- Associated Press - Thursday, March 5, 2015
Big men Kaminsky, Okafor lead way in top player race

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - It might be a two-man game when it comes to the race for player of the year.

Frank Kaminsky is the savvy senior big man for No. 6 Wisconsin. Jahlil Okafor is the freshman phenom center at No. 3 Duke.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo has had to face both. His early favorite: Kaminsky.

“I love Jahlil, I really do, but you have to talk about the versatility of a player. I recruited Jahlil for four years, and I love everything about him,” Izzo said this week. “I wouldn’t have even put them close when you look at Kaminsky a year ago.”

“Frank the Tank,” as he is known to the Wisconsin student section, was pretty good last year in a breakout 2013-14 campaign that ended with a run to the Final Four.

“But Kaminsky is phenomenal right now. I just think he does it in so many different ways,” Izzo said. “He’s become a better passer, he’s become a guy that just has a knack for drawing the defense, and he’s a hard cover.”

If head-to-head matchups matter, Kaminsky had 17 points on 5 of 12 shooting to go with nine rebounds when Wisconsin played Duke in Madison in December. The Blue Devils won 80-70 after the team shot a blistering 65 percent. Okafor had 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting and added six boards.

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Wisconsin close to becoming 25th right-to-work state

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - With Wisconsin positioned to become the third Midwestern state in as many years to enact a right-to-work law, the Assembly begins debate Thursday on a plan Republican Gov. Scott Walker has promised to quickly sign and Democrats lack the votes to stop.

Following in the footsteps of Indiana and Michigan, the two most recent states to approve legislation making the paying of union dues voluntary, Wisconsin would become the 25th right-to-work state. The Assembly scheduled 24 hours of debate, planning to wrap up no later than 9 a.m. Friday, and Walker, a likely presidential candidate, expects to sign it Monday.

During the two weeks that the bill rocketed through the Legislature, both supporters and opponents turned to the experiences of Indiana and Michigan to get a sense of what may happen in Wisconsin.

Economists and others who study the issue say it’s too soon to draw conclusions from either state about what effect right-to-work is having. But that hasn’t stopped proponents from pointing to job growth in Indiana, and detractors highlighting union membership slides in Michigan, as possible outcomes headed Wisconsin’s way.

Under right-to-work, private-sector businesses cannot enter labor contracts that require workers to pay union dues. Supporters say that it’s about worker freedom and that right-to-work will make Wisconsin more attractive to businesses looking to move in or expand. But opponents say the goal is to destroy unions, which they argue will hurt the economy, lower wages and endanger workplace safety.

Michigan has seen declines in union membership since right-to-work took effect there, and that’s not even accounting for Detroit automakers with contracts due to expire in September.

Michigan had one of the sharpest year-to-year drops in union membership nationwide last year, declining from 16.3 percent in 2013 to 14.5 percent. The decrease came in the first full year under the state’s right-to-work law, after union membership dipped slightly in 2012 when the law was in effect for nine months.

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Wisconsin budget committee plans regional hearings

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Legislature’s finance committee will hold four regional public hearings for later this month to take comments on Gov. Scott Walker’s 2015-17 budget proposal.

The panel will meet March 18 at Brillion High School; March 20 at Alverno College in Milwaukee; March 23 at the University of Wisconsin-Barron County; and March 26 at Reedsburg High School.

Rep. John Nygren, a Marinette Republican who serves as the committee’s co-chairman, says the hearings will generally run from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. but could vary slightly according to each venue’s availability.

Once the committee completes the hearings it will return to Madison and begin revising the budget line-by-line. When that work is done the committee will forward the budget to the full Assembly and Senate for votes.

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Milwaukee lawyer gets house arrest for role in arson fraud

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A Milwaukee lawyer has been sentenced to house arrest for helping a client collect $325,000 in an arson fraud.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1GmJvonhttps://bit.ly/1GmJvon ) reports 62-year-old Harvey Goldstein will spend six months of home confinement as part of a one-year probation sentence. He also must pay more than $44,000 in restitution.

Goldstein initially lied to investigators about his knowledge of the 2010 building arson. He later admitted he was part of his client’s plot to collect insurance proceeds after the blaze.

Mathew Lemberger was charged with arson, fraud and murder-for-hire in the fire that destroyed his truck parts business in Denmark, Wisconsin. He pleaded guilty in the arson of his business and his house in 2009 as part of another fraud scheme.

Lemberger was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.comhttps://www.jsonline.com

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