Friday, May 20, 2022
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Friday, May 20, 2022

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

DA John Chisholm ‘Guaranteed’ His Diversion Approach Would ‘Kill Somebody’

“Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody?” – Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm

Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm “guaranteed” that his diversion approach to the criminal justice system would result in someone being killed.

That was years before the Waukesha Christmas Parade massacre with a repeat offender who was released on bail so low even the DA himself now says it was inappropriate. But back in 2007, he promised his approach to the criminal justice system would result in someone going out and killing somebody.

Five people died and 48 people were injured in the Waukesha Christmas Parade horror.

“Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody?” John Chisholm said in a 2007 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”

The Journal Sentinel republished that John Chisholm quote in 2013, in a story that read, “Overdose death highlights deferred prosecutions in Milwaukee County.” That story noted, “Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has long been a proponent of diverting nonviolent offenders from the traditional criminal justice system to programs aimed at giving them a second chance.”

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office is acknowledging an “inappropriately low” bail recommendation from his office based on Darrell Brooks’ recent and pending charges.

Darrel Brooks has been accused by Waukesha Police of driving the red SUV through the Waukesha Christmas Parade just before 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21.

See Darrell Brooks’s criminal history here.

Here is the District Attorney’s full statement:

Below is the summary of pending charges against Mr. Darrell Brooks: On July 27, 2020, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office issued two counts of second-degree Recklessly Endangering Safety and Felon In Possession of a Firearm in case2020CF002550. Cash bail was originally set at $10,000 and subsequently reduced to $7,500. Unlike some other states, Wisconsin requires payment for the full amount of bail set in any criminal case.

On February 9, 2021, the State was prepared to proceed to a scheduled jury trial. Mr. Brooks was still in custody on this matter and previously made a demand for a speedy jury trial. Because another jury trial was in progress before the same court, the defendant’s demand for a speedy jury trial could not be met. The case was adjourned and bail reduced to $500, which the defendant posted on February 21, 2021.

On November 5, 2021, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office issued against Mr.Brooks charges of Second Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Felony Bail Jumping, Battery, Obstructing an Officer and Disorderly Conduct in case 2021CF004596. The most recent case against Mr. Brooks was appropriately charged. The State made a cash bail request in this case of$1,000, which was set by the court. The defendant posted $1,000 cash bail on November 11, resulting in his release from custody.

The State’s bail recommendation, in this case, was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent changes and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks. The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the approach of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office toward matters involving violent crime, nor was it consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant prior to setting of bail.

This office is currently conducting an internal review of the decision to make the recent bail recommendation in this matter in order to determine the appropriate next steps.

The severe court backlogs in Milwaukee County are an issue we wrote about Sept. 18, 2021, but that the other media have shown little interest in. We reported then that Milwaukee County criminal courts are operating with a two-year backlog, and the felony case backlog was 1,615 cases in the latest estimate from late August, the Chief Judge Mary Triggiano confirmed to Wisconsin Right Now.

There was a backlog of jury trials too. Triggiano said in the interview with Wisconsin Right Now that there are 350 cases awaiting jury trial where the person is in custody with a speedy trial request. Some of those cases will be resolved short of trial, and some still have other court activities going on, like discovery requests, she said. The courts were able to toll the speedy trial mandates and are still able to waive them for cause due to the pandemic, she said.

She blamed COVID-19.

The backlogs come as crime skyrockets in Milwaukee.

“We’ve taken this pandemic very, very seriously, as well as we should, including the variants…we’re being very careful,” Triggiano told a County Board committee. She likened the court system’s “recovery efforts” to a “dimmer switch,” where the system goes back to normal gradually, not all at once.

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Justice Clarence Thomas: ‘We Are in Danger of Destroying The Institutions … Required For a Free Society’

(The Center Square) – It’s been two weeks and there’s still no word on who leaked the U.S. Supreme Court draft brief indicating that the court was set to overturn Roe V. Wade and returning the issue of abortion back to the states.

At a recent event in Dallas, Texas, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the Manhattan Institute, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke about the leak and his concern for the rule of law and credibility of the court.

A roughly 8-minute clip of his talk was published by C-SPAN, in which he said, “I think we are in danger of destroying the institutions that are required for a free society. You can’t have a civil society, a free society without a stable legal system.

“You can’t have one without stability in things like property or interpretation and impartial judiciary. I’ve been in this business long enough to know just how fragile it is.”

Prior to the draft opinion being leaked this year, Thomas said it was impossible to think that even one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone.

“No one would ever do that,” he said. “There’s such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, belief in what we were doing, that that was beyond anyone’s understanding or at least anyone's imagination, that someone would do that.”

Now, “look where we are,” he said. “That trust and belief is gone forever. When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder. It's like kind of an infidelity, that you can explain it, but you can't undo it.”

New York University professor Melissa Murray holds a similar sentiment. She told the New York Times last week that the leak “violates the omertà that traditionally has shrouded the court’s deliberations. To the public, this not only looks like the kind of maneuvering that we’ve come to expect from politicians, it also strips the court of the mystique it has generally enjoyed.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts’ reputation is also at stake. He has a lot riding on whether or not the leaker is identified and punished, Dan McLaughlin at National Review Online notes.

“John Roberts’s Court is at stake here,” he argues. “If decisions can be leaked in draft form with impunity in order to influence their outcomes, this will become a regular feature of high-profile cases, placing the Court under even worse pressures and threats than already exist.”

The Supreme Court isn’t the only institution that’s changing, Thomas said. Universities, colleges, law schools have all changed over the last few decades. Today, the climate on most campuses doesn’t allow for peaceful debate of differing views, instead policies of censorship are creating a “chilling effect” on speech.

He recently met with students attending the University of Georgia, where he said students expressed that they can’t publicly affirm pro-life or traditional family views because of the climate on campus.

At Yale Law School, his alma mater, students could once freely speak about anything, “it was anything goes, you do your thing I do my thing,” he said. Now. there’s censorship, he said.

"I wonder how long we're going to have these institutions at the rate we're undermining them,” Thomas said. “And then I wonder when they're gone or they are destabilized, what we'll have as a country – and I don't think that the prospects are good if we continue to lose them."

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Biden’s DHS Disinformation Governance Board Paused After Blowback

(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden's Department of Homeland Security "Disinformation Governance Board" has been put on hold after quickly falling into controversy, according to media reports.

The Washington Post on Wednesday reported a pause for the board, which DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas announced at a Congressional hearing last month.

Mayorkas told lawmakers the board would use federal law enforcement power to address disinformation. He gave the examples of bad information given to migrants as well as Russian disinformation.

"The goal is to bring the resources of (DHS) together to address this threat," he said before Congress in April.

Soon after, videos emerged online showing the woman tapped to lead the board, Nina Jankowicz, making a series of controversial comments. News outlets reported her resignation Wednesday.

Critics also raised concerns about how such a board could be used to silence free speech. Several lawmakers took issue with the board.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., posted a video on Twitter saying the “Soviet-style censorship agency” is evidence “the Marxist left are coming after your most basic constitutional rights.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but the Department of Homeland Security just set up a new office that’s going to be a speech police,” Rubio said after the board was announced. "They’re basically going to be focused on misinformation … so instead of the Department of Homeland Security focused on stopping drugs from coming into America or securing the border, stopping illegal immigration, they’re not going to be focused on that. They’re focused on policing speech, on making sure that people cannot share information or say things that they decide is misinformation."

Walmart Earnings

Stocks Tank After Target & Walmart Earnings Plummet Because of Rising Fuel Costs, Inflation

(The Center Square) – Stocks tanked Wednesday after major retailers’ earnings reports were down significantly because of inflation, sparking a selling frenzy. Wall Street closed with the largest drop in one day since March 2020.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average drop of nearly 1,200 points was the ninth-largest single-day drop in U.S. history, Seeking Alpha reports.

The stock market began to tank by midday. By noon EST, NASDAQ was down 400 points and the DJIA was down by 800 points. Then the DJIA dropped by roughly 1,100 points after 2pm EST and closed with a near 1,200-point loss.

The market closed with the DJIA down by 3.6%, the S&P 500 down by 4% and the Nasdaq down by 4.7%.

Overall, the DJIA dropped 1,164.52 points, closing at 31,490.07. The S&P 500 dropped 165.17 points, closing at 3,923.68. The Nasdaq dropped 566.37 points, closing at 11,418.15.

Panic set in after major retail corporations like Target and Walmart reported earnings losses. Apple and Microsoft also led big tech losses.

Target shares were down by nearly 25% after reporting first-quarter results that fell far below Wall Street forecasts. Its second-quarter outlook was also weaker than expected with its quarterly gross margin dropping from 30% to 25.7%.

“We were less profitable than we expected to be or intend to be over time,” Target Chief Executive Brian Cornell said, Reuters reported. “These (costs) continue to grow almost on a daily basis and there is no sign right now … that it is going to abate over time.”

Rising fuel and freight costs will add nearly $1 billion more than originally expected in annual cost, Target said.

Wal-Mart stock fell nearly 7% after it also reported a weaker-than-expected financial outlook. It also said it was grappling with rising fuel costs and inflation eating into its profits.

Apple stock fell 5.6%, Intel lost 4.6%, Microsoft lost nearly 5% and HP dropped 7%.

Companies reporting earnings losses cited rising fuel and freight costs as primary factors.

These, coupled with supply chain issues, caused transportation costs to skyrocket in the first quarter. While companies passed on increased costs to consumers, consumers weren’t buying enough to offset company losses.

“Worries over inflation and a hawkish Fed are nothing new, but now add in worries over profit margins and the impact of inflation on the consumer and you have the recipe for a big down day,” Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, said, The Hill reported.

Normally, a drop in consumer demand would force companies to drop prices and subsequently reduce inflation. But supply chain issues, coupled with Biden administration energy policies restricting domestic production of oil and gas, are leading causes of prices skyrocketing across the board.

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Republicans Criticize New UW-Madison Chancellor, Threaten UW Funding

(The Center Square) – Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol are not happy with the new choice for chancellor at UW-Madison.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, who is the vice chairman of the Senate’s committee for universities and technical colleges, called Dr. Jennifer Mnookin a “ridiculous choice.”

“Jennifer Mnookin has a very clear history of advocating for the forced indoctrination of college students with critical race theory. She has openly supported mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations regardless of the rights of individuals to make that healthcare determination for themselves.,” Nass said Monday. “It has also been reported that Mnookin met with the scandal plagued Hunter Biden (in 2019) and supported him joining the UCLA faculty to instruct students on drug policies.”

UW Regents unanimously chose Mnookin, who is currently the dean at UCLA’s law school. They announced her selection on Monday.

Nass said the Republican-controlled legislature should take Mnookin’s appointment as a message from the university.

“If the Board of Regents truly believes that Mnookin is the best choice, then the next Republican governor and legislature should find it impossible to provide more taxpayer dollars or allow the board to increase tuition,” Nass added.

UW Regent Karen Walsh told reporters Tuesday that she doesn’t take that threat seriously.

“I don’t think that’s realistic,” Walsh said. “I would like for those folks to meet with Chancellor Mnookin before they threaten our funding. I don’t think they intend to do that. I think they’re much more interested in sitting in a room with us and talking about our differences.”

Mnookin told the same news conference that she is waiting to get to campus, so she can meet with everyone involved with the university.

"I look forward to arriving in Madison and looking for that common ground, and higher education is a place where I hope we can come together,” Mnookin added.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Monday pushed regents to take a look at another chancellor candidate.

“We deserve campus leaders who will encourage healthy debate, diverse thoughts and freedom of expression. Given her obvious viewpoints and political donations, Dr. Mnookin needs to prove she supports free speech on campus and not politically correct ideologies,” Vos said. “After all the work of Tommy Thompson and Rebecca Blank that attempted to strengthen relationships between the university and the Legislature, this is a step backwards. I strongly hope the Board of Regents will reconsider their selection.”

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(The Center Square) – Gasoline prices hit a new high in the U.S. on Monday, with the average cost of a gallon of regular gas at $4.48.

That's an increase of 15 cents a gallon in the past week and 40 cents over this time last month. A year ago, gas prices on average were $3.04 a gallon, $1.44 cheaper.

The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel is at $5.57 a gallon, also a record high. Diesel fuel is used by truckers who transport goods across the country, contributing to 40-year-high inflation that's sending the prices of groceries and other commodities significantly higher.

In California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $5.98, highest in the U.S.

President Joe Biden has attempted to blame the rising cost of gasoline on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but prices began elevating shortly after he took office, when he canceled new oil and gas leases on federal lands and placed new restrictions on the industry.

Just last week, Biden canceled three pending oil and gas drilling leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Deer District Shootings Water Street Shooting

Republican Candidates Promise Tough On Crime Approach After Deer District Shootings

(The Center Square) – The Republicans running for governor in Wisconsin are promising more cops, more prisons, and say they'll fire prosecutors who don’t get tough on crime after a violent weekend in Milwaukee that saw more than two dozen people shot.

Milwaukee Police say Friday night’s shootings near the Deer District wounded 21 people. Another of those shootings saw 17 people shot. A string of shootings on Sunday saw another five people shot, including two people who died.

Monday saw the Republicans running for governor promising to get tougher on crime if elected.

“The simple points are to put 1,000 more cops on the street. Bail and sentencing reform to stop these bad D.A.’s and these bad judges. Fire [Milwaukee County] District Attorney John Chisholm on day one. And use the Wisconsin State Patrol to surge where violent crime is surging,” frontrunner Rebecca Kleefisch told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber Monday morning.

Kleefisch said under Democratic leadership the Deer District has become the “fear district.”

Republican Tim Michels is also promising to fire Milwaukee County’s district attorney. But he is also promising to fire other prosecutors across the state who don’t get tougher on crime.

“I will review all the D.A.s, and the ones who have an awful pattern of catch-and-release, dropping charges quickly, and letting guys out on the street, I will remove them from office,” Michels told Weber.

Michels also said he wants to build more prisons in the state, starting with a replacement for the maximum security prison in Green Bay.

Candidate Kevin Nicholson took to Twitter on Sunday to blast Chisholm and the leadership in Milwaukee.

“Twenty one shot on Friday; 3 murdered last night. Out of control car thefts. Record-breaking homicides,” Nicholson Tweeted. “We’re sick of it. Time to turn the page. We need new leaders who are serious about getting this back on track.”

Crime and public safety have been issues in the race for governor since day one. Republicans have blamed Gov. Tony Evers for the spike in violent crime during his time in office, including record years for both shootings and homicides in Milwaukee for the past two years.

The governor on Saturday offered thoughts and prayers, but didn’t offer any plans after Milwaukee’s violent weekend.

“Kathy and I are heartbroken by last night’s horrific acts of gun violence in Milwaukee. We are thinking of all the people who were injured and are praying for their full recovery, and we are thinking of the many people affected by this senseless tragedy,” the governor Tweeted.

Baby Formula Crisis Illegal Immigrants Getting Baby Formula

FDA Launches Investigation Into Baby Formula Crisis

(The Center Square) – The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday the agency will investigate the national shortage of baby formula that has left American parents concerned and frustrated.

The shortage began last year but was exacerbated after problems at a baby formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, leading the company Abbott to issue a recall on formula and shut down production in February. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told NBC in an interview Monday that there will be a “full investigation” after a whistleblower report said there were problems at that factory in October, but an FDA inspector did not look into the issue until January.

“We always want to be as fast as we can possibly be while also being diligent, remembering, as shown by this example, that if we didn’t close the plant, then we have a supply shortage so we have to get this right,” Califf said in the interview. "There will be a full investigation of the timeline, and we'll do everything possible to correct any errors in timing that we had so that we don't repeat any mistakes that may have been made."

Also Monday, Abbott said it has reached a federal consent decree with the FDA that could allow its Sturgis plant to resume production in two weeks. It would take about six to eight weeks after that for the baby formula to be available to consumers.

The data company Datasembly reported that as of the week ending May 8, the national out of stock rate for baby formula hit 43%. The company said the product was already experiencing supply issues last year before the larger issues arose.

“This issue has been compounded by supply chain challenges, product recalls and historic inflation," Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said. "The category started to see stocking challenges beginning in July 2021, and the situation has continued to worsen into 2022."

Critics have blasted the Biden administration for its response to the shortage, which has left many parents scrambling to find formula. Biden came under fire for his response to a question from a reporter asking if he should have acted more quickly to address the baby formula shortage.

“If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have, but we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us and we have to move with caution as well as fear,” Biden said.

Those comments sparked controversy and led critics to point out the recall was issued in February, giving several months to anticipate the shortage.

“I’ve been calling on the Biden admin to address America’s baby formula shortage since February,” U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on Twitter. “They did nothing.”

The Biden administration said it is working with suppliers to help solve the shortage.

"We're very close to having a path forward to safely reopening the facility," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Republicans blasted Biden for the shortage, saying his efforts have been too little too late.

“In typical fashion, the Biden administration downplayed the baby formula shortage for months,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said. “Now that it's a crisis, they're pointing the finger at anyone but themselves.”

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