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News from around Wisconsin (11:08 p.m. 1/2/10)

Milwaukee police chief responds to fatal crashes

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said officers attempting traffic stops that ended in crashes used proper judgment and followed procedure.

Three people were killed in two crashes Thursday and Friday that started with officers pulling vehicles over for traffic violations. Both vehicles ran red lights, hitting cars.

Common Council President Willie Hines called on the department to review its chase procedures. One of the victim’s mothers, Verna Pearson, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Friday that police must find other ways to catch people who flee.

In a statement Saturday, Flynn said the department is reviewing the crashes. He said both were within minutes of officers attempting traffic stops. He said the incidents were over before officers had the opportunity to pursue either vehicle.

Flynn said criminals’ reckless behavior should not be linked to police.

Funeral held for fallen firefighter in St. Anna

ST. ANNA, Wis. (AP) — Mourners gathered Saturday for the funeral of a volunteer firefighter killed when a trash bin outside a rural Wisconsin foundry exploded.

Steven “Peanut” Koeser, 33, of Kiel died Tuesday. Firefighters sprayed water on a trash bin fire, which caused a reaction that led to the explosion at Bremer Manufacturing in Calumet County. Investigators said it could take several weeks to determine the exact cause.

Eight other firefighters were also injured.

Firefighters arrived to St. Ann Catholic Church in fire trucks, minibuses and vans from communities as far away as Beloit, Pittsville, Ashland, Green Bay and southern Door County.

David Harris, from Milwaukee’s fire department, said firefighters are brothers first and when one falls, they all lose a little bit of themselves.

Newspaper: Vets board, Doyle’s office made contact

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Department of Veterans Affairs board was in frequent contact with governor’s office leading up to a meeting in which then-Secretary John Scocos was fired.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the board is supposed to act independently of the governor and e-mails suggest the board’s vice chairwoman, Marcia Anderson, sought direction from the governor’s office before the Nov. 24 meeting with Scocos.

In e-mails obtained under the state’s open records law, Anderson references a meeting sought by Doyle and mentions attempts to meet with his aides “to discuss the way ahead.”

Anderson said she wanted to notify the governor’s staff the board was planning a special meeting to discuss several issues. Gov. Jim Doyle says the board acted independently.

Scocos has sued the agency and its board members over his firing, alleging his rights to return to his job after deploying to Iraq were violated.

Information from: Wisconsin State Journal,

Milwaukee will soon get new archbishop

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Archbishop-designate Jerome Listecki has been more outspoken on political issues than his predecessor Timothy Dolan at the Milwaukee archdiocese.

Listecki once admonished House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her interpretation of Catholic teachings on the beginnings of life, and criticized the University of Notre Dame’s decision earlier this year to honor Barack Obama.

Listecki said he won’t stop speaking out on controversial subjects after he’s installed Monday as 11th archbishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“My response usually is when something is put out there that is either confusing or ambiguous for Catholics, it’s my responsibility to try to clarify that,” he said.

The 60-year-old takes over as the leader of some 675,000 parishioners and 211 churches in 10 southeastern Wisconsin counties. Dolan was installed April 15 as archbishop of New York.

Listecki is leaving the La Crosse diocese, with about 202,000 parishioners in 165 parishes in western Wisconsin, where he served since 2005. The Chicago native is also a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves.

In the past, he’s also spoken out against the group Young Catholics for Choice, which was working with a Wisconsin family planning clinic to promote access to emergency contraceptives.

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