Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald threw cold water on a couple of Gov. Scott Walker’s top priorities Friday, saying he was cut out of negotiations between the governor and Assembly on a tax cut deal and juvenile justice overhaul.
Fitzgerald told The Associated Press that both proposals, which passed the Assembly this week, will have serious problems getting through the Senate with no changes. The Assembly has adjourned for the year and Speaker Robin Vos reiterated to the AP on Friday that the chamber has no intention of coming back.
“If the Senate doesn’t want to pass the tax cut, they can kill it and take the blame,” Vos said.
The Assembly passed dozens of bills this week before quitting early Friday morning. That means anything that still needs Senate approval has to pass as is to become law.
Several major pieces of Walker’s agenda that he hopes to run for re-election on this year got through the Assembly this week. That includes a $100 per-child tax credit and sales tax holiday, a plan to close the troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile prison and overhaul the juvenile justice system, $350 million for a new adult prison, $4 million for more prosecutors and an incentive package to persuade Kimberly-Clark not to shed 600 jobs in northeastern Wisconsin.
Fitzgerald didn’t commit to any of those passing the Senate unchanged and said he “absolutely” felt like he was cut out of negotiations between Vos and Walker.
“They continue to cut deals between the governor and Assembly and I don’t know why they think that will result in bills becoming law,” he said.
Tensions among Vos, Fitzgerald and Walker date back to last year’s protracted budget negotiations that resulted in the spending plan passing two months late. Walker spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg did not directly address Fitzgerald’s complaints in a statement.
“We have been and will continue to work with both the Senate and Assembly to get positive things done for the people of Wisconsin,” she said.
Vos said he’s worked with individual senators—including Sen. Van Wanggaard on the Lincoln Hills plan—who could then work with Fitzgerald to get bills passed. He said there was no conscious decision to leave Fitzgerald out of the process.
“I have learned negotiating with the Senate sometimes is like getting Jell-O to mold,” Vos said.
The Lincoln Hills bill was written by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who met with Walker to talk about it earlier this week. Walker told reporters he would sign the bill in the version it passed the Assembly.
Under the bill, Lincoln Hills would close by 2021, the most serious juvenile offenders would be housed in state-run prisons and counties would be in charge of the rest. It includes $80 million to pay for construction of new facilities as needed.
“I have a ton of questions,” Fitzgerald said of that plan. “We weren’t involved in the process at all. I wasn’t invited to any meetings. I have a ton of concerns.”
He said the new system could be “completely unraveled” by a lawsuit.
“I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who understands what they’re doing,” Fitzgerald said. “It deserves a lot more scrutiny than it’s received.”
Vos said he still thinks there’s time for the Senate to review and accept what the Assembly passed with no changes. The Senate plans to return for a final day in session on March 20.
But Fitzgerald said between now and then Senate committees will be meeting and he assumes they will be working on changes to the tax cut proposal, Lincoln Hills plan and other bills approved by the Assembly.
“I can’t believe they wouldn’t come back and take some of the changes from the Senate,” he said.
A young man with a lot of promise took a gun to a marijuana deal.
As a result, his former friend was gravely wounded.
Now, the young man is going to prison.
The shooting on Janesville’s near west side Nov. 7, 2016, was replayed in Rock County Court on Friday as Judge Michael Haakenson sentenced Janesville resident Nando M. Enis, 21, to prison for eight years.
Fourth Ward neighbors will remember the events that came after the shooting, as heavily armed police with an armored car laid siege to a house, looking for the three suspects in the shooting.
Enis and two others had met Mandrick T.J. Teich, 19, on a Fourth Ward street so Teich could sell marijuana to Enis, according to the criminal complaint.
But Enis argued about the weed’s quality. Teich tried to take it back, and that’s when two shots were fired, according to the complaint.
Defense attorney Steven Zaleski said the gun went off accidentally as the two struggled. But Assistant District Attorney Mary Bricco blamed Enis.
Enis was originally charged with party to attempted first-degree intentional homicide and robbery by use of force, but he pleaded guilty to first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
Haakenson said Teich still has a bullet in his shoulder, and Teich is described as not the same carefree, happy person he was before being shot.
Teich’s grandmother, Patricia Teich, said Enis and T.J. were friends, and she thinks about the shooting every day. She said it’s hard to see T.J.’s scars and how he reacts to everyday events.
Bricco said Enis, his family and Enis’ school mentors say Enis isn’t a bad person, that he just associated with bad people and made a mistake.
Those are excuses, Bricco said.
“To say he isn’t a bad person is inaccurate,” Bricco said. “I’m not saying he doesn’t have redeemable qualities. He is obviously intelligent. He had opportunities in his life, but he turned away from them. ... He is a violent felon, and that has to have consequences.”
Bricco said Enis pointed the gun at Teich, but Teich thought it was a joke and didn’t think his friend would shoot him.
“Nando Enis clearly didn’t care about the consequences of his behavior,” Bricco said. “He went to that drug deal recklessly carrying a loaded weapon when he knew the individual he was going to get the marijuana from. He had total disregard for T.J.’s life.”
Among those endangered were neighborhood residents, some of whom witnessed the daytime shooting and could have been hit by a stray bullet, Bricco said.
Bricco described a previous incident in which Enis, already on probation for a previous crime, was seen using gang signs and wearing gang colors.
Zaleski argued Enis was 20 at the time of the shooting and that his character and brain are still developing, and he showed promise in school as a leader and friend and participant in sports.
It’s tragic that Enis came so far and “almost made it,” Zaleski said.
“But he was using marijuana, and he fell into problems that coincide with that,” Zaleski said.
Bricco said Enis had a difficult youth, and his father moved him from a tough Chicago neighborhood to Janesville in ninth grade.
His mother had drug problems and was not involved in his life, officials said.
Even so, Bricco said Enis graduated with his class, which is rare in such situations.
“He had opportunities. He had people who would help him. But he turned his back on that. He chose a life of crime. He chose a violent lifestyle. He chose drugs over what the mentors had offered him, over what this community had offered him,” Bricco said.
Enis told the judge his time in jail as his case proceeded has affected him, and he wants to change.
“I have learned that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, and character produces hope for the future,” Enis said, using words from the New Testament Book of Romans.
Haakenson quoted from a statement by a mentor at Craig High School. The mentor guided him through college applications, but Enis later pushed that aside, Haakenson said.
The pre-sentence report on Enis said he needs treatment for drugs, cognitive problems and anger, Haakenson said.
Haakenson said he must protect the community, make sure Enis gets treatment, and send a message that people who take on the responsibility of carrying a weapon must pay if things go wrong.
Enis has already spent 471 days in jail, so the eight years was reduced by that amount. He also must serve 10 years of extended supervision after his release, a time when he could get supervision and treatment, Haakenson ruled.
Haakenson told Enis that after he gets out of prison, “Go to the people who are positive, not the people who are leading you astray. And frankly, you know this. You’re a smart kid.”
local • 3A
Man’s body found at fire scene
One death was reported at a house fire Friday morning in the town of Lyons, according to a fire official who was at the scene. After a call at 8:39 a.m. Friday, firefighters made an “aggressive attempt” to search the home and knock the fire down after reports of someone trapped inside. Firefighters responded to N5465 Highway 120 in the town of Lyons, the official said. They recovered a man’s body.
City house fire brings arrest
Police have arrested a Janesville man suspected of setting a fire that damaged a south-side house Thursday night and displaced seven people. Janesville police Detective Erik Goth said police arrested Elijah J. Dvorak, 18, on suspicion of felony arson and first-degree recklessly endangering safety Friday morning.
nation/world • 6B-7B
Gates enters guilty plea
A former senior adviser to President Donald Trump’s election campaign pleaded guilty Friday to federal conspiracy and false-statements charges, switching from defendant to cooperating witness in the special counsel’s probe of Trump’s campaign and Russia’s election interference. The plea by Rick Gates revealed that he will help special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in “any and all matters.”.
Alternative polling places do exist, but at least one city official believes the Janesville Police Department is the best location for voting while City Hall is undergoing renovations.
Residents of Wards 3 and 4 typically vote at City Hall, but because of construction, they will need an alternative polling place for the April and August elections.
The Janesville City Council has until March 3 to pick the location of the new polling place, but it likely will decide Monday.
At the council’s Feb. 12 meeting, city Clerk/Treasurer Dave Godek recommended using the nearby police department as a polling place. That suggestion was criticized by some, who said minority voters might be uncomfortable entering a police station to vote, and their votes would be suppressed.
Critics and the council acknowledged the police department is progressive and has a good relationship with minority communities, but they ultimately agreed that the police department isn’t ideal as a voting location. The council directed Godek to find alternatives.
Godek found several but concluded the police station is still the best place. Alternatives include:
City officials ranked each potential polling place on parking, available space, proximity to City Hall, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and cost. The police station ranked first with the Armory close behind.
The Armory doesn’t have handicapped-accessible doors. As it has done at other polling places, the city could provide a doorbell that handicapped voters could ring to get help opening the door, Godek said.
Using the Armory would be more expensive than using the police station. The Armory would not charge the city a fee, but the city would have to pay for postcards notifying voters of the change in polling places. That wouldn’t be necessary with the police station because it’s across the street from City Hall, Godek said.
The Traxler Park warming house is farther away than the Armory and has similar ADA-compliance issues. It also would require notifying voters of a polling location change, Godek said.
Godek recommends against the fire station, church and senior center. The fire station and senior center have limited parking, and the church has an unreliable elevator that would need to be fixed, Godek said.
City officials also reached out St. Patrick and Wilson elementary schools, the Rock County Courthouse, the Janesville Woman’s Club and First Congregational United Church of Christ, but it stopped pursuing those locations for various reasons.
Godek said he understands the “potential concern” about voting at the police department, but he said residents have the option to vote absentee at City Hall or by mail before the election.
“There are alternatives. You don’t have to appear at the polling place,” Godek said.
The council has until March 3 to select the new polling location. If it misses that deadline, City Hall will remain the polling place, and voters might have to use the parking garage to vote, Godek said.
“The garage would certainly be an option,” he said. “Quite frankly, it didn’t rank very well.”