Waukesha — In order to avoid any suspicion of a conflict of interest, Mayor Jeff Scrima said Friday he had reimbursed the city the $428 paid to a campaign contributor for 30 books - books criticized by staff as covertly religious.
Meanwhile, City Administrator Lori Curtis Luther sent Scrima a memo Friday criticizing him for his actions and distractions.
"While you claim to have an interest in building team work and rapport," she wrote, "your actions are contrary to the goal."
The books, purchased for $428 from Gary Lato, a Scrima financial contributor, were given to department managers for reading and discussion at staff meetings. Last week, Police Chief Russell Jack objected to the book, "Sequencing: Deciphering Your Company's DNA," for its religious undertone in City Hall. The dispute became public, with Scrima challenging Jack to prove that it was religious in nature.
Scrima also called Jack hypocritical because the Police Department allows a volunteer Christian chaplain to use a desk and city electronic mailbox. Jack said the chaplain provides stress-related counseling and death notifications, not religion, in this volunteer capacity.» Read Full Article
Waukesha — The state Supreme Court recount got off to a wobbly start in Waukesha County Wednesday.
After more than a half-hour of meticulous instructions and ground rules from Waukesha County's chief canvasser, retired Judge Robert G. Mawdsley, questions were raised about the very first bag of ballots to be counted, from the Town of Brookfield.
As canvassers and tabulators compared a numbered seal on a bag with the number recorded for that bag by a town election inspector who prepared the paperwork on election night, the numbers didn't match.
"What a great way to start," one tabulator said.
Observers from the campaigns of Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg both agreed, however, that the error seemed to be in the inspector's use of a "2" instead of a "3." Numbers on the sealing tag and on the bag did match. Both sides and the Board of Canvassers agreed that the bag should be opened and the votes counted.» Read Full Article
Waukesha — City officials expect to revive their dormant request for Lake Michigan water with Wednesday's delivery of 1,000 pages of documents to the state Department of Natural Resources in Madison.
The DNR has been waiting since December for the lengthy supplement so that regulators could determine whether the application is complete and begin reviewing the merits of Waukesha's request to purchase an average of 10.9 million gallons a day of water from the lake. Maximum daily use might reach 18.5 million gallons a day in summer, according to the application.
In responding to the agency's December demand for additional details on 49 separate issues in the application, the Waukesha Water Utility and its consultants provided analysis of everything from water supply options and the impact of water conservation efforts on reducing use, to the environmental impacts of discharging treated wastewater to Underwood Creek in Brookfield as a means of returning treated water to Lake Michigan.
The city's conclusion remains the same: Lake Michigan is the only reasonable water supply alternative to meet the city's future need.
Other options, including deep and shallow wells or multiple sources of wells and quarries, are not reasonable choices because they are less protective of the environment, less protective of public health and cost more than a Lake Michigan supply, Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak said.» Read Full Article
Waukesha - Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus has recused herself from overseeing the Supreme Court recount set to begin statewide Wednesday.
Nickolaus requested to be replaced from overseeing the recount in a letter to County Executive Dan Vrakas, chief of staff Ellen Nowak said.
Vrakas appointed retired Circuit Court Judge Robert Mawdsley to oversee the recount.
Nickolaus came under fire after disclosing that she failed to report votes from the City of Brookfield on election night.
The campaign of JoAnne Kloppenburg requested a recount after the official tally shows Kloppenburg lost to Justice David Prosser by 7,316 votes - less than 0.5% of the 1.5 million votes cast in the race. The election initially appeared much closer, with Kloppenburg up by 204 votes, before Nickolaus announced her initial, unofficial tally failed to include the 14,315 votes from the City of Brookfield.» Read Full Article
Waukesha - Mayor Jeff Scrima fired back at Police Chief Russell Jack on Monday, calling him hypocritical for objecting to the mayor's book reading assignment as religious-based while at the same time giving a Christian minister tax-supported office space and a city email address in the Police Department.
"The hypocrisy is glaring," Scrima said. "Why not pay for a Muslim chaplain?"
The chief defended the use of a minister who is an on-call volunteer, brought in before Jack was chief, and who provides crisis-related stress management counseling and death notifications.
The minister, Robin Knoll, "was not brought into the Police Department for religious purposes, nor does he practice his religion here at the Police Department," Jack said.
Knoll is part of the Critical Incident Stress Management Unit, providing pre-crisis education and intervention and mental health referrals tied to specific crises. Department chaplains have been used since the 1990s.» Read Full Article
Waukesha - A 32-year-old man living in an area group home was killed by a train Sunday night while walking on the tracks near E. Main St. and Hartwell Ave.
The incident, at about 8:30 p.m., closed intersections between Arcadian Ave. and Moreland Blvd. for several hours Sunday night. Police reserves were called in to help with traffic direction.
The medical examiner is investigating. He was identified as Craig Haug.
Waukesha - Mayor Jeff Scrima's directive that city managers read and then discuss at staff meetings a book by a Christian author prompted a protest this week from Police Chief Russell Jack.
The book was published by a financial contributor to Scrima's campaign.
"I am a devout WELS Lutheran, but I don't believe it is legally appropriate to bring these ideas into a department directors' meeting," Jack wrote in an email to the mayor and released after a public records request. WELS is an acronym for Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Scrima told a reporter Friday, "There's no religious language in here. If there was any religious words or overtone, I would not have recommended it."
The book, "Sequencing: Deciphering Your Company's DNA" by Michael Metzger, was distributed by the mayor to department managers with assigned reading pages to be discussed at three meetings April 7, 19 and May 3. He also gave copies to aldermen, without reading assignments.
A founder of the book's publisher, Game Changer Books, is Gary Lato of Waukesha. Lato donated $500 to Scrima's mayoral campaign. The Lato Family Foundation, which Lato runs, gave $16,500 to Scrima's New Day in Waukesha charitable fund for community causes.» Read Full Article
Waukesha - Notices of this year's citywide reassessment will go in the mail Friday, "and values will be going down," according to Waukesha assessor Paul Klauck.
Citywide, the tax base, excluding manufacturing property whose values are set by the state, has dropped 6%, he said. Condominiums have seen some of the largest declines in value because of low market demand. Most property owners will see a 5% to 10% decline in the value of their homes under the last citywide reassessment, though some properties will drop by 15%, Klauck said.
A lower property assessment doesn't automatically translate into a lower tax bill. An individual bill depends on how that property declined or increased in relation to others, and whether the total tax levy increases, decreases or remains the same. The next budgets and levies will be adopted in the fall.
The city is typically reassessed every four years and was last revalued in 2009. Klauck said there were so many requests for review of property values last year that the city decided to issue new assessments this year based on current sales and cost information.
Property owners can question the assessor, review the assessment roll and compare assessments during an open book period between April 25 and May 13. The information will be on the city website, at City Hall and at the Waukesha Public Library.» Read Full Article
Waukesha — A former Waukesha County account clerk who stole more than $300,000 donated by senior citizens for their meals at 12 nutrition sites over a six-year period was found guilty Thursday of the thefts.
Kham Sisaleumsak - who told authorities she gambled away the money - was charged in February 2010 with 13 counts of felony theft in a business setting.
As part of plea agreement, Sisaleumsak, 45, pleaded guilty to nine counts and was convicted by Waukesha County Circuit Judge Kathleen B. Stilling.
The four remaining counts were dismissed but will be considered by the judge when Sisaleumsak is sentenced on June 13.
Assistant District Attorney Mary C. Brejcha said the state will ask the court to impose eight years in prison and eight years of extended supervision on two of the counts.» Read Full Article
A collision involving two tanker trucks has closed the westbound lanes of I-94 at Barker Road, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol.
Emergency scanner reports indicate diesel fuel is leaking and that a Waukesha County hazardous materials crew has been called to the scene. A dispatcher with the State Patrol said he did not have additional details.
The transformation of the Target store on Kossow Road in Waukesha will be complete by June 2, according to a sign in the store.
The store is one of many around the country that is being reconfigured to offer a full grocery department, including fresh produce and meats. Target has been taking market share from traditional supermarkets with this new format.
The city of Brookfield is "willing to annex the territory within the towns" of Brookfield and Waukesha that is currently subject to an incorporation effort, according to a resolution the Common Council unanimously approved Tuesday.
Brookfield Mayor Steven Ponto said he believes it would be best for the region if the town joined an existing municipality rather than incorporating.
If an incorporation petition is filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court, a copy of the city's resolution will be forwarded to the court for consideration. The offer creates another option for those who would review the petition.
Aldermen made their decision after about an hour of closed-session discussion.
Meanwhile, the effort to incorporate the town of Brookfield, and about 288 acres of town of Waukesha land off Highways 164 and 59, as a village continues.» Read Full Article
Waukesha - Waukesha County Board leaders voted unanimously Monday not to change a tentative redistricting plan for county supervisors that would leave nine incumbents in contests against each other for four seats next year, should they all seek re-election.
"I believe the integrity of the board is at stake here," said Supervisor Duane Paulson, who along with other members of the Executive Committee unanimously voted to recommend the plan as drafted by staff, without consideration of where incumbents reside.
Five of the seven Executive Committee members, including Paulson of Waukesha, are among those who could square off against other incumbents under the plan.
Supervisor Jean Tortomasi of Waukesha, another Executive Committee member who lives in the same proposed district as Paulson, said she thought it would be "totally inappropriate" to shift the newly mapped districts just to make it easier for supervisors to win re-election.
The committee's vote rejected a personal plea Monday by Supervisor Dave Falstad of Oconomowoc Lake for a change in tentative Oconomowoc-area supervisory districts that, if left as is, would pit him against Supervisors Michael Inda of Summit and Ted Rolfs of Chenequa. Falstad and Inda each represent part of the city but live outside its borders.» Read Full Article
Town of Waukesha - The Waukesha Plan Commission and Town Board have given final approval to the Five Diamonds youth baseball complex south of Les Paul Parkway (Highway 59/164) west of Milky Way Road.
The project will include six lighted baseball game fields, four practice and "rookie fields for starter players, an indoor practice facility for winter and a concession stand. Alcohol will not be sold and a loudspeaker system will not be permitted.
It will serve kids 4 to 18, including the Waukesha Blazers boys baseball and girls softball programs and possibly area middle and high school teams.
Tom Kelenic, who is developing the property with Greg Beatty, said construction should start soon and take about four months with grass seeding in the fall. Kelenic said they plan to have the operation in full swing by next April.
The project, approved Thursday, has been under discussion and town scrutiny since last May but has overcome concerns about lighting, noise and traffic. Dozens of conditions have been imposed on the operating plan to address those and others.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin on Thursday asked the state Government Accountability Board to expand its investigation of Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus’ election procedures to include a review of the county’s vote totals from the Nov. 7, 2006, general election.
Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate says there is an apparent discrepancy in 2006 results posted on the county clerk website between the number of votes in the attorney general’s race and the number of ballots cast.
The results show 174,047 votes in the attorney general’s race, but only 156,804 ballots cast.
“This is an underreporting of 17,243 votes,” Tate says in a letter to Kevin Kennedy, the executive director of the Government Accountability Board, calling for an expanded inquiry. “I note with serious concern that this discrepancy is more than enough to have swung the statewide election against the Republican and for the Democrat.”
Republican J.B. Van Hollen defeated Democrat Kathleen Falk in that election by 8,859 votes.» Read Full Article
Waukesha — Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, under blistering attack by critics since an election night reporting error that temporarily reversed results of the Supreme Court race, on Tuesday rejected calls that she resign.
"I will serve the remainder of my term," Nickolaus said in a written statement. "I understand why people are upset and I am taking this matter seriously. Again, I am sorry for my mistake."
Earlier Tuesday, Waukesha County Democratic Party Chairman Victor Weers said in a news release that not only has the clerk's vote-counting and reporting process produced problems, but "Ms. Nicholaus (sic) has willfully ignored pleas to repair her broken reporting process in an open and technologically reliable way."
"We must have a county clerk that we can trust to do this important work of the people with competence, security and openness. Waukesha must have a new county clerk now."
In her written response, Nickolaus said:» Read Full Article
Waukesha — The Democrat on the Waukesha County Board of Canvassers who was widely quoted as endorsing the county clerk's official ballot count that flipped the state Supreme Court winner last week said Monday that she was never told about more than 14,000 missing votes from the city of Brookfield until shortly before a Thursday news conference.
By then, the three-member board had finished its canvass, which had started midday Wednesday.
The Waukesha County Democratic Party released a statement Monday ascribed to Ramona Kitzinger, 80, a member of the canvassing board since 2004.
In the statement, Kitzinger said that even during the canvass of Brookfield's votes during the day Thursday, no mention was made of the big mistake, something in retrospect she called "shocking and somewhat appalling."
Meanwhile, in Madison, the state's top election official referred to "apparent negligence" by Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus. At a news conference Monday, Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the Government Accountability Board, said she needs to change her practices to bolster public confidence.» Read Full Article
Justice David Prosser's campaign said Saturday that it was open to a recount of votes in Waukesha County as the state Supreme Court race remained without a declared winner.
"If you need to do a recount in Waukesha (County) and Waukesha (County) alone to satisfy heightened interest, that's fine," said Prosser campaign manager Brian Nemoir. "We believe it will only affirm the margin of victory we now enjoy."
In Waukesha County, thousands of votes from the city of Brookfield were not reported by the county clerk on election night but were discovered the day after. Prosser's margin of victory in Brookfield helped push him ahead of challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.
Kloppenburg's campaign manager, Melissa Mulliken, said of the proposed Waukesha County recount, "That is their talk. Once again, we're evaluating the data, looking at what we've got."
Updated but not yet final results compiled by the Journal Sentinel on Friday showed Prosser ahead by 6,744 votes out of nearly 1.5 million cast.» Read Full Article
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a federal investigation into the handling of vote records in Waukesha County in the wake of Tuesday's election for the state Supreme Court.
Baldwin's office said she sent the letter Friday night.
Baldwin wrote Holder: "Following this week's election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, numerous constituents have contacted me expressing serious doubt that this election was a free and fair one. They fear, as I do, that political interests are manipulating the results."
Baldwin asked Holder to assign the Justice Department Public Integrity Section, which oversees the federal prosecution of election crimes, to investigate.
In Waukesha County, thousands of votes from the City of Brookfield that were not reported by the county clerk on election night were discovered the day after. Justice David Prosser's margin of victory in Brookfield helped push him ahead of challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.» Read Full Article
Madison -- The state's top elections official said Friday he is sending state staff to examine results in Waukesha County, where thousands of untallied votes were revealed Thursday affecting the tight Supreme Court race.
"Because of the attention on vote totals from Brookfield, I am dispatching G.A.B. staff to Waukesha County today to review the business processes and verify the reported results in the election for Supreme Court justice," Kevin Kennedy, director of the state Government Accountability Board, said in a statement. "I have been in close contact with Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus since her news conference on Thursday, and have directed her to make the official returns from the polling places available for public inspection. These documents are public records. I believe she is now taking steps to ensure transparency and public confidence in the official results."
On Thursday, Nickolaus said that she failed to save on her computer and then report 14,315 votes in the City of Brookfield, omitting them entirely in an unofficial total she released after Tuesday’s election. With other smaller errors in Waukesha County, that meant incumbent Supreme Court Justice David Prosser gained 7,582 votes over challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, leaving the sitting justice significantly ahead for now amid ongoing official counting.
At a later news conference, Kennedy said that Kloppenburg's campaign would be allowed to look at the figures used to arrive at the official county totals.
Kennedy said that state officials would not be checking the ballots from Brookfield or the rest of the county before any possible recount. To do that would require the Accountability Board to go to court and Kennedy said that he didn't believe that was warranted as of now.» Read Full Article
Waukesha - After discussing Waukesha Administrator Lori Luther's performance in closed session, the Common Council Thursday night voted to increase her pay 1 1/2 % this year and, as she proposed, to withhold 5.8% of her salary for the state pension fund when other managers are subject to the withholding.
The combination of the higher pay and lower benefit means she could be in for a 4.3% pay cut this year. Her 2010 salary, frozen from the year before, was $115,304. A 1% increase effective Jan. 1 and another 1% in July would raise her pay to $117,034.
Identical increases are already in place this year for all other city employees.
The vote was 12-2, with Ald. Eric Payne and Joseph Pieper opposed.
Luther has an employment contract that can be changed only by mutual consent. She suggested the pension contribution - required of all public employees except for most in public safety - because it will be applied to city department managers and other employees without union contracts in place when and if a new state law takes effect.» Read Full Article
David Prosser gained 7,582 votes in Waukesha County, after a major counting error of Brookfield results was detected, County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced in a stunning development this afternoon.
Nickolaus says the reason for the big change is that data transmitted from the City of Brookfield was imported but that she failed to save those results to the database. Brookfield cast 14,315 votes on April 5 -- 10,859 of those votes went to Prosser and 3,456 went to JoAnne Kloppenburg.
"The purpose of the canvass is to catch these kind of mistakes," Nickolaus said. She called it human error that is "common in this process." "I apologize," Nickolaus said.
Canvassers around the state were updating their totals Thursday, with Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg each making gains.
Those changes pale in comparison to the stunning development in Waukesha County, where Prosser's total increased by 11,008 and Kloppenburg's rose 3,426.» Read Full Article
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Linda Van De Water has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly kicking and jumping on her ex-boyfriend's car after confronting him outside the home of another woman, according to a criminal complaint.
Van De Water, 48, frantically pounded on the door of the woman's neighbor while looking for the man and tore through the residential neighborhood in a sport utility vehicle at a high rate of speed after the confrontation. She was later caught lurking in the woman's yard and confronting the ex-boyfriend and the woman at a Brookfield restaurant, according to the complaint.
A copy of the complaint, filed March 25 in Racine County Circuit Court, was obtained Wednesday.
Van De Water has an unlisted number and could not be reached for comment.
According to the complaint:» Read Full Article
Ten students from four southeastern Wisconsin schools won recognition in C-Span's annual "studentcam" documentary competition, according to the cable television network.
Jake Berg, a senior at Waukesha West High School, was interviewed on C-Span this morning about his third-place documentary, "The Affordable Health Care Act: A Program of Action."
To enter the competition this year, students in sixth through 12th grades had to create a five- to eight-minute documentary about an issue, topic or event that tied their community to the federal government.
The competition garnered 1,069 documentaries from 40 states and the District of Columbia, according to C-Span. In addition to Berg, students from McKinley Middle School and Horlick High School in Racine, as well as from Kettle Moraine Middle School in Dousman, were included among the 75 winners and honorable mentions. The students won individual cash prizes, and the second-place finishers also won money for their schools for digital-video equipment.
C-Span has posted all the winning student entries and dates when students will be interviewed on-air. In addition to Berg, other Wisconsin winners included:» Read Full Article
Waukesha — For the second time in as many years, a judge appointed by Democratic former Gov. Jim Doyle was defeated by a candidate who ran on a message of being the more conservative choice backed by prominent Republicans.
With 100% of the vote counted, Waukesha County Assistant District Attorney Lloyd Carter easily defeated Judge Kathryn Stilling by a 2-to-1 margin in the race for Waukesha County Circuit Court.
The new six-year judicial term begins in August.
Conservatives in Waukesha County, one of the state's most Republican, worked for a large turnout to provide a conservative cushion in the hotly contested race for Supreme Court justice. County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus estimated turnout at about 42%.
Stilling, 56, of Brookfield, was a public defender before going into private practice, specializing in criminal defense. She was appointed to fill the vacancy created when Paul Reilly was elected appellate judge last year.» Read Full Article
Waukesha - Waukesha School District voters replaced a member of the School Board Tuesday, electing newcomer Karin Rajnicek in a closely contested race.
Voters retained incumbents Barbara Brzenk and Joseph Como Jr. but defeated incumbent Kurt O'Bryan.
With more than 10,000 votes cast for each of the four candidates, only 14 votes separated the third-place finisher, Rajnicek, from the highest vote-getter, Brzenk.
The loser, O'Bryan, came in 276 votes behind Rajnicek, according to unofficial totals reported Tuesday night.
Waukesha - Drugs were taken during a pharmacy robbery, Waukesha police reported Friday.
Waukesha police were dispatched to Value Care pharmacy, 501 S. Grand Ave., at 4:10 p.m. Thursday after a man robbed the store. No weapon was displayed by the man, a Waukesha Police Department press release said.
The suspect is white, in his late teens to early 20s, and is between 5 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 10 inches tall with some facial hair. He was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt at the time of the robbery.
The robber fled to a vehicle behind the pharmacy that was being driven by another man. The car was described as being an extensively damaged, fire-engine-red passenger car with front end damage to the point where the engine can be seen. The passenger side of the vehicle has gray tape on it.
Anyone observing this vehicle or suspect can contact the Waukesha Police Department immediately. The public is urged to not approach the vehicle or subject. The number for the Waukesha Police Department is (262) 524-3831 or 911.
Waukesha - A Waukesha police officer sustained minor injuries when his squad car collided with two vehicles about 7 a.m. Friday while responding to a report of a robbery.
The officer was treated at Waukesha Memorial Hospital. No other injuries were reported in the accident, which occurred at the intersection of W. Main and Barstow streets.
The crash is being investigated by the department's crash investigator. The robbery the officer was responding to turned out to be a battery complaint with minor injuries to the victims. No suspect is in custody.