- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Investigator seeks to toss Doe challenge

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - An investigator working on a secret investigation into campaign fundraising and spending has asked a judge to toss out a lawsuit seeking to end the probe.

The investigation is reportedly looking into activity by Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign, Wisconsin Club for Growth and other conservative groups that were heavily involved in recall elections targeting Walker and state senators.

Club for Growth filed a federal lawsuit last month asking U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa to halt the investigation, arguing it violates their free speech, freedom of assembly and equal protection rights.

Investigator Dean Nickel’s attorneys filed a motion Wednesday arguing Randa should dismiss the case, saying the state has a vital interest in enforcing its own campaign finance laws.

Club for Growth attorney David Rivkin called the motion baseless.

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Lake Superior ice caves to close this weekend

BAYFIELD, Wis. (AP) - The popular ice caves on Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands will soon be closed due to ice melt, officials said Wednesday.

Access to the caves will close for the season no later than Sunday night, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Superintendent Bob Krumenaker said in a statement. The season was “the longest and best one anyone can remember, and certainly the most popular,” he said.

“Spring is coming, the ice is weakening and we can see the edge of the ice pack coming closer to the mainland ice caves every day,” Krumenaker said. “The beautiful formations are melting, and some have already fallen, raising concerns.”

While the National Park Service anticipates conditions to allow access through this weekend, rangers will monitor conditions very closely and close the area sooner if necessary.

Julie Van Stappen, chief of the park’s planning and resource management, said besides checking the ice density in person, they’ve also been checking satellite images that show the ice melting.

The caves have been hugely popular this season, with an estimated 124,000 people visiting from Jan. 15 through Sunday, Van Stappen said. The last time the ice was thick enough for people to walk on the lake ice to see the caves was in 2009.

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Wisconsin town uses explosives on frozen creek

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - One Wisconsin town among the many dealing with frozen waterways and clogged drains because melted snow has no place to go has tried an explosive new approach: blowing up a creek.

Town of Onalaska officials hired an Iowa-based blaster to stick several hundred sticks of plastic explosives in the frozen Sand Lake Coulee Creek and blow it up on Friday.

“It was awesome,” said town chairman Rolly Bogert.

Officials turned to explosives because when it rained on Feb. 23, the water ran on the ice and was going around a dike that protects about a dozen homes. The town checked with law enforcement and wildlife experts, and the approach was determined to be legal.

Afterward, crews dug out the ice and created a channel for the water.

“I’ve been working here for 34 years,” said Dave Pericak, a Department of Natural Resources water field supervisor for northwest Wisconsin. “I’ve never had a request to do this before.”

In his 50 years in the business, Jerry McManigle, from Chickasaw County, Iowa, said he’s blown up barns, silos, foundations and the occasional beaver dam.

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Wisconsin Medicaid director Davis to resign

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin’s Medicaid director Brett Davis is leaving his position a week from Friday for a job in the private sector.

Davis oversaw implementation of Gov. Scott Walker’s plan lifting a cap on Medicaid coverage for about 80,000 people while also removing nearly as many people out of the program.

The state Department of Health Services announced Davis’s resignation Wednesday.

The news comes three weeks after the release of 28,000 pages of emails seized during a criminal investigation into Kelly Rindfleisch, who raised money for Davis when he was a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010.

Rindfleisch was convicted of felony misconduct in office for doing the campaign work while at her government job under then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.

Davis was not charged with any wrongdoing.

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