- Associated Press - Monday, September 1, 2014
5 things to know about Obama’s visit to Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (AP) - President Barack Obama will speak to union members and others Monday in Milwaukee. Here are five things to know about his visit:

1. IT’S A PARTY: The president is speaking at about 2 p.m. at LaborFest, a festival complete with musical acts, a classic car show, bingo and lots of fried food. The festival runs from noon to 5 p.m. and is preceded by an 11 a.m. parade in downtown Milwaukee. LaborFest is held on 75-acre festival grounds along the shore of Lake Michigan.

2. REWIND AND REPEAT: Monday marks Obama’s second appearance at LaborFest. He spoke there in 2010, months before Republican Gov. Scott Walker set off fervent protests with his proposal to eliminate most public employees’ union rights. Anger over Walker’s signature legislation lingers in heavily Democratic Milwaukee.

3. THE PRESIDENT’S POPULARITY HAS WANED: Obama won Wisconsin in 2008 and 2012, but his popularity is declining. A Marquette Law School poll released Wednesday put his approval rating at 49 percent statewide. An earlier law school poll found the president’s approval rating was much higher in Milwaukee than statewide - 71 percent to 47 percent in July 2013.

4. UNION MEMBERSHIP IS FALLING TOO: About 15 percent of private and public sector workers in Wisconsin were represented by unions during Obama’s last visit in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2013, union membership was about 13 percent as Walker’s union law took effect and public employees dropped out. The national average is 12.4 percent.

5. WALKER WILL GREET HIM, BURKE WON’T SHARE STAGE: The governor changed plans with his family so he could greet Obama at General Mitchell International Airport. The two also met there in January, discussing a propane shortage before Obama left to give a speech in Waukesha and Walker returned to Madison. Walker’s Democratic challenger Mary Burke is meeting privately with Obama, but won’t share the stage.


In Milwaukee, Obama speaks of economic opportunity

MILWAUKEE (AP) - President Barack Obama was back in Milwaukee for Labor Day, where he spoke of economic opportunity at LaborFest 2014.

Obama touched on topics of equal pay for women and a higher minimum wage. He says, “I’m not asking for the moon, I just want a good deal for American workers.”

Obama arrived at the airport Monday at 1 p.m. He was greeted by Gov. Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and others.

Obama recalled visiting LaborFest as a candidate in 2008. He also remembered visiting Wisconsin Dells with his wife and two daughters.

In a 30-minute speech, Obama urged the crowd of about 6,000 not to grow frustrated with Republican obstructionism in Congress. He counseled them to be persistent, saying that’s the same strategy he used to get Michelle to marry him.


Wisconsin governor skirts touchy casino decision

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker portrays himself as a man of action, willing to take on tough political fights. It’s a huge theme in his re-election campaign, underscored in his 2013 political memoir, “Unintimidated.”

However, as he enters the homestretch of a closely contested race, Walker has been trying to stay clear of a touchy issue for voters in densely populated southeastern Wisconsin.

Will he approve the Menominee Nation’s plans for a massive casino here? Saying yes could open the door for thousands of jobs for the region. It also could cost the state tens of millions of dollars.

Walker has delayed a decision until well after the November election. He hasn’t offered any hints about which way he’s leaning, drawing criticism from Democrats and some residents who say it’s time for the governor to reveal his intentions.

Emily Alderin, 30, who lives in a subdivision across from the potential casino, said she wants to know where Walker stands before she goes to the polls. She said the casino would bring jobs, but she’s worried about traffic and unseemly activity in her neighborhood.

“It’s like the big elephant in the room,” she said. “It’s been thought about and people are considering it, but nobody’s talking about it.”

The Menominee make their home on a remote northeastern Wisconsin reservation. They’ve been looking to open a casino in a shuttered 220-acre dog track in Kenosha, a city on the Wisconsin-Illinois border within easy driving distance of many thousands of Chicago-area gamblers. The federal government granted its permission a year ago, leaving the governor with the final decision.


Minnesota student remains in coma after long fall

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A Minnesota State University student remains in a coma in Milwaukee, weeks after he fell from a parking ramp after a night of drinking.

A Mankato Free Press report (https://bit.ly/1B9buTvhttps://bit.ly/1B9buTv ) says heartbroken family and friends are still trying to piece together the circumstances of that night.

Giovanni Quiroz of North Mankato, Minnesota, was drinking in Milwaukee on Aug. 16. He became separated from friends and didn’t have his phone to contact them.

His friends waited for 30 minutes and then went to a friend’s place, figuring Quiroz would join them. Instead they learned he’d fallen off a parking ramp about two blocks away.

Friends say an unknown person has since been using Quiroz’s phone to upload video and photos. His family says they just wish they could figure out what happened.

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