By Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014
Whitefish shortage causing Passover meal problems

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - A shortage of whitefish in the Great Lakes region resulting partly from the winter deep freeze is coming at an inconvenient time for Jewish families: the Passover holiday, when demand is high because it’s a key ingredient in a traditional recipe.

Markets in Chicago and Detroit were among those struggling to fill whitefish orders before the beginning of the eight-day celebration Monday evening, and a representative of a commercial fishing agency said the shortfall extended as far as New York.

“Everybody’s pulling their hair out,” said Kevin Dean, co-owner of Superior Fish Co., a wholesaler near Detroit whose latest shipment provided just 75 pounds of whitefish although he requested 500 pounds. “I’ve never seen it this bad this time of year.”

The dish that inspires such angst is gefilte fish, which somewhat resembles meat loaf or meatballs. Recipes handed down for generations vary but typically call for ground-up fish and other components such as onions, carrots, eggs and bread crumbs. Other fish such as cod, pike and trout are sometimes a part of the mix, but whitefish is especially popular.

“Just smelling that gefilte fish aroma tells my senses that it’s a Jewish holiday,” said Jason Miller, a rabbi and director of a kosher food certification agency in West Bloomfield, Mich.

In the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Ill., Ira Kirsche of Hungarian Kosher Foods said his market ordinarily would get 200 to 300 pounds of whitefish daily this time of year but has had to settle for 10 to 20 pounds.

Justin Hiller’s family market in suburban Detroit eventually received the 4,000 pounds it needed to meet demand but it was a close call.


Group asks Supreme Court to stay out of John Doe

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court should stay out of a dispute over subpoenas in a secret investigation into possible illegal coordination between conservative organizations and recent recall campaigns, a liberal group said Monday.

One Wisconsin Now sent the court a letter saying two groups involved in the investigation - Wisconsin Club for Growth and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s chamber of commerce - helped get the court’s four conservative-leaning justices elected. The two groups have spent a combined $7.3 million to support Annette Ziegler, David Prosser, Michael Gableman and Patience Roggensack’s campaigns since 2007, the letter said.

“Were the court to accept (the case) and act to squash the inquiry into wrongdoing, the appearance if not the existence of impropriety would indelibly stain the integrity of the Wisconsin Supreme Court for generations to come,” One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said in the letter.

The five-county investigation began in August 2012 as a so-called John Doe probe, a proceeding similar to a grand jury investigation where information is tightly controlled and witnesses cannot speak publicly about their testimony.

Court documents, however, have confirmed the probe focuses on alleged illegal campaign coordination between conservative groups and Republican candidates’ campaigns during the 2011 and 2012 recalls. Those elections were sparked by outrage over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s law that stripped most public workers of nearly all their union rights.

The judge overseeing the investigation, Gregory Peterson, granted a request from the Club for Growth in January to quash five subpoenas. Court documents indicate Club for Growth was one of the groups subpoenaed; the Wall Street Journal has reported the other subpoena targets included Walker’s campaign and WMC.

The special prosecutor leading the investigation, Francis Schmitz, has asked the 4th District Court of Appeals to reverse Peterson’s decision and reinstate the subpoenas. Walker’s campaign last week asked the state Supreme Court to bypass the appellate court and take the case directly. The court has not yet said whether it will accept the case.


Lawyer: Kramer to plead not guilty to sex assault

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) - State Rep. Bill Kramer will plead not guilty next month to charges that he groped a woman’s breasts after a Republican fundraiser, his attorney told reporters Monday following Kramer’s initial court appearance.

The Assembly’s former majority leader was silent during the four-minute hearing in Waukesha County. A court commissioner imposed a $5,000 signature bond and ordered that Kramer not have any contact with his accuser.

Kramer signed the bond quietly outside the courtroom. He didn’t speak as a gaggle of reporters and TV crews trailed him down the hallway asking whether he had anything to say to his constituents.

His attorney, Eduardo Borda, said Kramer will plead not guilty when he’s arraigned May 15.

“This knee-jerk reaction to discredit or destroy a politician is not a substitute for the presumption of innocence,” Borda said.

Kramer has represented Waukesha, an ultra-conservative city in southeastern Wisconsin, since 2006. He first got into trouble when allegations surfaced that he sexually harassed a lobbyist and a Wisconsin legislative staffer in February while he was in Washington, D.C., for a fundraiser.

Majority Republicans reacted by taking away his leadership position.


Videographer vows more oversight on politicians

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The cameraman behind the video that led Republican state Senate President Mike Ellis to announce that he would not seek re-election has a message for politicians across the country: You could be next.

In the wake of Ellis’ announcement, which means the end of a 44-year career in the Wisconsin Legislature, videographer Christian Hartsock said politicians at all levels should prepare to be videotaped, photographed and recorded any time they’re in public. But some critics say the tactics will chill free speech and could prevent more people from getting involved in local elections.

“We want to create a climate where if you are going to represent a constituency, you’d better be looking over your shoulder,” Hartsock said.

The video was released by Project Veritas, a national organization led by conservative activist James O’Keefe. He is known for his hidden-camera videos targeting the community organizing group ACORN, Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio.

Hartsock, 27, posed as a constituent and approached and recorded Ellis, of Neenah, at a hotel bar. Ellis later talked about setting up a super PAC, a violation of campaign laws.

After the video’s release, Ellis said he did not pursue the idea after realizing it was illegal.

Ellis also said last week that the decision not to run had been coming for a while, but the video’s release put him over the top.

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