September 30, 2014

Drug take-back day set for this weekend

Drugs (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Drugs (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Wisconsin residents will have another opportunity this coming Saturday to clean out their medicine cabinets. It’s time for another drug take-back day, a biannual effort to help the public dispose of unwanted, expired, and unused medications.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says Wisconsin has consistently seen a strong response each time it participates in the event, with about 25 tons of drugs dropped off at collection sites statewide during the last take-back day in April. Van Hollen says, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, “people have the opportunity to take these unused prescription drugs and return them to 170 different drop-off sites that we have across the state, so they can be disposed of in a way that obviously won’t harm our children and won’t harm our environment.”

The program was launched with two goals in mind: keep drugs from being disposed of in ways that could contaminate the environment and to reduce the risk of prescription opiates being abused. Van Hollen says those old medications can serve as a gateway drug for more dangerous forms of substance abuse, such as heroin. He says studies have shown that about two-third of the prescription drugs abused in the U.S. were legally prescribed at one point in time.

Most of the drugs collected through the program are incinerated.

Wisconsin has joined several states in participating in the take-back events over the past several years, although recent changes in federal rules could complicate efforts down the road. A federal rule approved earlier this year allows drop-off boxes to be placed in more locations, although there are questions about how the collection and disposal will be funded. Van Hollen says he’s not concerned about the future of the program though and he’s hoping the expansion of opportunities to dispose of drugs properly will encourage more people to get rid of them quickly. He says it should be much easier for people than waiting several months for a special event.

You can find local drop-off sited by going to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s website.

Superintendent Tony Evers unveils plan for addressing Wisconsin’s achievement gap

State Superintendent Tony Evers has unveiled plans for addressing the state’s achievement gap. The gap between white and black students here is the widest in the nation, and Evers has released recommendations from a task force. Evers said “cultural competency” is critical if parents are going to be supportive

“Not only about how culturally competent we need to be in our schools, but culturally competent so that we respect and honor cultures other than our own, and respect to the families that these kids are coming from,” Evers said. “We need to reach out, we can’t just assume that support is there.”

In his State of Education address, Evers said adequate funding continues to be a challenge for K-12 education in Wisconsin. “I’d say we pretty much aren’t meeting expectations there,” he said. Evers said the state “can’t afford to or three different public school systems,” with tax money being siphoned off to choice schools.

Republicans file complaint against Happ over sexual assault case


Susan Happ

The state Republican Party is accusing the Democratic candidate for attorney general of misconduct in office.

The complaint centers around how Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ handled the prosecution of a man accused of sexual assaulting a girl. Happ’s husband was involved in a land deal with the man, and the state GOP argues the man was not charged until after the deal was paid off, 16 months after the initial accusation.

An assistant district attorney handled the case, which resulted in a deferred prosecution agreement.

A spokesman for Happ’s campaign called it a baseless complaint and just another piece of a right wing smear campaign. Campaign Manager Josh Lease said “District Attorney Happ did everything right, followed the rules laid out by the State Supreme Court, and screened herself off from any decisions about this case. We are confident that will be GAB’s finding and conclusion.”

The complaint was filed just hours after the state Democratic Party accused Republican attorney general candidate Brad Schimel of cutting a deal with a man accused of sexual assaulting an intoxicated 14-year-old girl, which allowed him to plead guilty to a reduced charge and serve six months in jail. Schimel is the Waukesha County district attorney.
Schimel and Happ face each other in a race the most recent Marquette Unversity Law School poll showed is a dead heat.

Door County site of Wisconsin’s first confirmed Enterovirus case

Enterovirus has been confirmed in Wisconsin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a child in Door County tested positive for the Enterovirus D68, according to a release from Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Symptoms of EV-D68 include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. At its most severe, the virus can make breathing difficult and cause wheezing. DHS says children with underlying illnesses such as asthma are much higher at risk.

“EV-D68 is not a reportable illness to DHS, so we will have to wait to know whether tests by the CDC confirm any additional cases in the state,” said Karen McKeown, State Health Officer. “In the meantime, DHS will continue to provide information to the public and to health care providers on what to watch for and ways to help keep children healthy.”

  • · Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers or using the bathroom.
  • · Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • · Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • · Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

Individuals with asthma should continue to take medication used to control the condition, as people with asthma are at higher risk for respiratory illnesses.


More allegations of plagiarism for Mary Burke

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke responds to more accusations of plagiarism in her jobs plan and other initiatives. In her defense, Burke says she wants to bring the best ideas to Wisconsin and “I don’t care where they’re coming from.” She adds, “I’ll be clear about this. As governor, I am going to welcome ideas from other places — the best ideas, the best practices. That’s what we did at Trek Bicycle and that’s how we’re going to make sure Wisconsin has a thriving economy.”

Burke dismissed three new instances of copying, as reported by BuzzFeed, saying her consultant duplicated his own words from other plans he worked on; but if she were to use someone else’s words, she’d certainly give proper attribution. Burke maintains she didn’t violate her principles. “No; not at all. This is, again, a case of … when you put together economic development plans, this is about bringing in the best ideas.”

Joe Fadness with the state Republican Party says, “Mary Burke needs a lesson in business ethics because even 8th graders know that you shouldn’t copy the work of others.”

AUDIORepeating her stance on using the best ideas for Wisconsin — no matter where they come from — Burke explains the meaning of ‘plagiarism’ when asked by a reporter. :16

Burke spoke to reporters in Madison after announcing her endorsement by the Wisconsin Professional Police Association — the state’s largest law enforcement group, who endorsed Republican Brad Schimel for state attorney general. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Troopers Association is endorsing Governor Scott Walker.