NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Friday, February 17, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


The official snow measurement site for the weather service’s Milwaukee office is Mitchell International Airport, which recorded a total of 4.8 inches at 9 p.m.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office reported 69 weather-related calls for service on Thursday between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Among those calls for service were 46 crashes, with 10 crashes resulting in injuries. The sheriff’s office said three calls were for debris or hazards on the road or highway and 20 calls were for disabled vehicles.

Here are the other snow totals in southern Wisconsin:

• Hales Corners: 8.8 inches

• Franklin: 8.7 inches

• New Berlin: 8.1 inches

• Elm Grove: 7.4 inches

• Oak Creek: 7.3 inches

• Janesville: 6.8 inches

• Madison: 5.5 inches

• Brodhead: 5.5 inches

• Delafield: 5.5 inches

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson administration’s plan to spend $30 million to help finance Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.’s downtown campus expansion has received its first approval.

The Milwaukee Redevelopment Authority board on Thursday endorsed the new tax incremental financing district for the $500 million project, which includes relocating 2,000 employees from the company’s Franklin operations.

The financing district also needs Common Council approval, with that review scheduled for March.

Northwestern Mutual plans to transform its 18-story office building, at 818 E. Mason St., by stripping it down to the frame, foundation and core.

That building, which opened in 1990, will be remade to look like the company’s 32-story office tower and commons that opened in 2017 at 800 E. Wisconsin Ave.

The city’s $30 million grant would come through annual payments for up to 23 years from the transformed office building’s higher property tax revenue.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On at least three occasions, Milwaukee County prosecutors asked Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz to sentence a felon to time in prison for harming a child.

Two of the cases involved adults convicted of sexually assaulting a minor, and a third was a mother who pleaded guilty to chronic neglect of her 16-year-old son after he died while weighing just 42 pounds.

In each case, Protasiewicz rejected the prosecutor’s request, choosing instead to sentence the defendant to time served in jail, plus probation.

Protasiewicz is one of four candidates running in Tuesday’s primary for the state Supreme Court. The other candidates are two conservatives — former Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly and Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow — and Dane County Circuit Judge Everett Mitchell, a liberal like Protasiewicz.

Republicans say these three cases show Protasiewicz, who has raised and spent more campaign money than her opponents, has a pattern of being lenient when prosecutors are seeking prison time for serious felonies. Protasiewicz worked as an assistant district attorney before being elected to the bench in 2014.

“Judge Protasiewicz’ unwillingness to give even a day in prison to violent child rapists shows just how radical she is and why she is unfit to sit on Wisconsin’s highest court,” said Rachel Reisner, spokeswoman for the state Republican Party. “Her soft-on-crime record as a prosecutor and a judge is exactly why Milwaukee’s violent crime problems are only getting worse. Wisconsin families can’t trust Judge Janet to keep us safe.”

But Sam Roecker, a spokesman for Protasiewicz, suggested her opponents were cherry-picking cases that she had handled.

Roecker also pointed out that her two conservative opponents, Dorow and Kelly, represented defendants accused of various sexual crimes when working as criminal defense attorneys before being appointed to judicial posts. Protasiewicz was never a criminal defense attorney.

—Dan Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gov. Tony Evers’ budget leaves the University of Wisconsin System about $130 million short of what regents say they need to run their campuses over the next two years, raising questions about whether they may raise tuition to make up the shortfall.

Republican lawmakers froze in-state undergraduate tuition systemwide in 2013 but lifted the freeze in 2021, allowing the Board of Regents to raise tuition if it so chooses. The board hasn’t made any increases since the freeze lifted, relying in part on federal pandemic relief dollars, but that could change if Evers’ budget stands.

The regents had asked the governor to increase the system’s budget by $435.6 million in the 2023-25 budget, according to figures compiled by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The state has accumulated a $7 billion surplus, but the spending plan Evers released on Wednesday would increase system funding by $305.9 million over the biennium.

Republican lawmakers on the Legislature’s finance committee will spend the next four months revising the budget before sending it to the full Assembly and Senate for approval. From there, the budget will go back to Evers, who can rewrite it again using his extensive partial veto powers. If Evers’ funding proposal for UW survives in the final budget, regents could raise tuition to fill the $129.7 million shortfall.

—Wisconsin AP

President Joe Biden’s annual physical results were released Thursday and he was given a clean bill of health.

A memo from Dr. Kevin O’Connor declared Biden a “healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief.”

“I have conducted a comprehensive review of President Biden’s medical history and a detailed physical examination. This physical has included specialty consultation with several of our Presidential Specialty Consultants from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center,” he wrote.

O’Connor noted Biden’s contracting of COVID-19, asserting that his body recovered normally from the disease.

“The President remains fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations,” O’Connor said.

—Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News

Former President Donald Trump this week indicated a shift in electoral tactics ahead of the 2024 election, promising to embrace “ballot harvesting” as a major campaign method for his next presidential run.

Trump made the declaration in a fundraising email this week, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The radical Democrats have used ballot harvesting to cancel out YOUR vote and walk away with elections that they NEVER should have won,” the former president said, adding that he himself is “doing something HUGE to fight back.”

“Our path forward is to MASTER the Democrats’ own game of harvesting ballots in every state we can,” Trump continued, urging supporters to help “start laying the foundation for victory RIGHT NOW.”

Trump has earlier indicated a willingness to embrace mail-in voting and ballot collection systems even as he and Republicans more generally have sharply criticized such election methods. “For the time … we have to live with the system that stinks,” he told Breitbart late last year.

He nevertheless sharply criticized mail-in balloting due to its significant security concerns. “It’s a corrupt system,” he said. “A mail-in ballot will always be corrupt.”

—Just the News

The Michigan State University community is grieving after three students were killed and five injured in a shooting on the East Lansing campus.

While school shootings are rare, the tragic incident on Monday night marked the 67th mass shooting, and the first at a college or university, so far this year in the U.S., according to the Gun Violence Archive. It comes as Michigan is still grappling with a November 2021 mass shooting at a high school in Oxford that left four students dead and several injured. The fifth anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was also observed a day after a gunman opened fire at Michigan State.

In the wake of school shootings, access to the campuses and the role of locked doors often comes into question. The Michigan State incident continues to show the challenges in securing so-called soft targets — public places like schools that aren’t heavily defended — according to John Cohen, a former U.S. Department of Homeland Security acting undersecretary for intelligence and ABC News contributor.

“There are some types of locations — like college campuses, schools, entertainment venues, transportation facilities — where if you were to harden those targets, you would make it impossible for those locations to serve the purposes that are intended,” Cohen said. “That’s what we’ve been wrestling with in the homeland security world since 9/11 — is understanding which targets can be hardened and then how to the best degree possible enhance security around those softer targets that can’t make an impenetrable ring of security around.”

Limiting entry points to school buildings, reinforcing main entrances and locking classroom doors have been among measures adopted by schools as part of their safety measures in the years since the Columbine High School mass shooting in 1999.

The measure has appeared to save lives in some cases. A potentially deadly shooting at a California elementary school in 2017 was likely averted when a gunman who rammed his car through a fence at the gate of the school left the grounds, apparently growing frustrated after not being able to access classrooms, authorities said at the time.

A 2020 simulation experiment by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency found that classroom doors that lock when closed had a “significant impact” on the outcome of an active school shooter event, particularly in completing lockdown procedures.

In some high-profile cases, shooters have been able to gain entry into schools through unlocked doors and unsecured gates. In Parkland, the gates and doors the gunman entered were left “unlocked, open and unattended,” according to a 2019 report from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission. In Uvalde, Texas, the door the gunman entered Robb Elementary School through didn’t lock even though it was supposed to automatically, state officials said.

—ABC News

A 67-year-old woman and her 90-year-old mom are both safe and unharmed after an armed man broke into their home early Wednesday morning in Interlachen, Florida, thanks to the fact that the woman had a firearm of her own to help defend them.

Authorities have identified the intruder as 64-year-old Reginald Best; another resident of the neighborhood who was being sought by police after a series of “erratic” 911 calls made from his home in the hours before he broke into the woman’s residence.

According to the police report, the 67-year-old said she heard the door handle shaking around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and grabbed a gun to see what was going on. She told deputies she thought it could have been her husband because he works late, odd hours.

The report says she opened the door, and Best forced his way in with a gun. She told him to leave several times, but he wouldn’t and kept saying, “They’re after me.”

She told deputies he raised his arms with the revolver in his hands and believed the hammer was cocked. In fear for her life, she shot him.

The woman then called 911, and he was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“You absolutely have the right to defend yourself in that particular scenario,” Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach told Action News Jax.

“If it were not for (the woman’s) foresight to arm herself, the outcome could have been much graver,” Putnam County Sheriff H.D. “Gator” DeLoach said. “It’s unfortunate that Best was struggling with some apparently profound issues and posed a deadly threat to the victim and her family. … I’m grateful that her decisive action stopped the threat, and eliminated the risk of further loss of life, making her entire neighborhood safer.”

—Bearing Arms

New York City sent the fingerprints of unvaccinated public school teachers to the FBI, the educators allege in a lawsuit against the city government.

The city also flagged the teachers, whom the city fired for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine, with a “problem code” that can affect their ability to get another job, Fox News reported.

“Fingerprints are sent with that flag to the FBI and the New York Criminal Justice Services, so it impacts their ongoing ability to get employment at other places,” said John Bursch, a lawyer representing the teachers in their suit against the city.

Employees filed suit after New York City mayor Eric Adams (D.) announced on Feb. 6 that he is lifting the city’s COVID mandate. During the course of the mandate, 1,780 New York City employees, including those in the Department of Education, Department of Health, NYPD, and FDNY, lost their jobs for refusing the vaccine, according to the New York Post.

The city denied a religious exemption for one teacher who had worked for New York public schools for 15 years.

“Religiously, mentally, I just didn’t want anything experimental on my body, so what criminal activity does that persist?” she asked. “This is an invasion of privacy.”

City employees fired for refusing the vaccine still have to reapply for jobs, without guarantee of their previous salaries or benefits.

—Free Beacon

While diagnosing and treating patients was once their domain, doctors are increasingly being replaced by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, collectively known as “midlevel practitioners,” who can perform many of the same duties and generate much of the same revenue for less than half of the pay.

In a statement to KHN, American Physician Partners said this strategy is a way to ensure all ERs remain fully staffed, calling it a “blended model” that allows doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants “to provide care to their fullest potential.”

Critics of this strategy say the quest to save money results in treatment meted out by someone with far less training than a physician, leaving patients vulnerable to misdiagnoses, higher medical bills, and inadequate care. And these fears are bolstered by evidence that suggests dropping doctors from ERs may not be good for patients.

A working paper, published in October by the National Bureau of Economic Research, analyzed roughly 1.1 million visits to 44 ERs throughout the Veterans Health Administration, where nurse practitioners can treat patients without oversight from doctors.

Researchers found that treatment by a nurse practitioner resulted on average in a 7% increase in cost of care and an 11% increase in length of stay, extending patients’ time in the ER by minutes for minor visits and hours for longer ones. These gaps widened among patients with more severe diagnoses, the study said, but could be somewhat mitigated by nurse practitioners with more experience.

The study also found that ER patients treated by a nurse practitioner were 20% more likely to be readmitted to the hospital for a preventable reason within 30 days, although the overall risk of readmission remained very small.

— Kaiser Health News

American women 25 and older in 2022 were more likely than American men in that age group to have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That was the ninth straight year that American women have beaten American men in this measurement of educational attainment.

“In 2022, 39.0% of women age 25 and older, and 36.2% of men in the same age range, had completed a bachelor’s degree or more as their highest level of educational attainment,” the bureau said in a release published Thursday.

—CNS News

There’s a reason why major league clubs don’t like to battle players in salary arbitration, and Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes highlighted several of them Thursday.

The 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner lost his arbitration case against the Brewers, a third party awarding him $10.01 million for 2023, as the Brewers suggested, compared to the $10.75 million he sought.

Turns out the brawl over $749,000 was of the bare-knuckle variety.

Burnes told reporters Thursday that the Brewers essentially blamed him for the club missing the 2022 postseason, one year after his major league-leading 2.43 ERA and 1.63 fielding independent pitching helped claim the Cy Young and the Brewers the 2021 NL Central title.

“Basically putting me in the forefront of why we didn’t make it to the postseason last year,” Burnes told reporters in Phoenix, per “That’s something that probably doesn’t need be said.”

It’s also curious that an arbitrator would buy that line of thinking.

Sure, Burnes saw his ERA and FIP both worsen (to 2.94 and 3.14, respectively), but he also contributed more to the Brewers, theoretically. In 2021, Burnes, who was unvaccinated, missed time on the COVID-19 injured list and made just 28 starts. It’s just that he was so good in them – his adjusted ERA of 170 also led the majors – that he could not be denied the Cy Young Award.

In 2022, his numbers were understandably a bit less shiny – but also because he pitched more. Burnes tossed 202 innings compared to 167 in his Cy Young year, and led the NL in strikeouts, with 243. Ask any team if they’d rather have the Burnes of ’21 or ’22 and it might be a coin toss, depending on exactly what the team needs.

With four years of service time, Burnes is due to go through that wringer one more time next winter before he hits free agency – unless the Brewers trade him first.

If nothing else, add him to the list of players whose relationships with their clubs won’t be the same after picking each other apart.

“You learn your true value in the organization,” says Burnes.



The New York Times, the closest thing to Democratic Party Pravda, has over the past year run a series of urgent articles sounding the alarm on Biden’s unprecedented presidential age and declining cognitive abilities

What’s more, on Thursday, Politico and CNN published nearly identical articles strongly suggesting White House palace intrigue and a party apparatus torn about what to do with its senile commander in chief: Politico’s piece was titled, “Senior Democrats’ Private Take on Biden: He’s Too Old”; CNN’s eerily similar article was titled, “Biden’s age is a hot topic as he looks to extend his time in the Oval Office until he is 86.” Clearly, many in the Biden White House are leaking like a loose faucet. Even more notably, the liberal press, which would normally protect an incumbent Democratic president at all costs, is the one stirring the pot.

Some card-carrying members of the insular Washington press corps are worried about the reelection prospects of the oldest-ever sitting president, who in his first term has presided over a calamitous Afghanistan withdrawal, 40-year-high inflation, soaring violent crime rates and the worst humanitarian crisis at the southern border in U.S. history. And who can blame them?

Of the three leading alternative candidates for the Democrats’ 2024 presidential nomination, there are no appealing options. All three, in fact, are terrible options: Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The fact that Kamala Harris is unlikable, unliked, generally useless and unambiguously terrible at her job is the worst-kept secret in U.S. politics today. Harris famously secured not a single Democratic National Convention delegate during her ill-fated 2020 presidential run. She is ill-informed on policy and often speaks of complex issues in an overly simplistic and juvenile way. She has endured massive staff turnover, and by all indications treats her staff horribly.

Put simply, it is extraordinarily difficult these days to find a Democrat who is thrilled about the prospect of a future President Kamala Harris. By contrast, most Democrats soberly recognize how awful she is. And the fact that so few are willing to say the quiet part out loud bespeaks the death grip that identity politics pablum now has on the Democratic Party.

Neither Buttigieg nor Newsom is a more enticing candidate.

—Josh Hammer, Townhall

With the catastrophic invasion across what used to be our southern border, care for our veterans has been supplanted by the extraordinary cost of caring for illegal “migrants.” A Jan. 31 article in the New York Post by Patrick Reilly describes how low we have sunk:

“A once-trendy Manhattan hotel has become a wild ‘free-for-all’ of sex, drugs and violence after the city began housing migrants there, an employee claimed Tuesday.”

“Over 43,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since the spring, with some 26,000 housed in the city’s hotels, according to Mayor Eric Adams’ office.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott decided “sanctuary cities” like NYC should share some of the burden of housing and caring for these illegal “migrants.” But as soon as the illegals started arriving, Mayor Adams started squealing about how the federal government had to help.

He’s put them up in nice hotels and supplied for their every basic need including food, clothing and medical care. And who’s footing the bill? American taxpayers. And how are these migrants showing their gratitude? By turning the hosting hotels into third-world slums and abusing the employees.

Meanwhile, according to NYC Department of Homeless Services data, there are around 45,000 homeless people in the Big Apple. If national statistics hold, about 16% of those are likely former U.S. military personnel. That comes out to about 7,200 homeless veterans.

The ongoing high suicide rate and less than stellar VA care should make any reasonable person question the prevailing priorities of the White House and Democrat politicians.

In the U.S. Constitution, a copy of which I always keep within reach, I can’t find any language authorizing our federal government to give deference to people illegally entering our country over current or former soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines. Those who have volunteered to serve in our armed forces protecting the American people and our way of life deserve better.

The Republican majority in the 118th Congress is honor-bound to place the needs of our armed forces and veterans ahead of illegal entrants.

—Oliver L. North is a combat-decorated U.S. Marine, No.1 bestselling author, founder and CEO of Fidelis Publishing LLC and Fidelis Media

Two things are worthy of note (about the National Football League). First, the NFL actually shows how colleges and universities can contribute to the national economy. This is something that no longer can be said about the rest of ‘woke’ higher education and massive student debt. Second, the order of the draft maintains competiveness. No one team can ‘buy’ the championship. No one team can be guaranteed excellence since teams must still evaluate potential and exercise prudence and judgement.

The NFL is not monopolistic. It combined with the old AFL and operates as a 501 ©6. New teams have been added on a selective basis but rarely. There is no government regulation that the teams already in the league must accept a new entrant – equivalent to subsidizing a particular competitor. It does not preclude other leagues; indeed, some have been attempted and failed. What looks somewhat closed is really designed to encourage major investment and commitment to a functional system (rules of the game do not preclude creativity; rules designed to please the customer and therefore make money). You need to start a league not just a team to have a product like the NFL, and that is not easy. This is a market with a win-win result. Everyone gets rewarded, fairly. With self-regulation by the producers, you see a capitalistic reward base economic model that is the envy of just about everyone, the world over. It works very well. So why not copy it across the whole American economic spectrum?

The governing board of owners (all with considerable skin in the game) is analogous to the government or its regulatory bodies. Nonpolitical in nature, the owners want the whole ship to rise and work closely together to make sure it does. It is by definition clubby and while some differences exist, they work together for a common goal. Historically, markets have self-generated their own merchant law.

The NFL as a body serves the interests of the owners and customers (fans) not its own private agenda. It secures its viability, good reputation, and future by pulling together even while competing vigorously on the field.

Teams can be owned by an individual, a consortium, or even a municipality (Green Bay). Some are more profitable than others and have a bigger fan base but they all compete equally.

If the federal government ran the NFL we would have the opposite of what we experience today. It would be a total flop. Too many stakeholders would mess everything up, ESG would guide play, and there would be no competition, let alone a finale – Super Bowl. They would give out participation trophies to all.

One super team that always wins, chosen and constructed by the government, would be boring, repetitive, and dull. The teams would have to all wear battleship gray uniforms and change their names to something more correct. Congress could represent a different “designated” city each season (fairness – equity) to win and the referees (regulators) would make sure they won. Funding would go to the most woke or the most politically correct team independent of performance. We would in effect have DEI in football. Diversity (too many black athletes now represented and no women), and inclusion (more females and sexually-challenged or trans players) and more teams that would dilute the talent level—teams for every place. Think of the comparison between a government football experience and the NFL!

We should all celebrate the NFL.

—Ted Roosevelt Malloch is CEO of Roosevelt Global Fiduciary LLC

Occasionally, we learn that health habits we once considered “bad” are actually beneficial.

Best Life reached out to a handful of doctors to find out which habits that have gotten a bad rap over the years are better for you than you’d think.

1 Skipping meals

According to K. Mitchell Naficy, MD, a family physician with over 29 years of clinical experience, eating less frequently can be beneficial.

“Intermittent fasting, which involves eating only during certain hours of the day, is becoming increasingly popular,” he tells Best Life. “While it may seem like a bad idea to skip meals, it has actually been linked with numerous health benefits, such as weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and improved energy levels.”

2 Eating red meat

Kellie K. Middleton, MD, MPH, an Atlanta-based orthopedic surgeon, says that “eating red meat occasionally can also be beneficial for your health.” The catch? Moderation is key.

Middleton says that’s because even though red meat is often high in saturated fat and cholesterol, it also “contains a number of vitamins and minerals that are important for overall health. These include iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and selenium—all of which are essential for the proper functioning of our bodies. Eating grass-fed beef can even reduce inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer,” she adds.

3 Drinking coffee

Naficy says that there are some major benefits to your daily cup of joe, especially if you drink it in moderation.

“Coffee can be seen as a bad choice for health, as it is a caffeinated beverage that can disrupt sleep and raise blood pressure,” he explains. “However, coffee is also packed with antioxidants and can have numerous benefits when consumed in moderation, such as improved alertness, increased energy levels, and improved mood.”

4 Eating high-fat foods

“You need healthy fats (unsaturated fats), and lots of them!” Shana Johnson, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, tells Best Life. “It’s excess sugar and carbs that lead to excess weight, diabetes, and cardiovascular risk factors. Fat gets a bad rap,” she says.

5 Eating chocolate

“Dark chocolate (made with 70 percent or more cocoa) can be good for your health because it contains natural antioxidants called flavonoids, which have been linked to improved heart health and reduced inflammation,” says Gabriela Rodríguez Ruiz, MD, PhD, FACS, a board-certified bariatric surgeon at VIDA Wellness and Beauty. “Additionally, dark chocolate is rich in minerals like magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, and potassium—all important for proper cell functioning and overall health. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, which may help boost mood and mental performance,” she explains.

“Just remember to check the nutrition label to ensure you’re getting a good quality product with minimal added sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Enjoying a square or two of dark chocolate as part of a balanced diet can help you reach your health goals while still satisfying your sweet tooth!” says Rodríguez Ruiz.

—Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1992 convicted serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was sentenced to 15 consecutive life terms for a series of gruesome murders; he was later killed by a fellow prison inmate.

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