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WASHINGTON — In a surprise announcement coming nine months after police in riot gear dispelled racially charged protests, President Barack Obama is banning the federal government from providing some military-style equipment to local departments and putting stricter controls on other weapons and gear distributed to law enforcement.

The announcement comes after the White House suggested last year that Obama would maintain programs that provide the type of military-style equipment used to respond to demonstrators last summer in Ferguson, Missouri, because of their broader contribution to public safety. But an interagency group found “substantial risk of misusing or overusing” items like tracked armored vehicles, high-powered firearms and camouflage could undermine trust in police.

With scrutiny on police only increasing in the ensuing months after a series of highly publicized deaths of black suspects nationwide, Obama also is unveiling the final report of a task force he created to help build confidence between police and minority communities in particular. The announcements come as Obama is visiting Camden, New Jersey, one of the country’s most violent and poorest cities.

Obama plans to visit Camden police headquarters before heading to a community center to meet with youth and law enforcement and give a speech. “I’ll highlight steps all cities can take to maintain trust between the brave law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line, and the communities they’re sworn to serve and protect,” Obama said in his weekly address out Saturday.

In previewing the president’s trip, the White House said that effective immediately, the federal government will no longer fund or provide armored vehicles that run on a tracked system instead of wheels, weaponized aircraft or vehicles, firearms or ammunition of .50-caliber or higher, grenade launchers, bayonets or camouflage uniforms. The federal government also is exploring ways to recall prohibited equipment already distributed.

In addition, a longer list of equipment the federal government provides will come under tighter control, including wheeled armored vehicles like Humvees, manned aircraft, drones, specialized firearms, explosives, battering rams and riot batons, helmets and shields. Starting in October, police will have to get approval from their city council, mayor or some other local governing body to obtain it, provide a persuasive explanation of why it is needed and have more training and data collection on the use of the equipment.

The issue of police militarization rose to prominence last year after a white police officer in Ferguson fatally shot unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown, sparking protests. Critics questioned why police in full body armor with armored trucks responded to dispel demonstrators, and Obama seemed to sympathize when ordering a review of the programs that provide the equipment. “There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement and we don’t want those lines blurred,” Obama last in August.

But he did not announce a ban in December with the publication of the review, which showed five federal agencies spent $18 billion on programs that provided equipment including 92,442 small arms, 44,275 night-vision devices, 5,235 Humvees, 617 mine-resistant vehicles and 616 aircraft. At the time, the White House defended the programs as proving to be useful in many cases, such as the response to the Boston Marathon bombing. Instead of repealing the programs, Obama issued an executive order that required federal agencies that run the programs to consult with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations to recommend changes that make sure they are accountable and transparent.

That working group said in a report out Monday that it developed the list of newly banned equipment because “the substantial risk of misusing or overusing these items, which are seen as militaristic in nature, could significantly undermine community trust and may encourage tactics and behaviors that are inconsistent with the premise of civilian law enforcement.” The Justice Department did not respond to an inquiry about how many pieces of equipment that are now banned had been previously distributed through federal programs.

The separate report from the 21st Century Policing task force has a long list of recommendations to improve trust in police, including encouraging more transparency about interactions with the public. The White House said 21 police agencies nationwide, including Camden and nearby Philadelphia, have agreed to start putting out never-before released data on citizen interactions like use of force, stops, citations and officer-involved shootings. The administration also is launching an online toolkit to encourage the use of body cameras to record police interactions. And the Justice Department is giving $163 million in grants to incentivize police departments to adopt the report’s recommendations.

Ron Davis, director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the Department of Justice, told reporters he hoped the report could be a “key transformational document” in rebuilding trust that has been destroyed in recent years between police and minority communities.

“We are without a doubt sitting at a defining moment for American policing,” said Davis, a 30-year police veteran and former chief of the East Palo Alto (California) Police Department. “We have a unique opportunity to redefine policing in our democracy, to ensure that public safety becomes more than the absence of crime, that it must also include the presence of justice.


MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker’s top aides pressed for a taxpayer-funded $500,000loan 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 anunsecured loan to Building Committee Inc., owned by William Minahan, according to records the Wisconsin State Journal ( ) obtained through an open records request.

The 2011loan 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 WEDCloans 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 millionloan, 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 theloan process concerning The Building Committee Inc.”

Documents show that in June 2011, lobbyist Eric Petersen, who represented BCI and Minahan, and Keith Gilkes, the governor’s chief of staff at the time, met with Minahan and Huebsch — a member of the WEDC board by virtue of his position — to discuss theloan.

Huebsch, who has since been appointed to a $129,000-a-year job at the Public Service Commission, released a statement through Department of Administration spokesman Cullen Werwie: “As the Secretary of DOA, I often worked to connect small businesses with resources that could lead to job creation.”

The newspaper also found that WEDC awarded theunsecured loan only after Huebsch and other agency officials were unable to find funding from state or federal energy programs or the utility-funded Focus on Energy program, according to a May 2011 memo.

WEDC also was unable to locate the original underwriting documents justifying the $500,000 loan to BCI, according to the newspaper. Huebsch’s agency had offered to conduct a “staff review” of the proposed loan, but state officials said that never happened. On his 2011 WEDCloan application, Minahan checked “no” when asked if BCI or any of its officers had been sued in the previous five years, although electronic court records show three lawsuits.

Minahan listed La Crosse-based Michaels Energy and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as partners in the proposed project. But officials for both organizations said they never received proceeds from the state loan and did little or no work on the project.


SAN FRANCISCO — Andrew Jackson has a female rival for his spot on the twenty dollar bill.

Women on 20s, a group that has been campaigning to replace Jackson with a woman has chosen Harriet Tubman, the 19th century abolitionist who escaped slavery and led other slaves to freedom via the ‘Underground Railroad.’

The group tallied more than 600,000 online votes over the last few months, narrowing a long list to 4 finalists: Tubman, the late first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, whose act of defiance sparked the Montgomery bus boycotts of the 60s, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee nation. Tubman was announced the winner Tuesday.

Women on 20s now plans to petition the White House. Their goal is to have a new twenty dollar bill in circulation by the year 2020 — the 100th anniversary of a woman’s right to vote.

“Our paper bills are like pocket monuments to great figures in our history,” said Executive Director Susan Ades Stone in a statement e-mailed to the Washington Post. “Our work won’t be done until we’re holding a Harriet $20 bill in our hands in time for the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020.”

As for whether the White House will be on board, U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios told Fortune Magazine last April, “We’re engaging in a collaborative process to move the discussion forward.” She said Treasury Secretary Jack Lewis oversees currency design.

A bill was introduced to the Senate that same month to create a panel of citizens to address the issue of a putting a woman on American currency.

The U.S. lags far behind other countries. Britain, the Philippines, India, Argentina, Turkey, Mexico, and several other countries already have women on their paper currency.


Milwaukee  – News reports confirm that Milwaukee criminal cases could be compromised due to a “catastrophic” malfunction in January of a contracted video system used for capturing interviews and confessions of suspects, reports Watchdog news service.

Alderman Joe Davis, a member of the city’s Public Safety Committee, said he had not heard about the problem until Wisconsin Watchdog brought it to his attention.

“If in fact this is true, clearly it is malfeasance in office. No one came to us to tell us about this issue,” said Davis, who is a candidate for Milwaukee mayor. “This puts the city of Milwaukee in an incredibly liable position … It’s not only a fiscal issue but an administrative issue that reeks of incompetence.”

Alderman Bob Donovan wrote on his Facebook page: “First we had his lies about The Milwaukee Streetcar, now the Mayor is proving to be a liar again regarding what he knew and when he knew it regarding a critical situation with Milwaukee Police Department’s videotaped statement/confessions system which crashed in January, resulting in hundreds if not thousands of criminal cases possibly being compromised.”

No one seems to know when the problem was initially detected however, Watchdog reports that the Milwaukee Police Department’s videotaping system malfunctioned in January. The department has been unable to recover hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews with suspects because of the malfunction.

Because of the malfunction Sources tell Wisconsin Watchdog that “Milwaukee County assistant district attorneys have been filing motions to put off trials because they don’t have the interrogation tapes.”

At least 19 states mandate the recording of interrogations for certain crimes, including Wisconsin, which mandates recordings of interviews with felony suspects.

Mayor Barrett told WITI-TV FOX 6 News that he first learned of the matter “in the last few days”.

However, Alderman Donovan said “that is a boldface LIE”.

Donovan states that while the Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee District Attorney’s office, judges, lawyers and defendants all knew going back to at least January about the data loss, how is it that the mayor found out a few days ago?

State Representative Joel Kleefisch and State Senator Van Wanggaard announced Tuesday a joint hearing will be pursued on the matter.

An email from Rep. Joel Kleefisch said:

As Chairs of the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee respectively, Senator Van Wanggaard and I will be holding a joint hearing with invited speakers Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, and Milwaukee Police Association President Michael Crivello.  The objective of this hearing is to understand the breadth and effect of the missing evidence on pending criminal cases.  This hearing is preliminarily scheduled for Wednesday May 20.

The leadership of both houses supports the proposed hearing.


CORRECTION: The photos on this weeks top front page article were incorrectly identified. Jason Rae, candidate for chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is NOT pictured. Pictured currently are: Left: Jason Rae, candidate for chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Middle: Thad Nation, founder and senior partner at Nation Consulting. Right: Sachin Chheda is partner at Nation Consulting of Wisconsin











By Robert Miranda, Editor, Wisconsin Spanish Journal and Chris Johnson, Editor/Publisher,

Tax records for years 2011 and 2012 show that the non-profit groupCoalition for the New Economy, tied to Thad Nation, founder of theNation Consulting company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, provided unrestricted funding to ultra-conservative Tea Party and Koch brothers supported non-profit organizations working on a variety of anti-worker, anti-poor, anti-middle-class and pro-Governor Scott Walker groups.

As first reported by blogger Aaron Camp of The Progressive Midwesterner (this blogger was threatened with multiple law suits recently and forced to make minor changes to the original article) Nation Consulting, founded in 2003 by Thad Nation, listed on the company website as the senior partner went into business to offer services to business, non-profit, and political clients.

Thad Nation is a well known Democratic Party “strategist” and party consultant. He sells his services working for Democratic candidates seeking political office. He is considered one of the most influential behind-the-scenes players in Democratic politics.

But with the revelation about his company, it seems he’s playing both sides.

Also listed as a partner in the company is former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle’s aide Sachin Chheda.

Chheda arrived at Nation Consulting in 2006. He was also Chairman of the Milwaukee County Democratic Party and is considered a key Democratic Party insider at the state and national level. He played a major supportive role to former State Representative Pedro Colon’s election for Milwaukee County Judge.

Chheda was a major backer and defender of Colon after a controversial decision by Colon was made to support Gov. Scott Walker supporter Supreme Court Justice David Prosser to the Wisconsin Supreme Court over JoAnne F. Kloppenburg. Justice David Prosser in turn endorsed Colon’s election.

Listed as well as a senior associate at the company is Jason Rae, currently a candidate for the position of Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), a position being vacated by current chairmanMike Tate.

The bulk of the over $83,000 given to the pro-Tea Party & Koch Brothers groups was doled out in 2012. Tax records show over $69,500 was provided to the following organizations:

National Taxpayers Union – $15,000

Center for Individual Freedom – $5,000

Americans for Prosperity – $5,000

Freedomworks, Inc. – $10,000

Institute for Policy Innovation – $5,000

Taxpayers Protection Alliance – $15,000

60 Plus Association, Inc. – $14,740

In 2011, Nation Consulting handed Freedomworks, Inc., $15,000 in unrestricted funds.

Sachin Chheda and Jason Rae were working at the company during the year 2012, when the bulk of the money given to these organizations was transacted.

Chheda and Rae have many close ties with the Democratic Party and both have worked closely together for a number of years. In fact, both are considered part of the establishment of the Democratic Party. So it is eye opening that two high level Democratic Party insiders are linked to a firm that funds extremist right-wing groups.

While Rae’s position as senior associate at Nation Consulting gives him some cover from knowing how his employer spends his money, Sachin Chheda, who directs Nation Consulting’s political campaign practices and is a partner of the firm, and who also was campaign manager for JusticeLouis Butler’s failed Supreme Court reelection race, would have more insight into the firm’s distribution of money and has to have firsthand knowledge of where the firm’s money was invested in that year.

Rae supporters do not appear dismayed by the revelation of Nation Consulting’s funding of organizations dedicated to destroying the social safety net, public education, worker rights, and the Democratic Party while reelecting Governor Scott Walker.

Still, there are those, mostly Rae’s opponents, who point out that being a top executive for a firm that has provided funding to groups opposed to the Democratic Party should prompt Rae to resign from the firm.

As for Sachin Chheda, being a partner in the firm exposes him to questions demanding from him an explanation as to how he could allow his company to fund organizations opposed to his political campaign practices.

According to sources, this matter is only just starting to draw scrutiny from Democrats around the state.

LOS ANGELES—Hoy, el Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR por sus siglas en inglés) con el apoyo de Prudential Foundation, publicó el informe “Enhancing Latino Retirement Readiness in California”(Cómo Preparar Mejor a los Latinos que se Jubilan en California). El informe reveló que en comparación con otros grupos raciales y étnicos, los latinos de California son los que tienen menos probabilidades de trabajar para un empleador que les ofrezca un plan de jubilación. Además, el mismo informe puso de manifiesto que aun cuando los latinos tengan acceso a un plan en el lugar donde trabajan, la participación y los ahorros que ellos hagan son relativamente bajos.

El informe de NCLR también revela que los latinos conforman la mayor parte de trabajadores que podrían beneficiarse del Programa de Ahorros para la JubilaciónSecure Choice  de California. En California, hay 3.8 millones de latinos que carecen acceso a un plan de jubilación en su lugar de trabajo.

“El cambio que se hiciera en California representaría el futuro de América, puesto que nuestro estado es el lugar ideal para buscar soluciones a la creciente desigualdad económica”, dijo Delia de la Vara, Vicepresidenta de la Región de California de NCLR. “Nuestro estudio revela que California tiene la oportunidad de evitar, a nivel nacional, una crisis inminente relacionada a la jubilación de los latinos y otros trabajadores si se ampliaran sus opciones de ahorro  para la jubilación en el lugar donde ellos trabajan”.

Más de la mitad de todos los estadounidenses que en la actualidad están trabajando, no están preparados para una jubilación financieramente segura, lo que a la larga produciría una crisis de ahorros para su jubilación; hecho que pondría de manifiesto la vulnerabilidad de nuestra nación. El informe de NCLR se suma a la creciente evidencia que demuestra que la crisis que se avecina afectaría desproporcionadamente a los latinos.

California es considerado ampliamente como un estado sobre el cual se presagian cambios demográficos nacionales. Más del 39 por ciento de la población del estado es latina.  Se proyecta que entre 2010 y 2050, los latinos representan la mayor parte del crecimiento de la fuerza laboral estadounidense.

“En Prudential nos comprometemos a ayudar a los latinos y a otras comunidades marginadas para proveerles un plan de jubilación y de seguridad financiera a largo plazo”, dijo Harry Dalessio, Vicepresidente Senior de Ventas y Relaciones Estratégicas de Prudential Retirement. “Al ayudar a que estas comunidades se preparen para la jubilación de sus miembros es algo positivo para todos nosotros, nuestras comunidades, nuestra empresa. De este modo se logrará tener una economía más fuerte y exitosa cuando todo el mundo esté financieramente más seguro”.

“La educación financiera y la capacitación deben ir de la mano con los planes de jubilación del lugar de trabajo”, dijo Maggie Cervantes, Directora Ejecutiva de NEW Economics for Women, una corporación de desarrollo comunitario sin fines de lucro. que forma parte de los afiliados de NCLR en Los Ángeles. “Es de vital importancia que los latinos entiendan la importancia de ahorrar para su jubilación ya que a través de los estudios realizados en este tema revelan que los latinos, especialmente las mujeres latinas, en California viven más que las mujeres de cualquier otro grupo étnico”.

En 2012 se aprobó la ley Secure Choice que proporcionaría la oportunidad de abrir Cuentas de Retiro Individual (Individual Retiremente Accounts o IRAs, por sus siglas en inglés) a los trabajadores cuyos empleadores no ofrezcan un plan de jubilación. Aunque actualmente el programa se halla en la fase de diseño, el programa incluye una serie de características importantes que podrían ampliar las oportunidades de ahorros para la jubilación, incluyendo la inscripción automática para jubilarse dentro de los planes del lugar de trabajo y la capacidad de mantener una cuenta bancaria aunque el trabajador cambie de trabajo.

“Aunque no existe una sola respuesta a nuestros desafíos para establecer ahorros para la jubilación, Secure Choice podría servir como modelo para el resto de la nación sobre cómo se puede ampliar el acceso y la participación de los trabajadores en los planes del lugar de trabajo”, concluyó de Delia de la Vara. “El éxito de Secure Choice dependerá de cuán exitoso es convertir a los trabajadores latinos en ahorradores”.

Además de examinar las barreras que impiden  que los trabajadores ahorren, como también lo que Secure Choice les ofrece, en el informe se detallan recomendaciones adicionales para ayudar a los latinos de todo el país a prepararse mejor para su jubilación. Entre esas recomendaciones se incluye el establecimiento de un crédito impositivo estatal para los ahorradores de bajos ingresos, aumento del salario mínimo de acuerdo al aumento del costo de vida, y el apoyo a las organizaciones comunitarias sin fines de lucro que proveen capacitación financiera para ayudar a que las familias marginadas tengan objetivos y establezcan cuentas de ahorro y créditos.

“Prudential se enorgullece de asociarse con NCLR en esta investigación y crear conciencia sobre la crisis de la jubilación entre los latinos en California y otros estados”, dijo Lata Reddy, vicepresidenta de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa de Prudential Financial, y presidenta de Prudential Foundation. “Esperamos que este informe ayude a identificar las barreras que existen para que los trabajadores de la comunidad latina y otras comunidades marginadas ahorren para su jubilación”.

Madison – Efforts are on the way to prevent Wisconsinites receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from being able to use them to purchase lobster or shrimp, and SNAP recipients may be subject to drug testing and forced substance abuse rehabilitation programs, under two bills introduced in the GOP-majority state assembly.

The state Department of Health Services published a 16-page brochure detailing what people can and cannot buy with their food stamps.

Those restrictions are included in the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) food supplement program, and apply to Wisconsin’s FoodShare program under the state Republicans’ proposed law.

The regulations are specific: recipients can purchase most fruits and vegetables, but not potatoes. They can buy cans of mature beans only, and can’t choose anything immature or dried and sold in bulk. They can only purchase juice that is bottled in 48 or 64-ounce plastic containers and is not refrigerated. Recipients can’t buy white or any kind of organic rice. They can’t buy canned soup or spaghetti sauce.

AB 177, which received its first committee hearing last week, would ban people from using SNAP benefits to buy all shellfish such as lobster.

Food pantry groups like Hunger Task Force say the proposal would create “a ‘grocery nanny system’ restricting the freedom of food choice for families, regardless of health or cultural needs.”

A second bill would force certain food stamp recipients who test positive for drug use to undergo treatment or be denied benefits.

AB 191 would build on a Wisconsin law,passed in 2013 by GOP Gov. Scott Walker and state Republicans, that allows the state to require able-bodied adults to participate in job training programs in order to qualify for food stamps. This bill is moving through the legislature this session.

Milwaukee Two Bucks License Revoked

Milwaukee – An East Side bar is being boycotted amidst charges of racism. A Facebook page was created over the weekend calling for a boycott of the bar known as Two Bucks, located at 2321 North Murray Ave.

Since posting the call to boycott Two Bucks over 2,400 Facebook members have signed on after some patrons claimed they were targeted to leave the bar because of their race on Friday night.

The incident at Two Bucks sparked a walk out employees from their jobs in support of the boycott effort.

At the center of the controversy is the establishment’s owner, Lynn Forthaus accused by patrons and former Two Bucks employees of making racist remarks and forcing Black patrons to leave the establishment.

According to the Boycott Two Bucks Milwaukee Facebook page, Lynn Forthaus made racist remarks about black customers before demanding that they leave the establishment.

The Boycott Two Bucks Milwaukee Facebook page states that a group of emotional patrons were upset after being forced out of the bar at 12:20am, complaining that the owner was saying racist remarks inside the bar. In addition, the page states patrons were told to leave because of their race.

Some employees quit because of the situation, according to the Boycott Two Bucks Milwaukee Facebook page.

A Facebook message was posted by the owner, Lynn Forthaus before it was deleted that read, among other things: “…I kicked people out because I thought they were misbehaving. I was wrong. I am not a hater or a racist…”

Another statement was posted on the Two Bucks Milwaukee’s Facebook page that reads:

“There was a [sic] unfortunate incident at Two Bucks late Friday, May 1.

I apologize that this occurred — it does not reflect the views of the company, owners or employees of Two Bucks.

We embrace diversity and have already taken steps so this will never happen again.”

Boycott Two Bucks flyers have been posted on the windows of Two Bucks and all around the East Side.

On Wednesday, May 6, 2015, Two Bucks of America announced that the license issued to Two Bucks Milwaukee was being revoked by the corporate office.

The following statement was released

by Eric Nugent, Chief Operating Officer Two Bucks of America:

“Milwaukee, your voices have been heard!

After interviewing employees, customers, and community activists, we have decided to revoke the franchise license of Forever Young Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Two Bucks Milwaukee.

Forever Young Enterprises will have 24 hours to cover or remove all trademarked signage and materials in and around their premises. Moving forward, we will be speaking to the landlord and local alderman to determine the most appropriate course of action.

We would like to thank the beautifully-diverse city of Milwaukee for your patience as we worked through the guidelines of our franchise agreement. We are a small family of entrepreneurs-with-a-dream and it breaks our hearts to close a Two Bucks location. However, The Two Bucks of America was built on a foundation of ethics, values, and integrity. As such, we do everything we can to tenaciously build from that foundation in the pursuit of a safe, satisfying environment for customers and employees.

From Buckers near and far, we are grateful for your support!”

Authorities Arrest Dozens in Alleged Drug Operation

Kenosha – Authorities have announced charges against dozens of people in an alleged drug-dealing operation in southeastern Wisconsin.

Forty-four people face state or federal charges after a multi-agency investigation into drug dealing in Kenosha and Racine counties.

U.S. Attorney James Santelle said Wednesday that 24 defendants were indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute drugs including heroin, crack cocaine and cocaine.

“I believe and hope that the investigation has severed a large pipeline of heroin coming into the city of Kenosha,” Kenosha Police Chief John Morrissey said.

According to the indictments, some in the group acted as middlemen for other dealers and sold from a bar.

Authorities said many of those arrested are members of the Gangster Disciples gang.

The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office charged an additional 12 suspects with narcotics crimes. Eight others were arrested on outstanding state warrants or narcotics charges.


MANITOWOC – Rep. Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) and State Senator Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) made the following comments today in response to a proposed amendment to the bill raising the maximum speed limit in Wisconsin to 70 mph.

“The Assembly passed the 70 mph hour speed limit bill last month by a wide margin (76-22),” Tittl said. “I am pleased the Senate Transportation Committee is voting on the bill on Thursday.”

“The amended bill is still a win for commuters, and continues to ensure safe roadways,” said LeMahieu. “I am glad this common sense legislation is moving forward.”

“The impetus for raising the speed limit to 70 mph is to make travel safer, and I support the Senate amendment clarifying that the 70 mph limit will not apply to expressway segments where there are at-grade crossings,” continued Tittl. “That change will have little effect on the bill, because the DOT would not have approved the higher speed limit on expressway segments with at-grade crossings anyway.”

Speed limits were often 70 mph on rural highways until the federal government set a maximum speed limit of 55 mph in 1974, largely to conserve fuel during the energy crisis. In 1995, federal regulations were abolished and states returned to setting their own limits. Many states immediately raised limits back to 70 mph or higher, but Wisconsin adopted a 65 mph limit.

Wisconsin is now the only state in the Midwest with a 65 mile per hour maximum speed limit for all roadways. This bill will align the state’s speed limit with that of neighboring states and most of the country.

Traffic safety engineers throughout the country recognize the safest place to set the speed limit is the speed at which 85% of the people are driving at or below. Speeds higher than the 85th percentile speed are less safe. Similarly, speeds below the 85th percentile are less safe as well.

Under the amended bill, the DOT would retain the ability to keep the limit at 65 mph on certain stretches of highway if doing so is in the best interest of safety. The DOT has studied the issue and found that average speeds on many Wisconsin highways are well above 70 mph already.  On several segments of highway, 15% of the drivers are already driving over 75 mph.

Setting speed limits at the proper level can significantly reduce aggressive driving behaviors.  In Michigan changes made to roadways where aggressive driving had occurred reduced the reported incidents of road rage. When the speed limit was raised from 55 mph to 70 mph along a section of Interstate 496 outside of Lansing, which accounted for 40 percent of reported incidents of aggressive driving in that area, incidents of aggressive driving dropped to nearly zero.

People often make the argument that raising the speed limit by 5 mph will result in drivers automatically driving 5 mph faster than they had been. The data does not support that argument.

Drivers do not go faster than their comfort level. When Missouri raised its maximum speed limit in the 1990s, the average speed remained about 71 mph, just where it had been when the maximum speed limit was 65. Iowa had a similar result when it raised its limit in 2005.

Following approval by the senate Transportation Committee on Thursday, the bill will head to the full Senate next week.


Assurant Health to Sell or Shut Down Hundreds of Jobs Impacted

In February of this year, Milwaukee based Assurant Health reported an operating loss of $36.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, contributing to a 54 percent decline in net income for its parent company Assurant Inc.

New York City-based Assurant Inc.

The decline in net income occurred at the same time revenue increased at Assurant Health, however the company sustained increased claims that hurt earnings, Assurant Inc. said.

Assurant Health has struggled to adjust to changes in the health insurance market imposed by the Affordable Care Act. This year the company is expected to report an operating loss of $80 million to $90 million in its first quarter. That comes after it lost $64 million last year.

On the heels of that news, the parent company of Assurant Health said that it will sell or shut down the Milwaukee health insurer. The company employees over 1000 people in the area.

Assurant Health, whose headquarters is in downtown Milwaukee, specializes in health insurance for small employers and individuals.

Assurant Inc., the parent company based in New York, said it is exploring a sale. Absent that, it will not sell health insurance policies in 2016 and will shut down the business.

The announcement leaves the fate of Assurant Health’s 1,700 employees companywide, most of them in the Milwaukee region.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper Announces Campaign to Remove Estabrook Dam
MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Riverkeeper launched a new campaign today on Earth Day to remove the Estabrook Dam. The dam,declared a public nuisance by a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge, could cost Milwaukee County taxpayers more than $5 million to repair and maintain, significantly higher than the $1.7 million projected cost of removing the dam. The dam also increases the risk for dangerous, property-destroying floods upstream of the dam.
“Removing the Estabrook Dam is our once-in-a-generation chance to significantly improve the quality of the Milwaukee River,” said Cheryl Nenn, Milwaukee Riverkeeper. “This is Milwaukee County’s most significant environmental opportunity of the decade, and if repaired rather than removed, we’re stuck with a costly dam for more decades to come. The time is now to do the right thing: remove the Estabrook Dam, save taxpayers money, and improve the health of the Milwaukee River.”
Removal of the Estabrook Dam will provide many positive benefits to Milwaukee County residents. In addition to the savings for Milwaukee County taxpayers, removing the dam will:
· Dramatically improve the quality and health of the Milwaukee River.
· Restore the original, natural flow of the river resulting in reduced pollution, improved water quality and will be the first step to restoring the area around the dam to the natural river bed that was there for hundreds of years prior to the dam’s construction.
· Improve natural habitats in the Estabrook and Lincoln Park areas, which will sustain more wildlife habitats and increase fish populations.
· Decrease the force of currents during severe rainstorms, which will also decrease erosion along the river.
“Removal of the Estabrook Dam is a win-win-win for homeowners, taxpayers, and the environment,” added Cheryl Nenn. “It’s a rare day when our elected leaders can both save money and help the environment at the same time. It’s a rarer day when they say no – we want to spend millions more and do the environmentally irresponsible thing.”
“We are advocating for the fiscally and ecologically responsible option,” Nenn continued. “We encourage Milwaukee County elected officials to seize this opportunity and remove the Estabrook Dam.”

Common Council Defeats Alderman’s Attempt to Restrict Food Trucks
MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Alderman Joseph Dudzik wants to restrict food trucks from doing business in Milwaukee residential neighborhoods.
“Now I’ll be the first to admit, I did offer up the most number of streets, but again, I go back to the fact that I have one of the most residential districts in the entire city,” Alderman Joseph Dudzik said.
Dudzik’s effort to stop food trucks from operating in residential neighborhoods was defeated by the Common Council this week by a vote of 10-4 and one excused. Alderman Bob Donovan was the only member if the council not present.
Dudzik’s efforts would have restricted food trucks from operating near homes. He doesn’t think it’s fair for residents to have to deal with them.
For safety reasons, he also wants to keep them from busy intersections like 43rd Street, Forest Home and Oklahoma avenues.
Some food truck operators worry if this all gets approved, it could spread citywide.
“If you can ban food trucks in the 11th District, you can ban food trucks in the 2nd District or the 4th District or any district, and it’s a terrible precedent, and there’s no reason for it,” said Steve Perlstein, co-owner of Simmer Milwaukee.
“I don’t think it would be smart for the city to out and out ban these across the city but I think it’s very prudent to control where they can and where they can’t be,” Dudzik said.


Kenosha Billboard Sparks Debate
Kenosha – “Not very smart and it seems to make a joke of the law, with an investigation still pending. It would seem, in my humble opinion, that they are attempting to raise the level of polarization between police and citizens, which is certainly concerning!” Said attorney Jonathan Safran of Kenosha.
Michael Bell of Kenosha said, “We are shaking our heads in Kenosha as the officer involved in 2 shootings in 10 days, was placed on a billboard by the union and thanked before the investigation of the 2nd shooting by DCI is complete.”
At the center of their attention is a local billboard featuring Kenosha Police officer Pablo Torres.
The billboard is causing division in Kenosha because Torres has been involved in two shootings in 11 days last month.
Torres is pictured on the billboard next to canine officer Chico at the intersection of 30th Avenue and Roosevelt Road. In bold type it reads “Thank you for your support, Kenosha.”
The billboard was paid for by the Kenosha Professional Police Association
Kenosha Police Detective Pete Deates, president of the police association said the billboard was put up to simply say thank you for the support police receives from the community.
However, some argue its in poor taste considering the officer on the billboard is involved in an investigation in a second shooting resulting in the death of 26-year-old Aaron Siler of Kenosha on March 14.
Torres was cleared in a March 4 non-fatal shooting of Terry Knight, 66, of Kenosha. The 19-year department veteran remains on administrative leave until the March 14 shooting review is completed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation.
Some residents are asking why would the police association feature Torres who is still under an active investigation for the killing of Aaron Siler after a car chase and foot pursuit in the 2100 block of 56th Street, according to police and news reports. It was Torres’ first day back from administrative leave from the March 4 shooting.
Mayor Keith Bosman is quoted in the Kenosha News as saying, “I’m very confident officer Torres will be exonerated and allowed to come back to work soon,” Bosman said. “We wish the best for him.”

No Cases of Canine Flu in Kenosha

Kenosha – At least 1,100 Chicago-area dogs have come down with a highly contagious strain of canine flu — and six have died — in what researchers said is a strain of the virus never seen before in the United States.

Chicago was the first location outside of Asia that has seen H3N2 cases. The highly contagious disease, which began spreading at the end of March, is a full-blown epidemic in the city.

The current outbreak, the largest and longest-lasting in the region, is caused by a strain closely related to the Asian strains of the flu virus, laboratory scientists at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin said in a statement this week.

Symptoms include persistent and lingering cough, lethargic behavior, poor appetite and a fever, said Dr. Donna Alexander, administrator of the Cook County Department of Animal & Rabies Control.

No cases have been identified in Kenosha County, but animal clinics are getting bombed with questions from concerned pet guardians, and some are asking about flu vaccinations.

“This virus has only been seen in Korea and China and our cases in Chicago are the first of its kind on our soil,” Kimberly Cerny, the practice manager at Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, said in a statement to NBC Chicago.

Veterinarians began reporting cases of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease, or CIRD, in January, said Cook County spokesman Frank Shuftan. There may be more cases than have been reported, Shuftan said.

“A lot of vets are so busy now they’re having a difficult time even calling our office,” Shuftan said.

Veterinarians told NBC Chicago the current outbreak is a more severe strain of he virus, allowing dogs to develop the disease faster.

Having your dog vaccinated with the H3N8 strain may help lessen the severity if the dog is exposed to H3N2.

People can also take preventive measures to protect their dogs, such as avoiding close contact with other dogs. If you do come in contact with other dogs, wash your hands and clothing before making contact with your dog.

The vaccination procedure is one initial vaccine, a second vaccine shot two to four weeks later and an annual booster.

Vets are treating the cases by treating the symptoms and dispensing antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.

There is an incubation period of two or three days and a five- to seven-day period of clinical signs, but dogs can be contagious for up to two weeks.

In Kenosha, the reaction has been less urgent, with county and city dog parks remaining open.

Canine flu symptoms

The symptoms of the H3N2 and H3N8 strains of canine flu:

— persistent cough

— runny nose

— high fever

— nasal and eye discharge

— decreased eating

— lethargy

Source: Veterinarian Nikki Seibert of Westosha Veterinary Hospital

Attorney Arellano Accuses Alderman Perez of Impropriety

By Robert Miranda

Milwaukee – Alderman Jose G. Perez is alleged to have acted in a manner prominent Madison attorney, Victor Arellano considers unethical.

Arellano stated that the impropriety he charges that Perez engaged in sheds light to the reason why his client, Terra Bar on 6th & Bruce in Milwaukee, is being denied having its liquor license renewed by the City of Milwaukee.

On Tuesday, April 6 during the City of Milwaukee Licenses Committee meeting, attorney Arellano was representing his client when during the presentation Arellano made the charge that alderman Jose G. Perez approached the owners of the building that Terra Bar is operating from, and sought to have them sell their building to two individuals Perez knows who are seeking to buy the building.

Arellano contends that the reason why Terra is unable to get their liquor license renewed is because Alderman Jose G. Perez is retaliating against Terra Bar for raising questions addressing the Alderman’s attempt to broker a real estate deal with the building owners.

While Arellano was making the charge against Alderman Perez to the Chairman of the Licenses Committee, Alderman Tony Zeilinski, Perez sat at the table next to Arellano and did not respond to Arellano’s allegations against him.

The Spanish Journal contacted attorney Arellano to comment about his statement to the Licenses Committee via email.

In an email sent by attorney Arellano to the Spanish Journal Arellano stated,

“…we believe that the denial of the renewal of their license was in part in retaliation for raising questions of apparent impropriety on the part of this Alderman”.

Arellano also stated that his client is also being targeted for refusing to surrender a video tape to police for an incident involving a minor at the bar.

The video tape matter was hotly debated during the April 6 Licenses Committee meeting between Arellano and committee members. Several of the members on the committee felt that the owners of Terra were not cooperating with police seeking to investigate why a minor was lying unconscious on the floor outside of the bar.

Arellano told the committee that he advised his client not to give the video to police. Arellano in his email to the Spanish Journal stated that his client was told by him not to release the video”unless a warrant was obtained from a Court of Law” for it.

While this is a legal issue that will most likely play out in court, the allegation of impropriety against alderman Perez by Arellano will most likely come up again during a review of this matter by another City of Milwaukee committee.

Arellano believes that the licensing committee acted harshly against his client.  “We believe the committee over reached and punished my client for raising issues of public concern”, said Arellano.

Arellano told the Spanish Journal that he must respect the process and that he could not elaborate anymore about the charge he made against Alderman Perez or the incident involving the minor.

Alderman Perez did not respond to request for comment.

An official at City Hall confirmed that attorney Arellano did file an appeal of the decision by the Licenses Committee. The official stated that the appeal will be addressed at the April 21, 2015 full Common Council meeting at City Hall.

Northwest Side CDC to Host Neighborhood Clean-Up

MILWAUKEE – Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, in partnership with Wells Fargo, will team up with the Uniting Garden Homes community and other volunteers to clean up Garden Homes Park. The clean-up will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Earth Day, April 22.

The clean-up is part of a larger effort in the Garden Homes neighborhood, which includes partner organizations the Northwest Side CDC, Uniting Garden Homes Neighborhood Association, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) of Milwaukee, 30th Street Corridor, and Clean Wisconsin.

“The commitment of Wells Fargo, not just in terms of manpower for this clean up, but also funding for our larger project in Garden Homes, greatly increases our collective ability to achieve meaningful, lasting progress in the Garden Homes neighborhood,” said Howard Snyder, Executive Director of Northwest Side CDC.

Demetrius Brown of Uniting Garden Homes, along with Snyder,will speak briefly at the clean-up about the historic Garden Homes neighborhood and larger collaborative efforts to bring renewal and growth to the area.

For more information about the Northwest Side CDC or the Earth Day Neighborhood Clean-up, please or


Milwaukee – The Milwaukee Bucks and their design team today released the first images and details of their vision for the development of a new multi-purpose arena and sports and entertainment district to help revitalize downtown Milwaukee. These conceptual images are an important step in the process as Bucks ownership continues to present their preferred site and vision to public officials, whose partnership is necessary for the proposed development.

The images depict early conceptual drawings of a new multi-purpose venue and entertainment district that anchor an ambitious new development

vision activated by sports, entertainment, residential and office uses. The proposed site, which primarily sits between Fourth Street and Sixth Street from State Street to McKinley Avenue, will seamlessly link with active development on all sides, including Old World Third Street, Schlitz Park, The Brewery, the Milwaukee riverfront, Water Street and the Wisconsin Center.

The vision is for an arena designed for maximum flexibility and year-round use. A dynamic entertainment district will serve as a destination that draws the people of the region together for unforgettable experiences and a place people will love to gather for generations to come.

“We’re not just trying to build a new home for the Milwaukee Bucks, but create a 365-day attraction for Wisconsin residents that will help revitalize downtown Milwaukee,” said Bucks president Peter Feigin. “We’re excited to share this glimpse of our vision for the future as we continue to work with our local and state partners to arrive at a viable plan. This collective effort will create a ripple effect of growth, development and transformation for the entire community and region.”

The Bucks recently announced the hiring of Populous to lead a group of prominent global, national and local architects including HNTB and Eppstein Uhen.

“These early conceptual renderings represent the owners’ vision to create a world-class facility and year-round destination that will help revitalize downtown Milwaukee and spur growth and development throughout the region,” said Brad Clark, senior designer at Populous. “We envision this dynamic entertainment experience as one that could seamlessly connect to the greater Milwaukee community. The goal is to design a lasting symbol for all of Wisconsin, pairing the crafted scale of Milwaukee’s architecture and innovative spirit with the natural beauty of the state.”

Highlights from the renderings include:


The arena and entertainment live block anchor an ambitious new vision activated by sports, entertainment, residential and office uses.

Fronting existing Fourth Street and proximate to Old World Third Street, the site connects to the greater Milwaukee community including across the Milwaukee

river to the vibrant downtown core.


The arena design evokes Wisconsin’s natural beauty and Milwaukee’s rich heritage of industry and craftsmen, with expressive structure, transparency and

fluid forms inspired by the rivers, lakes and forests of the region.

A diverse material palette includes warmth and color, reflecting the region’s natural beauty. Selectively placed glass and moments of transparency throughout the building open views from within to Milwaukee’s skyline.


The arena arrival experience is augmented by a transparent façade that marks the front door and monumental atrium within.·

The dynamic entertainment live block will serve as both arena forecourt and community living room. This will be the year round destination that draws the people of the region together for unforgettable experiences and a place people will love to gather for generations to come.