Take a look at the stories from around our area and world that are making news today.
Invasive beetle poses threat to Madison's ash trees: Sean Kirkby of Madison Commons reports: "An invasive beetle, which may be present in Dane County, could destroy almost a quarter of the trees that border city streets, according to city and state experts, but residents can slow down its spread by not transporting firewood. After discovering a number of adult emerald ash borers in Mirror State Park, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) placed Sauk County under temporary quarantine for the beetle on July 15, pending federal approval, according to a statement. The quarantine prohibits wood products, such as firewood, from being moved out of the county to other areas of the state that do not have an infestation. The emerald ash borer, native to China, entered the United States about 10 years ago through packing material. Since appearing in Michigan, the beetles spread rapidly, appearing in Wisconsin in 2008."
Tom Barrett counsels Mary Burke regarding possible run against Scott Walker: Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes in his No Quarter blog: "Weighing a possible bid for Wisconsin governor, Madison millionaire Mary Burke sat down recently with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to find out first-hand what it's like to run statewide in a high-profile campaign. Of course, Burke will have to turn elsewhere to find out what it takes to win such a contest. "It went very well," Barrett chief of staff Patrick Curley said of the tête-à-tête. Burke – an ex-state commerce secretary and former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive – has been meeting with top Democrats around the state to discuss whether she should run against Republican Gov. Scott Walker next year. Burke appears to have the backing of top Democratic Party officials. The party's political director has accompanied her as she makes the political rounds. A prominent Dem told No Quarter that Burke is now 'more than 50%' of the way toward getting in the race."
Wisconsin will become first state to post statistics on prison rape online: Marina Fang, writing for Think Progress, reports: "Wisconsin will become the first state to post its prison sexual assault statistics online. Marion Morgan of the state’s Department of Corrections told Wisconsin Public Radio that making this information widely available could help change public attitudes on sexual assault by drawing attention to an issue that is often hidden from view. 'People believe that what happens behind the walls stays behind the walls,' Morgan pointed out. 'The reality is 95 to 97 percent of our inmates return to the community, and if they’re sexually traumatized while in detention that’s going inhibit their ability to successfully reenter.' The Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act mandates that all states publicly post statistics on sexual assault, abuse, and harassment committed in prisons. Posting them online could help raise awareness for the issue and ensure that cases are properly reported and investigated, which is Morgan’s job for the state."
Milwaukee official challenges Scott Walker on statement over Act 10 savings: Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports: "Gov. Scott Walker's assertion that Act 10 saved the City of Milwaukee $25 million is overstated and does not reflect other factors such as reduced state aid and grants since 2011, a top city official says. Mark Nicolini, the city's budget director, said he analyzed not only the savings from Act 10 but took into consideration other reductions since 2011 that have had an impact on this year's budget. Nicolini's assessment: "The governor's comments regarding Act 10's impact on the city's fiscal capacity overstates those savings while not reflecting the impact of reductions to state aids and grants since 2011 on the 2013 city budget. In addition, the relatively more restrictive state levy limits restrains the city's capacity to fund the continuing increases in police and fire operations, whose compensation costs for sworn employees are largely unaffected by Act 10 and other state legislative changes." At a news conference Wednesday, Walker cited the $25 million in savings to argue against a request from Mayor Tom Barrett and Police Chief Edward Flynn that the state match the $500,000 in city funds Barrett has diverted to pay for more police overtime."
ALEC takes a 13-0 beating in fossil-fueled effort to gut states' renewable energy standards: Meteor Blades of the Daily Kos writes: "Nearly three-fifths of the states have established renewable energy standards. That rises to three-fourths when renewable energy goals are included. The standards mandate how much electricity utility companies, including municipally owned utilities, must generate by a certain date from solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass and other renewable sources. And the folks at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), who are celebrating their 40th birthday at the group's annual convention in Chicago this week, worked in their usual behind-the-scenes way in the past seven months to dump those standards.They failed. Not just once. But in every state where they attacked. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have mandated standards. ... The folks at ALEC, funded by the brothers Koch and Exxon Mobil, among others, made it a priority at their annual convention in Salt Lake City last year to go after the renewable energy standards, according to Matt Kasper at Think Progress."
Chris Christie leads two new 2016 Republican polls: Eric Pfeiffer of Yahoo! News writes: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is still technically running for re-election in the Garden State. But two new polls show him leading the pack of potential candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. A Rasmussen Reports poll released on Wednesday shows Christie leading the potential GOP field with 21 percent support. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio comes in a close second with 18 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has been considering a presidential run after ruling it out for a number of years, is third with 16 percent. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is behind Bush with 15 percent. 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan garnered 13 percent of the vote in the poll. Potentially adding to that rivalry, a WMUR/UNH New Hampshire poll released on Tuesday also shows Christie leading the Republican field with 21 percent. However in this poll, Paul comes in second, with 16 percent. Bush places third in the poll with 10 percent, followed by Ryan at 8 percent and Rubio at 6 percent, respectively."