TCD’s week in review (8/03/12)
This week: the race for U.S. Senate heats up, MPS announces no teacher layoffs, new health care benefits for women, and another event-filled Milwaukee weekend.
MPS Teachers and Dr. Gregory Thornton
For the first time in three years, the number of Milwaukee Public Schools teacher layoffs will be at zero. The state’s largest school district laid off 480 teachers in 2010 and 350 in 2011, but due to “better-than-expected health cost savings,” expected teacher retirements, and cutting “millions” from MPS Central Services, the district will not see a third consecutive year of triple-digit layoffs. MPS officials attribute the health cost savings to a contract negotiated between the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA) union and the school district in 2010. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, however, “By this time next summer, that contract will be expired and teachers will be subject to Act 10.” MPS also extended the contract of Dr. Gregory Thornton, who took over as Superintendent in 2010, for another three years.
In the race for Wisconsin’s open U.S. Senate seat, the latest Rasmussen Reports survey “shows [Tammy] Baldwin receiving 45% to 48% of the vote regardless of which Republican she is matched against.” In the poll, Rep. Baldwin leads GOP frontrunner Eric Hovde 45 to 42 percent, former congressman Mark Neumann 48 to 42 percent, former governor Tommy Thompson 48 to 41 percent, and Assembly Leader Jeff Fitzgerald 47 to 37 percent. The GOP Senate Primary is August 14.
As of Wednesday, August 1, health care providers are required to offer preventive health benefits for women, free of charge. The eight new benefits are: well-woman visits; gestational diabetes screening; HPV DNA testing; STI counseling; HIV screening and counseling; contraception and contraceptive counseling; breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and interpersonal and domestic violence screening and counseling.
This week, Milwaukee celebrated Downtown Employee Appreciation Week. The event, organized by Milwaukee Downtown Business Improvement District 21, included food drives, various games, free workout sessions, food giveaways, a ping-pong tournament, battle of the bands, happy hours and much more. The weeklong event concludes today with NEWaukee and ART Milwaukee’s Urban Island Beach Party at Lakeshore State Park.
Another action-packed weekend in Milwaukee
Milwaukee is a special place in the summer, and this weekend is certainly no exception. August 3-5 features such events as Wisconsin State Fair, the Milwaukee Comedy Festival, African World Festival, Artbeat in the Heat, and the Urban Island Beach Party. The list goes on to include an abundance of live music, including Altos on the Milwaukee Boat Line, two sure-to-be-packed shows at Linneman’s (Call Me Lightning on Friday, Sat Night Duets/Icarus Himself/Fatty Acids on Saturday), and High Power Ball, Blind Pilot, Tallest Man On Earth, Crosby Stills & Nash at all performing at the venues of the Pabst Group. There will also be a benefit for those affected by the Center Street fire at Sweet Water Organics.
That’s quite a bit already, and that’s not even counting all of the open gallery exhibitions around the city (many of which opened last week for Summer Gallery Night & Day), the Brewers traveling to St. Louis for an always-entertaining rivalry series against the Cards, Lollapalooza a short drive (or train ride) south at Chicago’s Grant Park, and all of the usual fish-fried, beer-soaked goodness that comes with a Milwaukee weekend. Tararrel!
Not only is the former Wisconsin governor and U.S. Health and Human Services secretary trailing Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin in the polls, he’s also trailing fellow Republican candidate Eric Hovde and is tied with former congressman Mark Neumann, according to a recent poll from Public Policy Polling. In the poll, Hovde leads with 28 percent, Thompson and Neumann are both at 25 percent, and Jeff Fitzgerald is a distant fourth at 13 percent. An Aug. 1 story in the Washington Post calls the primary a “three-way fight” for the nomination, a far cry from the double-digit lead Thompson had less than a month ago.
Fired Milwaukee police officer Ladmarald Cates
On Monday, Ladmarald Cates was sentenced in federal court and will spend 24 years in prison. The 45-year-old former officer was convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman after responding to her 911 call in July 2010.
Back in January, Kelly Rindfleisch, former deputy chief of staff and policy advisor to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, was charged with four felony counts of misconduct in office for campaigning while working a taxpayer-funded job. Between February 2010 and July 2010, Rindfleisch sent more than 1,500 emails relating to the campaign for then-State Rep. Brett Davis, who ran (unsuccessfully) for Lieutenant Governor, and is now Walker’s state Medicaid director.
Last Wednesday, August 1, Rindfleisch was in a Milwaukee courtroom fighting the charges. Her lawyer, Franklyn Gimbel, argued that a 2002 immunity-for-testimony deal that Rindfleisch cut in a 2002 Dane County investigation—an entirely different case regarding public officials doing campaign work on the taxpayer’s dime—still applies. According to Wispolitics.com, “Judge David Hansher ruled the charges filed against Rindfleisch don’t violate an immunity deal she worked out with prosecutors in the so-called ‘caucus scandal’ a decade ago.” Each felony count carries a maximum penalty of 3.5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. Charges emerged from the ongoing John Doe investigation. Her trial is scheduled for October 15.
In other John Doe news, Tim Russell is now on lawyer number five as he fights embezzlement charges stemming from the investigation. His trial date was pushed back another three months and is now scheduled to take place on December 3.
In 2011, Republican state leaders undertook the task of redrawing the boundaries of voting districts, which is required every ten years. According to an Associated Press story on May 31, 2012, “The latest maps were produced by GOP lawmakers, who shut Democrats out of the process and instead drew up the maps in secret,” and was challenged in court. GOP leaders have denied claims that the districts were redrawn to give a partisan advantage. But according to the Wisconsin State Journal, “new documents made public Tuesday show they (Wisconsin’s Republican legislative leaders) discussed ways to increase the number of ‘safe’ and ‘leaning’ GOP districts and to protect conservative incumbents.” New boundaries will be in effect for the August 14 primary election.
Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Deputy Sergio Aleman died in a car crash on I-43 on Tuesday. Aleman, a Navy veteran, worked at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office for 18 years. He leaves behind a wife and five children. The sheriff’s office has set up the Deputy Sheriff Sergio Aleman Memorial Fund at Tri-City National Bank, and the Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs’ Association has established the Sergio Aleman Memorial Fund at M&I Bank. All proceeds go to Deputy Aleman’s family.