August 23, 2008

Among the first to know?

The official notifiation email (click to enlarge)

Here's the promised email sent by Barack Obama to his closest friends (and millions more) who'd pre-registered to be told of his vice presidential pick either by email or text message.

Only problem: It arrived after 3 a.m., almost four hours after CBS, ABC, CNN and everyone else had reported the news, some by a process of elimination.

August 22, 2008

UW Regents honor departing Keating, Wiley

Jack Keating and Regent Eileen Connolly-Keesler

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents recognized two departing Chancellors -- Jack Keating of UW-Parkside and John Wiley of UW-Madison -- with resolutions of appreciation at its meeting today:

After being presented with a resolution from Regent Eileen Connolly-Keesler, Keating commended the Board for recognizing and respecting the various UW campuses as unique entities.

“The campuses are, if you will, semi-autonomous,” Keating said. “We’re liberated to do what we do best, because we know what is best for our campuses – most of the time. And you trust that. That trust is critical for the proper functioning of any System.”

Regent David Walsh credited Wiley with starting a public dialogue about the future of higher education in Wisconsin and the role universities can play in developing a strong economy. (See Wiley's scorching valedictory message.)

In his last appearance before the Board as chancellor, Wiley urged Regents to not treat tuition and state support separately.

“How much is it worth to the state of Wisconsin to produce that one degree in terms of future tax revenues, reduced impact on the healthcare system, reduced impact on the prison system, and all the other benefits that are disproportionately flowing to people who hold degrees beyond high school?” Wiley asked.

“How much is it worth to the state, how much is it worth to the individual and who should pay which fraction? That’s the real question. That’s the debate we should be having.”

University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly added that both Keating and Wiley have “led their campuses with real integrity and intelligence. The positive influence of their leadership will be felt for decades to come, most directly on their own campuses but also in the way we operate as a System.”

Summary of Regents actions: Day 1; Day 2.

Garin announces her own endorsements

Shortly after Marge Krupp won the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's endorsement in the Democratic primary to challenge Paul Ryan, Paulette Garin announced her own endorsements. They're not as strong as the largest paper in the state, but they're something ...

Here's the press release:

KENOSHA – First District U.S. Congress candidate Paulette Garin has announced a series of major labor endorsements unprecedented for a primary:
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 430
  • Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 4611
  • Racine Labor Coalition
  • Racine Central Labor Council AFL-CIO
“I am humbled by this recognition from my fellow union brothers and sisters from right here in the First Congressional District,” said Garin, who is a member in good standing of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

“My family has long ties to unions and solidarity,” Garin added. “My grandfather was a UAW Local 72 member from the union’s founding in 1935 until his retirement after 50 years of service. My father served as UAW Local 960 Treasurer for 35 years, and is still active in the UAW-CAP and the UAW Retirees Council. Growing up in a union household has shown me the importance of organized labor as a force for the well-being of all working families.”

Garin has prepared for her run for the 1st District seat now held by Paul Ryan by passing the certified public accountant exam on the first try.

“We need fiscal responsibility in Washington to counter the irresponsible borrow-and-spend policies of the Bush administration and Paul Ryan,” Garin said. “My CPA training puts me in a unique position among the Democratic candidates to scrutinize federal spending in the interest of taxpayers.”

The congressional primary will be held September 9.

August 21, 2008

Journal Sentinel endorses Krupp of 1st District Dems

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has endorsed Marge Krupp in the 1st Congressional District's Democratic primary, over Paulette Garin and Mike Hebert. Winner of the Sept. 9 runoff gets to take on Republican incumbent Paul Ryan, who many believe is unbeatable regardless how low President Bush falls in the polls.

The Journal Sentinel said: "Krupp brings the strongest combination of relevant experience, knowledge of the issues and enthusiasm to the race... (she) has done an impressive job of raising money and garnering endorsements... Garin and Hebert have good ideas and enthusiasm, but Krupp's broader experience and grasp of the issues make her the best of three good candidates."

The latest campaign finance reports show Krupp has raised $100,846; Garin has raised $15,473; Hebert reports nothing -- on par with his efforts two years ago (when he came in second in the primary to Dr. Jeff Thomas). Ryan reports $1,281,587. (Does the term "lambs to slaughter" come to mind? Yes.)

Krupp said she was "elated" by the endorsement, and it "means that the winds of change really are blowing in the First District."

New endorsements she reports include: The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, The International Longshoremen's Association, American Postal Workers Union, The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers and National Women's Political Caucus.

Meanwhile, Garin today announced some endorsements as well: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 430, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 4611, Racine Labor Coalition and Racine Central Labor Council AFL-CIO.

It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, the Journal Times endorses in the race. Under previous publisher Dick Johnston, the JT stopped endorsing any candidates. I'm sure there was some high-falutin' explanation that said something about letting readers make their own decisions, but basically it came down to the theory that coming out for one candidate might cause the other guy's adherents to quit subscribing to the paper, or stop advertising.

Scrambled Egg wins Sphere Madness' top prize

First Place winner, Scrambled Egg, by Renee Staeck

The winners of the Downtown Racine Corporation's Sphere Madness public art event have been announced.

First prize, with a $3,000 prize, went to artist Renee Staeck for Scrambled Egg. It was sponsored by Landmark Title of Racine and Henry & Wanda's.

Second prize, winning $2,000, went to Tammy Easton, for Hemispherium (below, left). It was sponsored by Dr. Michael Westmann.

Third prize, $1,000, was awarded to Mason Swager, for Do You See What I See? (below, right). Wachovia Securities was the sponsor.

Honorable mentions were awarded to: A Starry Night by Sherri Shaver, sponsored by Monfort’s Fine Art Gallery; Owl of the Crowmosome Layer by Bill Reid, sponsored by Gene Johnson; Good Vibrations by Doug and David Soller, sponsored by Johnson Outdoors; Toulouse-Laugoose Egg by Robert W. Andersen, sponsored by Jane Hutterly and Louie Seabolt; and Wandering Eye by Rick Beyer and Fred Dacquisto, sponsored by Ruud Lighting.

The judges were Leslie Perrino and Colleen Pemberton. Leslie Perrino is a full-time artist who teaches art classes at the Evanston Art Center in Evanston, Illinois, and workshops at Wustum Art Museum in Racine and the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek. Working in metals and jewelry, she exhibits nationally and internationally and is involved with many local and national metal and enameling organizations.

Colleen Pemberton is an Associate of the Hollander Gallery and Assistant Director of the David Barnett Gallery. She is an accredited member of the American Society of Appraisers; a member of the Racine Art Museum Accessions Committee; St. John’s on the Lake Arts Board; Mequon Architecture Board; Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design Art Holdings Committee and the Milwaukee Art Museum Print Forum Board.

“The spheres were very well executed,” said Perrino. “It was a difficult decision.”

“Scrambled Egg isn’t just a sphere,” said Pemberton. “It is very artistic. The artist utilized both organic and inorganic materials. We liked the way she could look at a round sphere and transform into an egg-shaped form.” Renee is a repeat winner: in 2002, she took first place with “Trojan Dog” and in 2000 she created a bird entitled “One in a Thousand.” A graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Renee moved back to Racine last April.

Hemispherium is not only beautiful and creative, it’s also functional,” said the judges. They remarked on the shape that was cut into the sphere and also the creative use of mosaics. Artist Tammy Easton also created a dog, otter, bear, birdbath and lighthouse in past events.

Mason Swager is a talented 15-year-old who created optical patterning lines on his sphere to create Do You See What I See? According to the judges they saw his creation online and were amazed at how clearly defined it was both in person and in images. “He was able to make this piece work without adding any appendages,” said Perrino.

The 74 spheres will be on display in Downtown Racine through Labor Day and then will be auctioned on Saturday, Sept. 6, at Memorial Hall. Doors open at 3 p.m. with the voice auction at 4 p.m. and a silent auction after that. Admission is $3 and open to the public.

Proceeds from the auction will benefit Downtown Racine.

More of the spheres are pictured HERE and HERE.

Lee president suggests end to holiday newspapers

A holiday from the Journal Times?

Hey, this wasn't our idea! Rather, it comes from the most unlikely of sources: Mary Junck, President, CEO and chairman of the board of Lee Enterprises, parent company of the Journal Times, 70 other dailies and 300 or so Pennysaver look-a-likes.

As everyone knows, newspapers are having a tough time, thanks to the desertion of both advertisers and readers, their twin raison d’ĂȘtre. Everyone in the industry is looking for ways to remake their newspapers and their business model. The Capital Times in Madison dropped its daily print edition entirely in April, leaving itself a web presence and two weekly tabloids. In September, the Superior Daily Telegram will go from a six-day daily to a twice-weekly. The Boston Globe has suggested that all its employees agree to a 10 percent pay cut. The Chicago Tribune and other papers in its chain have shed 500 pages weekly. Some newspapers have sold their buildings and presses, and outsourced printing; one California group cut its news staff from 48 to 10. Believe it or not, some newspapers have sent ad production, copy editing and even some reporting to India! And so it goes.

And now Mary Junck has come up with another idea. Here it is in her own words:
"There was a time when no one published on holidays. Maybe we should go back to that concept. We're considering the idea now."
Junck's suggestion came in an article published today in Editor and Publisher, the news industry's house organ (or at least it was years ago when it was the weekly source of happenings in the newsprint world and the best source of industry help wanted ads, yeah!; now it's on the web and published monthly, without so many help wanteds, donchaknow). The special report, Turn and Face the Change -- With Newspaper Industry in Crisis, 'Everything's on the Table,' quoted many industry leaders and their ideas for the future.

There was no elucidation from Junck; no information about how seriously the idea is being considered within Lee, no hint whether newsroom employees would be paid (HA!) for those unworked holidays. (They now get a day off, plus time-and-a-half for work done on the holiday.)

The article was full of more outside-the-box thinking; in many smaller communities, for example, you won't have to wait for actual holidays to break free from the daily newspaper habit -- how about newspaperless Mondays? And Tuesdays? Both are traditionally light on advertising which, as we all know by now, pays the freight. Monday publication has already been dropped by the Monmouth, IL, Daily Review Atlas and the Kewanee, IL, Star Courier.

If there are still any newspaper junkies out there, you can read E&P's entire article HERE. Oh, and don't worry about the advertising-insert-filled Thanksgiving Day newspaper; for most newspapers that's the most profitable edition of the year. Trust me; that will be the last to go.

Ryan snubbed by GOP's national convention?

It looks like Rep. Paul Ryan has gone from a potential vice president to watching the GOP's national convention from the floor, and not the stage. At this point, the rising star in the Republican Party doesn't have a speech at the convention in St. Paul next month. That's a step backward for Ryan, who did speak (and speak well) at the 2004 convention.

Listen to the speech here. (Surprisingly, I couldn't find it on YouTube.)

The Moon and Mars, together at last (NOT!)

The email message from a friend showed up in my Inbox Wednesday night. It was direct and to the point:
27th Aug: the whole world is waiting: Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky. It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will culminate on Aug. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65 million miles from earth. Be sure to watch the sky.

On Aug. 27 at 12:30 a.m. it will look like the earth has 2 moons. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.

Share this with your friends as NO ONE ALIVE TODAY will ever see it again.
So, of course, the first thing I did was take some pictures of the moon, mostly hiding behind clouds. Then I went to the Internets to see what the fuss is all about.

Some fuss. It's not exactly a hoax, but more like an old story. Don't bother trying to spot Mars and the Moon next Wednesday night: you'll be five years too late. debunks the email that will probably turn up in your Inbox this week:
This was roughly accurate in 2003, when this message first began circulating online. It was not accurate when the identical text circulated again in 2005, nor when it reappeared for another go-around in 2006, nor when it cropped up again in 2007.

The "Mars Spectacular" or "Close Encounter" described in the email came and went in 2003. Period. On August 27 of that year, the orbital paths of Earth and Mars brought the two planets to within 34.65 million miles of one another -- closer than at any other time in the past 50,000 years. Though Mars never actually appeared "as large as the full moon to the naked eye" (as claimed in the email), the red planet did vividly dominate the night sky for a time, making 2003's close encounter a once-in-a-lifetime event indeed for astronomers, space enthusiasts, and ordinary observers alike.

Scorched earth valedictory from UW chancellor

WHOA! See that mushroom cloud rising over Madison?

It's the bomb set off by outgoing University of Wisconsin Chancellor John D. Wiley. In a farewell message in Madison Magazine -- From Crossroads to Crisis -- Wiley has scorched some Wisconsin institutions. Like the Legislature. And especially Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state's largest business organization, which he calls "the single biggest obstacle to the recovery of Wisconsin's economy."

"The business community and our university are stuck in a swamp," Wiley writes, in his 3,000-word valedictory.

Regarding legislators, Wiley -- who leaves office at the end of August -- says:
"A depressingly large number of meetings (with legislators) began with a monologue about how all the state's problems were caused by the policies and positions of the other party, and how things would get better quickly if we just came out publicly in support of their own party's position.

"Too often, the tirades were accompanied by a warning of dire consequences if I spoke in public opposition to measures I felt would harm the university, or a sharp rebuke if I had recently committed the sin of thanking a member of the opposite party for helping the university with some issue.

"Until a couple of years ago, I was also frequently warned or threatened about the need for "the university" to get more involved in providing campaign contributions if we expected any sympathetic reactions, as if I had any role in telling university employees whom to support. That practice, at least, seems to have stopped, probably because of a number of felony convictions for similar behavior."
Wiley aims most of his firepower at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which directs its 4,000 member companies to support its goal of making Wisconsin "the most competitive state in the nation."

Wiley writes:
"Over the years, I've had the opportunity to closely examine the strategies -- both the public rhetoric and actions -- WMC employs to pursue that goal. Apparently, the organization's definition of being competitive is being among those states with the lowest taxes, lowest wages, and least regulation in the nation.

"According to 2007 U.S. Census Bureau numbers, Wisconsin currently has the eleventh-highest per capita state tax revenues in the nation, and WMC cites the statistic as evidence that Wisconsin is a "tax hell." But look at the ten states with higher per capita taxes than Wisconsin: Hawaii, Wyoming, Connecticut, Minnesota, Delaware, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California and New York. Nine of the ten have higher per capita income than Wisconsin. In particular, Minnesota, our demographic twin, has the fourth-highest per capita taxation, and they're knocking our socks off economically."
Wiley makes the case that states with higher per capita tax rates also have higher per capita income, "and lower taxation hasn't made the economies of Tennessee and Alabama any better in ways that benefit the citizens of those states."

When it comes to wages, Wiley writes:
"WMC routinely opposes most measures favored by labor unions, and most measures aimed at improving the lot of entry-level and low-income workers who are essential to our economy. But this opposition is not a business or an economic position; it is a political position based on an era and an economy that no longer exist. The high-tech companies that are the future of Wisconsin's economy couldn't care less about hypothetical "minimum-wage" jobs: They don't have any such jobs." Wiley says the state needs more high-paying jobs, and asks, "Where in WMC's political agenda is there any acknowledgment of the singular importance of creating more high-income jobs, or any support for the things it takes to do that? Automatic WMC opposition to any proposed state regulation is also both outdated and contrary to the common-sense views of most citizens and business leaders."
There's more. Wiley raps WMC for its "unconscionably scurrilous personal attacks on Justice Louis Butler" and says, "If this isn't a wake-up call for WMC members to get control of the political extremists on their staff, I don't know what would qualify... It pains me greatly to say this, but I believe (and many former WMC board members agree) that WMC has, somehow, passively allowed itself to be hijacked by highly partisan, ideologically driven staff. WMC has evolved from being a strategically focused business organization to being a partisan political lobbying organization. This, combined with WMC's wealth and undeniable political influence and effectiveness, has made WMC the single biggest driver of our toxic political environment and, thus, the single biggest obstacle to the recovery of Wisconsin's economy."

You can read Wiley's full screed here.

Be sure, also, to read the response quickly issued by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

Addendum, 8/21: The Republican Party of Wisconsin issued a statement this afternoon decrying Wiley's focus on the WMC, while ignoring "the millions of dollars WEAC has poured into Wisconsin's legislative campaigns over the past thirty years in support of a job killing, big government agenda." WEAC is the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which represents 92,000 teachers in the state.

Said the GOP: "In what appears to be an effort to settle some political scores on his way out the door, Wiley this week complained of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce’s third party spending in campaigns, but made no mention of the massive role WEAC has played during the past three decades, nor of the spending made by the Democrat front group Greater Wisconsin Committee."

Meanwhile, the Capital Times reports that Wiley's successor, incoming UW-Madison Chancellor Carolyn "Biddy" Martin "moved to town on Friday -- and her belongings finally arrived at Olin House, the official residence of the chancellor, on Monday."

August 20, 2008

Library decries Fox 6 report: No plan to shut down

On Tuesday, August 19, 2008, Fox 6 News in Milwaukee aired a story about the Racine Public Library, leading off with: "The Racine Public Library may be shut down."

Today, the library has responded, with this statement: "This is completely untrue and a case of irresponsible reporting."

The state standards for public libraries are voluntary. According to John DeBacher, Public Library Administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, "A number of libraries do not meet these voluntary state standards. There is no mechanism to shut public libraries down for not meeting state standards."

Most of the standards indicated in the news report are related to collections of materials. The Racine Public Library does not have the space to shelve the amount of materials that would meet state standards.

For more information, contact Jessica MacPhail, Director, Racine Public Library, by phone at 262.636.9252 or email.

UPDATE, 8/21: The Journal Times reports today: Jim Lemon, vice president/news director at WITI-TV (Channel 6), accepted responsibility for the mistake and planned to run a correction on the evening news Wednesday. “We made an error, which we’re going to correct. It was an internal communication error between an editor and a reporter,” Lemon said. “We’re certainly not in the business of putting out inaccurate information.”

I didn't watch the newscast, but a check of Fox 6's website this morning shows two links to Tuesday's original story, and no mention of any correction: Racine's only library doesn't meet standards.

Alderman wants to study 'quiet zones' for coal trains

Alderman Ray DeHahn wants the city to start thinking about how mile-long trains to the new coal plants in Oak Creek are going to affect Racine.

DeHahn is asking the City Council to consider "quiet zones" for trains running through the city. He brings it up now - trains are, obviously, running through the city - because We Energies new power plants will need more, and longer, trains.

We Energies estimates train traffic would increase from five 125-car trains per week to nine 135-car trains per week.

A few years back when Sam Johnson and environmental groups were fighting the expansion of We Energies Oak Creek coal plants, the increase in train traffic through Racine and Caledonia added to the debate. So much so that the Racine Unified School Board got involved and passed a resolution expressing their concerns about additional trains tying up school crossings.

Caledonia made out OK on the train issue because the village is building a couple of train overpasses to prevent traffic from being snarled.

Racine, however, is looking at mile-long trains running through the heart of the city. DeHahn is interested in studying a "quiet zone" for intersections along Douglas Avenue. The zone would mean trains rumbling through wouldn't have to sound their whistles at every intersection.

DeHahn's request was referred to the city's Public Works and Services Committee.

August 19, 2008

Journal Sentinel axes its editorial cartoonist

Newsroom cuts are everywhere in the dead tree world, although the newspapers don't always tell us who's going -- until they're gone and we notice missing bylines. (And, of course, there are many non-bylined editorial newsroom jobs that also just disappear, along with production, circulation, advertising, and other positions.)

At the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one high-profile departure has just surfaced. Two weeks ago, the JS announced it was trimming 130 jobs due to declining revenue -- Journal Communications today announced that total revenue at the Journal Sentinel and its community newspapers dropped 9.5% year-over-year in July -- but we didn't know who was leaving.

Today, it becomes clearer. One of the losses will be the Journal-Sentinel's long-time editorial page cartoonist, Stuart Carlson. His last day was Friday, Aug. 15 -- coincidentally, the anniversary of his 25th year with the newspaper -- and his last cartoon was printed Sunday. At one time, the Journal Sentinel had two editorial cartoonists; now it has none.

Stuart Carlson's last Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cartoon

Carlson said he was forced to take a buyout. He wrote in an email to
'Fraid it's true. Given the cutbacks planned at the JS I was told they could no longer “justify” having a full-time editorial cartoonist. Although I’m taking the buyout, I’m not going willingly. I’m being forced out.

Another sterling decision by the best and brightest in the paper’s management.

I’ll continue to be nationally syndicated in papers like the Washington Post.

I'll be looking for some other career around here.
Carlson's departure leaves only one editorial cartoonist still drawing for a Wisconsin newspaper. That's Joe Heller of the Green Bay Press Gazette, who self-syndicates to a number of small newspapers. Regardless of your politics, that's a sad state of affairs. (And a shame to give our own state and local politicians a free ride.)

Other cuts coming at the Journal Sentinel include the demise of the Real Estate section, the reduction of editorial pages (plural) to a single editorial page, and a report that the business section might be merged with the news department. On Aug. 2, we reported the elimination of the newspaper's weekly Racine section. And on July 24, the loss of seven jobs, still unspecified but including one reporter, at the Racine Journal Times.

Carlson's cartoons for the Journal Sentinel are archived HERE.

One final thought: Any budding editorial cartoonists out there? We'd love to talk about someone providing regular or occasional cartoons for RacinePost. If you're interested, you know how to contact us...

August 18, 2008

So let's get this straight ...

A city employee files suit against her bosses, alleges sexual harassment and makes an unsubstantiated attack on the mayor. The JT and WTMJ respond by breathlessly reporting the allegations three times (so far) without any supporting evidence - not even a second source to support the allegations. (WTMJ went so far as to send out its 'I-Team' for a hard-hitting interview with a city resident at the Laurel Clarke Fountain Downtown.)

Some anonymous readers have been leaving comments on the site ripping us for being ex-JT employees. That's fine, but it's not going to stop us from pointing out the profound and recurring lapses in judgment by our local paper. One thing I've learned since leaving 212 Fourth St. is the newspaper is actually hurting Racine.

Listen up JT editors and reporters - what you do matters. You shape opinions, define our community and sell the place we choose to live to outsiders. I know most of you don't care. You show up at 9 and leave at 4, never wandering further than Dunn Brothers to find out what's going on.

Worse, you believe tearing down our little corner of the world will somehow make your business more successful. But it hasn't worked - never has. Newspapers are dying because they don't give a damn about the places they supposedly represent. Trade the JT with the La Crosse Tribune with the Wisconsin State Journal with any mid-sized paper in the country and you'll get the same stories with different names, same cold-hearted cynicism of 'objectivity,' and same boorish servitude to stories a phone call away.

Nobody can break out of the cycle because it's the same grind, day in and day out. Any efforts to make even minor changes are crushed by deadlines, meetings, charts that show declining revenue lines approaching rising expense lines, mandatory HR trainings, the ongoing threat of layoffs and even more meetings.

Somewhere along the way the JT forgot they publish a daily newspaper. It sounds odd, but they're so insulated in their newsroom that they forget people are actually proud to live in this community and work every day to make it better. They also forget (assuming they ever knew) there are people in their stories with families and reputations can be destroyed by a headline. Milwaukee TV stations and wire services pick up the stories and run them assuming the original reports are accurate. It's a poor assumption.

To put it bluntly, the JT doesn't care. It doesn't care about Racine, Racine County, people, organizations or services. It spits out stories to wrap around ads to pay off a corporation's billion-dollar debt and their CEO's million-dollar salary. It doesn't matter if the story is any good (or even appropriate) - it just has to fill space by 5 p.m. so everyone can get home.

It's no way to run a newspaper. Sadly, no one at the JT will realize that until the day they leave.

Police arrest suspect in parking lot homicide

Racine Police today arrested a "primary suspect" in last week's fatal shooting of a Chicago man who argued with others in the parking lot of J. D. Petroleum on 16th Street.

Investigators from the Special Investigations Drug Unit, assisted by members of the Racine Police Department's Swat team, and U.S. Marshals Service, executed a search warrant at 911 Elm St., and arrested Samuel L. Booker, 31, of Zion, IL, who had been identified as a primary suspect in the Aug. 8 Lance M. Youngblood homicide. Two others have also been arrested and are in custody on other charges. The homicide is still under investigation.

Booker is being held on $500,000 cash bond, on charges of 1st degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, attempted 1st degree intentional homicide and three counts of bail jumping.

Youngblood was found at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 8 inside a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Officers determined that several persons had exchanged words while in the parking lot of J.D. Petroleum. When the vehicle that Youngblood was in drove from the lot, one of the men from a Ford Explorer fired several shots towards his vehicle; one of the bullets struck Youngblood in the head.

August 17, 2008

Man drowns from boat off North Beach

UPDATE: WTMJ 620 AM is reporting the victim was 42-year-old formerRacine Police Officer Marco Rodriguez. (A link to the story isn't working.)

A man drowned off North Beach early this morning.

According to the Racine Police Department, the man was one of six persons in a boat owned by a Racine County Sheriff's Deputy. At least one other Racine County employee was on board the boat, which was off shore near North Beach. Racine Police responded to a 911 all at 3:19 a.m.

Police said:

"The victim had jumped into the water to swim, and shortly after entering the water, began to struggle. One of the other occupants of the boat jumped into the water in an effort to keep the victim above water, but was unable to and was being pulled under by the victims’ struggles. The other occupants of the boat were able to pull the rescuer back onto the boat, and the victim slipped under the water and could not be relocated by the boat occupants. At that time, 911 was called.

"At about 6 a.m. the victims’ body was pulled from the water approximately 120 feet from where he was believed to have gone into the water. There is an autopsy scheduled to further the investigation, and the identification of the victim is being withheld at this time, until family has been notified. According to investigators, the initial interviews were consistent and no foul play is suspected in this unfortunate incident."