December 1, 2015

Racine County man gets 40 years in death of child

A Racine County man will spend 40 years in prison for putting his girlfriend’s son in scalding hot water, leading to the child’s death in 2013.

It’s the maximum penalty allowed in the case of 28-year-old Marcus Johnson, who was also given 10 years of extended supervision by Judge Michael Piontek. Johnson was originally charged with first degree intentional homicide in the death of 3-year-old Hunter Wise, but pleaded guilty in August to a lesser charge of reckless homicide.

Racine police reports indicated the child had endured numerous injuries, including burns to his buttocks, which occurred when he was dipped in the bathtub of hot water, allegedly as punishment for soiling his pants.

Tom Karkow, WRJN

Waupaca County sheriff says horse was sexually assaulted

(File photo: WRN)

(File photo: WRN)

Waupaca County sheriff’s officials are asking horse owners to be vigilant, after an attack on animal in the Town of Lebanon over the weekend.

Sheriff Brad Hardel said a resident on Sunday reported that his five-year-old pregnant mare had been maliciously vandalized. The man said his horses were acting as if they had been spooked, and when he went into the pasture to check, he found the animal injured and bleeding. A local veterinarian determined the horse was injured during a sexual assault, which likely happened overnight Saturday or early Sunday morning.

The mare and foal are expected to survive.

The sheriff’s department is asking area residents if anyone saw any strange vehicles parked in that area over the weekend, and if so, to contact the sheriff’s department. They have also made contact with a person of interest who has a past history of sexually assaulting horses. No one has been taken into custody, as their investigation continues.


Walker signs bill returning excess Lambeau tax revenues

Lambeau Field

Lambeau Field

Communities in Brown County will get money back from a sales tax that was collected to help renovate Lambeau Field.

Governor Scott Walker on Monday signed a bill at the stadium in Green Bay, which sets up a formula for handing out additional revenues that were collected because businesses kept collecting the tax after it ended in the spring, bringing in an extra $17.6 million beyond what was needed for the 2003 renovations at Lambeau.

Under the bill, about $5.5 million will go to the city of Green Bay, while $4.4 million will go to future work at the Brown County Arena complex. The remaining money will go to other municipalities in the county.

Walker said communities will be able to use the money for property tax relief to pay off debt or for economic development initiatives.


Stopping the ‘revolving door’ of lawmaker to lobbyist

Rep. Dan Wachs (File photo; WRN)

Rep. Dan Wachs (File photo; WRN)

A state lawmaker hopes to keep his former colleagues from jumping right into jobs as lobbyists when they leave the Legislature.

Several lawmakers have gone on to jobs at lobbying firms after their terms end, and state Representative Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) says it’s troubling when it happens shortly after they leave office. “As legislators, I see our jobs should be to focus on creating jobs for others…and not for ourselves,” he argues.

The Eau Claire Democrat is proposing a bill that would ban individuals from registering as a lobbyist for the first year after they leave office. “This bill will ensure that those who are elected to the Legislature to serve their constituents will do so without the goal of ‘cashing in’ for a high-paying special interest job later,” Wachs says. “Other states have similar ‘cooling off’ periods, and it’s time that Wisconsin takes this important step.”

Wachs sponsored a similar bill last session that would have put a two year prohibition in place, but it failed to receive a public hearing. He talked with majority Republicans this time around and decided to reduce the limit to a single year, which has resulted in bipartisan support. “The way I see it, one year is better than zero years,” Wachs says.

He remains optimistic the bill will receive a hearing during the spring legislative session.

Poll shows support for student debt refinancing

Recent polling indicates there may be some public support for a bill to help reduce student debt in Wisconsin. The latest Marquette Law School Poll found 61 percent support for legislation that would allow holders of student loans to refinance at lower rates. The “Higher Ed, Lower Debt” bill is from state Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay).

“They should be able to refinance at a lower rate. Eight, nine, ten percent is not acceptable,” said Hansen. “The key to me is refinancing. And I hope that these numbers seep in to the Republicans’ heads, and they realize just how important this issue is, and how much support there is for this higher ed, lower debt bill.”

The bill has received a hearing, but a committee vote has not yet been scheduled, though Hansen and others have sent a letter requesting that.