October 8, 2015

Madison alders reject Soglin’s anti-loitering proposal

State Street bench

State Street bench

Madison alders have overwhelmingly rejected an ordinance to prohibit loitering downtown. Mayor Paul Soglin wanted a one hour time limit on benches, and to prohibit sleeping on sidewalks.

“It’s clear to me, what we should have done was made the proposed fines in these ordinances . . . a penny,” Soglin said. The mayor said the intent of his proposal was “not to impose financial burdens” on homeless individuals, but to give Madison police officers opportunities to protect people.

Soglin reiterated his safety concerns about the homeless, citing an incident witnessed by people who had left a meeting in the City County building last week. It was “a very hostile shouting match between two people who clearly wanted to injure one another,” Soglin said. “There are people in this building who suffer from post traumatic incidents. They’re employees of the city and county.”

Last month, a city-county liaison committee did approve a ban on the homeless sleeping outside of the City County building. That took effect on October 1st. One woman who spoke prior to the vote said the benches “were the last legal place” for the homeless to go. Another man noted that some benches are used by the homeless to store their belongings. “I don’t think packages and bags are why we put the benches out in the first place,” he said.

Tuesday’s city council vote was 15 to 1 against the measure, with Alder Paul Skidmore casting the lone vote in support.

Last month, Dane County accepted offer to purchase a property on the city’s Near East Side for a permanent homeless day resource center. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the center will “provide people a place not just to come in a and stay warm in the winter and cool off in the summer,” but an array of services as well. He expects the shelter will be open by the fall of 2016.


Search continues for Kenosha County fugitive

Andrew Obregon

Andrew Obregon

Some unintentional help from the community is one reason police believe a Kenosha County murder suspect has been able to avoid capture for several days.

Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said during a news conference Tuesday that people need to make sure their vehicles and cash are locked up, noting that 32-year-old Andrew Obregon is believed to have stolen a new van that had they keys and $400 left inside. Obregon is believed to have then used the van in committing a gas station-convenience store robbery, after a smash and grab burglary to another business.

Obregon has been named as a suspect in the murder of 37-year-old Tywon Anderson, whose body was found in a cornfield on September 26. Anderson had been reported missing on September 19.

Obregon has been able to avoid police through multiple pursuits, since he was named as a person of interest. Police believe he has been escaping and hiding in cornfields in the area.

Beth said they have been working to cut off his access to cash and there is a possibility that Obregon could become a threat to the community as he becomes more desperate. Beth said “he has no regard for anything anymore…he has very little to lose at this time, that’s what makes him…a little more dangerous.”


Racine County school bus driver cited for OWI

A Racine County school bus driver has been cited for operating while intoxicated, after his bus veered off a road and went in to a corn field with children on board.

The Sheriff’s Department said the crash was observed by a citizen along a west end Town of Waterford road. The bus driver got back on the road and was later ordered by deputies to pull over along a highway, corn stalks still hanging from the undercarriage of the bus.

Officers found two children on the bus, unhurt, although there had been four on board at the time it left the roadway.

The 39-year-old driver was issued a first offense Operating While Intoxicated citation with passengers 16 or younger, along with hit and run causing property damage, failing to report an accident, and unsafe lane deviation.


Green Bay area lawmakers unveil ‘5 Strikes’ bill targeting repeat drunk driving

WRN file photo

WRN file photo

Several Green Bay area lawmakers are rolling out a “Five Strikes and You’re Out” bill aimed at curbing repeat drunk driving in Wisconsin.

“This behavior will not be tolerated on Wisconsin’s roads,” said state Rep. Eric Genrich (D-Green Bay) during a press conference Tuesday. “For too long in this state, we have tolerated an environment where habitual drunk drivers are jeopardizing the safety of our communities. That ends today.”

Genrich and state Representative Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) are the main Assembly authors of the proposal that would revoke the driver’s license of a repeat offender after their 5th OWI, or 3rd OWI if they’ve been convicted of multiple serious offenses behind the wheel.

“Really the situation in Wisconsin has gotten far beyond what we can tolerate as a society,” Jacque said.

Both Assembly members were flanked at Tuesday’s press conference by Brown County Sheriff John Gossage and Brown County Circuit Court Judge Donald Zuidmulder, both of whom fully support this legislation.

“When you look at the fatalities that are involved, it is not a monetary value that’s impacted, it’s people’s lives,” said Gossage, adding that having a driver’s license is now a right, it’s a privilege.

“We can no longer tolerate these individuals having the right to operate an automobile, it has to end,” Zuidmulder said.

The bill allows for those who have their driver’s licenses revoked to re-apply for them after 10 years, but will only be granted it if they are not convicted of a crime and meets other criteria.


Bancroft man gets 75 days in jail for killing dog with hammer

A Bancroft man convicted of killing his dog with a hammer has been sentenced to jail and probation.

Judge Robert Shannon sentenced 28-year-old Cody Phillips to 75 days in jail and 18 months probation in the case, after Phillips pleaded not contest Tuesday to reduced charges of intentionally mistreating animals and disorderly conduct.

According to prosecutors, Phillips woke up January 19 of 2014 to find that his dog defecated and urinated in his mobile home. When he tried pulling the pet outside by its collar, the dog growled and Phillips panicked and struck the animal. The dog was later found dead with blows to the head.

Phillips will be eligible for both work release and electronic monitoring and won’t be allowed to own or keep animals while on probation. If Phillips violates that probation, he could be back in jail for another nine months.

Raymond Neupert, WSAU