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Wisconsin prison workers fired, suspended after April escape

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The warden of a maximum-security prison has resigned and 11 other workers have resigned, been suspended or fired in connection with an April escape. The state Department of Corrections spokesman John Beard said Thursday that Columbia Correctional Institution Warden Susan Novak resigned June 29. Kitchen worker Holly Zimdahl resigned and two correctional officers have also resigned. Seven employees have been fired and one has been suspended for five days. Beard said Deputy Warden Lucas Weber and Security Director John Beard’s employment ended Thursday but he declined to say whether they were among the employees terminated. 


Appeals court won’t reinstate Democrats’ lame-duck challenge

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel has refused to reinstate Wisconsin Democrats’ lawsuit challenging Republican-authored lame-duck laws weakening Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul. The state Democratic Party sued in February 2019, arguing the laws were meant to retaliate against people who voted for Evers. U.S. District Judge James Peterson dismissed the lawsuit in October, ruling Democrats lacked standing to sue. A three-judge panel from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Peterson’s decision on Thursday, finding that Democrats were seeking an unprecedented interpretation of voting rights and legislators’ partisan intentions don’t violate voters’ rights.


Northeastern Wisconsin manure spill thinning as it nears bay

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin environmental officials say a manure spill from an Oconto County farm is thinning as it flows downstream toward the bay of Green Bay. The Department of Natural Resources says manure ran off a field at the Betley Farms near Pulaski during a rainstorm on July 9 and July 10. The manure ran off into the Little Suamico River and has caused a fish kill as it moves downstream toward the bay. DNR spokeswoman Sarah Hoye said Thursday that the manure is thinning out as it travels and oxygen levels in the river are improving.


Board votes to remove Hiawatha statue from La Crosse park

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — After decades of debate, a Hiawatha statue will be removed from a park in La Crosse. The La Crosse Board of Park Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to remove the statue from Riverside Park. Mayor Tim Kabat had pushed for the western Wisconsin city to follow the lead of other cities in addressing racism and cultural appropriation. For decades Indigenous people and their allies had called for the statue’s removal, saying it represents exaggerated racial stereotypes and inaccurately depicts Native American tribes of the area. The La Crosse Tribune reports the statue will be stored at the city’s Municipal Service Center for at least one year until the artist’s family finds a new home for it.


Wisconsin unemployment drops to 8.5%, below national rate

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.5% in June. That good news came Thursday as Democratic lawmakers released proposals to remove obstacles and broaden access to unemployment benefits and Gov. Tony Evers’ administration temporarily reassigned 100 state workers to help address a backlog in claims. The Department of Workforce Development has struggled to process the claims of everyone seeking unemployment. Currently about 141,000 people were awaiting payments. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was below the national average of 11.1% and far down from the state’s high of 13.6% in April. Wisconsin added 99,300 private sector jobs in June.


Candidates, groups spent record $10M on Wisconsin court race

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new report says outside groups and the three candidates combined to spend a record $10 million in the state Supreme Court election this spring. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released an analysis Thursday that found the three candidates, liberals Jill Karofsky and Ed Fallone, and conservative incumbent Daniel Kelly, together spent just over $5 million, which is a record. Karofsky, who won the seat, spent $2.7 million, a single-candidate record for a Supreme Court race. A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund was the top spender among outside groups, spending nearly $1.9 million to support Karofsky.


Wisconsin college distances itself from Pence campaign stop

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A small Wisconsin liberal arts college hosting a campaign visit by Vice President Mike Pence has told Pence that he and everyone attending his speech inside a campus building must wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot distance between one another. The president of Ripon College also distanced the private school from the closed-door event on Friday, saying in an email to the campus community that the school was not organizing it and was merely renting a room to the campaign. Pence last month encouraged the wearing of a mask, and he wore one at a Louisiana campaign stop earlier this week before taking it off to give his speech. 


Charges: Man punched plainclothes officer at police rally

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors have charged a Wisconsin man who allegedly punched a plainclothes police sergeant during a Back the Blue Rally in Kenosha last month. Fifty-two-year-old Lance Hoff of Kenosha was at the June 27 rally in support of law enforcement when he became a part of a confrontation with protesters. According to the complaint, a police sergeant in plainclothes tried to break up the fight when Hoff allegedly punched him in the head, stunning him. The complaint said Hoff apologized, saying he would “never hit a cop.” WITI-TV reports Hoff faces a felony count of battery to a law enforcement officer and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct.

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