Green Bay, Wisconsin Woman, 56, Killed on Tandem Bicycle


Posted on 13th August 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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It was late Monday morning on August 1st, daylight with cloud cover on a straight, rural county highway. A husband, 59, and his wife, 56, were out riding their tandem bicycle. They were wearing bright colors and helmets. They had over 20 years of ‘tandem’ experience. They were part of a group ride when they were struck from behind. Both riders were thrown from the bicycle and landed just five feet from each other in the ditch. The male, who was the front passenger, received serious injuries, was air-lifted to a local trauma center and survived. The female, who was the rear passenger, suffered severe traumatic injuries, did not survive. The driver of the sports car said he was traveling 55 MPH and did not see the bicycle. The officer observation of the driver found no impairment, but the driver was taken for a blood test as standard operating procedure when a fatality is involved. Perhaps what saved the husband was that he was wearing a helmet. The police investigation is ongoing.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of both the widower and the driver of the car.

At least three hurt in explosion near Wisconsin Rapids


Posted on 12th August 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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An explosion at a Biron paper plant injured two people Friday morning, according to the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune. An explosion happened about 8:13 a.m. at the Biron paper mill, just outside of Wisconsin Rapids. Reporters there are gathering more information, but say three injured people have been taken to the hospital.

NFL’s Green Bay entry: Trademarks “G”, “Titletown”, “Lambeau Field”, “Packers”


Posted on 8th August 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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One of the most recognizable sports franchises in the world, Green Bay Packers trademark protects many of its famous and traditional symbols. The “G” that appears on the side of their gold helmet, “Titletown”- the label that tabs the city of Green Bay for winning many championship titles in the 1960’s and “Lambeau Field” where the “Packers” (another trademark) play their home games among others.

Nearly everyone knows that the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin, is the smallest city in American professional sports. Green Bay has a population of just over 100,000 people. Even if the residents of this northeast Wisconsin community don’t want to hear it, it’s a small town. There, there are paper mills and a football team –period. Even the team itself is publically owned by many locals. The trademark “Titletown” that the Green Bay Packers register is actually used by as many as 17 local businesses. The Packers organization seemingly do not have a problem with it. In Green Bay, the Packers are looked upon like a trusted uncle. And as such, many in the community respect that Packers brand – and understand assimilation with the biggest brand in the area means packed bars, restaurants, and motels. So the next time you make your way to Lambeau Field, in Titletown, be sure to check into the Titletown Hotel, enjoy dinner and a beer at Titletown Brewing Co, and to insure you have get into the game, call Titletown Tickets. You get the idea.

Wisconsin’s Quixotic State Employees Score A Reprieve


Posted on 20th March 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized


Ironically, it was a judge appointed by a Republican governor who on Friday gave Wisconsin’s embattled government workers a small victory.

In Madison, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order that put a hold on GOP Gov.  Scott Walker’s controversial new law, which takes away many collective bargaining rights from state employees.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the judge’s temporary order bars Secretary of State Doug La Follette from publishing the law, which would then become effective. Sumi wants some time to decide if she should issue a permanent injunction, and there will be hearings on the matter March 29 and April Fool’s Day, April 1.

The motion for an injunction was filed by Democrat Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. He alleges that a state legislative committee was in violation of Wisconsin’s open meetings act when it passed the collective-bargaining law March 9. Walker signed it two days later.

Any way you slice it, this battle is going to wind up before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. How many Republicans versus Democrats are on it? 


It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over, Gov. Walker, Since A Backlash May Follow


Posted on 13th March 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized


Who would have ever thought that Wisconsin, the Midwestern bastion of liberal thought, could have become the site for a successful assault on organized labor? 

There have probably been millions of words written about the recent folly in Madison. The events of the past few weeks once again verify the old adage, that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

If you ever told me that at some point the chambers of state government would be packed with protesters, or that more than a dozen Democratic state senators would flee the state to avoid a vote on an abominable bill, or that lawmakers would have to climb through windows to get back into government buildings, I would have labeled you crazy, in the vernacular of the street.

Yet it is all true.

I’m not the first to say this and I won’t be the last: Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s emasculation of collective bargaining laws for state workers is not just a bid for fiscal soundness. It is a blow directly aimed at one of the strongest allies of the Democratic Party in this nation: organized labor.

Politics rather conveniently meshed with the supposed good of the public in the Badger State.

But as, according to legend, Yogi Berri once said, “It ain’t over til it’s over.”

Gov. Walker and his fellow Republicans may have overplayed their hand.  

The New York Times had a Page One story Friday with the headline, “Wisconsin Curbs Public Unions, But Democrats Predict Backlash.” In it Mike Tate, head of the state’s Democratic Party, postulates that politically, Walker and his GOP cronies have handed Democrats a “gift.”

Needless to say, Tate is hardly a neutral observer. But he is not the only one to think that the shenanigans in Madison will prompt liberals and labor to rally, leading to recalls and other actions. For example, in a 24-hour period alone the state Democratic party had received $360,000 in donations.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did a story Saturday about the 14 Democratic Wisconsin senators who just came back to the state after leaving in a bid to prevent a vote on the Gov. Walker’s collective-bargaining bill. The article, which got more than 2,600 comments online, told how the “unbowed” and “unrepentant” senators were cheered by a huge crowd in the Capitol.

These Democrats vowed state workers will get their collective bargaining rights back. And they may be right, if Wisconsin residents are as angry about Gov. Walker as Susan Shirey of Wauwatosa, Wis.

In a letter to The Times Friday, Shirey wrote, “I have lived in Wisconsin for more than 20 years. Most people here are considerate, open-minded and civil. But today my own civility is gone. I am furious at the Republican legislators and the sneaky way they found to bypass the Democratic senators to pass legislation curtailing public employees’ collective bargaining rights.”

And she ended her letter with this warning, “My family members and I are not public employees, nor do we belong to a union. If I can be roused to such fury, imagine the reaction of those more directly affected. The Republican politicians have now almost ensured their own recall.”

Can you hear her, Gov. Walker?


Milwaukee Archdiocese Tries To Evade Payment To Sex-Abuse Victims With Chapter 11 Filing


Posted on 5th January 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized


The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and it’s hard not to believe that this is a legal move to avoid paying out judgments to those who are suing it after being sexually abused by priests.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki announced the filing Tuesday, which — rather ironically — was the first anniversary of his installation. He told the press that the archdiocese had to file for protection so it could continue its ministries. More than a dozen fraud lawsuits have been filed against the church for its alleged cover-up of priest sex abuse cases.

“As a result of the horrific action of a few, there are financial claims pending agains the archdiocese that exceed our means,” Listecki said at a press conference that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered.

The Milwaukee archdiocese had tried, and failed, to reach a settlement with 24 victims who said they were sexually abused by priests when they were children, and 16 have filed lawsuits. The church reportedly had a $4.6 million settlement offer on the table for the victims, who allege that the archdocese defrauded them by transferring known-pedophile priests from one churce to another.  

The failed settlment talks, and a court ruling that the church’s insurance companies aren’t liable in the cases, essentially forcing the archdiocese to seek bankruptcy protection, or so Listecki said.

The victims of sexual abuse immediately charged that the filing was merely a legal move to delay the plaintiffs from getting their day in court, in that now their civil lawsuits will be put on hold.

Milwaukee isn’t the first archdiocese to file for Chapter 11 protection after being socked with lawsuits by victims who were sexually molested by priests. Seven others have filed, as well. 

The Milwaukee diocese has an operating budget of $24 million, according to the Journal Sentinel. As part of the bankruptcy process, it is likely that the diocese will calculate a figure for payment of claims from the lawsuits. It is expected that the sex abuse victims will challenge the amount that the churce allocates for the claims. 

As the Journal Sentinel points out, the church could allocate $10 million to compensate the sex abuse victims, even if the claims are for $100 million. As a result, the victims could wind up with only 10 cents on the dollar for their claims.

Again, Archbishop Listecki claims that the “horrific actions of a few” have sparked the lawsuits. But it was more than a few who were complicent in the sex-abuse scandal. The church hierarchy in Milwaukee, and across the nation, had a consistent pattern of shuffling pedophile priests, sending them from church to church and therefore enabling them to continue hurting innocent children.

If there is any justice at all, the bankruptcy court shouldn’t allow the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to escape its financial responsibility, and liability, to the sex abuse victims who suffered at the hands of sick priests.           


Wisconsin Nurse Offers The Brain-Injured Hope In Muskego


Posted on 1st January 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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After spending years working with brain injury patients, Wisconsin nurse Lisa Alberte decided to take matters into her own hands to find a way to help them. And her creative approach may be worth being duplicated.

Alberte started a haven for the brain-injured, Acres of Hope and Aspirations, in Muskego in May. It is located on a five-acre site in a rural area.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Wednesday did a story about Acres of Hope, which is comprised of a home and small farm where the brain-injured receive care, vocational rehabilitation, and cognitive skills and safety training.

Instead of therapy dogs, Alberte is using two deer, donkeys, ducks, chickens, potbellied pigs, peacocks and a blind pony as “creatures of rehab.” Clients at Acres of Hope get to learn the creatures’ names and care for them, tasks that improve their memory skills, according to Alberte.

The main goal of the facility is to give the brain-injured the skills they need to get and keep a job.

The story mentions several of the people being treated at Acres of Hope, including Winlom Woods, who still has a bullet in his head after being shot in by a sniper in Iraq in July 2006.

Alberte cleverly compares the situations that the brain-injured deal with to the Wizard of Oz. They are like the Tin Man, who wanted a brain. They often lose a loved one, like the Tin Man. They often lose their courage, like the cowardly Lion. And some lose their homes, like Dorothy, and wind up in nursing homes. And according to Alberte, the “wicked witches” that her patients encounter include being unable to remember, work and drive.

Continuing with that analogy, then Alberte is Glenda, the good witch. With any luck, perhaps more Acres of Hope will pop up around the country.    




Wisconsin Appeals Court Sets New Trial In Case Where Judge Left In-Law On Jury


Posted on 1st December 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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An appeals court in Wisconsin, faulting a judge for failing to pull his daughter-in-law from a panel of potential jurors for one of his cases, has ordered a new trail on that case, according to the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal.

The Court of Appeals ruling means that a Sheboygan woman, Sharon Sellhausen, will have another chance to plead her case to a jury. She was convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct last year.

Her defense attorney used one of his challenges to have Judge L. Edward Stengel’s daughter-in-law excused during the voir dire. As it turned out, the sister-in-law did not sit on the jury.

The judge had asked the lawyers in the case if they wanted him to remove her, and said he would if they asked.

But in its ruling, the appeals court said that trial judges should “always remove any immediate relative from panels of prospective jurors,” according to the Milwaukee paper.     


Transportation Secretary Lauds Wisconsin’s Texting Ban, Which Went Into Effect Dec. 1


Posted on 1st December 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Wisconsin’s texting ban went into effect today, Dec. 1, prompting a shout-out on Facebook from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. It is the 30th state to enact such a ban.

“I never had the pleasure of meeting Julie Davis, but as a grandmother of 14 I bet she would appreciate Wisconsin’s texting ban, which goes into effect today,” LaHood wrote Wednesday on his Facebook page.!/sec.lahood

The Facebook posting had a link to the Department of Transportation’s blog, which tells the story of Davis, the deceased mother of Laurier Hevier.

“Laurie, who I met at our second national Distracted Driving Summit in September, lost her mother Julie because of a distracted driver in central Wisconsin,” LaHood said on the blog . “We have featured her story on in our recently launched ‘Faces of Distracted Driving’ series.”

Here is Julie’s story, as per the blog:

“Julie Davis lived a quiet life in Rudolph, Wis. She ran a small hobby farm with her husband Larry and spent her days knitting, tending her vegetable garden, and making jewelry.  But her true passion was for her friends and family — especially her fourteen grandchildren. 

‘She said being a grandma was one of the busiest jobs, but she loved it,’ Laurie said.  ‘She was at every event – if she could make it, she would go.'”

That all ended April 15 last year.

“That afternoon, she set out for a hike near her home with her best friend,” the Transportation blog said. “As they walked beside the road, a 19-year-old driving at 70 mph struck Julie from behind, killing her instantly. There were no skid marks, no signs of attempted braking.”

Blame a distracted driver. 

“Phone records and the accident investigation indicated the driver who struck Julie was likely distracted by her cellphone,” the blog says. “Crash reconstruction reports showed that the driver must have taken her eyes from the road for almost 9 seconds to miss seeing two pedestrians.  And two witnesses saw the driver swerving back and forth just prior to the crash.”

Citing that case, LaHood wrote on the Transportation Department blog, “That’s why we need good laws, like Wisconsin’s new texting ban, to keep drivers’ focus where it needs to be.”

Wisconsin’s new law permits drivers to talk on their cellphones, but they cannot send e-mails or text messages while driving. For my money, the law doesn’t go far enough. It should have barred talking on cellphones by motorists. But It’s better than nothing.

Woman Sues Ex-Prosecutor Ken Kratz Over Text Messages


Posted on 18th October 2010 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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A woman who was sent sexually oriented text messages from the prosecutor on her domestic-abuse abuse case filed suit Friday, alleging that her constitutional rights were violated, according to the Associated Press.

 The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Milwaukee by Stephanie Van Groll, 26.

Ex-Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz had texted Van Groll 30 times last year trying to convince her to have an affair with him while he was prosecuting her former boyfriend for trying to strangle her.

The suit, seeking unspecificed damages, claims that under Wisconsin law witnesses have a right to be protected from any harm that results from their cooperation with authorities.