Another sign of the economic blues, bankruptcies are way up in Wisconsin. Bankruptcy petitions are up nearly 40 percent in Wisconsin this year, as the economic downturn finds more people overwhelmed with mortgage payments and credit card debt. Dane County bankruptcy attorney Michael Lambert says there are some tragic cases. Lambert recalls one elderly man, who had "a ton of debt," as a partcularly sad case. "They had these collection peope calling him, and he'd get so nervous that when they called him, he'd faint. I filed for him just to get the creditors off his back." Lambert says many elderly people are running up big credit card bills just to pay for food or medicine. Some younger people, he says, have three jobs, and they're still going under.
Archives for October 2008
The Green Bay Packers have signed QB Aaron Rodgers to a long-term contract extension through the 2014 season.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson said, "As we talked about in the past, we try to be proactive in our discussions with our current players and we felt like this was an appropriate time to try to come to an agreement with Aaron." "We feel like this is good for the organization and the players, and we will continue this approach as we move forward."
Rodgers was the Packers' first-round draft pick in 2005. He has started all seven games for the Packers this season and has thrown for 1,668 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 98.8 passer rating.
Details of the new contract were not released.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's plan to post state Department of Justice employees at polling places around Wisconsin is drawing fire from Democrats.
"There is no role for the attorney general in this," Governor Jim Doyle said Friday. "There is a whole system of poll watchers and of how we assure there is a good election, and I have no idea what the attorney general thinks he is going to do on top of that, when he says he is going to send special agents into polling places."
Van Hollen's DOJ will send some 50 Division of Criminal Investigation agents and Assistant Attorneys General to polling places in communities across the state. While not providing specific locations, Van Hollen spokesman Bill Cosh said those polls will be in Milwaukee, Madison, Beloit/Janesville, Racine/Kenosha, Waukesha, Superior, Green Bay, Eau Claire, Appleton/Fox Valley, La Crosse, Hudson and Wausau/Stevens Point.
A joint statement was issued Thursday by Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte and DOJ Division of Legal Services Administrator Kevin Potter, who serve as Coordinators of Van Hollen's Elections Task Force."The Attorney General and Department of Justice have express authority to enforce the state's election laws, including those laws that govern what happens on election day," the statement reads. "Locating Department of Justice staff around the state will ensure that we are available to assist local District Attorneys and law enforcement in the event they have questions or request assistance on election related issues."
Doyle took issue with those assertions. "There is no authority to do that," the governor told WIBA. "It is completely outside the election laws. He has not consulted with the elections officials in any way about this."
Also stepping into the fray Friday, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, who sent a letter to Van Hollen asking him to reconsider his decision. "If, however, you decide to proceed with these plans, I ask that you provide detailed information about how Department of Justice employees will be deployed, including the locations to which they will be deployed, how those locations were chosen, and a detailed description or copies of the instructions these employees will be given," Feingold wrote."In order to try to ensure that legitimate voters are not discouraged or intimidated by your actions, I also encourage you to ensure that criminal law enforcement personnel are not deployed at polling stations. It is widely acknowledged that the presence of criminal law enforcement personnel at polling stations may discourage and intimidate legitimate voters – even where the intent may be to facilitate voter access."
Van Hollen's office has pointed out that former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager similarly sent DOJ personnel to polling places on Election Day, 2004. "I don't know whether that was right or not," said Doyle. "I was attorney general for 12 years, and I never did it. My understanding is that Attorney General Lautenschlager did it in consultation with the elections officials."
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Joe Wineke on Friday issued a second press release critical of Van Hollen's plans. "Van Hollen is pulling these agents away from their real jobs to investigate fabricated stories about widespread voter fraud," said the DPW release. " There is no widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin, as Republican U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic has already confirmed following a thorough investigation."
The Doyle administration has reached an agreement with the federal governmemnt, on plans to expand health care access in Wisconsin.
It's the next big step, for BadgerCare Plus . Under the proposal, those who are uninsured and who do not have children under their care may now have access to primary and preventive care. The five-year federal waiver proposal builds upon Wisconsin's existing BadgerCare Plus program.
"Today we cleared one of the final hurdles on the way toward my goal of providing access to health insurance for 98 percent of Wisconsin residents," Governor Jim Doyle said. "However, the significant downturn in the national economy, and its effect on the state's fiscal situation, will challenge our ability to quickly extend this program."
Doyle thanked U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, and U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, along with the rest of the Wisconsin delegation, for their bipartisan work to encourage the federal government to support this new health care plan that will benefit some of the state's hardest working residents.
"The bipartisan commitment between Madison and Washington on this issue has been remarkable," said Ryan . "BadgerCare Plus epitomizes Wisconsin's proud tradition of reforming our social safety nets though innovation and empowerment."
"It's no secret that along with other financial worries, Wisconsinites face skyrocketing health care costs." said Baldwin ."In this difficult economic climate, many are forced to delay health care until it is critically necessary and even more costly. With this approval, our state's innovative health care system takes another step forward, ensuring that many more Wisconsinites have access to basic health care services."
The state and federal government are currently working to finalize the waiver. Once the plan is finalized, the state will use federal funding that previously supported uncompensated care to provide health insurance coverage to low-income adults.
"Because of this waiver, an estimated 81,000 adults in the state will finally have access to the health care they need," said Feingold . "This approach to lowering the number of uninsured in the state without increasing costs demonstrates once again that Wisconsin is a leader in creating innovative solutions to some of our country's most complex health care challenges."
Income-eligible adults, from age 19 through 64 who do not have children or do not have dependent children under age 19 living with them, may be able to enroll in the BadgerCare Plus Core Plan, which will cover basic health care services, including primary and preventive care as well as generic drugs. Every adult who applies to the program will have to complete an online health needs assessment before the application can be submitted for approval, and all members must receive a comprehensive physical exam within the first year of being enrolled in the program.
A new report by the Wisconsin Advertising Project states Democrat Barack Obama is hitting Republican John McCain on his home turf. Obama has outspent McCain 3-to-1 during the week of Oct 21-28. That's not including the Democrat's infomercial this week. Nearly 75% of that is being used in traditionally Republican states, according to Jacob Neiheisel Deputy Director of the Advertising Project. He says it's got the Arizona Republican trying to keep up in the red states by focusing most of his spending there.
Neiheisel says Obama has trumped McCain in Wisconsin, spending a million dollars compared to the GOP nominee's $200,000 in the state.
In fact, several markets in Wisconsin were among the top areas in the US where the Illinois Democrat spent the most.
Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin said he's close to making an offer to Sabathia, who went 11-2 with a 1.65 earned run average in 17 starts for the Brewers this season.
The money that will be offered to Sabathia will be a huge amount of money and it's believed the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers are the front runners. The Brewers are the only team that can talk money with Sabathia for the first 15 days after the World Series. Other teams can talk with Sabathia, but they can't offer him a deal until the 15-day period ends.
Ben Sheets also filed for free agency yesterday, on the first day that players are allowed to file. The Brewers have a total of 12 free agents on their roster, which means it's unclear what the Brewers roster will look like for next season.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings said he would prefer to wait until after the season to address his contract. Jennings told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he didn't want to create a distraction for himself or the team.
Jennings and quarterback Aaron Rodgers have been targeted by the Packers for contract extensions. In both cases, their contracts don't expire until after the 2009 season, but Monday is the deadline for NFL teams to apply any increase in a player's base salary to the 2008 salary cap, which allows them to use up any available cap space they have now.
Jennings is 2nd in the NFL in receiving yards and is earning a base salary of $445,000 this year. As a top young receiver in the league, Jennings could strike now and land a big contract. But it doesn't appear he's going to go that route. Jennings todl the Journal Sentinel that he would consider talking at the end of the season.
But according to a Wisconsin Radio Network (WRN) source, Jennings wants to become a free agent and test the waters. Jennings would have no problem remaining a member of the Green Bay Packers, but he wants to see what he could get on the free agent market.
Certainly such a move is risky. Jennings still has a year and a half left on his contract. He could get a new deal now and receive a huge signing bonus which would give him guaranteed money up front. That would protect him against injury. If Jennings passes on the opportunity to take the money now, he's risking making it through the next year and a half without a major injury.
Jennings could change his mind before now and free agency, but right now it looks like he's more about the money than the team. He's not the first and he won't be the last.
But Packers fans, keep this in mind. Jennings would have no problem coming back to Green Bay, but if he hits the open market, there's a good chance somebody will outbid the Packers and Jennings could be wearing a different uniform in the years to come.
The 58 year old Macha has four seasons of Major League managerial experience with the Oakland Athletics (2003-06). He owns a career record of 368-280 (.568). Under his leadership, the Athletics won 96, 91, 88 and 93 games, respectively, and captured the American League West Division championship in 2003 and 2006.
Macha's .568 winning percentage ranks second to Hall of Famer Dick Williams (.603) in Athletics franchise history.
Federal regulators agree with the paper company Appleton , that China and Germany are illegally dumping paper into the American market. Thursday's ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission is a big win for Appleton: it imposes tariffs on the lightweight thermal paper from those two countries. The ruling "acknowledges the negative impact of some unfair trade conditions," said Bill Vanden Brandt, a spokesman for Appleton. "More importantly, it restores a level playing field on which we can compete."
The commission's decision against China was a unanimous 6-0, while members split 3-3 on the case against Germany. Appleton still won that ruling on the tie. Appleton filed its complaint in September of last year. "It's been difficult to compete against products that are being unfairly traded, dumped and subsidized" by the Chinese and German governments," said Vanden Brandt. "We would have continued to compete, it just would have been much more difficult." The paper company will NOT receive any damages from the case: money from the new tariffs goes to the U.S Treasury Department.
A former Wausau alderwoman is suing the city in federal court.
Attorney Jeff Scott Olson claims city officials never told Christine Van de Yacht about a possible conflict of interest involving some property she bought that had been cleaned up with a federal blight loan.
The lawsuit names the mayor, the interim and former community development directors and the former city attorney as defendants.
Scott Olson filed the complaint in federal court earlier this month. He says the suit should help clear Van de Yacht's name.
Van de Yacht had filed a notice of claim with the city last year, seeking $50-thousand in damages. Scott Olson says they're now asking for unspecified damages for mental and emotional distress and attorney's fees. The city has not yet responded to the lawsuit. Wausau's mayor had no comment for this story.