August 1, 2015

Wisconsin Assembly approves Bucks arena deal

Reps. Barca, Vos

Reps. Barca, Vos

The Wisconsin Assembly has approved a financing plan for the state’s share of a new Milwaukee Bucks arena. Tuesday’s 52-34 vote on the measure already passed by the Senate now sends the bill to Governor Scott Walker for his signature.

“While the taxpayers are still playing a role, they are not playing the most significant role for the state,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who said the funding represents package represents a good deal for taxpayers by keeping the NBA team, and the revenues it generates, in Wisconsin.

The league has made it clear that failure to approve the arena project would clear the way for the team to move, with Seattle and Las Vegas as likely designations.

Minority Leader, Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said it was time to act. “Why wait? We were working aggressively to try to get to yes. I think most people agree it’s a good thing for the Bucks to stay here. Now the taxpayers are fully protected,” Barca said.

The deal has the roughly $500 million cost of the arena split three ways between the state, the city and Milwaukee County.

None of the plans opponents spoke during the brief floor debate. Representative Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) said he remained undecided as recently as Tuesday morning. “It actually comes down to very simple math,” Tittl said. “If we invest $3.5 million dollars a year, we’re going to get $6.5 million back,” Tittl said.

“LeBron James, in the three says that he works in Wisconsin, pays more income taxes than 95% of Wisconsin residents,” said Representative Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), who also asked that the Bucks “create an organizatin that recruits players that are role models for our young people.”

Serial killer again seeking release from mental health facility

A 68-year-old serial killer is starting another attempt to be released from custody.

Alvin Taylor has been confined to the Mendota Mental Health Institute since the late 1980s, after killing four men in Wisconsin and Minnesota between 1985 and 1988.

Taylor was convicted of first degree murder in Dunn County, but was sent to Mendota instead of Prison. The nigh club singer, who traveled across the state, was also convicted of murder in Eau Claire County and attempted murder in Washington County.

A Washington County Judge on Tuesday ruled that two psychiatrists would be appointed to evaluate Taylor.

Taylor has been regularly seeking a conditional release from confinement since 2010. Even if his release is approved in Washington County, he would still need approval from courts in Dunn and Eau Claire Counties.

Rick Jensen, WBKV

Remains identified in 1990 Jackson County cold case

Julia Baez

Julia Baez

More than 25 years after her decapitated body was found in a pair of shallow graves in Jackson County, investigators finally have a name to go with the victim of a brutal homicide.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department announced Monday that is has identified the remains as belonging to 36-year-old Julia Baez of Milwaukee. Baez’s body was found in a pair of shallow graves in October of 1990, on land that is in the Town of Brockway. She had been decapitated and dismembered, with the remains put inside plastic bags and buried. Her skull has never been located.

Investigators were able to finally track down her identity using a DNA profile from her remains, which were exhumed in July of last year and sent to a university in Texas. The sample helped link the remains to Baez, using a national database of missing persons.

Jackson County District Attorney Gerald Fox believes the answers to how Baez died lie outside of the region. “Based on what we think we know about Baez’s life, we think that somebody between the (Twin) Cities and Chicago may know something about this homicide,” he said.

Sheriff Duane Waldera says they know who Baez last had contact with in Milwaukee, but there are challenges in tracking down that information 25 years later. “I would say we have leads, there’s stuff to work on,” Waldera said. “But a person of interest right now, probably not. Not a known one.”

For Black River Falls Fire Chief Steve Schrieber, finding the identity of Baez closes a long standing question of his career. Schrieber was working as the county’s deputy coroner in 1990 and has cared for the former Jane Doe’s gravesite for the last quarter century. “I was always hoping that we would be able to put a name to Jane Doe,” he said. “After taking care of her for 25 years, it’s a great day to know she’s actually going to go back to her family and be where she needs to be.”

Affiliate WXYM contributed to this report.

Walker proposes EPA changes

071714scottwalker1Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker thinks individual states should be given responsability for managing air and water pollition within their borders. That would essentially eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “I think states can do it all across America much better than the federal government,” Walker said in an article published Monday by the conservative Washington Examiner.

Steve Hiniker with One Thousand Friends of Wisconsin says pollution doesn’t recognize state boundaries, and says Walker’s idea appears to run counter to a traditional GOP talking point. “The complaint used to be that states have a patchwork of environmental laws, that make compliance exceedingly difficult for businesses. That’s why we have a common set of standards. That argumemt made a lot of sense,” Hiniker said.

“What the govenor seems to be proposing here is to do away with that common set of standards, and allow states to set their own, which could have enormous costs for industry when it comes to compliance.”

Hiniker also noted that pollution doesn’t recognize state boundaries. “All you have to do is take a look at what’s happening in southeast Wisconsin, where ozone is a huge problem,” he said. “It’s a non-attainment area, and so much of that pollution is transported from places like Chicago.”

Walker proposed making the EPA an “umbrella” agency for state agencies like the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. He said the EPA would simply mediate “interstate conflicts.”

Plane crash in Polk County kills 4

Four people are dead, following a small plane crash in northwestern Wisconsin.

The Polk County Sheriff’s office says the single-engine Beechcraft was found burning in a field between Amery and Star Prairie at about 5:30 Monday evening, about 50 miles away from Minneapolis. Authorities have not said where the plane was going or where its journey started.

The victims’ remains were all found inside the burned wreckage of the plane. They were taken to a medical examiner’s office in Minnesota to help determine their identities and causes of death.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.