DAILY WISCONSIN

State Government

Lincoln Hills

Gov. Scott Walker has claimed he only recently learned about the problems at Lincoln Hills, but there is a mountain of evidence suggesting otherwise. Back in February 2012, Walker received a letter from Racine County Circuit Judge Richard Kreul about Lincoln Hills, as the Journal Sentinel has reported. The letter included a copy of a memo detailing the beating and sexual assault of a boy and the failure of Lincoln Hills staff to notify law enforcement and child protective services. “The indifference in this sordid tale is absolutely inexcusable,” Kreul wrote.

Via Beyond negligence @ Isthmus.

No Sting 

Packed into brains the size of a sesame seed, bees’ navigational systems enable them to locate and pollinate $55 million worth of Wisconsin crops annually.

But Wisconsin has become a hard place to be a bee.

The state’s honeybee colony die-off rates, among the highest in the nation, last year were around 60 percent. Beekeeper surveys show 15 percent is generally considered to be an acceptable loss rate.

Via Critics: State’s plan to save bees provides little protection from pesticides @ WisconsinWatch.org.

State Officials Hid Truth from Child Victim’s Mother

Madison— When a Racine County youth was sexually assaulted and beaten in a Northwoods prison in 2012, state officials told his mother that something had happened but didn’t share with her the full and troubling picture.

The woman was contacted the next day and in the following days county officials were contacted as well, with officials at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys telling the county that the youth had been moved into a security unit, county records show. Inmates are typically sent there for acting out at the state-run prison 30 miles north of Wausau.

What the mother was not told is that on Jan. 13, 2012, another inmate had forced her son to perform a sex act and then struck him.

The woman instead waited more than two weeks to learn the ugly extent of the incident, in which her son waited for hours to be taken to a hospital and for which the aggressor was eventually convicted. It took repeated questioning from Racine County officials to bring the crime to light….

This case is the second shared with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in which a parent of a Lincoln Hills inmate learned of an attack against their son from someone else and not from the state officials charged with keeping him safe. Milwaukee County officials also learned from a tipster about youths from their county having their arms or wrists broken in November 2014….

Via Mother left in dark about son’s sexual assault, beating at Lincoln Hills @ JSOnline.

From $384 million to $0?

Tomorrow’s [2.3.16] Assembly Ways and Means Committee meeting had an interesting last-minute addition to it, and it involves a huge business tax giveaway that you may have thought was dead.

You may remember me referencing this “economic substance” bill when they tried to jam it through a public hearing last month. At the time, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue estimated that it would cost the state up to $384 million a year, which is certainly not anything that can be done when there’s only $64 million of breathing room in the budget over the next 17 months. The bill seemed to be put underground after that.

Well, it’s BAAAACK!

Via Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse: $384 million tax cut now “clarified” to $0?

Avoiding the Public They Serve

Two former cabinet members under Gov. Scott Walker say they were instructed by former Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch not to conduct important state business by state email or on state telephones. Huebsch said he merely warned fellow cabinet members to be careful because such communications could be made public.

Via Former cabinet members: Top Scott Walker aide ordered them to avoid state email, phones @ WisconsinWatch.org.

Surreptitious

Dee Hall is the managing editor at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Department of Administrative staff told Hall higher-ups instructed them to use alternative communication methods, rather than official email addresses. This comes after a change from the Public Records Board which exempts text messages from public records laws.

Public Records Requests Are A Right, Not a Gift 

So a local paper complains that a local school superintendent won’t comply with a public records request, won’t put the paper on a media contact list, and simply ‘must’ improve communications. 

A few points –

1. Compliance with a public records request isn’t a ‘communications’ issue; it’s a legal issue, of rights of residents under Wisconsin law….

Via 4 Points About Public Records Requests @ FREE WHITEWATER.

Thursday

Thursday features the release of Wisconsin’s Annual Fiscal Report. This is the report that goes over all of the finances and fund for state government, and covers the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2014- June 30, 2015 (click here to look at the 2014 document). It’ll go a long way toward determining the state of the Walker/WisGOP budget, and if there might be a bit of flexibility available to soothe the blows from this budget…or if the inevitable additional cuts and tax increases will have to come sooner than later.

Via A preview of Thursday’s hue year-end budget report @ Jake’s Economic TA Funhouse.

Contract for Statewide Exam Goes to Connected Political Donor  

Susan Engeleiter, chief executive officer and president of DRC, was the Republican Senate minority leader in the 1980s. She also ran an unsuccessful campaign against former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, in 1988.

Engeleiter gave Walker’s campaign $10,000 in October 2014 and $500 to state Superintendent Tony Evers in 2013, according to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign records.

Via State picks former Republican lawmaker’s company to create test to replace Badger Exam @ State Journal

Walker Admin ignores true alternative energy sources

Among six midwestern states, Indiana has increased the use of solar power the most, adding more than 115 megawatts in the last five years, compared to about 20 megawatts for last place Wisconsin, the story reports. In wind power for the period 2011 to 2014, top state Iowa added more than 5,500 megawatts, compared to little or no growth for Wisconsin.

The upper Midwest has been a boom area for wind power except in Wisconsin. As I reported in January of last year, “in 2012 seven percent of the entire world market of wind energy was developed in America’s upper Midwest, but 99.4 percent of this development occurred outside Wisconsin.”

Via  Walker “Worst” Candidate on Wind, Solar? @ Urban Milwaukee.