- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014
Mine company president charged in Spain

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The president of the company looking to open an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin faces charges in Spain for allegedly violating environmental laws at a Spanish mine he previously managed.

Gogebic Taconite President Bill Williams and two others are accused of mismanaging and polluting groundwater at the large copper mine in southern Spain.

Williams is the former water director at Cobre Las Cruces mine, an open pit mine and processing plant near Seville.

A law firm retained by the mine’s owners said Friday it believes Williams and the two other managers named by Spanish prosecutors will be cleared.

Gogebic is proposing to build a $1.5 billion iron ore mine in Ashland and Iron counties that will require approval from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others. The project has been lauded for some 700 jobs that would be created, but environmentalists and members of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa who live in the area fear the 1,000-foot-deep open pit mine would pollute one of the last pristine regions of Wisconsin.

Williams declined to comment to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1jGAM2Ihttps://bit.ly/1jGAM2I ) this week on the legal proceeding. He was employed at the Spanish mine from January 2006 to January 2011.

Gogebic’s interest in the Wisconsin project began in 2010, before Williams joined the company.


Walker seeks more time to decide on Kenosha casino

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants six more months to make a decision on whether to approve the Menominee tribe’s Kenosha casino project, a delay that would push his deadline to beyond the November election.

Walker released a letter Friday co-signed by the tribe asking the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to extend the original deadline from Aug. 23 to Feb. 19. Walker and tribal chairwoman Laurie Boivin say in the letter that more time is needed to “develop and analyze independent data, and facilitate discussions with the interested parties.”

The Menominee tribe has been pushing for opening an off-reservation casino for more than 20 years, saying it will help pull their tribal members out of poverty. The tribe wants to build the casino complex on the grounds of the old Dairyland Greyhound dog track in Kenosha.

Walker has said he wouldn’t approve the casino unless all of the state’s 11 tribes agree to it. But the Ho-Chunk and Forest County Potawatomi tribes, which operate other casinos in Wisconsin, have steadfastly opposed the proposal.

In addition to unanimous agreement among the tribes, Walker said the casino needed community support and must result in no new net gambling.

Walker’s administration has ordered an independent analysis of the economic impact of the proposed casino and entertainment complex that would include a Hard Rock Hotel. The Menominee have said the $800 million project will create 5,000 direct and indirect jobs, while the Potawatomi have said it will cost the Milwaukee area where that tribe operates a rival casino about 3,000 jobs.

Economic impact was not one of the original criteria Walker said he would use for deciding whether he would approve the project.


ACLU seeks preliminary block on gay marriage ban

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Civil rights advocates have asked a federal judge to block Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban while their lawsuit challenging the prohibition winds its way through court, arguing same-sex couples could suffer harm if the ban remains in place.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion Thursday with U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb seeking a preliminary injunction that would essentially nullify the ban until a final decision comes down. ACLU attorneys argued in a brief supporting the motion they deserve a preliminary injunction because keeping the ban in place impairs gay couples’ legal rights and exposes gay Wisconsin couples who married in other states to potential prosecution.

“As a result of this marriage ban, two people who love each other and wish to commit to each other and build a life and family together are prohibited from marrying in Wisconsin and denied recognition of their existing marriage entered legally under the laws of another jurisdiction … if they are of the same sex,” the brief said.

The state Department of Justice, which is controlled by Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, is defending the ban. A spokeswoman said Friday the agency would respond in court. Crabb has set a hearing on the motion for March 27.

Wisconsin voters amended the state constitution in 2006 to outlaw gay marriage or anything substantially similar. The state has offered a domestic partner registry that affords gay couples a host of legal rights since 2009 but its future is in doubt; the conservative-leaning state Supreme Court is currently weighing whether it violates the constitution.

Encouraged by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that found same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and a federal judge’s December decision to overturn conservative Utah’s gay marriage ban, the ACLU filed its Wisconsin lawsuit on Feb. 3 on behalf of a group of same-sex couples.

The lawsuit alleges the ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection and due process, asserting the prohibition deprives gay couples of legal protections married couples enjoy simply because of their sex. It also points out that gay couples who reside in Wisconsin can’t get married in another state and return to Wisconsin legally; a provision in state law declares that anyone who marries in another state to circumvent Wisconsin law can face up to $10,000 in fines and jail time. ACLU attorneys said they don’t know of anyone who has actually been prosecuted under those statutes, however.


Schwarzenegger test drive military vehicles

OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) - Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger quietly slipped into town to test drive some of the military vehicles at Oshkosh Corp.

Company spokesman John Daggett says Schwarzenegger toured the manufacturing plant Thursday and took a 13-ton mine-resistant ATV for a spin on the test course. Daggett says Schwarzenegger became acquainted with the Oshkosh military vehicles when the company entered a hybrid Light Concept Vehicle in the Baja 1000 race across the Mexican desert several years ago.

While Schwarzenegger might have hoped a test drive would lead to a purchase, Daggett tells Oshkosh Northwestern Media (https://oshko.sh/MBrWqVhttps://oshko.sh/MBrWqV ) the vehicles and their design are the property of the U.S. Department of Defense. The company can’t sell them to private individuals or businesses.


Information from: Oshkosh Northwestern Media, https://www.thenorthwestern.comhttps://www.thenorthwestern.com



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