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December 4, 2008

Milwaukee teacher accused of selling drugs

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, 25-year veteran Wauwatosa East High School teacher was arrested at his City of Pewaukee home on suspicion of drug possession, police said Tuesday.
City of Pewaukee police Lt. Jack Kopatich said police suggest the teacher, Roger K. Payne, 47, be charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, maintaining a drug trafficking house and obstructing an officer.
Payne called police Nov. 20 to report a theft of $1,500, naming a 21-year-old man as a suspect in the theft from Payne's condominium on Wild Oats Drive.
When detective questioned the 21-year-old about the missing money, he told police that Payne regularly hosts parties for underage people, including former students, according a police report. He told police that party-goers would smoke marijuana or use mushrooms and cocaine at Payne's residence.
The suspect admitted he entered the condominium, but said he did not steal the money. According to the police report, he did admit to taking a bag containing a quarter-pound of marijuana and a glass jar containing marijuana.
Police searched Payne's condo Nov. 20 and seized $6,400, four bongs, four glass pipes, numerous bags of marijuana, a magazine about marijuana and four pornographic movies that might have underage actors, according to a search warrant affidavit returned in Waukesha County Circuit Court.
When asked about the theft, Payne admitted he lied about the stolen money to avoid reporting that the marijuana was taken, the warrant says.
Payne teaches math at Wauwatosa East. The district is working to find a long-term substitute teacher to take over his classes, Wauwatosa School District spokesman Chris Preisler said.

November 20, 2008

Minn. AG proposes mandatory mediation in foreclosures

Attorney General Lori Swanson is proposing legislation that would make lenders negotiate with homeowners before foreclosing on properties, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Swanson outlined the "Homeowner-Lender Mediation Act" at a Capital news conference.
Swanson says her proposal is modeled on a farmer-lender mediation law enacted during the 1980s farm crisis.
The "Homeowner-Lender Mediation Act" would give homeowners facing foreclosures a limited time for mediation process, which would include adjustment of interest rates and principal and repay periods.
Lenders would be required to come to negotiation processes in good faith, reported the Associated Press.
Swanson, a Democrat, says she hopes to work with Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty on the proposed legislation.
The Pioneer Press reported, the rising number of foreclosures could erode nearly $70 billion in home values for Minnesotan by 2010, Swanson said.
Swanson acknowledged during the news conference that farm loans back in the 1980s were not sold off, sliced and re-packaged as securities, a common practice in recent years with home mortgages. "That process of making securities out of home loans, and selling them to investors around the world has complicated the prospect of trying to renegotiate many distressed mortgages," reported the Pioneer Press.

November 16, 2008

Obama election triggers run on gun sales in Wisconsin

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday that figures on state background checks show handgun purchases in Wisconsin skyrocketed 82% in the days before and after the election of Barack Obama as president compared with the same 13 days in November last year.
Most of the early November background checks took place after Election Day, a sign that gun owners anticipate new restrictions with Democrats taking control of the federal government.
In the first 13 days of the month, 2,642 background checks were requested. During the same 13 days last November, the number was 1,453, state Justice Department spokesman Bill Cosh said.
Tom Smith of Eagle, Wisconsin said Friday that he purchased two handguns in the days before the election when it became clear Obama would win.
"I bought them because I was afraid they were going to be outlawed," Smith said.
Gun owners also are worried that Obama might push for tax increases on ammunition and gun accessories, what they described as a "back-door way" to bring about gun control.
"I went out and stocked up on ammo. I bought 20 cases of rifle ammunition," Kyle Troeger of Muskego, Wisconsin said.
Sean Eaton, owner of Fletcher Arms in Waukesha, Wisconsin, said he is experiencing a 30 percent to 40 percent increase in handgun sales. The rush started in the days before the election and it has not slowed down, he said.
Whether Obama will pass restrictions on issues such as gun control is unclear since discussions on the economy and national security dominated the campaign.
Obama's Web site says: "The Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns."

October 31, 2008

Milwaukee native killed in the Virgin Islands

A Milwaukee native was killed in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands in an apparent robbery, reported TMJ4 News Thursday.
Gabe Lerner, 27, disappeared the day after he passed the bar exam. Lerner grew up in Milwaukee, but was living in St. Thomas as a law clerk.
Virgin Islands police said that Gabe stopped to give a ride to two men. They kidnapped, robbed and murdered him.
"He was on his way to a church service, and he stopped on the road to help some people, and so Gabe died loving and helping people,? Gabe’s stepmother Chris Lerner said.
Lerner graduated for Shorewood High School, attended law school at Georgetown University, and landed what his family called a "dream job in paradise."
Gabe had a passion for music, the Baha'i Faith and his new life in the Virgin Islands.
"He loved it there. He, it seemed like he really connected with it,? Gabe’s sister Geneva Lerner said.
Gabe's family plans to bury him in St. Thomas.
Investigators in the Virgin Islands say the two suspects were caught after a police chase and they're being held on charges of robbery, kidnapping and murder.

October 25, 2008

Milwaukee area family charges with being part of marijuana ring

According to federal court records, a Milwaukee area man employed his parents to help him sell a ton of high-grade marijuana and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug proceeds on gems from Brazil, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Friday.
William N. Johnson, 24, of Fox Point has two prior felony marijuana convictions and directed the operation in recent weeks while out of jail on work release, according to the criminal complaint.
Johnson, his parents Rolfe K. Johnson, 56, and Vicki Johnson, 56, along with Eliot Schmader, 25 of Glendale and Timothy Urbashich, 22, of Delafield are all charged with conspiracy to sell more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana, according to documents relased Friday.
All were arrested this week, and all have been released on bond, except William Johnson.
Rolfe Johnson said Friday, "The charges are false, and we intend to fight them."
The complaint alleges that William Johnson was convicted of dealing marijuana in Waukesha in 2006 and received a 90-day jail sentence. He was convicted of marijuana possession in RAcine earlier this year and sentenced to 75 days in a work-release jail in Milwaukee.
He sold 100 to 200 pounds of marijuana a month at $3,400 a pound and had grown operations in Mequon and Glendale and purchased marijuana in other states, Proceeds were stored at his mother's Fox Point home.
Rolfe Johnson worked at his son's main courier and went to Akron, Ohio, about twice a month to pick up loads of marijuana from Canada.
William split the marijuana equally among Schmader, Urbashich and his father.
William Johnson told an associate he wanted to start dealing cocaine and open a gem-selling business, and hid about $500,000 worth of gems at his mother's house.
He is on probation until next year on the earlier marijuana conviction.

October 19, 2008

Wisconsin No. 1 in binge drinking

In the first of a five part report, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wisconsin as the leading state in binge drinking, percentage of drinkers in the population and driving under the influence, according to national studies.
Wisconsin's No. 1 ranks on binge drinking and percentage of drinkers in the population are based on data collected under the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Statistics on driving under the influence came from 2004-'06 surveys by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of 127,000 drivers.
Wisconsin has ranked first in binge drinking every year since at least 1995. The CDC officially considers five drinks per occasion to be a binge.
The Journal Sentinel also reported that Wisconsin has three times more taverns than the rest of the country.
According to interviews with sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, historians and residents, factors contributing to these statistics are climate, ethnicity, the historical importance of the brewing industry and the social nature of drinking.
43% of Wisconsinites claim ancestry from Germany — second only to North Dakota, a state that virtually mirrors the drinking patterns of Wisconsin.
Chris Geldon, 27, of South Milwaukee said, “It’s almost like there’s a drinking expectation, that we embrace it, that we can have a good time and it’s part of our culture.?
"The federal government estimates that alcohol claims some 1,250 Wisconsin lives a year — about 2.7% of all deaths statewide. That’s nearly twice the number that die from prostate cancer. Drinking is blamed for scores of deaths from suicides and homicides, and hundreds from falls, strokes and liver disease." (The Journal Sentinel)

October 12, 2008

Hate group protests at a Milwaukee area high school

Protestors from a Kansas religious group demonstrated outside a Milwaukee area high school Friday, reported WTMJ 4.
The protest ended peacefully as there was heavy police presence at the demonstration.
Members of the Westboro Church came from Kansas to protest Hamilton High School's Gay Straight Alliance Club. The religious group is known for holding protests in opposition of gay and abortion rights.
The protestors were outnumbered by a counter protest made up of students and parents who drove the religious group away.
Tenetta Hines, a parent, participated in the counter protest. "I am here to support and protect the children. Not just my daughter but the school and the children of the school," Hines said.
School officials said that about two dozen students stayed home Friday. School officials encouraged police presence as a safety precaution to keep the situation under control.
According to a posting on the Westboro Church Web site, the group is planning another protest outside of a Milwaukee area theater where a production of the Laramie Project, a play based on the murder of a gay student, is being performed.

October 5, 2008

UW band suspended indefinitely

The University of Wisconsin marching band has been suspended indefinitely due to allegations of hazing, alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct, reported The Associated Press Saturday.
The band won't play Saturday during a nationally televised football game against Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
The university announced the 300 member band's suspension at a news conference Friday night, saying that the behavior is consistent with conduct that put the band on probation in 2006.
Mike Leckrone, band director since 1969, said that it was the first time in his tenure that the entire band has been suspended and not allowed to play at a game.
No details were released regarding the behavior, but Leckrone said it involved only a small number of band members.
This is the latest in a series of high profile problems for the band.
In 2000 the university established a written code of conduct for the band. Then, in February 2007 the marching band's assistant director resigned after an internal report criticized his treatment of a female colleague during a band trip to Michigan in 2006, also leading to the band's probation.
The band will practice again starting Tuesday and will not perform again until the investigation is done, Leckrone said.

September 28, 2008

Milwaukee Brewers first time in playoffs since 1982

The Brewers defeated the Chicago Cubs 3-1 Sunday, winning the NL wild card, reported the Associated Press.
CC Sabathia pitched a four-hitter and Ryan Braun hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning to beat the Cubs.
Less than a half-hour after the Brewers' win, the New York Mets lost to the Florida Mariners, allowing Miwaukee to win the NL wild card. Milwaukee (90-72) and New York (89-73) had gone into the final day of the regular season tied.
The Brewers will face Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. This will be the Brewers' first time in the playoffs since 1982.
Last year, the Brewers lost a big lead in the NL Central and were facing another loss this year after going 3-11 late in the season, leading to the firing of Ned Yost with two weeks left in the season.
After clinching the wild card, streamers and confetti fell from the rafters of Miller Park stadium and fireworks went off in the outfield.
Breweres principal owner Mark Attanasio said in a television interview, "I tried to visualize what this would be, and nothing could describe it."

September 21, 2008

Doyle wants "complete evaluation" of how MPS is run

Gov. Jim Doyle asked Friday for a "complete evaluation of exactly where MPS is" before the state government makes any changes of how the Milwaukee Public School system is run.
Thursday night Milwaukee School Board members voted 6-3 in favor of exploring the dissolving of the financially struggling Milwaukee Public schools.
Doyle told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “I take this vote very seriously by the board and, if they are moving in this direction at all, it can only be done through state law. I think we need — everybody needs — to have a good clear understanding of where exactly the Milwaukee schools are.?
Doyle said he wants to make sure MPS is making good use of the money that it has. Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said that they also want to assure parents and the community that MPS will continue to operate throughout any changes with the goal of creating a stronger school system.
According to Doyle, state funds pays for about three-quarters of MPS operations and did well in the most recent state budget.

September 14, 2008

Student accused of bar stabbing

Early Saturday morning, police took a 20-year-old Marquette University student into custody after allegedly stabbing two women in a downtown Milwaukee bar, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The victims, also 20, were taken to a hospital with various wounds, but were later released.
The stabbing took place at Sullivan’s Tavern at 1227 N. Water St., which will be cited on suspicion of serving minors, according to police Capt. Michael D. Young. The tavern is under investigation as it is up for license renewal by the city Sept. 22. All three women and a witness were cited for underage drinking, as well.
According to police, the women involved appeared to have known each other and were at Sullivan's about 1 a.m. when one of the women bumped into the suspect. An argument began, and the suspect left and returned with a knife, stabbing the other two women.