- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015
Wisconsin school: Police find no gunman after report

DEFOREST, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin school district says police have found nothing as they search an elementary school where someone reported a man with a gun.

The DeForest Area School District said in a statement that police were continuing precautionary measures Wednesday afternoon at Yahara Elementary, including clearing the building. Dane County sheriff’s spokeswoman Elise Schaffer confirms that no man with a gun was found and the all-clear was given.

DeForest is about 15 miles north of the state capital of Madison. Authorities say they got a 911 call about 3 p.m., and deputies and a SWAT team were dispatched as the school was evacuated.

The evacuation came just a few days after DeForest schools were closed over what officials said were “potential threats.” Two male students were arrested Friday after that report.


Walker job-creation officials promise to do better

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Officials with Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s floundering job-creation agency promised again to do a better job in the wake of another scathing audit and the departure of their second chief officer in just four years.

Tricia Braun, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s deputy secretary and chief operating officer, told the Legislature’s audit committee on Wednesday that the agency has hired an outside consultant and is constantly evaluating its operations. Dan Ariens, chairman of WEDC’s board, said he likens the agency’s issues to problems a typical start-up company experiences.

“I am confident we are poised to become an organization you will be proud to call your economic development engine,” Ariens said.

Walker created the WEDC in 2011 to replace the state Department of Commerce. The agency has been plagued with problems since the start. In 2012 its first chief executive officer, Paul Jadin, quit. State audits in 2013 and 2014 revealed the agency routinely failed to adhere to its own rules or state law when awarding cash to businesses and lacked documentation justifying spending on expenses and grants.

A third audit this May found that the WEDC’s problems continued in fiscal year 2014, noting contracts with grant and loan recipients haven’t complied with state law and the agency hasn’t demanded proof that recipients are creating or retaining jobs. Later that month word broke that Walker aides had pressed for a $500,000 loan to a failing construction company owned by Walker donor William Minahan.

In June, the WEDC released documents showing that the agency gave out more than $124 million to companies without a proper review. Some of that money included the Minahan loan. CEO Reed Hall announced in August he would resign later this month; Walker quickly replaced him with Mark Hogan, a bank executive who contributed to the governor’s campaign.

Hall didn’t attend the hearing - Braun said Hall was attending a small business summit in Eau Claire - but she Ariens and Hannah Renfro, the WEDC’s chief attorney and compliance officer, took turns assuring the audit committee that the agency is turning the corner.


Wisconsin Assembly committee passes fetal tissue ban

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Research on tissue obtained from fetuses aborted after Jan. 1 of this year would be banned under a Republican-backed bill that an Assembly committee approved Wednesday despite the opposition of University of Wisconsin researchers who say it would impede their efforts to find cures for diseases.

The full Assembly could debate the measure later this month, but its prospects remain uncertain in the Senate where Republicans have expressed concern about the effect on research. The Senate and Assembly would have to pass it and Gov. Scott Walker would have to sign it to become law.

“We surely do not want to damage the legitimate research that’s going on,” said Sen. Van Wanggaard, a Republican from Racine. He said he wouldn’t take a position on the measure until he understands how it would affect the university’s work.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has not said whether the bill will come up, and his spokeswoman said Wednesday there was “nothing really new here.”

The bill, which has 10 Republican co-sponsors, would need 17 votes in the Senate to pass.

Republican backers tried to address concerns with an amendment adopted Wednesday by the Assembly’s Criminal Justice Committee that would allow for work to continue on tissue derived from abortions performed before this year. It would be a felony to sell, donate or experiment on cells, tissues or organs obtained from fetuses aborted after Jan. 1.

But even that ran into Republican opposition. Republican Reps. John Spiros, of Marshfield, and Todd Novak, of Dodgeville, joined with Democrats in voting against the amendment. The committee ultimately voted 7-4 to advance the bill to the full Assembly, with Novak joining three Democrats in voting against it.


Milwaukee leaders announce arena land sale to Bucks for $1

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Milwaukee leaders plan to announce that a chunk of downtown land has been sold to the city’s NBA team for $1 as part of the drive to build the Bucks a new arena complex.

County Executive Chris Abele said in a statement Wednesday that the sale will transform a vacant space into a development that will create thousands of jobs and generate millions in revenue.

The land was appraised at $8.8 million, but Abele’s office says that doesn’t factor in $8.3 million worth of needed demolition and infrastructure work.

The announcement comes as city leaders consider whether to approve the final piece of a $500 million funding puzzle including public money.

Opponents say wealthy team owners shouldn’t receive public subsidies, arguing such funds would be better spent on education or police.

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