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Wisconsin roundup: Western Wis. DA comes under fire by panel; Milwaukee makes its Amazon pitch; more state news stories

WHITEHALL — A Trempealeau County committee has asked Gov. Scott Walker for help in dealing with the county's district attorney.

The County Board's executive and finance panel told Walker that DA Taavi McMahon was "derelict in his duties." The La Crosse Tribune says McMahon closed the DA's office in Whitehall on Sept. 15 and ordered his staff to attend the funeral of nearby Jackson County DA Gerald Fox — but one staffer who refused to attend was suspended.

The staffers are county employees, but DAs are state workers even though voters locally elect them. The governor can remove a DA for misconduct or malfeasance among other things, and McMahon says he won't comment on personnel matters.


Walker previews re-election campaign with digital ad

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker confirms his re-election bid with a one minute video that comes before his official announcement of a 2018 bid.

The video shows him touring factories and speaking to workers, saying there's "more to be done" in investing in worker training and improving schools. The Republican Walker is about to make his fourth bid for governor, after winning full terms in 2010 and '14, plus his contentious recall election in 2012.

The latest Marquette Law School poll in July gave Walker a split of those approving and disapproving of his job performance at 48 percent each. Several Democrats have lined up to run against Walker and a couple more are considering it.


Amazon bid cites proximity to Madison, Chicago

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's bid to get Amazon's second United States headquarters cites the city's closeness to Chicago and Madison, both within a couple hours' drive.

At a news conference Wednesday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow portrayed a region with plenty of potential employees, many with technology skills — plus access to international airports. Barrett and Farrow co-chair the Milwaukee Seven, made up of seven counties that promote job creation on a regional basis. The proposal is due to be sent to Amazon Thursday, and it mentions possible sites along the region with lots of workers who will not get gobbled up by Foxconn's plans to build a $10 billion technology factory in Racine County.


Senate hearing set on proposed Green Bay prison replacement

MADISON — A state Senate panel will hold a public hearing Thursday on a bill to replace the 119-year-old Green Bay Correctional Institution.

The Government Operations Committee will hear testimony in Madison on a proposal originally made by Assembly Republican David Steffen to tear down the facility in Allouez — and have a private firm build at a new location that the state could lease. Steffen was hoping the project could have been part of the massive state budget, admitting that a separate bill would have "more fingers in the pie" from his colleagues. Allouez officials have supported the move, saying the current Green Bay prison site could be sold to a private buyer and generate tax revenue. De Pere Republican Frank Lasee is the main sponsor of the Senate bill that's up at Thursday's public hearing.


Search continues for missing sailboat operator

SUMMIT — A search continues Thursday for the owner of a sailboat that capsized on Upper Nashotah Lake in Waukesha County.

Police officers were called early Wednesday afternoon to a spot near a theological seminary in Summit where someone was apparently yelling in distress. The sailboat was found shortly after a search began, but the boat's registered owner never turned up.

On Wednesday night, officials said the search became a "recovery effort" — which means that the missing person is likely not alive. The person's identity has not been released.


University system: No new illegal payments found between schools, foundations

MADISON — UW-System officials say no new illegal payments have turned up between the 26 public campuses and their private foundations.

The university took a fresh look at 2,000 payments between campuses and foundations since 2010, after the UW sued two former Oshkosh campus officials in January for illegally guaranteeing public funds to back up five privately financed building projects. The review turned up some questionable transactions — including $183,000 from UW-La Crosse to its foundation after a fundraising effort for a stadium Hall of Honor fell short.

The reviewers said the payment was not the best practice, but it was OK because there's a risk involving fundraisers. UW-System President Ray Cross said the review displayed the integrity of private foundations.


Lawmaker’s daughter due in court in drug case

GREEN BAY — The daughter of state Assembly finance chairman John Nygren is due back in court Thursday on new drug allegations.

Brown County prosecutors were expected to file charges shortly before Cassandra Nygren's court appearance. The 28-year-old Green Bay woman and her 33-year-old fiance Shawn Gray were arrested last week, on suspicion of providing prescription fentanyl that killed 31-year-old Jennifer Skeen and her unborn baby in June near Green Bay.

Both suspects had bond hearings last week, and Gray was expected to make his next court appearance Friday. Cassandra Nygren has long struggled with a drug problem, and her father made it the impetus for about 30 bills approved in the past four years to fight opioid and heroin addiction.


Dreamers’ plan to protest outside Ryan speech in N.Y.

NEW YORK — Six "Dreamers" from Wisconsin plan to join others in a protest in New York tonight Thursday against House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville.

Ryan will be the keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner for Catholic charities, hosted by New York Cardinal and former Milwaukee Archbishop Tim Dolan. The young "Dreamers" go to work and school as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald Trump wants to end.

The DACA recipients want Ryan to get the GOP Congress to pass a revised program to protect American-born children of illegal immigrants before a six month grace period for DACA runs out. The Wisconsin Dreamers are part of a student group headed by Milwaukee's Voces de la Frontera immigrant rights' organization.