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Obituaries and death notices for Dec. 2, 2019

Esther L. Braun

Margaret G. Connors

Gary L. Hilts

Mary A. Kitzman

Impeachment inquiry enters new phase. Will the White House take part?


President Trump this week faces a dilemma central to the impeachment inquiry against him.

He could opt to have his legal team take part in the next phase, a move that some of the president’s backers warn would grant the impeachment proceedings greater legitimacy. Or the White House could continue to reject any involvement, potentially allowing key elements of a Democratic-crafted narrative of official misconduct by the president to go largely unchallenged.

Whichever course the president chooses will carry risks for both sides in historic proceedings that have so far broken down almost exclusively along partisan lines.

Congressional investigators have been examining whether Trump abused his power by trying to strong-arm the neophyte president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, into announcing investigations meant to damage Joe Biden, a potential 2020 challenger, and to undermine the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Now, as lawmakers return from their Thanksgiving recess, the inquiry will pivot to weighing potential articles of impeachment against Trump. If the process moves on to a vote by the full House of Representatives, he could ultimately find himself only the third U.S. president ever to be impeached.

At incendiary campaign-style rallies across the country, Trump has repeatedly railed against the impeachment proceedings as a sham, a hoax and a witch hunt. A typical scenario unfolded at a rally last week in Sunrise, Fla., when he basked in crowd chants of an expletive he used to characterize the House probe, and accused “radical Democrats” of trying to overturn the last election.

Back in Washington, the House Intelligence Committee in recent weeks has heard from a dozen fact witnesses, all current or previous Trump administration officials, about the irregular foreign-policy channel set up by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and the unexplained holdup of $400 million in security aid to help Kyiv in its war with Russian-backed fighters in eastern Ukraine, Europe’s only active battlefront.

On Tuesday, the Intelligence panel, which has taken the lead in impeachment proceedings so far, is set to vote on a formal report, also including evidence gathered by the Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees.

The focus is then expected to shift to the House Judiciary Committee, which will craft and consider specific grounds for impeachment, a process somewhat akin to a prosecutor deciding to bring criminal charges.

Lawmakers at the first of those hearings, likely Wednesday, are expected to hear from legal and constitutional experts on the impeachment process, with the White House invited to participate. The panel’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, set a deadline of Friday evening for the administration to say whether it would take part in more hearings expected next week.

In appearances on Sunday’s major news-talk shows, the president’s supporters continued to maintain he has engaged in no wrongdoing, while Democrats challenged them anew to provide evidence of his innocence.

The White House has blocked the testimony of senior aides and refused to hand over requested documents relating to the probe, and Trump’s congressional supporters have said little about the substance of the allegations against him.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Rep. Val Demings, a Florida Democrat who sits on both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, urged the president to put forth any exculpatory evidence.

“We are certainly hoping the president, his counsel, will take advantage of that opportunity,” Demings said. “If he hasn’t done anything wrong, we are certainly anxious to hear his explanation of that.”

Demings, a former police chief in Orlando, Fla., scoffed at the idea—frequently put forth by Trump’s defenders—that the eventual release of the crucial military assistance left Trump in the clear over allegations he pressured Zelensky to start investigations that would personally benefit Trump in return for the aid. A botched bank robbery or an unsuccessful burglary are still crimes, she said.

“The fact that the president got caught in the act does not relieve him of being held accountable,” she said.

Rep. Tom McClintock, appearing on the same program, said it would be “to the president’s advantage” to have his lawyers take part in this week’s Judiciary Committee proceedings. But the Elk Grove, Calif., Republican, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, added: “I can also understand how he is upset at the illegitimate process that we saw unfold” in Intelligence Committee hearings.

In those sessions, the Republican minority was allowed to pose questions and request witnesses, though not all were approved by the committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank. The head of the Democratic caucus, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, said on “Fox News Sunday” that relevant knowledge of facts surrounding Trump’s conduct on Ukraine would be the determining factor in whether witnesses would be summoned.

Republicans have demanded that figures such as Biden’s son Hunter Biden, who formerly sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, be called to testify. Trump’s backers, without offering any evidence, have accused the former vice president of pushing for the firing of an ex-Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son. But U.S. partners such as the European Union and the International Monetary Fund also sought the dismissal of the prosecutor in question, saying he impeded anti-corruption efforts.

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, signaled that the GOP would continue to use demands for particular witnesses to try to attack the integrity of the process. He said Schiff himself should be called to testify before the panel.

If the Democrats decline to call Schiff, Collins said on “Fox News Sunday,” then “I really question his veracity in what he’s putting in his report.”

Republicans also continued to press the idea that Trump was being vilified for a nontraditional communication style rather than for any actual wrongdoing.

In the now-famous July 25 call with Zelensky—in which a White House-released call record has the U.S. leader asking his Ukrainian counterpart to “do us a favor, though”—McClintock said Trump was merely talking like the brash Manhattan real estate developer he once was, rather than using the “delicate language of diplomacy.”

It will be up House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make the final call on any articles of impeachment.

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UW-Whitewater student veteran opens up about sexism in the Marines


One of the girl scouts Kelly Alicea leads really wants to be a Marine—just like she was.

Alicea wants to support her. She wants to tell her how to make it in the Marines.

But it’s complicated. She remembers what she saw—the immense sexism, the inappropriate comments, the self-doubt, the rape culture, the unequal power dynamics.

“I really want us as citizens who are outside of the military to start working on that because we shouldn’t be afraid to send our daughters to serve their country,” she said in a recent interview.

Alicea, now 39, served in the Marine Corps reserves out of Green Bay from 1999 to 2007. She went to Iraq in 2003 during the presidential call-up as a combat engineer.

Now, she’s a senior in liberal studies at UW-Whitewater, which as part of its events recognizing veterans last month hosted a Women of Valor art exhibit at Roberta’s Art Gallery inside the University Center.

The university in its description of the exhibit said despite serving in all five branches of the military, the service from women has been “invisible.” To address that issue, the university displayed uniforms from UW-Whitewater students who served throughout the military.

Alicea spoke at that exhibit on Veterans Day. On that day, she was glad to be there sharing her stories. But going back just a year before, she said in her speech she could not have found her voice.

“I didn’t feel pride in my service,” she said in her speech. “For years I have struggled with depression and anxiety related to my time in the military.”

The sexism was toxic and pervasive, she said. This went well beyond a few slights.

“I feel honestly that most of my service, most of the time that I spent in service, was shaded by the fact that I was a female Marine,” she said. “Being a female Marine somehow made me not quite fully a Marine.

“And I carried that with me for years until I understood what I’m trying to share now,” she continued. “That it’s these structures and this protection of the patriarchal domination really that causes women to feel like that.”

Anthony Wahl 

Former Marine and current UW-Whitewater student Kelly Alicea recently shared her military story in a Veterans Day art exhibit named “Whitewater Women of Valor” at the Roberta A. Fiskum Art Gallery in the school’s University Center.

She has since regained her pride in serving the country she loves. She wants to bring the topic out into the open using her newfound voice and her deepening understanding of the structures and systems that maintain sexism in the military and elsewhere.

There was a fellow Marine who suffered injuries from a car crash and was in all likelihood going to die.

The injuries were bad. Still, Alicea said she wanted to treat him—even if the treatment was more for moral support in the Marine’s final moments than a real chance at saving him.

Afterwards, she said she “got a lot of flak for that from other Marines and from superiors,” who wanted to know why she wasted equipment on someone she knew was going to die anyway.

But to Alicea, this was about dignity in death. And she said she feels like this is an example of a woman bringing a different worldview to the work of a Marine.

Later on, she brought a serious concern to one of her bosses. They then went together to discuss the matter with a commanding officer, who upon seeing them said in front of several other Marines, “Aw man don’t tell me you knocked her up,” as Alicea recalls.

“And everyone laughed,” she said.

Through the military, Alicea received her universal HVAC license, which she said allowed her to work on any kind of HVAC (short for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) unit.

But even though she said it was a strong credential, she couldn’t find work. This was confounding to her, until someone explained why they wouldn’t want to send a woman in her 20s by herself to work in some basement in a bad neighborhood, for example.

It took her time to recognize how women were treated differently than men, both in the military and in the civilian world.

“Until recently I did not have the theoretical frameworks to understand how dangerous those ideological structures are, but for years I have lived in the consequences,” she said in her speech.

“These are hard things to talk about. They push us past the edges of comfortable conversation into potentially dangerous territories. But this is our job now.”

White House says it won’t participate in impeachment hearing


The White House declared Sunday it would not participate in the first impeachment hearings before the House Judiciary Committee as Democrats prepared to approve their report Tuesday making the case for President Donald Trump’s removal from office.

The Democratic majority on the House Intelligence Committee says its report will speak for itself in laying out possible charges of bribery or “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the constitutional standard for impeachment. After receiving the report, the Judiciary Committee would prepare actual charges.

That committee’s first hearing was already set for Wednesday and was expected to feature four legal experts who will examine questions of constitutional grounds as the committee decides whether to write articles of impeachment against Trump, and if so, what those articles would be.

The White House was invited to attend the Wednesday hearing, but its counsel declined in a fiery letter released Sunday evening.

“This baseless and highly partisan inquiry violates all past historical precedent, basic due process rights, and fundamental fairness,” said White House counsel Pat Cipollone, continuing the West Wing’s attack on the procedural form of the impeachment proceedings. Trump himself was scheduled to attend a summit with NATO allies outside London on Wednesday.

Cipollone’s letter applied only to the Wednesday hearing, and he demanded more information from Democrats on how they intended to conduct further hearings before Trump would decide whether to participate in those hearings. House-passed rules provide the president and his attorneys the right to cross-examine witnesses and review evidence before the committee, but little ability to bring forward witnesses of their own.

Republicans, meanwhile, wanted Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, to testify before the Judiciary Committee, though they have no power to compel him to do so, as they joined the White House effort to try to cast the Democratic-led inquiry as skewed against the Republican president.

“If he chooses not to (testify), then I really question his veracity in what he’s putting in his report,” said Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

“It’s easy to hide behind a report,” Collins added. “But it’s going to be another thing to actually get up and have to answer questions.”

Schiff has said “there’s nothing for me to testify about,” that he isn’t a “fact” witness and that Republicans are only trying to “mollify the president, and that’s not a good reason to try to call a member of Congress as a witness.”

Coming after two weeks of public testimony and two months of investigation, the findings of the Intelligence Committee report were not yet publicly known. But the report was expected to focus mostly on whether Trump abused his office by withholding military aid approved by Congress and a White House meeting as he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch investigations into Trump’s political rivals.

Democrats also were expected to include an article on obstruction of Congress that outlines Trump’s instructions to officials in his administration to defy subpoenas for documents or testimony.

Democrats were aiming for a final House vote by Christmas, which would set the stage for a likely Senate trial in January.

“I do believe that all evidence certainly will be included in that report so the Judiciary Committee can make the necessary decisions that they need to,” said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

She said Democrats had not yet finalized witnesses for the upcoming Judiciary hearings and were waiting to hear back from Trump on his plans to present a defense.

“If he has not done anything wrong, we’re certainly anxious to hear his explanation of that,” Demings said.

Trump has previously suggested that he might be willing to offer written testimony under certain conditions, though aides suggested they did not anticipate Democrats would ever agree to them.

“The Democrats are holding the most ridiculous Impeachment hearings in history. Read the Transcripts, NOTHING was done or said wrong!” Trump tweeted Saturday.

Democrats had pressed Trump to decide by Friday whether he would take advantage of due process protections afforded to him under House rules adopted in October for follow-up hearings, including the right to request witness testimony and to cross-examine the witnesses called by the House.

“If you are serious about conducting a fair process going forward, and in order to protect the rights and privileges of the President, we may consider participating in future Judiciary Committee proceedings if you afford the Administration the ability to do so meaningfully,” Cipollone said in the Sunday letter.

“Why would they want to participate in just another rerun?” asked Collins, D-Ga., noting that the Judiciary Committee previously heard from constitutional scholars on impeachable offenses during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

“This is a complete American waste of time of here,” said Collins, who is calling on the committee chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to expand the witness list to include those sought by Republicans. “This is why this is a problematic exercise and simply a made-for-TV event coming on Wednesday.”

Still, Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of California, a Judiciary Committee member, said he believes Trump would benefit if he presents his own defense.

“I think it would be to the president’s advantage to have his attorneys there. That’s his right,” he said.

McClintock said he doesn’t believe Trump did anything wrong in the July 25 call with Zelenskiy that is at the heart of the investigation.

“He didn’t use the delicate language of diplomacy in that conversation, that’s true. He also doesn’t use the smarmy talk of politicians,” McClintock said.

To McClintock, Trump was using “the blunt talk of a Manhattan businessman” and “was entirely within his constitutional authority” in his dealings with Ukraine’s leader.

Collins appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and Demings and McClintock were on ABC’s “This Week.”

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Fundraising group forms for proposed indoor sports complex


A proposed indoor sports complex with a $33 million price tag has raised questions about who could oversee private fundraising for such a massive project.

Bill McCoshen has an answer.

A group of a dozen or so business leaders has created Friends of the Indoor Sports Complex, a fundraising group that will try to secure private donations to help build the complex.

McCoshen, president of the Janesville Jets, the junior hockey team that calls the Janesville Ice Arena home, announced the group’s formation last week.

The Friends group will funnel the money it raises through the Janesville Foundation. It will devise a fundraising strategy at its first meeting in December, McCoshen said.

City officials have suggested that the $33 million project could be funded through a 50-50 private/public partnership.

In October, McCoshen said he did not believe the private sector could raise half the amount needed for the project. In a recent interview, he said he stands by that statement but hopes the private sector will surprise him.

The group hopes to raise $8 million to $12 million in the next six months and to have major commitments locked in by the end of February, McCoshen said.

If the private sector cannot raise enough to offset what the city would be willing to borrow, the city council must decide whether to change the scope of the project, he said.

“I think it is critical for the project we all be as transparent as possible,” McCoshen said. “I do not want to oversell it, and I don’t think anyone on this committee does.”

A small nucleus in the group has been working on fundraising for the last couple of months and has met privately with potential donors, McCoshen said. He declined to offer more details.

The Friends group will start fundraising by securing naming rights for the complex, each of the two ice rinks and the flexible court space, McCoshen said.

At its Nov. 12 meeting, the city council authorized city staff to begin negotiations with Janesville Mall owner RockStep Capital to locate the sports complex at the mall.

Mall officials have said the former JCPenney store on the east side of the mall—a location not visible from the Milton Avenue business corridor—would be the easiest space for construction.

McCoshen told The Gazette he does not think the project will attract as many private dollars if it is tucked away in the back of the mall.

“People want their name in lights,” he said. “There is going to have to be visibility.”

RockStep’s role in fundraising efforts must be hashed out in negotiations with the city and is not part of the Friends group conversation, McCoshen said.

The Janesville Jets’ contribution will be on the operational side, McCoshen said. The Jets are willing to work with higher fees and changes in their lease agreement if they can play in a new facility, he said.

The Jets and Janesville Youth Hockey, the two main users of the ice arena, have two members each in the Friends group.

UW-Whitewater’s interim athletic director is also a member.

When asked whether UW-Whitewater is being considered a user of the complex, McCoshen said he hasn’t had that conversation with the university yet. However, UW-Whitewater used to send its club ice hockey team to the Janesville Ice Arena.

Janesville residents often have envied Beloit, their neighbor to the south, because the city has a couple of donors with deep pockets to help it build big projects.

Most recently, Janesville native and philanthropist Quint Studer announced plans to build a new Beloit Snappers baseball stadium in the city with help from billionaire Diane Hendricks.

Janesville is a “community of donors” with a long history of supporting important initiatives, McCoshen said.

Rather than having one or two major donors, the sports complex likely will be a community effort and something everyone can be proud of, he said.