Thursday, May 26, 2022
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Thursday, May 26, 2022

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

Milwaukee DV Murder Suspect Was on GPS Waiting List, Out on $250 Bail

Dennis Kurasz, who is accused of a domestic violence homicide, was on Milwaukee County’s electronic monitoring waiting list for a previous domestic violence and felony case involving the same victim, Wisconsin Right Now has exclusively learned. He was released in the pending case on just $250 bail, but the county couldn’t come up with a GPS device to better monitor him.

We previously wrote about Milwaukee County’s waiting list for electronic monitoring bracelets. It’s left some violent offenders without tracking devices, endangering the community.

A source gave us the information about Dennis Kurasz and the chief judge, Mary Triggiano, confirmed in an email that she believes Kurasz was on the waiting list. “I believe he is/was,” she wrote WRN in an email on Dec. 28, 2021.

The open case was filed in May 2021 and charged Kurasz with possession of a firearm as a felon, domestic-violence battery and disorderly conduct with domestic abuse assessments. On May 6, 2021, he posted $250 bond (set by Court Commissioner Katharine Kucharski) and was released. The first charge is a felony. In June, a warrant was issued and stayed when he didn’t show up for court, but he made his next appearance. Kucharski is a former assistant DA.

Dennis kurasz
Dennis kurasz pinterest profile pic

Court records note, “If electronic monitoring device is unavailable and cash bail has been paid, Defendant to be released and placed on the waiting list. Electronic monitoring is for no contact order only.” But none was available. Among other past offenses, he was previously convicted of felony escape. He was quoted in a past Fox 6 story in which he was accused of owning a junk car company that sent racist texts saying it wouldn’t serve blacks. He denied sending the texts.

Dennis Kurasz is now under arrest in the murder of Amanda DuCharme, who was the victim in the pending case. Asked about Kurasz’s arrest, which we learned about through a source, Milwaukee police responded, “This all the info that is available regarding Amanda DuCharme’s homicide. Please contact the Milwaukee County Court regarding GPS.”

Police released these details: “Milwaukee Police are investigating a homicide that occurred on Monday, December 27, 2021, at approximately 5:45 a.m., on the 4900 block of N. 32nd Street. The victim, a 43-year-old woman, sustained fatal blunt force trauma injuries. The circumstances leading up to the homicide are under investigation. A 44-year-old Milwaukee man was arrested in connection to this incident. Anyone with any additional information is asked to contact Milwaukee Police at (414) 935-7360 or to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at (414) 224-TIPS or P3 Tips App.”

In early December, we wrote, “There are 125-150 defendants who are on a waiting list for electronic monitoring bracelets because Milwaukee County doesn’t have enough of them…That means that defendants deemed high-risk by judges can’t be monitored as strictly as the judges want.” The shortage of monitoring bracelets derives from the court backlogs. Milwaukee County has only 90 bracelets, Triggiano said in our previous story. The courthouse backlogs, which we wrote about previously, mean that people are out on bail longer than before; thus, the number of people judges want on bracelets grows and, so too, does the waiting list.

Dennis Kurasz was one of the people on it, our source said.

In addition, low bail amounts have become an issue of national concern since it was revealed that Darrell Brooks, the Waukesha parade suspect was released on $500 and $1,000 bail in two pending felony cases in Milwaukee County. It comes as bail reform movements sweep the nation. But in Milwaukee, it continues to prove deadly.

Dennis Kurasz Attempted to Get a Restraining Order

In May 2021, Kurasz tried to get a restraining order against DuCharme, but it was denied. We asked the Milwaukee DA’s office for the criminal complaint against Kurasz in the pending case but didn’t hear back. He has not yet been charged in the DuCharme homicide because it just happened.

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Marissa Darlingh

Milwaukee School Counselor Under DPI Investigation For Opposition to Transgender Ideology

(The Center Square) – An elementary school counselor from Milwaukee is refusing to resign or change her mind about gender identity, even after the state opened an investigation that could cost her her job.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction sent Marissa Darlingh a letter on April 29, explaining that she was under investigation for what she said at a rally in Madison just six days before.

“DPI has opened an investigation to determine whether to initiate educator license revocation proceedings against you,” the letter stated. “It has been alleged that you engaged in immoral conduct.”

Darling was one of several speakers at a feminist rally in Madison on April 23 where she used a commonly expressed profanity repeatedly as she discussed transgenderism.

“I oppose gender ideology ever entering the walls of my school building,” Darling said. “Over my dead ... body will my students be exposed to the heart of gender identity ideology. Not a single one of my students under my ... watch will ever, ever transition socially, and sure as hell not medically.”

DPI’s letter said the investigation will “determine if there is probable cause to support allegations of immoral conduct.”

DPI gave Darlingh the option to resign ahead of the investigation, but Darlingh opted instead to fight.

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sent a letter to DPI that promises a lawsuit if the state tries to suspend Darlingh’s license because of her opposition to transgenderism or her use of profanity.

“The state is, quite simply, trying to punish a public-school counselor for her views on gender ideology. This is a classic, clear-cut, violation of the First Amendment and the state can expect a federal lawsuit if it proceeds,” WILL’s Luke Berg said.

Darling said she will not back down, and will not change her mind about transgenderism even after the investigation is complete.

“My views on the harms of gender ideology to children are informed by a desire to serve and protect children,” Darling said in a statement. “That’s why I got into education. I will love and serve every child under my care, no matter what. But I won’t recant under threat from the state.”

RNC 2024

Liberal Groups & Labor Unions Want Milwaukee to Reject RNC 2024 Bid

(The Center Square) – A number of Wisconsin’s progressive advocates and big labor unions want Milwaukee to abandon plans to host the Republican National Convention because they don’t like Republicans’ politics.

Voces de la Frontera Action, Power to the Polls, the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Never Again is Now, and SEIU all signed on to an open letter Tuesday asking Milwaukee’s city council to reject a contract that would be necessary for Milwaukee to host the RNC in 2024.

“We the undersigned community organizations want to send a clear message to city, county and state leaders: the Republican National Convention is not welcome in Milwaukee,” the groups wrote. “The Republican Party, both nationally and in Wisconsin, has become an organization that supports White Supremacists, the violent attempted coup at the US Capitol to overthrow a democratic election, and continues to engineer new ways to undermine fair and democratic elections.”

The open letter comes as city leaders in Milwaukee are set to vote on the RNC contract on Wednesday.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson on Tuesday said the city can host the Republican convention without endorsing the Republican Party’s political views.

"I think that the RNC presents a tremendous opportunity for us in Milwaukee," Johnson told reporters. "I think it presents a great opportunity for Milwaukee to be in the national conversation, to be a city that other large conventions and other large events look to. I want the RNC to be the bedrock for a new and stronger convention and tourism economy that we can build here in the city of Milwaukee."

Johnson said his support for the RNC is a “business decision.”

CJ Szafir with the Institute for Reforming Government said the opposition is “on-brand” from progressives and big labor in the state

“It's terribly disappointing that progressive and labor groups are opposed to Milwaukee hosting an event that could bring up to 45,000 visitors to the city, creating as much as $200 million in economic impact. This would directly benefit Milwaukee small businesses and workers, which ironically is who these groups claim to care about,” Szafir told The Center Square. “A political convention is one of the great American historic events and to have the RNC come to Milwaukee in 2024 would give Milwaukee the global spotlight that it deserves. This should get bipartisan support.”

Milwaukee and Nashville, Tennessee are the final two cities in the running for hosting the RNC in 2024. A decision on the winning city is expected later this summer.

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Bear Market Walmart Earnings

Stock Market Flirts With Bear Market; Americans Fear Recession

(The Center Square) – The stock market came back from a midday drop on Friday, the day ending with the S&P 500 Index 18.6% below the record high set in early January.

A bear market would have begun if the decline reached 20%.

The stock market tumble is a continuation from declines earlier this week, a week that saw record high gas prices continue to rise. Other contributing factors in the index most closely associated with workers 401(k) accounts are rising interest rates, inflation, the war in Ukraine and China's economy.

“Since 1928, the S&P 500 has had 1 bear market every 4 years on average,” Charlie Bilello, founder of Compound Capital Advisors, wrote on Twitter. “With the S&P down 20% from its peak in January, this is now the 3rd bear market we've experienced in less than 4 years.”

New polling shows the majority of Americans expect a recession as energy prices and inflation continue to soar. Quinnipiac University released new polling this week that showed most Americans are pessimistic about the nation’s economic future.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans (85 percent) think it is either very likely (45 percent) or somewhat likely (40 percent) that there will be an economic recession in the next year, while 12 percent think it is either not so likely (8 percent) or not likely at all (4 percent),” the poll said.

Overall, Americans did not think the economy was doing well before the stock market declines this week.

“Roughly 1 in 5 Americans (19 percent) say the state of the nation's economy these days is either excellent (2 percent) or good (17 percent), while 4 in 5 Americans (80 percent) say it's either not so good (34 percent) or poor (46 percent),” the poll reported. “This is Americans' most negative description of the state of the nation's economy in a Quinnipiac University poll since President Biden took office.”

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Destroying The Institutions

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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(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."

Bear Market 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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(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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