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Rent hikes likely as housing demand soars

8 hours 40 min ago

A recent city housing report found Madison must add 1,000 rental units each year to keep pace with demand. Officials said high demand and low vacancy rates will hurt low income groups disproportionately.

The report predicts demand for rental housing will continue to increase into the foreseeable future and makes three recommendations to expedite new development. Despite the number of new construction projects around Madison, the increased demand is no surprise to city officials.

The report highlighted Madison’s unhealthy vacancy rate, which stands between 2-3 percent, and said even the addition of 1,000 units today would not raise the rate to the optimal 5 percent.

Graph illustrates differences in percentage of Epic employees who rent compared with other Madison workers.
Graph via City of Madison 2015 Housing Report

The report cited an increasing preference for renting among residents, especially among Epic employees, and population growth among the factors driving demand.

Ald. Zach Wood, District 8, said it can be disheartening when so many new developments are occurring throughout the city and there seems to be no effect on the vacancy rate.

“Baby boomers and millennials are both overwhelmingly favoring renting over homeownership and this may be a trend we see continue,” Wood said.

Second Hub dubbed ‘The James,’ construction to start this fallWhat came to be known colloquially as The Hub II has a new official name: The James. The second project from Chicago-based developer …

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the vacancy rate imbalance hurts those with less purchasing power the most.

Verveer said the city is using affordable housing programs to put wage limits on certain developments to alleviate some of the pressure on low income households. He said though the report offers strategies to increase apartment construction, he believes the city should focus on creating affordable housing.

Affordable housing is defined as costing less than 30 percent of an individual’s or household’s income.

The report recommended the city monitor the rental market closely, have more developers on city committees and create a development initiative to encourage new projects.

Wood said it’s important for the city to keep a closer eye on the rental market so it may proactively address market changes. Still, he admitted the city can only do so much in the face of powerful market forces.

Dane County Housing Authority overwhelmed by need for affordable housingAfter spending eight years working through the waitlist for low-income housing, the Dane County Housing Authority reopened their waitlist this …

Verveer said developers will likely continue proposing new projects to keep up with demand. He said he does worry a decision by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, which would make loans more expensive, could cause a slow in new projects and ultimately result in rent increases.

Wood said the city will conduct another study focusing on student rent rates, and he hopes it will help the city address rising rent costs. Data from the report showed the vacancy rate to be lowest around campus and continues to barely accommodate demand.

Wood acknowledged he had no ideas on how to address student rent hikes given the fact that rising prices is one of the driving forces behind new development.

“If we knew an answer to that, we would be doing it right now,” Wood said.

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Categories: Local Media

New Sunday farmers’ market offers variety, added vendor competition

10 hours 10 min ago

The traditional Saturday farmers’ market’s dominant position may be contested by a new Sunday market, but not all are convinced of its possible threat.

Located on Capitol Square, the Sunday market offers a second source of fresh, local food from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Vendors from Saturday’s Dane County Farmers’ Market are featured, as well as those unable to participate Saturday due to limited space.

The market, which is heading into its third weekend of operation this Sunday, has no affiliation with the Dane County Farmers’ Market. According to Bill Lubing, DCFM manager, the Saturday market has operated for more than 40 years and is the largest producer-only market in the country.

“We don’t look at other farmers’ markets as competition,” said Lubing. “Our goal is to promote and offer a venue for people to sell local foods. We encourage well-run markets.”

Although DCFM is open on a separate day, some vendors are skeptical of new competition and their ability to succeed.

Tom Murphy of Murphy Farms has been selling at the Saturday market for more than 23 years, and explained this market addition is great for the consumer, but potentially burdensome to fellow producers.

Murphy remains loyal to DCFM, and acknowledged it is the reason for his farm’s success. While wishing good luck to the new market, Murphy said he believes all markets are competition, and argued the Saturday market will remain dominant in the area.

“The [Dane County] market is so well known and it’s got a distinguished marker on it that it’s the best in the country,” Murphy said. “Other markets struggle to get vendors and customers, whereas the Dane County Farmers’ Market is so well-run and well known that it’ll be substantial for a long time, for a lot of vendors and people.”

Lubing said he understands the level of competition at the Saturday market and noted the market functions with a set cap of 288 members, and keeps a waiting list.

This waiting list system has the benefit of allowing vendors to decide which fresh products they want to sell on a weekly basis, while also increasing the quality of the product. The competition between the members also compels vendors to produce the very best, which Lubing claimed is only possible with a market as large as Dane County’s.

To compete, the Sunday market must develop a reputation on par with Saturday’s, Lubing said. This reputation is recognized, he said, for maintaining a vigorous inspection protocol that ensures high quality commodities. He said he believes consumers like to support local, well-run markets and fresh food.

The 2015 fall season has been one of the most profitable Lubing has seen. As for the success of the Sunday market, only time will tell.

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Categories: Local Media

$10 million donation comes during critical time for research

11 hours 10 min ago

During a time when federal research dollars have been dwindling, another multi-million dollar donation to University of Wisconsin will help fund research for the School of Education and Center for Investigating Healthy Minds.

UW alumni, Dorothy and Robert King, recently donated $10 million to help the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and School of Education hire new faculty to help focus their research on children’s well-being.

As federal research funds have been becoming smaller and smaller, this donation comes at a critical time to help ongoing expansion of research at the center, Center for Investigating Healthy Minds spokesperson Marianne Spoon said.

The center’s mission is to cultivate well-being through scientific understanding, and a donation like this will allow the center to accomplish its mission, Spoon said.

The additional faculty members will allow for the center to study well-being from multiple vantage points including neuroscience, education and psychology and how these practices lay out in communities and families, Spoon said.

“We’re looking to begin developing assessments to tell of how whether or not an intervention is successful or not for certain population or kids,” Spoon said.

While this donation came at a particular time of funding decreases, according to UW Foundation spokesperson Vincent Sweeney, donations like these are always important for the university.

With budget cuts having a major impact on the university, the university has seen an influx of donations, but these are not the only times that giving to the university is important, Sweeney said.

“I think giving to the university is crucial at any time,” Sweeney said. “Over the 167 years of the university’s existence, private funds have always played an important role for people paying tuition and research funds.”

The university has several large donations, including the Morgridge Match donation which raised $250 million in funding toward UW.

$250 million donation to UW will go to research, faculty supportFor what was expected to take at least three years to match in donations, Badger alumni stepped up to invest …

The university has already reaped benefits from donations like the Moridges'; some have allowed the university to create faculty chairs and some have added to student financial aid funds, Sweeney said.

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Categories: Local Media

Scholar discovers Madison house built by Frank Lloyd Wright

15 hours 17 min ago

After a 30 year investigation, Frank Lloyd Wright scholar Mary Jane Hamilton announced Tuesday there is one more Wright house in Madison.

The house, which belongs to Linda McQuillen, was built as part of Wright’s System-Built project which involved using prefabricated parts put together on-site. Hamilton verified its origins by identifying components specific to the project after coincidence and thorough investigation led her to the house located on West Lawn Avenue.

Hamilton began her investigation on the house in 1988 while working on an exhibit documenting Wright designs around Madison for what is now the Chazen Museum of Art. During the exhibit, people called in and told Hamilton about houses they believed were built by Wright, and one of them included McQuillen’s future house.

“It was very disconcerting because I thought the bands and windows looked right, but not that brick thing in the front,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said she was unable to find records indicating Wright built the house, so the investigation was tabled.

Eventually she discovered an ad for an agency of System-Built houses in 1917 from around the same time the suspected house had been built.

“At that time, people began finding these System-Built houses all around the country … people began to realize there had been a lot more built than people had understood,” Hamilton said.

The ad had a name which she remembered seeing on a building permit she had discovered years earlier in her previous search for evidence linking the house to Wright.

She said the coincidence was still not enough to prove the house’s origin, so she set about trying to find the drawings Wright had made for the houses.

She and a fellow Wright scholar toured the house and discovered numerous telltale signs of Wright having built the house, such as a particular type of stucco and other aspects which could not have been added after construction.

She said the System-Built houses are an interesting departure from Wright’s popular image since they were built primarily for the working class. The houses were discontinued due to material restrictions imposed once the U.S. entered World War I.

“It was an attempt to provide a reasonable, well-designed, moderate-cost housing for the larger group,” Hamilton said.

She said there are likely many System-Built houses around the country which have not yet been discovered.

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Categories: Local Media

SSFC debates to ‘kill’ auxiliary fund

Fri, 10/09/2015 - 12:20am

Student Services Finance Committee sought to hammer out issues with auxiliary funding once and for all at their Thursday meeting.

The committee also listened to Badger Catholic eligibility and approved Adventure Learning Programs eligibility.

SSFC denies funding eligibility to American Indian student organizationStudent Services Finances Committee approved the eligibility of Veterans, Educators and Traditional Students, declined that of Wung Sheek and heard …

Auxiliary fund debate

The auxiliary fund has long been an issue for SSFC. Due to its confusing language, SSFC representatives prepared several proposals to deal with the auxiliary fund and accommodate organizations like Greater University Tutoring Service, which simply seek additional funding.

As it stands, the auxiliary fund essentially funds the campus radio station and no other groups. But its purpose is to fund expanding student organizations that are growing at a rate that requires additional funding assistance.

SSFC Chair Thuy Pham was adamant about finally doing something about the auxiliary fund and proposed the committee completely rid of the fund and create two new funds: one to fund the campus radio and one for organizations, like GUTS, seeking additional funding.

Pham’s proposed plan essentially calls to “kill” the current fund and clean it up from top to bottom so it no longer is a cause of confusion.

SSFC Secretary Zachary Pravato agreed with Pham. Pravato believed cutting the auxiliary fund would allow SSFC to move forward.

But Rep. Kyle Watter was concerned the new fund would be the same with just a new name.

SSFC members discussed whether the potential new fund would be different and be less confusing than the current fund.

SSFC plans to make a decision about the plans for the auxiliary fund at their next Thursday meeting, after Pham meets with University of Wisconsin attorney Nancy Lynch, to make sure the action of getting rid of the fund would be legal.

Badger Catholic eligibility

In addition to discussing the auxiliary fund, SSFC held an eligibility hearing for Badger Catholic.

Badger Catholic’s mission is to openly promote and facilitate the spiritual development of students, President Steve Bye said.

This is primarily done, Bye said, through their core programming.

Badger Catholic also offers peer mentoring, in which people of any belief may come to them and discuss some of the things that they feel, Bye said.

Badger Catholic Vice President Ben Pribbenow said peer mentors approach students on campus without knowledge of whether they are Catholic or not. Badger Catholic mentors establish relationships with anyone, he said.

Bye said Badger Catholic also provides an opportunity to allow students to volunteer on campus.

When asked how their service programs may be different from other service programs, Pribbenow said Badger Catholic’s service offers spiritual development that other organizations may not.

Badger Catholic’s eligibility will be determined at SSFC’s next meeting Monday.

Prior to Badger Catholic’s eligibility hearing, SSFC approved of Adventure Learning Programs eligibility in an 11-0 vote with one abstention.

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Categories: Local Media

UW students earning degrees in less time, increase retention rates

Fri, 10/09/2015 - 12:14am

University of Wisconsin Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research released data showing students are graduating at higher rates and taking less time to get their degree.

In the Office of Academic Planning and Institutional Research’s report, UW saw a decrease in the average time to obtaining a degree from 4.16 years last year to 4.13 years this year.

The average four year graduation rate, which has continually increased since 2005, jumped a significant 3.2 points from last year, moving upward to 60.3 percent, according to a UW statement.

The statement also revealed UW has seen improvements in its retention rates. The freshman-to-sophomore-year retention rate rose from 95.3 percent in 2014 to 95.8 percent this year.

According to Associate Provost and Director of Academic Planning and Institutional Research Jocelyn Milner, the university’s recent success is the result of a culmination of hard work over the last several years and improvements in academic advising.

“About five years ago, the University of Wisconsin made substantial investment in academic advising and we saw some pretty big gains this year as a result,” Milner said. “In 2010, the university created the Office of Undergraduate advising, which has helped coordinate training for advisors as well as help the university hire more [advisors].”

Since 2010, UW has hired 36 new advisors and provided them with better instruction and greater access to students’ progress, Milner said.

In addition, the College of Letters and Science recently instituted a policy requiring that students declare a major by their senior year and has also created a new career initiative that aims to connect students to career advising, Milner said.

Despite the improvements, UW still hopes for further progress in the future, Milner said.

Milner added that UW has made plans to begin another project that will ensure prerequisites for classes are both clear and regularly enforced. This change will hopefully ensure student success in advanced courses.

“We hope to maintain the current levels and continue to look for ways to help the students,” Milner said.

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Categories: Local Media

Assembly Republicans introduce bill to dismantle Government Accountability Board

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 11:43pm

Republicans unveiled a bill Wednesday that would split the Government Accountability Board into two bipartisan bodies.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, released the bill, which would split the board into the Ethics Commission and Elections Commission, according to the bill.

The bill said each commission will be appointed six partisan leaders, chosen evenly between Republicans and Democrats. Reason for the change is GOP lawmakers believe the board leans Democratic during decision-making, Kenneth Mayer, a political science professor at University of Wisconsin, said.

Legislators look to model state accountability board off federal commissionWisconsin GOP lawmakers are pushing to increase bipartisan representation in a state campaign finance oversight board by mirroring its federal counterpart — …

The GAB is a nonpartisan board that oversees state ethics laws and election administration, Mayer said. It was created six years ago, he said, combining the previous ethics and elections boards into a single body that consists of six retired judges to administer campaign finance, elections and ethics laws. The board is considered a well-functioning model of nonpartisan election administration, Mayer said.

But some Republicans disagree.

“This bipartisan approach with two commissions will allow for a vigorous debate and better analysis of the issues,” Knudson said in a statement. “We have seen that the concentration of power led staff to run amok with serious lapses in the oversight of our elections.”

Despite the passion of GOP leaders, many groups are unhappy about the change.

League of Women Voters is a grassroots, nonpartisan political organization that encourages citizens to impact public policy. Its executive director, Andrea Kaminski, voiced strong opposition against the new bill. She said the group supported the establishment of the board in 2007 because Wisconsin’s old model with two separate commissions was dysfunctional, and now it seems to her the state is repeating that mistake.

“What this bill does is undo everything that was good about the Government Accountability Board and replace it with a model that is much like what we used to have, which clearly didn’t work,” Kaminski said. “It was a proven failure.”

Kaminski praised the current board’s ability to carry out investigations without asking for money from the Legislature because it’s hard to ask the Legislature for funding to investigate somebody in the Legislature.

Mayer said the board was walking on thin ice with both parties since it started, and sometimes it was the Democrats who were infuriated by the board. Therefore, he said, it is incorrect to say the board is one-sided. The new change will most likely drag government efficiency into a swamp of partisan debates, he said, and even many Republicans realize that.

“If it’s implemented, it will produce an organization that’s gridlocked,” Mayer said. “It’s pretty clear that it’s an effort motivated by a desire to do away with a body that the party perceives as hostile to its interests.”

Many legislators are also strongly against the bill.

Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, described the board in a statement as “Wisconsin’s nationally-lauded government watchdog” and said the state’s priority should lie in public projects that boost state economy instead of the GOP’s partisan scheming.

“At the end of the day, instead of solving Wisconsin’s real issues, Republicans are taking another step to consolidate their power and make it easier for political cronyism and corruption,” Zamarripa said in the statement.

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Categories: Local Media

Bill would tighten restrictions on gender-specific bathrooms, locker rooms in schools

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 11:24pm

Two Republicans are proposing a bill to standardize rules for gender-specific bathrooms and locker rooms in school districts across the state.

Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, and Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, want to make sure all districts follow the same policy on designating a specific gender for each bathroom and locker rooms, Mike Mikalsen, Nass’ chief of staff, said.

Mikalsen said school districts have a legal responsibility to address which bathrooms are designated for males or females.

“What the bill does is it creates one statewide approach which will allow for a more equal and equitable treatment, which is that a male bathroom is going to be for males,” Mikalsen said, defining males as those who would “medically be males based on their chromosomes.”

Mikalsen said the bill aims to accommodate concerns of transgender students along with students who might be uncomfortable with transgender students in their bathroom, which might cause parents to sue the school district. He said the motivation for the bill’s creation came from both complaints from parents and the need to protect districts from litigation.

Mikaelsen noted in some places that have adopted transgender bathrooms, some “pervert” men would take advantage of the facilities and do inappropriate or illegal things.

Nass is concerned about bullying and harassment for transgender students as well, Mikaelsen said, so the bill is partly to protect them from being bullied about going in the wrong bathroom.

But Megin McDonell, interim executive director of Fair Wisconsin, said the bill prevents transgender students from using bathrooms consistent with their true gender identity, which would “out” a lot of students and lead to their being isolated and bullied at school.

“The bill claims to be an interest of safety for students, but it actually has a potential to endanger the safety of transgender students,” McDonell said.

McDonell said at the more than 60 school districts across Wisconsin that have inclusive policies toward transgender students, none have experienced instances of a person claiming to be transgender in order to harass other students.

This bill, McDonell said, would undermine the inclusive efforts those schools made. She also said claims legislators made that transgender students would be bullied less if schools had regulations against allowing them in certain bathrooms are “incorrect.”

“It doesn’t increase or improve safety for students,” McDonell said. “It singles them out and segregates them and creates an environment that’s more hostile and less safe.”

In a statement, Kremer said the bill’s purpose is to make sure every student’s dignity is respected in schools, where privacy and safety are “paramount.”

Mikalsen said Nass agrees, noting some students have privacy issues for other reasons, such as religious beliefs.

In cases of religious beliefs, Mikalsen said, teachers would give students a separate place to change or use the bathroom. Transgender students, he said, would be treated the same way, and because some of them don’t want to have to use a separate bathroom, lawmakers felt compelled to create the bill.

But UW history and gender women studies professor Finn Enke said the bill will have a negative impact on all students, not just those who identify as transgender.

Enke said students will feel like they have to be scrutinizing everyone else in “weird and inappropriate ways.”

“The bill suggests that there’s something scary about transgender students or students who don’t conform to gender norms,” Enke said. “It creates an environment of suspicion and fear.”

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Categories: Local Media

Regents committee approves resolution ending non-resident enrollment limits

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 9:57pm

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents Education Committee approved a resolution Thursday to waive UW’s current nonresident enrollment limit.

The Education Committee voted to approve UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s resolution to waive UW’s 27.5 percent nonresident enrollment limit.

The resolution also requires at least 3,600 Wisconsin residents in each new freshman class; this is up from the previously required 3,500. The waiver would be in effect from the 2016-17 through the 2019-20 enrollment periods and only affects UW-Madison.

The resolution passed the Education Committee unanimously and will go before the full Board of Regents Friday for final approval.

Resolution could end out-of-state acceptance limitsUniversity of Wisconsin’s out-of-state applicants might not have to worry anymore about not being accepted based on UW’s max on non-resident acceptance rates. If …

The Education Committee said the waiver was proposed in the hope of attracting additional workers from other states and countries to Wisconsin to make up for the state’s serious shortage of skilled workers.

Both the number of Wisconsin high school graduates and the number of students enrolled in higher education in Wisconsin are decreasing, according to the Education Committee’s resolution agenda. Simultaneously, the overall workforce is aging and more workers are retiring, the agenda said.

“This will be a workforce crisis if we don’t do something to start dealing with this problem now,” Regent S. Mark Tyler said.

Noel Radomski, director and associate researcher for the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education, wrote in a WISCAPE blog post that the waiver would put Wisconsin residents at an admissions disadvantage.

But Blank said under the resolution’s enrollment quota for Wisconsin residents, UW would enroll close to 6 percent of the high school graduating class of the state, the highest UW has ever attained.

The resolution also required that UW provide both an interim report to the Board of Regents in December 2017 and a final report in December 2019 describing admission and enrollment activity along with other relevant outcomes that result from the waiver.

Blank noted it would be within the Board of Regents’ power to modify the policy if they deem it necessary before the 2019-20 enrollment period ends.

The full Board of Regents will meet and vote on the resolution Friday.

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Categories: Local Media

We want more beer: UW ranks No. 1 in tailgating

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 9:43pm

With no shortage of beer, brats and students yelling “Yaaas game day, yaaas,” it’s no wonder that USA Today ranked University of Wisconsin No.1 in tailgating.

The fans have spoken. Best tailgate in America? You guessed it— #MadisonWI. via @forthewin

— UW-Madison (@UWMadison) October 7, 2015

Coming in on top with a 41 percent fan vote, UW dominated the fan ranking poll with runners-up Louisiana State University and University of Mississippi falling behind at nine and seven percent, respectively.

Following a recent NCAA ranking in which UW claimed the title of top college football town in America, it makes sense that, naturally, UW would also be the top tailgating school as well.

Winning: NCAA ranks UW top college football town in AmericaThe National Collegiate Athletic Association released their rankings of the top college football towns in America, and University of Wisconsin has …

Of course, beyond its athletics and fanbase, UW has also recently received numerous other, perhaps more noteworthy, rankings.

A U.S. News and World Report ranking back in early September listed UW as the nation’s 11th best public university, and the Center for World Universities Rankings ranked UW 25th in the world.

Praise to thee: UW ranked nation’s 11th best public universityA national education report puts the University of Wisconsin high in the ranks of public universities across the country – confirming what most Badgers …

It’s certainly been a year of rankings for UW, and the Badgers are just getting started.

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Categories: Local Media

UW athletes take stand against sexual assault

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 8:37pm

In a two minute YouTube video, four University of Wisconsin varsity athletes took a stand and raised their voice against sexual assault on campus.

UW’s new student organization, We’re Better Than That: Men Against Sexual Assault, produced the video, which featured men’s basketball players Nigel Hayes and Aaron Moesch, men’s football Dare Ogunbowale and men’s soccer Drew Conner.

The four sat down for candid interviews where they spoke openly about women. The conversation began lightly, with the four talking about their “favorite thing about women.”

Hayes described himself as a “teeth guy,” and loves nice smiles.

But, the conversation quickly took a turn for the serious.

The athletes were asked about sexual assault in light of the recent Association of American Universities report which showed more than one-in-four women will be sexually assaulted during their time on campus.

Report: More than one in four women sexually assaulted at UWUniversity of Wisconsin released data Monday, Sept. 21, showing nearly 28 percent of undergraduate females reported experiencing sexual assault involving force or …

Their faces swiftly shifted from giddy to dismal upon hearing the numbers.

“That’s startling,” Conner said.

All four agreed that something needed to be done on the matter, and men are the ones who need to change their actions and perspectives in order to be part of the solution.

Watch the full video below:

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Categories: Local Media

Democratic presidential debate coming to Wisconsin

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 6:38pm

A Democratic presidential debate will be coming to Wisconsin Feb. 11, according to the Democratic National Committee.

The debate, which does not yet have a specific time or location, is one of six recently announced.

PBS’s Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will moderate the debate.

Big news! @NewsHour co-anchors & managing editors @GwenIfill & @JudyWoodruff will moderate 2016 DNC debate in Wisc.

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) August 6, 2015

“Wisconsin’s families and workers stand to benefit tremendously by Democratic policies to help the middle class,” TJ Helmstetter, DNC spokesperson said in a statement.” Our Democratic candidates are excited to present their visions to move America forward in such an important state with such a rich progressive tradition.”

In the statement, Helmstetter also said Wisconsin would be “doubly harmed” by a Republican president.

The Badger State has seen much political activity this election season with Gov. Scott Walker’s brief bid for the 2016 ballot.

Gov. Scott Walker formally drops out of 2016 presidential race[Update 9/22]: Following a rapid decline in the polls, Gov. Scott Walker announced Monday he’ll drop his bid for the …

Wisconsin is also set to host a Republican presidential debate in November.

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Categories: Local Media

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank, Athletic Director Barry Alvarez comment on salaries of football coaches in USA TODAY article

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 3:43pm

University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank swung at her administrative colleagues at Ohio State and Michigan by expressing her displeasure with the high salaries of the institutions’ head football coaches.

In an interview with USA TODAY regarding college football coaches’ salaries, Blank said the lucrative contracts of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and Urban Meyer at Ohio State resemble professional contracts.

“Those are the choices they make,” Blank said. “That really begins to threaten the whole sense that we are not professional athletic teams. I’m not terribly happy about the fact that they made those choices. That’s my opinion.”

UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez doesn’t necessarily see it as a bad thing, though.

Alvarez said in the same article that he doesn’t concern himself with salaries of coaches at other schools, but if the institution wants to pay that much for a coach, it should.

“When you’re Ohio State and football is as important as it is in that state, and you have an opportunity to hire someone who has a couple of national championships in his hip pocket and is from that state, it makes sense to pay him,” Alvarez said “He’s that valuable. … And Harbaugh, I think it’s a coup for Michigan and our league. I think he is worthy of that salary. That’s what they can command. The market drives that.”

Harbaugh makes $7 million a year at Michigan and received a $2 million bonus when he signed his deal in late December. Meyer, whose Buckeyes won the National Championship last season, makes $5.86 million per year. They rank second and third, respectively, in terms of salary among head coaches in college football behind Alabama’s Nick Saban.

Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst makes $2.3 million per year,  which ranks 46th in the country (right behind Gary Andersen at Oregon State, who makes $2.45 million) and ninth in the Big Ten.

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Categories: Local Media

UHS talks alcohol at ASM

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 6:30am

At the Associated Students of Madison coordinating council Wednesday night, committee members discussed the lifting of the non-resident student cap, and welcomed University Health Services representatives to speak about campus alcohol consumption.

UHS and alcohol

Reonda Washington, UHS Alcohol and other Drug Abuse prevention coordinator, spoke about the alcohol issues on campus and data taken from UW compared to other schools around the nation.

Washington said the overall alcohol intake increases as students progress toward graduation on campus. She said the UW drinking rates are higher than the national rates for high-risk drinkers.

Washington also discussed the importance of the AlcoholEdu program required for all first year students. The program is made up of two parts: one is taken over the summer before the students arrive to campus, and the other is taken 60 days after freshman arrival. These surveys, though, are important in determining how students use and interact with alcohol.

Students at UW are found to have higher rates of experience with alcohol before coming to campus than comparison groups around the nation.

The rate of increase for high-risk and problematic drinkers between the pre-test and post-test is also higher in comparison to other rates, Washington said. But this year there are more nondrinkers and moderate drinkers coming to campus as compared to previous years, she said.

Jenny Rabas, another member of the UHS alcohol prevention staff, said it is the individual’s choice to use alcohol, but the student’s environment can majorly influence their decisions.

Rabas said the goal of AlcoholEdu is to give students the knowledge and skills to use alcohol in a more responsible, low-risk way.

She said UHS has to work on multiple levels within the Madison community.

“In order to make a real difference on this issue we have to affect policies and work within the community,” Rabas said.

Rabas said the ASM council would be a good place to start because they want more students involved to advocate for policy change and discuss what they want to see happen on campus.

Enrollment Cap

ASM Vice Chair Kyla Kaplan led a discussion on the proposed decision to waive the cap set for out-of-state students admitted to UW. Currently 27.5 percent of out-of-state students can be admitted into any UW school system. UW officials are proposing to the System’s Board of Regents that this cap be waived for the next four academic years.

UW seeks tuition increase in non-resident studentsAt a meeting with the Board of Regents Thursday, University of Wisconsin officials will be proposing the university’s 27.5 percent …

As a result, the UW system would bring in more revenue for the university from out-of-state tuition. It would also be more accessible for students coming from out-of-state.

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Majority of UW liberal arts majors secure employment post-graduation, survey says

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 6:00am

The College of Letters & Science released data from two University of Wisconsin Survey Center surveys of recent alumni showing that 86.8 percent of the respondents are employed full-time, in graduate school or both.

The first survey targeted graduates from 2012-2013, while the other focused on the classes of 2003 to 2006. Nearly half of all alumni responded to both surveys, which far exceeds industry average response rates.

From the percentage of those who are not employed full-time, the report said 5.9 percent do not have paying jobs. Less than one-third of those without paying jobs were either laid off or have not found a job since graduation, and 64.3 percent of alumni who have full-time jobs have positions that require a bachelor’s degree.

“Our alums go into Wall Street, Main Street businesses, all sorts of different positions. The education that students are getting here is preparing them for literally anything,” Letters & Science Dean John Karl Scholz said.

The data from both surveys also showed that more than 70 percent of the employed alumni said the education they received at UW gave them an advantage over graduates in the workforce from other universities. Additionally, more than 90 percent of UW graduates said they would choose to attend again.

“We help teach students to think critically, to be adaptable, to be imaginative, to write well and to express themselves creatively,” Scholz said. “And employer survey after employer survey says those are the skills that employers are looking for.”

L&S has numerous career resources for students including the L&S Career Initiative, which Scholz started in 2013. The program aims to help liberal arts students start thinking about career options early and develop a professional network before graduation.

Since 2013, the Career Initiative has created a one-credit class for sophomores devoted to career exploration and reached out to alumni to help advise and network with students. These initiatives are part of Ogg Hall’s new Career Kickstart program, Director of Professional Networks and Career Resources Dave Nelson said.

Nelson, who helped write the survey report, said although the survey results exceeded expectations, L&S still hopes to do more by continuing to expand the Career Initiative and get students involved in career services.

“The College of Letters and Science is serving 16,000 students and we want to make sure that all of them are utilizing career development resources that are here on campus,” Nelson said.

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Not an exact science: Uncertainty surrounding biotech firm emboldens Judge Doyle Square critics

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 5:30am

Exact Sciences’ falling stock prices have fueled renewed criticism of the Judge Doyle Square project, with opponents saying the company is insolvent while Exact Sciences officials maintain the company remains strong.

The company’s shares tumbled Tuesday, dropping nearly 50 percent, after it was announced Cologuard, the companies test which detects colorectal cancer, was not recommended by the U.S. Preventative Task Force. Ald. David Ahrens, District 15, said this is further proof that the city is making a bad investment in funding their new headquarters within Judge Doyle Square. The company said it would not affect its hiring ability.

Ahrens said the collapse of Exact Sciences’ share value was not itself a cause for concern, but it is indicative of a bleak future for the company. According to him, the news, combined with half a billion dollar losses previously, means the company will likely not survive.

Mayor Paul Soglin has often defended the public investment in Exact Sciences by citing the company’s promise to create hundreds of jobs, a moot point should the company fail.

Soglin touts benefits of Judge Doyle Square; derides criticsMayor Paul Soglin presented arguments in support of redeveloping Judge Doyle Square on Wednesday, Sept. 23, highlighting future job creation. The …

Ahrens said Cologuard had been recommended as an alternative test and this would put Exact Sciences in a very difficult position.

“It’s hard to tell physicians ‘don’t do this thing that’s recommended, do this alternative thing,’” Ahrens said.

Exact Sciences spokesperson J.P. Fielder said the alternative recommendation was given because their test is newer and has less data supporting it than more mature alternatives. He contends the losses sustained by his company are the byproduct of an extensive research and development effort to create Cologuard and are not unusual for a biotech firm.

He said there have been studies validating the test, including one which featured 10,000 subjects. He said the market’s reaction to the preventative task force announcement resulted from confusion in the task force’s use of new language.

“Right now there’s a lot of uncertainty as to what this means, and if there’s anything Wall Street doesn’t like, its uncertainty,” Fielder said.

In previous years, the task force had given letter grades on effectiveness to different technologies based on evidence available.

Ahrens said the overwhelming majority of biotech firms do not last for a considerable amount of time and it is folly for the city to believe that somehow they have selected the one which will survive.

Fielder said Cologuards’ prior, enormous market success, even while it had an “I” or insufficient rating by the task force, is a testament to the continued strength of Exact Sciences. He said sales have topped 100,000 since the test was released.

Fielder said it is important to note the recommendations are only drafts for now and his company will continue to work with the task force.

Ahrens said he hopes the city will be more cautious in its investment in Judge Doyle Square moving forward.

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Legislators, citizens discuss potential option to refinance student loan debt

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 12:18am

Looking to address Wisconsin student loan debt, the Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges held a public hearing Wednesday.

Jeff Buhrandt, University of Wisconsin System spokesperson, said half of all UW students, a little less than 112,000 individuals, borrowed from a student loan program in 2013-2014. He said 74 percent of resident undergrad students graduated with an average of $30,452 of debt.

“If the interest rate is not lower, significantly lower, it will not benefit students,” Buhrandt said.

Buhrandt said the UW System would welcome more options for its students because currently 89 percent of student loans are federal and state loans compose only a small percentage of the remaining 11 percent.

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, and Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, co-sponsored a bill that would give Wisconsinites the ability to refinance their student loans in order to have lower interest rates. The bill also aims to increase financial literacy by giving parents and students more information before they sign onto student loans.

Mason said more than one million Wisconsinites have student loan debt and 60 percent of those people are over age 30. He said for a recent graduate who just entered the workforce and is making $30,000 with a college degree, payments of $300 to $500 a month is a “substantial” cut out of the citizen’s income.

“It is literally hindering people’s ability to thrive in the middle class and it’s hurting … our economy overall to send so much of that money out of state, by and large, to big Wall Street banks, instead of putting it back into Main Street,” Mason said.

Mason said he knows from research and constituent anecdotes that student loan debt limits the ability of individuals to buy their first homes and in some cases forces new graduates to move back in with their parents. He said by lowering interest rates, people will have more spending money to contribute to the state economy.

John Reinemann, State of Wisconsin Higher Education Aids Board executive secretary called the student loan debt problem “huge” and approved of the bill authors’ goal but cautioned legislators when proceeding forward. He said if a federal loan debt student consolidates once, generally he does not have the ability to do it again. In addition if he chooses to refinance outside the federal system, he loses some of the protections provided by a federal student loan, Reinemann said. 

Reinemann also said the bill would change what is considered an educational expense by adding loans to the definition. He said while reducing debt is desirable, people in his line of business have expressed concern to him that the bill may result in “unintended consequences.”

“I have heard anecdotally … that there is some concern that if this mechanism did exist, it might perversely foster a certain disinterest in the actual consequences of borrowing this much money … you might create a sense of well-being that perhaps wouldn’t be appropriate for the situation, you might lull people into a false sense of security,” Reinemann said.

Conrad Wight, UW-Madison sophomore, said he was fortunate enough to have no student loan debt because of financial support from his parents but that this major flaw in the UW System could benefit from government intervention.

“The reason that no one sitting here is 100 percent happy with this bill is because it is not entirely in line with any single group’s policy objectives, and frankly I think that means it’s a good compromise” Wight said.

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Snapchat confusion induces alcohol-fueled conflict at Wando’s

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 11:44pm

A woman attacked a stranger inside Wando’s following an erroneous assumption concerning a Snapchat Wednesday.

Police arrested 21-year-old Madison resident Skyler Cage after she allegedly punched a fellow bar-goer repeatedly because she believed the woman had taken a Snapchat of her. The victim suffered minor injuries and a cracked iPhone 6S. Police booked Cage under tentative charges of battery.

According to a Madison Police Department incident report:

Following an evening watching Kevin Hart at the Kohl Center, the victim went to Wando’s where she recognized several of the opening comedians. Intending to take a snapchat of the openers, she was soon accosted by an intoxicated woman who believed the victim was photographing her.

As the victim attempted to clarify the situation, the aggressor began to punch her in the face, causing her to drop her phone. A friend tried to stop the attack, but received only similar blows to the face for her efforts.

Once outside, the assailant began shouting obscenities and comments regarding the victim’s ethnicity, however, the victim said the attack was not racially motivated.

Police spokesperson Joel DeSpain said it was not clear if the Snapchat was any good or if the victim had chosen the correct filter.

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UW seeks tuition increase in non-resident students

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 11:32pm

At a meeting with the Board of Regents Thursday, University of Wisconsin officials will be proposing the university’s 27.5 percent out-of-state student cap be lifted for the next four years.

Resolution could end out-of-state acceptance limitsUniversity of Wisconsin’s out-of-state applicants might not have to worry anymore about not being accepted based on UW’s max on non-resident acceptance rates. If …

In a blog post, UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said the motivations for the university seeking this change are due to the decreasing number of Wisconsin high school students in addition to only 15 percent of non-resident students staying in Madison the year following graduation. At its peak in 2009, 71,000 students graduated high school, but that number has been declining, with a projected 2015 count of 64,100.

“In short, the state of Wisconsin needs to retain and attract as many young workers into the state as possible,” Blank said. “As one of the top-ranked schools in the nation, we attract highly skilled young people from around the world to Wisconsin. This is an opportunity for the state to retain these individuals after they graduate.”

Associated Students of Madison Chair Madison Laning said the change wouldn’t affect current students as much, but it will “dramatically” change the composition of the university. Although waiving the cap would be temporary, in four years’ time, there would be a new composition of an entire UW undergraduate body that will include upward of 40 to 50 percent out-of-state students.

In what she described as a “scramble” in response to imposing budget cuts, the only reason this is happening is because the university needs more money. Laning said there should be other avenues that are explored, and that she hopes the Board of Regents looks deeper at this proposal to see the long-term effects it has and how it’ll affect UW in the future.

There’s a push to increase incoming freshman class sizes by the university, but more out-of-state students would create larger class sizes on campus at a time when the university can’t support the number of students they already have, Laning said. Overall, Laning said the university is trying to fix a part of the university that isn’t broken.

But one of the bigger concerns from ASM, Lanning said, is that no shared governance was used in this proposal.

“In the state we’re in right now, in which the chancellor keeps talking about the value of shared governance, it did not occur with this proposal and no students were consulted in whether this would be a good decision or not,” Laning said.

Blank said given today’s demographics, a 27.5 percent cap no longer makes sense, and if the board were to approve the proposal, there wouldn’t be a drastic change to the enrollment profile.

Laning challenged that notion and said it could end up also changing the intellectual diversity on campus, as the university is going to be admitting students who can pay to go here instead of ones that may have the test scores to go here.

“I think UW is a great university, and it’s unique because it serves the students and families of Wisconsin,” Laning said. “But do we truly have the diversity on campus and the commitment to the families of Wisconsin that we have so long prided ourselves on? Will we still have those values if we’re not serving a majority of Wisconsin families?”

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Despite shortfall, no major cuts to operating budget

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 10:12pm

Mayor Paul Soglin’s proposed 2016 operating budget would limit tax increases, continue supporting existing programs and add some new positions.

Soglin’s budget does not call for maximum tax increases as seen in previous years and does not call for any layoffs of city employees. Several alders said the council is liable to increase the taxes, but generally expressed contentment with the proposal.

The operating budget differs from the capital budget because it covers all operations of city government, while the other covers new purchases and projects.

Ald. Zach Wood, District 8, said many of the downtown safety programs that affect his district remain in place, though he admits he would like to see more funding for such programs. He said the city will likely have to get accustomed to making do with less.

“This is not a one-year shortfall; this is the new normal,” Wood said.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 2, said the budget will not make cuts to Downtown Safety Initiative, which provides extra police on State Street during the weekend, or metro bus lines. He said the modest tax raise should also mean students living off campus won’t face rent increases.

Wood said he was surprised taxes were not raised to the levy limit, which caps tax increases based on growth and inflation. Soglin said the relatively modest tax increase is an attempt to maintain the affordability that makes Madison so attractive.

Verveer said the decision to not raise taxes was possible because of savings from the city switching to a deductible insurance program for its employees.

Ald. David Ahrens, District 15, said he supports the mayor’s conservatism because his district is home to many lower-middle class families and retirees.

“Taxes are a huge part of their expenses, so if they’re paying $3,000 in taxes, adding another $66 doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s real money to someone who’s really watching the thermostat,” Ahrens said.

Still, Ahrens said it is likely the council will try and expand the tax increase. He said he had hoped the construction of a new Penny Library would move forward given all the progress that has been made toward that end.

The budget provides funds for a new IT security position as well as a new program to help link homeless people with shelters, called the Housing First Street Team.

The street team will be composed of social workers with the intent of getting more people to use shelter resources, according to Wood. He said the move to create the IT security position makes sense as it’s the next level in modern security.

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