- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Milwaukee school head’s chief of staff on leave for gesture

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The chief of staff for the Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent is on paid leave after he allegedly made an obscene hand gesture at a recent school board budget meeting.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (https://bit.ly/1dg7eezhttps://bit.ly/1dg7eez ) that a teachers’ union employee took a picture of Erbert Johnson with his middle finger extended. The picture was shared on social media.

Johnson is chief of staff for Superintendent Darienne Driver. A district spokesman says it’s investigating.

The Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association says Johnson apologized immediately after the May 14 meeting.

Johnson has been chief of staff since last July. His annual salary is $138,671.

Johnson does not have a listed phone number and The Associated Press could not reach him for comment Monday night.



Bird flu could cost nearly $1 billion in Minnesota and Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Bird flu could cost nearly $1 billion in the economies of the two states hardest hit, Minnesota and Iowa, agricultural economists said Monday, and the virus is still spreading.

Iowa, the nation’s leading egg producer, has lost about 20 million chickens that lay eggs for food use, more than a third of the total. Minnesota, the top turkey state has lost more than 8 million birds.

So far the U. S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed the bird flu has claimed nearly 37 million birds in 15 states but the number is significantly larger because additional farms in Iowa and Minnesota recently discovered are not yet on the list. The figures include birds killed by the virus as well as those killed to prevent its spread.

On Saturday, Rembrandt Foods announced that chickens at its second farm, an egg facility in Renville, Minnesota, had tested positive for the virus. About 2 million chickens will be euthanized. The company, one of the largest egg producers in the U.S., had to destroy 5.5 million chickens on its Rembrandt, Iowa, farm after the flu turned up there last month.

“Avian Influenza is a challenge to not only the Rembrandt Foods’ business, but also its co-workers, customers, the communities in which it operates, and to the widespread industry as a whole,” Jonathan Spurway, a company spokesman, said in a statement.

Minnesota’s estimated loss of nearly $310 million in poultry production includes sales losses to feed suppliers, trucking companies, and processing plants, said Brigid Tuck, a senior economic impact analyst with the University of Minnesota in Mankato.

The loss in sales of poultry alone is estimated at $114 million. The estimates were based on the bird losses as of last Monday.


Wisconsin Democrats seek probe of Gov. Walker over loan

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin called on federal investigators Monday to launch a probe into Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s job creation agency after a newspaper reported the troubled organization made a loan to one of Walker’s top donors five years ago.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca and Sen. Julie Lassa, who both sit on the Wisconsin Economic Development Association’s board, said at a news conference that they are outraged by the revelations in the Wisconsin State Journal’s story. They said the report begs serious questions about whether the agency and Walker’s administration did an improper political favor for the donor.

“That just raises such suspicion,” Barca said.

Walker, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, serves as WEDC’s chairman. He told The Associated Press on Monday while in New Orleans to speak at a meeting of a powerful school voucher lobbying group that he played no direct role in the loan and Democrats are on a “partisan witch hunt.”

His state spokeswoman, Laurel Patrick, said in a statement that the Democrats are playing political games. She said Walker never met with the donor, William Minahan, and wasn’t aware of any part of his company’s loan process. Walker also wasn’t aware Minahan had contributed to his campaign, Patrick said.

A spokeswoman for John Vaudreuil, the U.S. attorney in Madison, said she couldn’t confirm or deny whether there was an investigation.

Walker created WEDC as a private-public partnership to replace the state Commerce Department shortly after he began his first term as governor in 2011. State audits have revealed mismanagement and a failure to track past-due loans. The agency also has seen extensive turnover in its leadership ranks.


Black clergy say Madison officer who shot teen should resign

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Black religious leaders in the Madison area are calling for the resignation of a white police officer who fatally shot a biracial teenager in Wisconsin’s capital city.

The Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/1AbYqAAhttps://bit.ly/1AbYqAA ) reports members of the African-American Council of Churches said Monday that they want Officer Matt Kenny to step down. A prosecutor announced last week that Kenny would not be charged in the March shooting death of 19-year-old Tony Robinson.

Bishop Harold Rayford said church council members believe Kenny acted “irrationally and improperly” in shooting Robinson. He said they wouldn’t feel safe if Kenny returned to the streets.

Kenny is on paid leave pending an internal investigation. His attorney has said Kenny wants to return to his job. The police chief has said he fears for the officer’s safety.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsjhttps://www.madison.com/wsj

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