- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015
Man charged in fatal stabbing on St. Croix is back in jail

BALSAM LAKE, Wis. (AP) - A Minnesota man charged with fatally stabbing a Wisconsin fisherman is back in jail after allegedly tweeting about the victim.

Charges filed in Polk County say 19-year-old Levi Acre-Kendall tweeted on May 7 that if anyone is praying for him, they should also keep the victim’s family in mind.

Acre-Kendall is charged with reckless homicide in the death of 34-year-old Peter Kelly of St. Croix Falls. Authorities say he stabbed Kelly on April 14 after an argument along the St. Croix River.

The Star Tribune reports (https://strib.mn/1QQpERehttps://strib.mn/1QQpERe ) Acre-Kendall was free on bond when he sent the tweet and wasn’t supposed to have contact with friends who witnessed the stabbing. The charges say Acre-Kendall’s tweet was seen by both men.

Acre-Kendall’s attorney has said his client acted in self-defense.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.comhttps://www.startribune.com

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Walker wants lawmakers to reform economic development agency

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker called on legislators Friday to reform his economic development agency in the wake of another scathing audit that found the organization hasn’t followed state law or tracked job creation.

Walker’s office announced he wants to lawmakers to restructure the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s operations to limit the state’s risk and maximize the agency’s strengths. Walker spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster wrote in the announcement that the governor wants to phase out direct loans to businesses and put those dollars instead toward tax incentives. The incentives would be earned as companies achieve clear goals.

The governor also wants to use $55 million he set aside in his state budget proposal for regional loans for worker training instead, Webster wrote.

“After reviewing the LAB’s recent audit over the last week, we feel it is vital to move forward with meaningful WEDC reforms to help maintain the focus of the organization,” Webster wrote. “It is clear that changes are needed to focus on priorities and maximize the effectiveness of the agency.”

The announcement comes as the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee prepares to revise portions of Walker’s budget dealing with WEDC on Thursday. Spokespeople for the committee’s co-chairs, Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Walker, an all-but-certain Republican candidate for president in 2016, created WEDC as a public-private partnership to replace the state Commerce Department shortly after he began his first term as governor in 2011. He still serves as chairman of its board.

But the agency has been beset with problems since the beginning, including not tracking past-due loans, leadership turnover and highly critical audits revealing mismanagement. Minority Democrats have heaped criticism on the agency at every turn.

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Downtown Milwaukee post office for sale, $12.8 million

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A commercial real estate company says the owners of the downtown Milwaukee post office building are selling it for $12.8 million.

The U.S. Postal Service leases the 1 million square-foot property. DTZ Barry says the Postal Service has been housed at the downtown building since 1970.

DTZ Barry spokesman Kurt Van Dyke says it’s a significant property in terms of future redevelopment potential. The building sits on 9 acres along the Menomonee River.

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Judge allows Roggensack to serve as chief justice for now

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - There is no harm in replacing Shirley Abrahamson as chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, at least while her lawsuit over her removal is pending, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson rejected Abrahamson’s request that he temporarily block her colleagues on the court from voting to replace her as chief justice, a position she’s held since 1996. The four-justice conservative majority on the court voted last month to replace Abrahamson with Justice Patience Roggensack.

“I really don’t see any irreparable harm befalling the court system if Justice Roggensack serves as chief justice while I decide this case,” Peterson said following a two-hour hearing. None of the justices were present for the arguments on Abrahamson’s request for a preliminary injunction.

Her attorney, Bob Peck, said after the hearing that he would have to discuss with Abrahamson, a Supreme Court justice since 1976, whether to appeal the judge’s decision. Peterson said he planned to act quickly on deciding the merits of the case, perhaps issuing a ruling this summer based on legal filings only that are all due by July 1.

Voters amended the state constitution last month to allow the seven justices to elect their chief rather than automatically giving the title to the longest-serving justice. Abrahamson sued the day after the election, on April 8, arguing that she couldn’t be removed as chief justice prior to her term as justice ending in 2019.

Four justices - Roggensack, Michael Gableman, Annette Ziegler and David Prosser - voted hours after the election results were certified on April 29 to replace Abrahamson with Roggensack. Roggensack has been acting as chief justice since then, meeting with court staff and officials, all the while Abrahamson contends she is still in charge.

Peterson said he hasn’t seen any evidence of Roggensack consolidating power or abusing her role as chief justice, which includes overseeing administration of the entire state court system. Peterson encouraged Roggensack and the other justices to “move transitionally and not radically.”

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