NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Thursday, April 20, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


A verdict has been reached in the trial of Stephanie Rapkin, the Shorewood attorney accused of spitting on a Black teenager during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020.

The jury deliberated for close to three hours, ultimately coming back with a guilty verdict of disorderly conduct.

On Tuesday, the state called eyewitnesses to testify against Rapkin. Rapkin also took the stand Tuesday and claims she spit towards Eric Lucas, but not on him.

Rapkin declined to comment after the verdict was read but her attorney said she is remorseful for her actions.

“It’s ruined her career, it’s obviously had an impact on the community, it’s been on the news, it’s been in the press,” said Anthony Cotton, defense attorney. “Think unfortunately for her, there’s been a lot of consequences outside of the court system for her, so she definitely has regret over what happened.”

Rapkin faces up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Her sentencing hearing is May 23.

—CBS 58

Wisconsin’s progressive income tax system would be consolidated until the state’s lowest earners pay nothing in income taxes and all other residents are subject to a 4.5% tax rate, under a GOP-authored proposal introduced this week.

The latest tax cut proposal comes as lawmakers approach the busiest weeks of the state’s biennial budget process. Legislators have a roughly $7 billion projected surplus at their disposal, with a good portion of that consisting of one-time funds.

The bill, introduced by Reps. John Macco, R-Ledgeview, and Jerry O’Connor, R-Fond du Lac, would implement a multiyear plan to reduce the rates for the state’s four income tax brackets. Under the proposed new tax code, earners in the lowest bracket — individuals earning less than $13,810 per year or married filers earning less than about $18,400 — would pay no income taxes, while all other earners would pay a 4.5% income tax regardless of income.

Macco, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means, said the proposal is designed to make Wisconsin’s income tax code “fair, low and simple.” He said the end result would essentially be a hybrid flat tax that he hopes can secure approval from not only Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has pledged to veto a flat tax, but also his Republican colleagues.

“Everybody pays less, nobody pays more,” Macco said Tuesday. “We’re not shifting the burden from one side to the other.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters that Assembly Republicans have had “almost no caucus discussions” on income tax cuts, though he reiterated that GOP lawmakers remain focused on a broad tax cut, preferably one that moves closer to a flat income tax.

—WI State Journal

Author Don Bruce, a prominent economist at the University of Tennessee, estimates moving to a flat individual income tax in Wisconsin could generate nearly $7.2 billion in additional GDP, $614 million in new investment, and nearly 24,000 additional jobs over the next five years.

Wisconsin has long had one of the country’s most progressive individual income taxes, with a top rate of 7.65% that is the eighth highest in the nation. Bruce’s report explores the economic impact of moving to a 5.1 percent flat-rate tax.

Approximately 95% of Wisconsin businesses are pass-through entities that pay the individual income tax rates. A shift to a flat-rate individual income tax would, therefore, also result in a meaningful tax reduction for many businesses, which then should result in lower price growth, higher wage growth, more employment and higher shareholder value.

—The Badger Institute

About a year ago, some concerned residents brought the topic of troublemaker turkeys to the Wind Point Village Board.

Wind Point (WI) residents had complaints about not being able to get into their homes and not being able to garden or take walks around the neighborhood.

Some said the turkeys even created difficult and dangerous driving conditions.

But nothing changed.

So the residents — along with some new ones — brought the topic to the Village Board again at its meeting April 13.

“I’ve been putting up with it for five, six, seven years, and it’s getting worse,” said Terry Maier, who lives on the 300 block of East Point View Drive. “I can’t go to my mailbox. They’re out there. They’re terrible.”

The birds have congregated in her yard and gone into her garage. She said they’ve also gone after her, her neighbors and her dog.

Maier described them as “terribly aggressive,” and said she’s seen five or six male turkeys and four or five female turkeys.

A turkey crosses the road in the 4700 block of Hollow Creek Road in Wind Point on Monday.

Rachel Kubik

The turkeys will surround cars on her driveway, not allowing her or her guests to leave her home. Sometimes they’ll move, but sometimes they’ll charge at her.

“If you’ve got one in your yard, and you say, ‘go,’ or, ‘get,’ they come running at you,” Maier said. “They’ll come behind you and walk behind you. Even if you confront them, it really doesn’t matter.”

She’s learned they don’t like water, so she keeps a large squirt gun and her garden hose at the ready to scare off the birds.

“We all love wildlife, but not when you’re being attacked all the time,” she said. “We decided we’re done.”

Outgoing Administrator, Clerk and Treasurer Brian Graziano noted that March to May is mating season for wild turkeys.

Neighbors have said the issue might stem in part from neighbors feeding the turkeys.

Residents have also noted that people, who they call “turkey tourists,” don’t help.

These people drive up and down streets where turkeys can be found and take photos of the fowl.

—Racine Journal Times

Wednesday, during an appearance on FNC’s “Fox & Friends,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) continued his (criticism) of former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci for his alleged mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Kentucky Republican lawmaker, Fauci’s unwillingness to acknowledge the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s role in the origin of the virus and possible gain of function research.

“Yeah, I think Fauci deserves culpability and history is going to judge him very poorly because he made the judgment to fund this research,” Paul said. “It’s dangerous research. He doesn’t want to call it gain of function, but most other scientists do call it gain of function, in Wuhan, in an opaque totalitarian country. And in the end, there was a leak from the lab and millions of people died worldwide.”

—Breitbart News

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday released his plan to address homelessness in the U.S., which he says has contributed to the decline of America’s once-great cities.

“The homeless have no right to turn every park and sidewalk into a place for them to squat and do drugs,” he said in a video statement. “Americans should not have to step over piles of needles and waste as they walk down a street in a beautiful city — at least, a once-beautiful city. Because they’ve changed so much over the last ten years.”

The 45th president argued that the majority should not have to “suffer” in these areas because of a “deeply unwell few.” If reelected, Trump said he will get the homeless off the streets and given access to the help they need.

“There is nothing compassionate about letting these individuals live in filth and squalor,” Trump argued.

“For a small fraction of what we spend upon Ukraine, we could take care of every homeless veteran in America,” he pointed out. “Our veterans are being treated horribly. Likewise, with all of the money we will save by ending mass unskilled migration, we will have a huge dividend to address this crisis in our own country.”

Urban camping will be banned and those who violate the bans will be arrested, he said, clarifying that the individuals will be given an option to get treatment if they are willing to be rehabilitated.

As for where they will be taken, Trump said “large parcels of inexpensive land” will be opened where a range of medical professionals, social workers, and drug rehab specialists will care for the homeless to address their problems.

“For those who are just temporarily down on their luck, we will work to help them quickly reintegrate into a normal life,” Trump continued. “For those who have addictions, substance abuse, and common mental health problems, we will get them into treatment. And for those who are severely mentally ill and deeply disturbed, we will bring them back to mental institutions where they belong, with the goal of reintegrating them back into society once they are well enough to manage.”


IKEA is growing its presence in the U.S.

The ready-to-assemble furniture company on Thursday announced plans to add eight new stores in the U.S., in addition to nine plan and order points (smaller stores dedicated to kitchen, bedroom, and living room planning) and 900 pick-up locations for online purchases.

The company has yet to nail down the locations for the new stores but is looking to launch in cities where the company already has a presence as well as new markets, according to Javier Quiñones, IKEA U.S.’s CEO and chief sustainability officer.

The $2.2 billion investment over the next three years should make IKEA’s products accessible to more Americans through both digital and physical storefronts.

IKEA is known for its warehouse-like shopping experience (the stores are 320,000 square feet on average).


A Louisiana woman has set a Guinness world record for having the largest afro on a living person, and it’s not her first time doing it.

Aevin Dugas, 47, has an afro measuring 9.84 inches tall, 10.24 inches wide and 5.41 feet in circumference, setting a record in the company’s category for women.

Her most recent record was set in September, but she previously set the record in 2010 and 2021, Guinness World Records wrote on its website. In 2010, her afro measured in at 4 feet-4 inches.


For at least one night, the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t miss Giannis Antetokounmpo at all.

Brook Lopez scored 25 points, Jrue Holiday added 24 and the hot-shooting Bucks withstood Antetokounmpo’s absence while trouncing the Miami Heat 138-122 on Wednesday, tying their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Milwaukee shot 25 of 49 from 3-point range to match an NBA record for 3-pointers in a game as the Bucks showcased their depth by thriving without their two-time MVP. Pat Connaughton, who hadn’t even played in Game 1, scored a playoff career-high 22 points and shot 6 of 10 from beyond the arc.

Antetokounmpo remained out for Milwaukee after leaving the Bucks’ 130-117 Game 1 loss early in the second quarter with a bruised lower back. He suffered the injury on a hard fall after getting fouled late in the first period during a drive to the basket.

—Associated Press


A CBS News-YouGov poll released Monday got at this perhaps better than any post-indictment poll.

It showed the percentage of Republicans who said it was “very important” to be loyal to Trump rising from 35 percent in both September and January to 46 percent today. And those labeling it “somewhat important” or “very important” have increased from two-thirds to around three-fourths.

For Trump supporters, this is welcome news, a sign that the former president should clinch the nomination again for a rematch with Biden. That’s also what Democrats want, seeing Trump as the more damaged of the potential candidates on the Republican side. While Trump’s influence within the GOP is re-entrenching itself, there is also evidence that Mr. Trump has worn out his welcome beyond the die-hard base, and there’s more than enough to block him from the White House again. In 2018, 2020, and 2022, the GOP fell way short of its goals. Now, this fact will be hidden by the competitiveness of the race. The Trump coalition is quite geographically diverse, with just enough voters living in areas that decide elections to make things interesting. It’s why despite approvals in the mid-to-low-40s, Trump keeps Democratic strategists up at night. They slept on him in 2016; they won’t make that error again.


When you are deciding whom you support, and when you are participating in the primary, whether as an activist, or a social media participant, or an observing voter, you should keep something in mind. Someone is getting the crown at the Republican convention, and we all need to be ready to back the winner 100% in the general. My guy was Cruz in ’16. He lost, fair and square, and I supported the nominee, Trump. And Trump went on to earn my active support and respect not merely because he won as an underdog but because he kept his word about so many things that I, frankly, expected him to bail on. Most other pols would have. And he did it in the face of the most concentrated campaign of lies and corruption we have ever seen.

I will vote for the primary winner in the general. Period. If you play the game, you need to accept the outcome. I get frustrated with people who tell me they will never vote for Trump in the general. Not voting for Trump in the general is voting for Biden. I will work for and vote for Trump in the general. I also get frustrated with people who tell me they will only vote for Trump in the general. Not voting for a nominee who is not Trump in the general is also voting for Biden.

We Republicans need to fight it out for the next eight months until Iowa and beyond, and while doing so we need to remember that we all want to get rid of that crusty pervert who allegedly won last time.

Be ready to put aside the primary once the winner wins. We have a country to take back.

—Columnist Kurt Schlicter

(Tuesday was) the deadline for most Americans to file our income tax returns.

Most people in the bottom 50% of earners don’t pay federal income taxes at all. In fact, thanks to COVID relief giveaways, the Tax Policy Center said 61% of Americans paid no income taxes in 2020. Last year, that was down slightly to 57% of households. This year, it will still be more than 40%.

If everyone did pay something, you can bet our debt wouldn’t be so high because there would have been a revolt long ago.

The same is true for the clever tactic of withholding federal income taxes from paychecks and then sending out refunds. Not only is the expense largely hidden from view, but people get something after filing (hint: that was an interest-free loan to the government).

If every American had to write a quarterly check to pay taxes, government would be run much differently.

Yet most Americans also view Income Redistribution Day through the lens of envy. No matter how much people pay, most people think the other guy didn’t pay enough. Indeed, according to Pew Research Center, the “top tax frustrations for Americans” are rooted in jealousy: “Majorities of Americans continue to be bothered by the feeling that some corporations and wealthy people do not pay their fair share in taxes.”

Coming from a lot of people who don’t pay any share, that can only mean Democrat messaging has thoroughly sunk in.

Not surprisingly, a majority of Americans are also not bothered that a majority of Americans pay little or nothing. And 56% also claim they already pay “more than their fair share.” Again, that includes at least some people who pay nothing. Astounding.

—Nate Jackson in The Patriot Post

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 2008 Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 becoming the first female driver ever to win an IndyCar Series race. Considered to be a pioneer for women in motorsports, Patrick’s achievements allowed her to break the gender barrier in a predominately male industry and become influential for many women who have taken up a career in auto racing since then.

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