May 6, 2015

Walker in front of pack in Iowa GOP caucus, Quinnipiac University poll finds

Governor Scott Walker delivers his fifth state of the state address. 1/13/15 (FILE PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Governor Scott Walker delivers his fifth state of the state address. 1/13/15 (FILE PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has a strong lead among the field of competitors for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination. “He’s obviously won the fresh face award,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the poll.

Walker, who has not officially entered the race yet, had the support of 21 percent of likely Iowa Caucus-goers who were questioned over an 11-day period that ended on Monday. The poll found a “four-way scramble for second place” among Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee — all of whom are declared candidates. “The four of them are roughly even,” Brown said.

Huckabee won Iowa’s 2008 Caucuses, Rand Paul helped his father campaign for president here in 2012 and Cruz gained national notice almost as soon as he joined the U.S. Senate in 2013. Rubio barely registered in Quinnipiac’s February survey of Iowa Caucus-goers, but Brown says Rubio got a bounce in Iowa from the events he held to formally enter the race in mid-April. “There seems to be a yearning within the Republicans for a new candidate, a new persona for the party,” Brown said.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush leads or is among the leaders in national polls, but Bush registered just five percent support in Quinnipiac’s survey — a seventh place position among the pack of GOP presidential hopefuls. Brown said 45 percent of those surveyed said Bush was not conservative enough. “Mr. Bush, who was the governor of Florida for eight years and was very popular with conservatives there at the time, currently has a problem with Iowa Caucus-goers,” Brown said. “By 45-39 percent they have an unfavorable view of Mr. Bush. That’s not a good thing for a candidate who’s asking these people to endorse him for president.”

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said they would definitely NOT support Bush and 20 percent said they would not vote for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie either.

The poll has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.

O.K. Henderson, Radio Iowa

Menasha shooting marks ‘end of innocence’ for Fox Valley

(File photo: WRN)

(File photo: WRN)

An Appleton man and several members of a Neenah family were the victims of last night’s random shooting on a popular recreational trail. Police Chief Tim Styka said 27 year-old Sergio Valencia del Toro opened fire around 7:30, “unprovoked and at close range,” on the Trestle Trail in Menasha.

“unprovoked and at close range.” Valencia del Toro killed 33 year-old Jonathon Stoffel of Neenah and his 11 year-old daughter Olivia, and 31-year-old Adam Bentdal of Appleton. Stoffel’s 32 year-old wife Erin was wounded, and is in critical condition at an area hospital. Valencia del Toro then turned his weapon on himself.

During a Monday press conference, Styka said that Valencia del Tora, of Menasha, was a student at UW Oshkosh, and U.S. Air Force veteran who had recently enlisted in the Army and was due to report for basic training in June. In addition, he had recently begun training as a member of the Menasha police auxiliary unit.

Styka said Valencia del Toro had been in an argument with his girlfriend Sunday evening, and after she left he grabbed his guns and rode his bike to the Trestle Trail, a popular destination for bicyclists, walkers and anglers in adjacent Little Lake Buttes de Morts.

“Seventy-five to 100 people were in the area, and not minimize the loss of life we had by any means, but looking at the weapons he had, and the ammunition, it could have been a lot worse,” Styka said.

The lead surgeon at Theda Clark Medical Center said Erin Stoffel yelled for her two children to run for help. Doctor Ray Georgen said Stoffel remains in critical condition, after being shot in the abdomen, right thigh, and left hand. “You can never underestimate the power a mother to protect her children,” said Georgen. “To have three gun shot wounds and to be able to get off that bridge, is incredible.” Georgen said Erin Stoffel was within minutes of possibly dying when first responders got to her. “I’ve been here 25 years, and this type of random act just hasn’t happened in the past,” Georgen. said.

“It’s the end of innocence, but the Fox Valley definitely has a very strong spirit of resolve,” said Styka. “These things happen all over the place. It could happen on the Trestle Trail, it could happen in downtown Appleton, it could happen outside a Packers game.”

The Trestle Trail bridge and adjoining Fritse Park remain closed after the shootings. Town of Menasha parks director Michael Kading said he’s been in constant contact with police. Kading said 300,000 people use the Trestle Trail every year, and the community will have to find a way to move forward and reclaim it.



Petrowski responds to IOH law criticism

Sen. Jerry Petrowski (WRN photo)

Sen. Jerry Petrowski (WRN photo)

While the sheriff in Clark Count refuses to enforce Wisconsin’s Implements of Husbandry farm machinery laws, the author of the law says it did not change existing penalties for overweight machines on roadways. Sheriff Greg Herrick issued a statement Friday saying he is also a farmer, and has directed his deputies not to enforce the less than one-year-old law or the recent changes signed by the Governor a week ago. He claims the high fines are unconstitutional.

State Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) is the author of the law and accompanying language. He said the law did not establish for being overweight. “The fine structure and everything has always been in place,” he said. “The Implements of Husbandry bill didn’t touch any of the fines.”

Petrowski said the misconception many farmers have is that they don’t have to follow highway weight limits or the reduced spring posted limits. “I know that some people thought that there was an exemption for weight for agriculture, but there has not been an exemption for being overweight for agriculture.” He adds, “I know that many of the farmers that have been stopped, at least one was cited, but I believe it was on the roads that were posted, and IOH did not take away any ability for local government to post their roads.”

The Senator says the Implements of Husbandry law addressed a problem created by modern farming, and that’s the increased sizes and weights of machinery used to efficiently manage acreage quicker. Petrowski says IOH was the beginning to addressing issues that had not been discussed before. “What the bill basically did was bring together all of the agricultural community to come up with something so they could continue to farm, use their heavy equipment, and give them a way to be able to get to their fields. It has not only increased the weight that was legal, but it also gave them the ability to get a permit, a no-cost permit, to be able to farm.”


Opening weekend for anglers in Wisconsin

File photo: Wisconsin DNR

File photo: Wisconsin DNR

It’s opening weekend for Wisconsin fishing season, and officials say the conditions are ripe for a great day out on the lakes.

DNR fisheries biologist Steven Hogler says that, thanks to the warmer weather this spring, you’ll be seeing fish up and active and farther along in the spawning cycles over last year. That includes walleyes and panfish. “A lot of people target panfish, they are moving in towards shallow water right now because that water’s warmer. They’re finding things to eat, and they are available to anglers.”

Anglers in the northern Ceded Territories will have an easier time following regulations on walleye bag limits this year. “There has been a rules package that has been approved that changes the bag limit to three. That’s across the board. You don’t have to necessarily worry about ‘is it one or is it two?'” It makes the bag limit three.”

Hogler says the rules on fish sizes will differ from lake to lake, so make sure to check your regulations and check the signs at the boat landings.

As always, Hogler reminds anglers to stay safe out on the water. “The water temperatures are still very cold, and you can lose the ability to swim or move very quickly. So make sure you’re wearing proper clothing, make sure you’re wearing your PFD, and always be careful and obey the boating rules.” And remember that you can get an OWI while out on the water, so make sure to stay safe while having beers on the lake.

For more information, pick up a regulations handbook at your local bait or license shop, or head to the DNR’s website.


Massive bust nets Kenosha County drug ring

(File photo: WRN)

(File photo: WRN)

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Milwaukee, along with other federal, state and area law enforcement agencies, has announced indictments naming 24 people from Kenosha and Racine, and 20 more facing state charges, all accused of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances in what’s being called the largest effort of its kind ever in Kenosha County.

At a news conference at the Kenosha Public Museum, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Haanstad said the joint effort included undercover agents, wiretaps and surveillance in taking down an alleged large scale drug enterprise operated by a group known as “The Firm.”

“The misery that’s caused by this type of an operation throughout the community, just the listing of all of the drugs, doesn’t get to the core of the heartbreak caused by a group like this,” said Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman, who said the drugs seized during the sweep are just the “tip of the iceberg.”

“It would be somewhat naive to think that this successful effort will end all drug dealing in our Kenosha area,” said Kenosha County District Attorney Bob Zapf. “But hopefully at the end of this legal process, it will send a strong but simple message to would be drug dealers: you sell drugs, you get arrested, you go to prison.” Zapf called the operation one of the most successful during his long law enforcement career.

“This is the largest coordinated effort in Kenosha County history,” said Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, who noted 15 agencies were involved in the operation. “This is it. This is the biggest one we’ve had.”