Sen. Jauch hints AWOL tactic nearing end; Damage by Capitol protesters estimated at $7.5 million, more briefsWisconsin News
Poplar Democrat Bob Jauch told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the only way Democrats could kill Gov. Walker's bill would be stay away permanently and "that's not practical." Also, as protesters exit Capitol, officials estimate damage at $7.5 million. Intense lobbying begins to allow UW-Madison split-off, plus more state briefs.
MILWAUKEE -- State Senate Democrat Bob Jauch says he’s given up hope that more Republicans will jump ship on the governor’s plan to limit public union bargaining.
Three Republicans would have to vote with the minority Democrats to strike down the bargaining provisions. But only Dale Schultz of Richland Center has broken ranks with the GOP. And Jauch – the veteran senator from Poplar – said he no longer believes Democrats can convince two other Republicans to compromise. As a result, he says the bill’s opponents will have to look for other ways to protect unionized public employees.
Jauch told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “in order to kill this bill, we could never go home – that’s not practical, and most people realize it.”
Senators have been away from the Capitol for 15 days to block a vote on the measure.
Gov. Scott Walker says he has talked with Democrats about compromising in other areas, but he won’t compromise on a virtual end to collective bargaining powers for most public unions.
Senate Republicans have placed Democrats in contempt of the chamber for being away so long. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says they face a variety of punishments when they return, including expulsion. But that’s not likely, since Republicans don’t have the two-thirds support they would need to toss out a Democrat.
Censures or reprimands are more likely, since they only require a simple majority.
Singing 'Solidarity Forever,' protesters exit capitol
MADISON -- A final group of 50 protesters sang “Solidarity Forever” as they left the State Capitol under a judge’s order Thursday night.
Five stragglers were the last to leave around 10 p.m, and a two-week occupation of the statehouse by opponents of the governor’s proposed restrictions on public unions ended peacefully.
Dane County Circuit Judge John Albert ordered that by Monday, the Capitol return to its previous policy of free-and-open access whenever state business is being conducted.
After hearing three days of testimony, Albert said the Walker administration violated the Constitution by hampering the right to free speech and assembly. But he agreed that the protestors violated state rules with their 24-hour campouts – and they had to stop as well.
Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch called it a fair ruling. Attorney Peg Lautenschlager told the demonstrators, “We won this battle.” She represented the State Employees Union, which took this week’s tight access restrictions to court.
Some protesters wouldn’t leave until they saw the judge’s order. UW-Madison Police Chief Susan Reseling read it to them.
In court, she said her officers found 41 rounds of live gun ammunition outside the Capitol yesterday. Madison firefighter David Trainor testified that police refused to let them in to help a police officer trapped in an elevator, and they used another entrance while losing valuable time.
State officials allege the demonstrators caused $7.5 million in damage to marble and stone in the Capitol. Much of it was tape damage from signs, but reporters noted that many demonstrators used painter’s tape which did not leave any residue after it was taken down.
Assembly Democrat Brett Hulsey of Madison questioned the damage figure saying “that’s a lot of bottles of Formula 409.”
Walker threatens layoffs if Dems don't return Friday
MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker said he’ll issue 1,500 layoff notices to state employees Friday if at least one Democrat doesn’t show up so the Senate can vote on his budget-repair bill.
The Senate’s 14 minority Democrats have stayed away from the Capitol for over two weeks to block a vote on the bill. They’re against the provision that virtually ends collective bargaining privileges for most public employee unions.
Thursday majority Senate Republicans found the Democrats to be in contempt of their chamber, and they ordered police to find the lawmakers and bring them back if they’re spotted in Wisconsin.
But Milwaukee Senate Democrat Chris Larson said he hasn’t done anything wrong, and the police can’t touch him. Some attorneys said the order is clearly unconstitutional.
Walker said he delayed the layoff moves as long as possible, but he had to do something to save the $30 million in the current budget that was supposed to come from the union bargaining restrictions.
He said all state workers could be potential layoff targets except those at prisons, state hospitals and other places open 24-7.
The layoffs wouldn’t begin for at least 31 days, and they could be rescinded if the bill is passed in the meantime.
Walker also said he’s been talking with some of the Democrats to try and make a deal but he won’t compromise on the collective bargaining measure or anything that would save the state money.
'Badger Advocates' begin lobby for UW-Madison split
MADISON -- Lobbyists have formed a group to round up support for splitting UW-Madison from the rest of the university system.
The Badger Advocates were formed this week, and 11 lobbyists – mostly Republicans – have registered to try to convince legislators to approve the split.
Gov. Scott Walker made it part of his proposed state budget for the next two years so the state’s flagship campus could become more flexible. Lobbyist and former State GOP director Brandon Scholz heads the new group.
Scholz says alumni and other Madison supporters are financially backing the effort. Among other things, the budget measure would let the Madison campus work around bureaucratic rules on purchasing and personnel to become more efficient – something Chancellor Biddy Martin has been seeking for over a year.
And it would let the campus set its own tuition – something that’s been criticized by Republican Assembly Colleges Committee chair Steve Nass of Whitewater.
Walker’s proposal also calls for a study on a possible future split involving UW-Milwaukee. Scholz said his group backs that study as well. He said the Badger Advocates will be bi-partisan, and is expected to add other lobbyists soon.
Bank group president named new WMC leader
MADISON - Wisconsin’s largest business group is about to get a new and familiar leader.
Kurt Bauer has been named the new president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. He’ll replace retiring long-time leader Jim Haney.
Bauer, 43, has been the head of the Wisconsin Bankers Association since 2004. He has spent the last 18 years as a promoter for banks in Wisconsin and Arizona.
February was safest month for state drivers
MADISON -- Last month was the safest February ever on Wisconsin roads.
Twenty-two people were killed in traffic crashes last month, the lowest for a February since monthly records started being kept in 1937. There were 11 fewer deaths last month than at the same time a year ago. However, for the first two months of the year, the state’s highway death toll is up by eight from the same time in 2010.
Sixty-one people died in 57 Wisconsin crashes in January and February, including 10 pedestrians.
Milwaukean survives on 'Idol'
MILWAUKEE -- For the second time in three years, Wisconsin has a finalist on “American Idol.”
Naima Adedapo of Milwaukee was the last of 13 to be chosen last night on Fox. Viewers picked their 10 favorites from a group of 24 who sang on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Adedapo didn’t make that cut but she and five others sang again for the judges, and they selected her as one of three wild cards. She sang Donny Hathaway’s song “For All We Know.”
The 25-year-old Adedapo is a member of the Ko-Thi Dance Company. She works as a groundskeeper at the site of Milwaukee’s Summerfest. A native of Chicago, and is a graduate of U-W Milwaukee’s dance department. Her mother is jazz singer and actress Adekola Adedapo.
The weekly competition begins next Wednesday night and continues through May
Adedapo is the second finalist from Wisconsin in “American Idol’s” 10 seasons. Danny Gokey of Milwaukee took third place in 2009.
Man gets 5 years for sister's death
MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man will spend five years in prison for killing his younger sister in a drunk driving crash.
Kenneth Grady, 27, will serve time concurrent to a five-year term he was given earlier because the crash caused him to violate probations for two previous weapons offenses.
Authorities said Grady drove a pickup truck owned by his mother’s boyfriend into a tree on Milwaukee’s north side on New Year’s Day of 2009.
His sister, 19-year-old Teanna Grady, a passenger in the truck, died about an hour after the crash.
Kenneth Grady’s blood alcohol level at the time was .18, more than twice the minimum level of intoxication.
He pleaded guilty in January to drunken homicide.
Clothing, jewels bought by embezzler to go on sale
MILWAUKEE -- The jewelry and expensive clothes bought by Milwaukee embezzler Sue Sachdeva will be auctioned off March 19.
The Wyndham Airport Hotel in Milwaukee will host both a live and an on-line auction for the 22,000 items Sachdeva bought with $34 million she stole from the Koss Corporation.
She was a longtime financial vice president for the headphone manufacturer, and she recently began an 11-year prison term at a federal lockup in Danbury, Conn.
A public preview will be held at the hotel on March 18. The clothing, jewels, accessories and will be grouped in batches of 300. Live bidders must post a $500 deposit.
The online auction will be at www.TXauction.com, where potential buyers can register. An online-only auction will take place March 24.
Proceeds from both will help pay back the Koss Corporation for its losses.