- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014
Milwaukee group wants to buy Pabst Blue Ribbon

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Long before it was known for fine cheddar cheese or the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin was famous for beer, especially the national brands brewed in Milwaukee: Schlitz, Blatz and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

The brewing tradition started by Milwaukee’s German immigrants in the 1800s endured for more than a century, until industry consolidation in the 1980s and ‘90s began sending familiar brands to other companies and cities.

Now a small group of Milwaukee residents wants to revive part of that proud history by buying Pabst Brewing Co. from a California executive in hopes of returning the brand to its birthplace, possibly as a city-owned brewery.

The effort appears to be a distant long shot, requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire the 170-year-old beer best known as PBR. But Milwaukee officials like the idea enough to talk about it, and at least one industry analyst says the plan is not beyond the realm of possibility.

“When I think about Pabst being anywhere else but Milwaukee, it just doesn’t make sense,” said Susie Seidelman, an organizer of the “Bring Pabst Blue Ribbon Home” effort. “Milwaukee made this beer what it is. … It’s right on the can.”

The beer, with its pale gold color and light, fizzy taste, has become especially popular over the last decade among urban hipsters, in part because it’s one of the cheapest on the market.

The company that started in Milwaukee in 1844 is now headquartered in Los Angeles after being bought by food industry executive C. Dean Metropoulos in 2010 for a reported $250 million.

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Assembly Republicans back off expulsion of Kramer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican Assembly leaders on Thursday sent embattled Rep. Bill Kramer a letter demanding his resignation, but did not say they would push to expel him from the Legislature before his term is up at the end of the year.

Speaker Robin Vos’s office issued a statement following a meeting with GOP leaders to discuss Kramer after he was charged last week with two felony counts of sexual assault after he was accused of groping a woman following a 2011 Republican fundraiser.

The statement said if Kramer refuses to resign, voters in his district could proceed with recalling him from office, a procedure that would take months. The statement does not mention the possibility of lawmakers moving ahead with kicking Kramer out of office, something Vos earlier said was being considered.

Republicans unanimously removed Kramer last month as Assembly majority leader following separate accusations that he groped a legislative aide following a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., and harassed a female lobbyist.

In the wake of those accusations, Kramer said he checked himself into a treatment facility and said he wouldn’t run for re-election in the fall. But he has refused to step down from his job, which pays $49,943 a year.

Kramer’s attorney, James Gatzke, said the call for Kramer to resign is premature. Republicans are essentially asking Kramer to abandon his constitutional rights to due process and the presumption that he’s innocent until proven guilty, Gatzke said.

“I don’t think any clear-thinking representative would seriously expect a member of the Legislature (to) abandon his constitutional rights, the same rights they all swore to uphold, protect and defend,” Gatzke said.

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Steelworker charged in death of ex-girlfriend

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Massachusetts steelworker charged with shooting his former girlfriend told investigators they had magical chemistry until the day she stuck a gun in his mouth, prompting a struggle that ended with her dead, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Dane County prosecutors charged 39-year-old Phillip Byrd with first-degree intentional homicide in Cheryl Gilberg’s February death. He would face life in prison if he’s convicted. Byrd’s attorney, assistant public defender Murali Jasti, declined to comment Thursday.

According to the criminal complaint, sheriff’s deputies discovered the 43-year-old Gilberg dead in her Mazomanie home on Feb. 23. She had been shot twice in the head and her pink .38 caliber revolver was missing.

Investigators learned Byrd was a former boyfriend of Gilberg’s. They found him in Janesville and arrested him on Feb. 24 for outstanding child support warrants as well as an operating while intoxicated warrant. The complaint doesn’t specify how detectives learned of Byrd or how they tracked him to Janesville. He has been held in the Rock County jail since he was arrested.

Byrd told investigators during a pair of interviews days after he was arrested that he adored Gilberg, the complaint said.

“Like, you know, to the best of my knowledge, is that there was magic there between me and her,” Byrd said. “Like, I, I’ve never, I guess, put a female on such a pedestal as I did her. I never even had the feelings for another female like I had with her.”

He was at her house on Feb. 23 when she pointed her revolver at him. He said he had a bad feeling after “everything that had transpired with me and her last week.” The complaint doesn’t offer any explanation of what had occurred previously.

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13 arrested in Milwaukee dogfighting investigation

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Law enforcement authorities broke up a dogfighting ring in Milwaukee that involved at least 23 dogs, and officers arrested 13 people Thursday in pre-dawn raids across the city, state and federal officials said.

The defendants are accused of breeding and training pit bulls for fighting, or accused of arranging the matches. One suspect hosted competitions in a basement splattered with dog blood, and the fresh corpse of a bloody dog was found buried in his backyard, prosecutors said.

The arrests wrapped up a yearslong investigation by prosecutors, police and an animal welfare group. Kent Lovern, a Milwaukee County prosecutor, said the investigation began in 2011 after authorities recovered more than a dozen dogs from a suspected dogfighting operation.

“That started an investigation into some individuals that has expanded to include other individuals,” including some arrested today, he told The Associated Press. Their arrests might yield even more leads, he added.

Officials pay special attention to animal abuse cases because they’re often tied to cases of violence against women and children, said John Chisholm, Milwaukee County’s district attorney.

“As we respond to the neglect or abuse of a domestic animal, we should be looking closely at the condition of vulnerable people in the same setting,” he said.

The 22 living dogs that were recovered were being evaluated and given medical treatment. However, their future remains in doubt.

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