- Associated Press - Sunday, May 17, 2015
Lawmakers set to deal with growing female prison population

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Legislature’s finance committee is set to decide this week how to handle the state’s growing number of women prisoners after forecasts show the population likely will grow faster than Gov. Scott Walker anticipated in his budget proposal.

The women’s population dropped from 2008 to 2012, falling from a daily average of 1,339 to 1,170. The decline pushed the state Department of Corrections to convert a women’s prison in Waupun to a men’s facility in 2011.

But the female inmate population has crept back up to a daily average of 1,317 inmates this past year, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau noted in a report released late Thursday.

Prison populations fluctuate, but the fiscal bureau report did not mention any potential causes. A DOC spokeswoman had no immediate comment when asked if any trends were driving the increase.

Walker’s administration estimated as it was drafting his 2015-17 budget that the population would stand at 1,417 inmates in fiscal year 2016-17. Those estimates were based on population data through July 14.

Based on those figures, the two-year budget calls for spending a little more than $1 million to reopen and staff a wing at the women’s prison in Taycheedah that closed in 2002. The wing would house 60 inmates.

Even with the wing open, however, the state would still have to find room for 20 more inmates in 2015-16 and 79 more inmates in 2016-17, according to the fiscal bureau. The budget offers no solutions. Corrections officials say they’ll manage the overflow.


Madison officer cleared in fatal shooting wants to return

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny wants to return to his job, but the police chief fears for Kenny’s safety.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced Tuesday Kenny won’t face criminal charges in the March shooting death of 19-year-old Tony Robinson. It has sparked passionate protests and intense public scrutiny.

Kenny remains on paid leave, pending an internal investigation to see if he violated department policies. It hasn’t been completed but its results are expected soon.

Kenny’s attorney, Jim Palmer, tells the Wisconsin State Journal that Kenny’s desire to return is rooted in a dedication to service, pointing to the 12-year department veteran’s prior time in the U.S. Coast Guard and as a lifeguard.

Chief Mike Koval tells WKOW-TV he’s looking at alternatives for Kenny returning to a patrol role.


Investigation: Walker aides pressed for $500K business loan

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker’s top aides pressed for a taxpayer-funded $500,000 loan to a now-defunct Milwaukee construction company that was collapsing and created no jobs, according to a newspaper investigation.

Walker’s economic development agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, awarded an unsecured loan to Building Committee Inc., owned by William Minahan, according to records the Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/1KYa7erhttps://bit.ly/1KYa7er ) obtained through an open records request.

The 2011 loan was for a proposed project to retrofit bank and credit union buildings for energy efficiency. The WEDC sued BCI last year in an attempt to get the money back.

It is among several WEDC loans recently questioned by state auditors in a report that led Walker on Friday to ask lawmakers to scrap the loan program.

Paul Jadin, the former head of WEDC, said Minahan and then-Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch pushed for a $4.3 million loan, but the agency couldn’t justify more $500,000 - which Jadin said he considered “fairly risky.”

Minahan had given Walker’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign a last-minute $10,000 donation on Election Day - the maximum individual contribution.

Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said the likely 2016 presidential candidate wasn’t aware of the donation. Patrick also said Friday that the governor, who chairs the WEDC board, “has not met with Mr. Minahan, nor was he involved in or aware of any part of the loan process concerning The Building Committee Inc.”


Stained-glass windows to be returned to Milwaukee church

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A historic Milwaukee church will soon get stained-glass windows from the 1800s returned to them.

Greg Mistele tells WISN-TV (https://bit.ly/1Hm0nd8https://bit.ly/1Hm0nd8 ) his wife Joyce was an artist who had donated her talents to the windows’ restoration in the 1960s. But health problems related to the lead in the windows kept her from finishing them and she died in 2012.

Mistele rediscovered them recently as he was preparing to sell his house.

He says the windows belong to St. Stanislaus Church, where they were removed during a remodeling project in 1966.

The church happens to be undergoing another renovation project. So New Berlin stained-glass company, Conrad Schmitt Studios, is finishing the job.

The church plans to honor Joyce Mistele with a special Mass when the restoration is done in 2016.


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