- Associated Press - Sunday, February 23, 2014
Searching Walker emails is the rage in Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Political operatives from across the spectrum are scouring the thousands of emails exchanged by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign staff and those who worked for him when he was Milwaukee County executive, trying to find items they can use to attack or defend the state’s most polarizing figure.

Liberals and conservatives alike have been hunting through the 28,000 pages of documents for their names, as well as the names of political friends and enemies.

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane said it was “like winning the lottery” for people doing opposition research on Walker.

American Bridge 21st Century, a political action committee funded by liberal billionaire George Soros, said it assembled a team of researchers to pore over the emails and post what it finds on a specially created website.

Joe Fadness, executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party and one of those named in the emails, criticized American Bridge while refusing to say whether the GOP was undertaking its own review of the documents.

“American Bridge is a desperate attack group funded by billionaire George Soros with the single goal of misleading voters,” Fadness said. “While they focus their time on distorted attacks, Republicans under Governor Scott Walker will continue moving Wisconsin forward.”

The emails were collected during a criminal investigation into whether Walker’s aides were illegally doing campaign work for the 2010 election while being paid as county employees.

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Growing Wis. economy renews demand for apprentices

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The growing need for skilled manufacturing workers is leading to a revival in apprenticeships in Madison, Milwaukee and the Fox Valley area, but companies in other regions are struggling to find enough qualified people.

The state’s construction industry has started to rebound, creating demand for skilled workers across all construction trades, the Wisconsin State Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1h2kT6Chttp://bit.ly/1h2kT6C ) in a story published Sunday. And when construction companies need workers, they often turn to the state’s apprenticeship program to fill the void.

The issue is, the economic downturn has taken its toll on the system. As construction projects dried up, established journeyman workers went elsewhere, and there was no one to replace them.

Now that the economy is turning around, firms are finding a smaller pool of workers to choose from.

“The problem the last several years has been a shortage of work for contractors in the construction industry. Now, it’s a shortage of workers,” said Wayne Belanger of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin had 15,767 apprentices across all trades in 2001. Last year that figure was down to 9,793, according to the state Department of Workforce Development’s Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.

Jim Cook, the apprenticeship manager at Madison Area Technical College, said things were improving in Dane County because of a construction boom. The demand for apprentice services hasn’t been this strong since the World War II era, he said.

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Wis. donors offer home goods for incoming refugees

APPLETON, Wis. (AP) - About 75 refugees who are expected to relocate to Appleton this year from Congo, Iraq and Myanmar will benefit from the generosity of local donors, who’ve already begun collecting furniture, toiletries and cleaning supplies for their new neighbors.

The collections were coordinated by groups including World Relief Fox Valley and the Fox Cities Kiwanis, Post-Crescent Media reported (http://post.cr/1nZ2dVIhttp://post.cr/1nZ2dVI ). The donations will go to refugees arriving in waves through October.

At a donation event Saturday, some people brought couches and upholstered chairs. Others brought kitchen items and lamps.

Jeff Buchta of Neenah said he felt compelled to make a donation after considering the experiences of families who arrived from Bosnia and Cambodia after being sponsored by his church.

“When they got here, they had nothing,” he said.

The donations were being collected at a former bank building that was purchased by Lawrence University. The college’s students were among the volunteers who helped collect the goods.

Lawrence junior Alex Babbitt says the community was eager to welcome its newest members. While the refugees will arrive with needs, they’ll be contributing in the form of a richer community, he said.

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Wis. man could get 62 years for fatal crash

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) - A man convicted of killing two Wisconsin Rapids women in a drunken-driving crash last year could face more than 60 years in prison.

A Stevens Point Journal Media report (http://spjour.nl/1cdqNwLhttp://spjour.nl/1cdqNwL ) says 23-year-old Timothy Saavedra Jr. of Rudolph will be sentenced May 20.

He pleaded no contest Thursday to three charges stemming from the July 20 crash in the town of Linwood.

Deputies found 21-year-olds Melissa Ann Peterson-Suzda and Stephanie Eberhardt dead at the scene. A 21-year-old Marshfield man was airlifted to a hospital.

The convictions carry a maximum penalty of 62½ years in prison. Portage County district attorney Louis Molepske says he plans to recommend a 15-year sentence.

A message Sunday morning left for Saavedra’s defense attorney, James Kurszewski (ker-SHEF’-skee), was not immediately returned.

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