August 23, 2014

Leibham won’t seek recount in 6th CD primary

Sen. Glenn Grothman

Sen. Glenn Grothman

Republican state Senator Glenn Grothman has had his primary win for Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District confirmed – fellow GOP state Senator Joe Leibham will not seek a recount. “After a review of the official election results and prayerful consideration with my family, I have decided not to seek a recount in the 6th Congressional District election,” said a statement from Leibham. “I have contacted Senator Glenn Grothman, informed him of my decision and wished him well.”

The decision from Leibham comes in the wake of completed canvassing of last week’s primary ballots. Results posted by the state Government Accountability Board show Grothman winning the four-way primary to succeed retiring U.S. Representative Tom Petri by 219 votes over Leibham.

Grothman said Thursday that the canvass of the 11-county vote showed that a recount would not be needed. “Recounts do not switch 219 votes in an election of this size,” he told KFIZ. The gap between the candidates is about one-third of one percent; the smallest margin in a Wisconsin congressional race since 1970.

Grothman will face Winnebago County executive Mark Harris, a Democrat, and Libertarian Gus Fahrendorf in November’s general election.

“I am grateful that Senator Leibham has chosen not to seek a recount in this race and I wish him well in his future endeavors,” said a statement from Grothman.”I look forward to a great campaign over the coming weeks as the official Republican nominee.”

State’s challenge to gay marriage ruling set for next week

wagon2An appeal to the attorney general to stop defending Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban. Megin McDonell with the group Wisconsin Unites for Marriage said they delivered more than 3,000 petition signatures to the office of state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen on Thursday, as a federal appeals court prepares to hear the state’s challenge to a judge’s ruling that Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage should be overturned.

“We’ve been collecting petitions to the attorney general to drop the appeal,” McDonell said. “There’s a lawsuit in every state now that doesn’t have freedom to marry.”

McDonell said history is on the side of that freedom – and public opinion is trending that way as well, with eroding support for the constitutional amendment which passed in 2006 with the support of nearly 60 percent of state voters. “The most recent Marquette poll had 56% of Wisconsin voters in favor of extending marriage equality,” she said.

Oral arguments on the Wisconsin challenge in combination with a similar decision in Indiana, are scheduled for Tuesday before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Cousins pleads guilty in death of fellow student Andrew Boldt

Cody Cousins

Cody Cousins

Averting a trial, a Purdue University student has entered a guilty plea to killing a fellow student from Wisconsin. Special public defender Kirk Freeman said 23-year-old Cody Cousins did not seek a plea deal before he was convicted of murder on Wednesday in Tippecanoe County Court.

That leaves the door open to a consideration of Cousins’ mental state when he stabbed and shot 21-year-old Andrew Boldt of West Bend on January 21 in an electrical engineering classroom on Purdue’s main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana.

“Obviously, we hope the evidence will be used in mitigation of the sentence, as well as attaching the designator ‘guilty but mentally ill,’ which will allow my client to seek the help he needs in the Indiana Department of Corrections,” Freeman said

A judge will decide the question of Cousins’ mental state when he’s sentenced on September 19, and Freeman said a motive will also likely be disclosed. “A lot of the questions that you and your listeners have probably been asking for the last eight months will likely be clarified.”

Boldt and Cousins were electrical engineering students at the time of the slaying, with Boldt serving as a teaching assistant.

State loses out by not expanding BadgerCare

Robert Kraig

Robert Kraig

Are health insurance rates in Wisconsin higher than necessary? If they are, one groups argues it could be because of Governor Scott Walker’s decision not to accept a full expansion of federal funding for BadgerCare.

Robert Kraig is with Citizen Action of Wisconsin, which released a report showing Wisconsin insurance rates average $250 more per year because of Walker’s decision. “What this data found is that, not only turning down the Medicaid money had no impact on people on Medicaid, on BadgerCare, it impacted all people in terms of their insurance rates,” Kraig said. “For not taking the Medicaid money, it was over $250 a year for every person. And that comes out of the general economy and out of peoples family budgets.”

Walker continues to maintain that he’s protecting taxpayers – because the federal government can’t be counted on to keep Medicaid funded in the long term. “The reality is, anyone who’s counting on the federal government to come through with funding, here or anywhere else across the country is living in a alternative universe, because this is a federal government that’s already $17 trillion in the hole,” said Walker. “They’ve reneged on Medicaid and other promises in the past. I’ve every reason to believe based on the past record, the federal government will renege again, so I didn’t want the taxpayers of this state to be on the hook.

A Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimate also doesn’t come up in the governor’s favor – the agency found the state could have saved more than $500 million over three and a-half years, and served some 87,000 more adults a month under BadgerCare Plus.

Marquette community mourns death of James Foley

The Marquette University community is mourning the death of alumnus and journalist James Foley. Islamic militants in Iraq released a video which appeared to show the beheading of Foley.

In the video posted on YouTube Tuesday by ISIS, Foley is seen kneeling next to a man dressed in black. Foley reads an apparently scripted message, to the effect that his “real killer” is America, before being beheaded.

The 40-year old Foley was a New Hampshire native who graduated from Marquette in 1996 with a degree in history and Spanish. Foley disappeared on November 22, 2012, in northwest Syria, near the border with Turkey. He was reportedly forced into a vehicle by gunmen and has not been seen since. He was working for the U.S.-based online news outlet GlobalPost.

A prayer vigil to remember Foley and support of the Foley family will be held in Marquette’s Chapel of the Holy Family on Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 4:00 p.m. All members of the Marquette and Milwaukee communities are welcome.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the world was appalled by Foley’s killing. “Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away,” the president said.”People like this ultimately fail. They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley, and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.”

Foley and three other journalists were previously held in Libya for 45 days in 2011, while reporting on that country’s civil war. Foley also reported from Iraq and Afghanistan.