corn is said to be fair.
Wisconsin soybeans continue to do better, as 42% of that crop is in -- up from 14% a week ago and the five-year norm of 8%. Three-fourths of the soybeans are rated fair-to-excellent.
Wisconsin’s pastures are still not doing well because of the dry weather. Seventy-three percent of pasture land is rated poor-to-very poor. Nationally, only 55% of pastures and rangelands are in poor shape. Corn and soybean harvests are much faster than normal throughout the country, and the emergence of winter wheat is slow, due to dry soils in some places.
Paper plant death investigated
PEWAUKEE -- Authorities are investigating the death of an employee at a paper distribution plant in Pewaukee. It happened yesterday at the Xpedx plant.
Officials said a five-foot stack of paper fell on the victim after a shelving unit filled with pallets of paper gave way and fell down.
Waukesha County sheriff’s officials said company employees helped deputies and rescue personnel move the paper and free the victim. No one else was hurt.
Legislators sued for refusing to turn over personal e-mails
DANE COUNTY -- Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy filed a lawsuit against five Republican state legislators in Dane County. They said the lawmakers violated the state Open Records Law, by refusing to turn over e-mails in their personal accounts about the American Legislative Exchange Council -- a conservative group that works with businesses to draft model bills that can be introduced in state legislatures around the country.
The Council has been criticized for supporting photo ID mandates for voting, and the so-called “stand your ground” gun rights laws.
The lawsuit included a copy of an e-mail sent to the state account of Assembly Republican Jeremy Thiesfeldt of Fond du Lac. It instructed the Exchange Council to stop sending e-mails to Thiesfeldt’s state account, and send it to his personal account instead. Plaintiffs say the Open Records Law does not allow officials to hide public records in their personal e-mail accounts.
Thiesfeldt is one of the defendants in the suit, along with Assembly Republicans Dan Knodl of Germantown, Pat Strachota of West Bend, Tyler August of Lake Geneva, and Tom Larson of Colfax. Strachota calls the lawsuit a “political witch hunt.” She denied ever introducing bills drafted by the Exchange Council.
Judge throws out civil rights lawsuit of exonerated prisoner
MADISON -- A federal judge in Madison has thrown out a civil rights lawsuit against Ralph Armstrong, who was exonerated 28 years after he was convicted of killing of a UW student.
Federal Judge Barbara Crabb said Armstrong did not say which government agencies or individuals violated his rights -- he only accused the State of Wisconsin of violating his civil rights, but Crabb said the state itself cannot be sued.
Armstrong was convicted in the 1980 rape and strangulation death of Madison student Charise Kamps. He was released from a state prison in 2009 after a judge said prosecutors violated a court order on testing some of the evidence.
Armstrong is not free, he’s in a prison in New Mexico where he violated a parole from a crime earlier in his life.
Gunshot death investigated in Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Police are investigating a murder on the city’s north side. Police were called around six last evening, and officers found the body of a 35-year-old man with gunshot wounds. The victim’s name and other details were not immediately released.
Wisconsin troops will learn how to keep from being killed by the people they’re trying to help in Afghanistan
MADISON -- The latest Wisconsin troops heading to Afghanistan will learn how to prevent being killed by the people they try to help.
Sixteen members of a newly-formed National Guard Advise-and-Assist team had a sendoff ceremony in Madison yesterday before they embarked on a year-long mission.
They’ll spend nine months as mentors to the Afghan Border Police, helping local officers take over their country’s security before the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan in 2014. But before they get there, the Wisconsin officers will get three months of training on avoiding “insider attacks” -- being shot by the officers they’re training. The commander of the new Guard team, Lieutenant Colonel David Larson, said it’s a big concern, and his troops have talked a lot about it.
Afghan soldiers and police units have shot 50 foreign troops to death this year, about half being Americans. Some top military leaders went to Afghanistan this summer to express their concerns, after 10 U.S. soldiers were killed by Afghan troops in a span of two weeks.
Now, armed troops from the U.S. coalition provide security to their fellow soldiers at all times, and NATO officers must keep loaded magazines in their weapons, even when they’re on their home bases.
The adjutant general of the Wisconsin guard, Donald Dunbar, said the troops need to strike a balance between being vigilant while engaging with the Afghan officers.
Gov. Walker named potential witness in a second possible trial
MILWAUKEE -- Governor Scott Walker has been named as a potential witness in a second possible trial against his former aides when he was the Milwaukee County Executive. Prosecutors included Walker on a list of 42 possible witnesses in Tim Russell’s trial. Russell is accused of embezzling just over $21,000 from an annual event put on by Milwaukee County that salutes Wisconsin’s veterans. He’s also accused of taking money from two county supervisor campaigns he helped manage. Republican campaign consultant Mark Block is also on the potential witness list for Russell’s trial. Records showed that Russell went to Atlanta in late 2010 for a meeting on Republican Herman Cain’s former White House candidacy.
Block headed Cain’s campaign at the time. Russell’s trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 3.
Prosecutors have also listed the governor as a possible witness in the trial of ex-Walker aide Kelly Rindfleisch. She’s accused of doing campaign work for Republicans during her work hours as Walker’s deputy chief-of-staff.
Rindfleisch is scheduled to go on trial Oct. 15 on four felony counts of misconduct in public office.
Both cases stemmed from a two-year John Doe investigation of Walker’s former Milwaukee County aides. Walker has long denied any wrongdoing on his own part.
House fire death in Eau Claire investigated
EAU CLAIRE -- Authorities in Eau Claire are trying to determine how a woman died in a house fire -- and how the fire started. They hope an autopsy that’s expected today will provide some clues. A neighbor called 911 yesterday afternoon after seeing smoke emerging from windows.
The victim was alone, and police said she died at the scene. Her name was not immediately released.
For now, police are considering the house as a crime scene, and they’ve been combing for evidence and interviewing people. Late yesterday, police asked people to call them if they saw anything suspicious near the home late yesterday morning or early afternoon.