- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014
Governor lifts restrictions on petro trucks

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker has lifted hour restrictions on trucks carrying petroleum to compensate for a pipeline shutdown.

The Badger Pipeline runs from Illinois to Wisconsin. Walker’s office says the pipeline was shut down for a safety inspection on Wednesday after a contractor’s equipment came into contact with the pipeline. His office didn’t offer any further details, referring questions to the state Department of Administration. A DOA spokeswoman didn’t immediately return an email Friday.

Walker’s office says no leaks have been detected and the pipeline is expected to be back online within a few days. However, it could take as long as 10 days for supply to return to normal in southern Wisconsin.

Walker declared an energy emergency Friday. He lifted hour restrictions on petroleum transportation as part of the declaration.

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2 accused of planning to kill officer, harm judge

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) - A convicted felon and his wife have been accused of conspiring to kill a River Falls police officer and threatening to harm a St. Croix County judge, allegedly as retribution for the man’s early October arrest on other charges.

According to a criminal complaint filed earlier this week, Kelly Kloss, 56, spoke to his wife, Cheryl Kloss, 60, from the St. Croix County Jail by phone 32 times to plot his revenge against the officer and judge.

The two face several felony charges, including conspiracy to commit first-degree intentional homicide and conspiracy to commit battery or threat to a judge. Both are in custody, and court records do not list defense attorneys.

Police and sheriff’s deputies arrested Kelly Kloss in October at his River Falls home. He had been a fugitive from Marathon County for 10 months, where he was jailed on nine drunken-driving violations. He got a furlough to attend his mother’s funeral and never returned to jail, KMSP-TV reported.

Officers with a search warrant used a battering ram to get into the couple’s home late on Oct. 10 but at first could not find Kelly Kloss. In the bedroom police discovered a small door behind a dresser, and after officers warned they would release a police dog, Kelly Kloss came out from behind the door, the complaint said.

Investigators reviewed phone conversations between the couple after Kelly Kloss was jailed. In one conversation, Kloss told his wife to “contact his old navy buddy to rig explosives at the house should River Falls Police Department come to their house again to kill the officers,” the complaint said.

The complaint also said that Kelly Kloss told his wife to load their guns and be ready to shoot officers if they came to their house. Police said they recovered several loaded guns from the residence.

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Walker says Burke ad shows her desperation

WESTON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker said Friday that the latest attack ad by his Democratic challenger Mary Burke shows she is desperate as the election nears and a poll shows her trailing by 7 points.

Walker, standing alongside New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said after a factory tour at Wausau Supply Co. in Weston that Burke can see the trend of voters moving toward him and that’s why she released the ad she did. A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday showed Walker up by 7 points among likely voters, with a 3-point margin of error.

“I think they’re desperate,” Walker said of the Burke campaign. “I think they can see the trend. They can see that voters have started to show the last few ways that they’re shifting away and really, I think, pushing away from the negative attacks we’ve seen over and over and over again.”

Burke’s ad accused former Trek Bicycles human resources executive Gary Ellerman of lying when he said Burke was fired by her family’s business. Both Ellerman and former Trek president Tom Albers said this week that Burke was fired in 1993 because her division was losing money - a charge that Burke and her brother John, the current head of Trek, said was false.

Burke’s ad released Friday morning, just four days before the election, highlights a swastika that Ellerman, who is also Jefferson County Republican Party chairman, had posted on his Facebook page.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday that Ellerman’s Facebook page included postings that referred to President Barack Obama in crude terms, called the first lady a man and compared Obama’s “hope and change” campaign slogan to a Nazi swastika. The page was no longer public on Friday, and a working phone listing for Ellerman couldn’t be found.

When asked if Ellerman should resign from his GOP leadership position because of what was on his Facebook page, Walker said discussion of that was a “huge distraction” when there are more important issues facing the state over the next four years.

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Absentee voting up in Wisconsin from 4 years ago

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke have been saying for weeks that turnout will be the key to victory in Tuesday’s election. The number of absentee ballots cast so far is up from four years ago, but which candidate will benefit most is unclear, political analysts said.

Voters had cast 240,308 absentee ballots by mail or in-person as of early Friday morning, according to state election officials. That’s about 10,000 more absentee ballots than voters cast in the November 2010 gubernatorial election that saw Walker defeat Democrat Tom Barrett.

The deadline for requesting absentee ballots by mail was the end of the day Thursday. About 22,400 ballots hadn’t been returned to local clerks as of Friday morning, said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections. Those ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday and in municipal clerks’ offices by 4 p.m. Nov. 7 to count. Early in-person voting was scheduled to continue until the close of business Friday.

The absentee turnout tends to favor Walker, who holds a 7-point lead over Burke among likely voters according to the latest Marquette Law School poll, said University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Ken Mayer. Absentee voters tend to be richer, more educated and more engaged, which favors Republicans.

But the absentee numbers are only one piece of the puzzle. GAB officials predict at total of 2.5 million people will vote in the election, through absentee ballots or showing up at the polls on Election Day. That would equate to 56.5 percent of the state’s voting-age population and set a new turnout record for a gubernatorial election, surpassing the 52.4 percent mark set in 1962. Turnout for the last two presidential elections, which are held in years without a governor’s race, has been around 70 percent.

Conventional wisdom says the larger physical turnout favors Burke - more voters means more poor, less-educated people who tend to support Democrats, said Mike Wagner, a UW-Madison journalism professor who specializes in politics and elections. But Walker’s lead among likely voters skews things, he said.

“According to the Marquette poll, more Republicans are going to vote than Democrats,” Wagner said. “It’s hard to be confident in who (the turnout numbers) give the edge to. There’s a lot of evidence that goes in both directions.”

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