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— Efforts to implement Walker-era legislation to restructure the state’s youth justice program took another hit after members of a panel charged with making recommendations regarding new youth lockups roundly criticized the panel’s work.
Members of the Juvenile Justice Grant Committee, in interviews with WisPolitics.com, agreed with one member’s characterization of the process as “a setup for failure” after recommendations submitted last week to the Joint Finance Committee came in nearly 40 percent over budget.
Members of the Juvenile Justice Grant Committee, in interviews with WisPolitics.com, roundly criticized the panel’s work after recommendations submitted last week to the Joint Finance Committee came in nearly 40 percent over budget.
What’s more, the plans from Dane, Green, Milwaukee and Racine counties to build new juvenile lockups to replace Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake come up at least 52 beds short of the total needed to get eligible youth out of troubled northern facilities.
“If these things are all just going to get dumped in Joint Finance’s lap, well then what was the sense of having our committee do all that work or even having a committee in the first place?” asked JJGC member Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin.
The recommendations submitted by the youth justice panel marked the culmination of more than a year-and-half worth of work aimed at moving away from a central youth prison. Instead, lawmakers envisioned a three-pronged approach that centered on efforts to keep young offenders close to home.
Under 2017 Act 185, unanimously backed in both the Assembly and Senate and signed into law by former Gov. Scott Walker, so-called Serious Juvenile Offenders from Lincoln Hills would be placed in one of two “Type 1” facilities to be built and run by the state. Less serious offenders would be sent to county-run Secure Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth, or SRCCCYs, whose construction would be financed almost entirely by the state.
The measure also called for an expansion of the Department of Health Service’s Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center, a mental health intervention facility for violent and treatment-resistant young offenders.
But implementation has been problematic.
Pushback against Type 1 sites in Milwaukee and Hortonia, a town northwest of Appleton, has been fierce.
Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett faced boos and jeers from city residents during a March listening session when they announced that the site on Mill Road and Teutonia Avenue was “a done deal.” And Hortonia residents protested in June, citing property taxes, safety, and concerns that a prison will deter the rapidly growing Fox Valley business sector from expanding to the town.
Efforts to work with counties to develop grant proposals to build less restrictive SRCCCYs, meanwhile, have been plagued by missed deadlines and dissatisfaction from both members of the panel and county representatives.
Lawmakers in June were forced to rush through changes to Act 185 that moved back the deadline for the grant committee to submit recommendations and pumped more money into SRCCCYs after it counties made it clear the original legislation would be unworkable.
But even after the original SRCCCY budget of $40 million was doubled and the target date to submit county plans to JFC was pushed back by three months, the final report called for a $111 million expenditure that wouldn’t have a place for all SRCCCY-eligible youth at Lincoln Hills.
“To just send everything over to Joint Finance on a hope and a prayer that they’re gonna come up with the money, I don’t think we did our job,” said GOP Rep. Michael Schraa, who sat on the JJGC and authored Act 185 alongside Dem Rep. Evan Goyke.
But Schraa, along with seven other members of the 10-person panel, voted for the final recommendations. The Oshkosh Republican told WisPolitics.com he didn’t “want to take the risk of not passing something.”
“We need to do something so I wasn’t about ready to vote against it, because then that’s just kicking the can down and not making any decision,” he said.
The two panel members who voted against the final plan — Sanfelippo and Sharlen Moore, the community representative and co-founder of the Milwaukee-based youth outreach organization Urban Underground — shared Schraa’s financial concerns.
“Do the people on the committee expect Joint Finance to wave a magic wand and create money?” Sanfelippo asked.
“Look, I took my responsibility on that committee very seriously, which was to come up with some recommendations that fit within the amount of money we have budgeted. That’s what I was working towards, that’s what I was planning on doing, but the majority of the committee felt differently.”
Moore raised similar concerns, and told WisPolitics.com she hopes “the Joint Finance Committee only funds $80 million, because that’s what it says in the budget.”
“I don’t think we should spend a dime over $80 million on more bricks and mortar,” she said. “If we are willing to put more money into it, it should solely go to programs.”
Moore echoed the sentiments raised by counties, who were worried throughout the process that the original legislation was too focused on new buildings when the state should be shifting the youth justice system to a prevention and rehabilitation programming model.
“Bricks and mortar, building, building, building. That’s not what’s going to get us out of this,” she said. “What’s going to get us there is putting funding back into communities and neighborhoods that need the most support.”
Rep. David Crowley, a Milwaukee Dem who was Gov. Tony Evers’ pick to sit on the grant committee, conceded lawmakers “should have probably started with the programming first” and said the panel was “rushed” by the deadlines imposed by Act 185.
“We can talk about the political motivations, which I think there’s some truth behind that,” he said, referencing allegations the unanimously passed youth justice overhaul was pushed through to hand Walker a win ahead of his reelection fight.
“But it was also rushed to make sure that we can get these young people out of Lincoln Hills.”
Crowley ultimately defended the process that resulted in recommendations that blew through the panel’s budget.
“At the end of the day, I think that this is one of the best proposals that we could put forward with what we had and who applied,” he said.
The panel’s report now sits with the state’s budget panel, which must find an additional $31 million or find a way to chop down costs to fit the state’s budget.
But JFC Co-Chair Sen. Alberta Darling, who also sat on the JJGC, told WisPolitics.com that “at this point, a lot has to be done to justify the expenditures.”
The River Hills Republican said she was happy with the grant committee’s process, but understood her colleagues’ frustration with the recommendations that came in over budget.
She said she had not spoken with the members of the budget panel about the grant proposal and added it would be Carr’s responsibility to sell them on the plan.
“I told (Carr) that he has to come and talk with the majority leader in the Senate and the speaker and the Assembly and talk to all the finance members because I can’t carry a heavy load like that,” she said. “It has to be explained as a critical part of the governor’s project. We can’t carry that kind of a load without the governor really spearheading that.”
Regardless of how JFC decides to handle this batch of SRCCCYs, Shraa, Sanfelippo, Moore and Crowley all told WisPolitcs.com they expected more juvenile justice projects on the horizon. All four pointed to the western half of the state, which will not have a SRCCCY after La Crosse County pulled out of the application process.
“We know that it’s a lot more that needs to be done,” Crowley said.
— Dem Rep. Jimmy Anderson today said he wasn’t aware of what was in a contentious rules package when he gave a floor speech expressing reluctant support.
The Fitchburg Dem said when his party’s leadership made him aware of GOP’s attempt to “extract a pound of flesh” for granting him disability accommodations, he ultimately voted against it.
But Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke told WisPolitics.com he twice told Anderson what would be in the package before his floor speech.
The dispute centers on a heavily disputed rules package that passed the Assembly yesterday.
After months of back and forth, GOP leadership ceded to Anderson’s requests: the ability to call into committee hearings and execs, “reasonable” time and notice for floor session, and an end to overnight sessions. The Fitchburg Dem is paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident with a drunken driver that took the life of his father, mother and brother.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has long opposed the phone-in accommodation, saying it is disrespectful to those who have traveled — sometimes at great lengths — to provide testimony to committees. The Senate allows members to phone into committee hearings and execs.
Under the threat of litigation for possible violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, GOP leadership this week introduced a rules package that they said would address Anderson’s concerns.
But the package of 10 rules included a set of measures Dems labeled as an “unconstitutional power grab.” Chief among Dems’ concerns was a measure that would allow Republicans multiple attempts at gubernatorial override votes. Dems objected to both in principle and due to the fact it was tied to Anderson’s accommodation.
Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz labeled the move “another black eye on Wisconsin.”
Debate over the rules package consumed a majority of the first three hours of yesterday’s floor session, capped by Anderson giving an impassioned floor speech calling for members to “turn this down and let’s find another way.”
After an hour-long break for a ceremony to honor first responders, GOP leadership abandoned their initial proposal and brought forward an amendment that split the veto override rule and two other measures from the package that included the disability accommodations.
Anderson then gave another speech calling on his Dem colleagues to vote against the measure, because it removed “a lot of the protections and a lot of the expectations of the minority.” Still, he said he would be willing to support this amendment in “an attempt to extend an olive branch during all of this ugliness.”
But after the Assembly stood informal so Dems could caucus, Anderson joined his party in voting against the section of the rules package that included the accommodation.
He told WisPolitics.com today when he gave the second floor speech offering to vote for the package, he was under the impression all it included was the phone-in measure and second rule addressing so-called dilatory motions. That rule — which GOP leadership said was an attempt to speed up floor proceedings — allowed the presiding officer to declare motions or procedures perceived as stall tactics as out of order.
While Anderson opposed such a rule, he said he would still vote for the package.
But while the body was informal, Anderson said “my leadership brought me back and talked to me and explained to me that it wasn’t just the dilatory motions, it was also everything else except for just three sections.
“And so I, by the time I came back out, I was like, I can’t support this,” he said.
But Steineke countered he “explicitly” explained to Anderson in the Assembly parlor during the ceremony honoring hometown heroes how GOP leadership intended to split the package.
“He looked at me and said he would support it,” the Kaukauna Republican said. “And then they took a break and things changed.”
Anderson confirm with WisPolitics.com that he met with Steineke but said the details he received during that conversation were scant.
“He had said, ‘We’re trying to work something out, we’re going to try to make it so that way you can vote on your accommodation,'” Anderson said. “That was the extent of my understanding, which is why when I came back up, that’s what I thought they did.”
But Steineke said he told Anderson “exactly what we were taking out.”
“Maybe he misunderstood,” he said. “But I don’t think it pays to get into this big thing with him at this point.”
The rules package including Anderson’s accommodations passed 60-36 on a party-line vote.
The provisions that were stripped out of the accommodation package — including the veto provision, a definition of which rooms were part of the Assembly chamber, and a change to the timeline for referring a proposal to the calendar — were passed separately on a 60-36 vote. Republican Rep. Scott Allen voted with all Dems against the measure.
An Allen spokesman told WisPolitics.com the Waukesha Republican “didn’t think the changes were wise.”
— A panel of partisan pollsters and operatives agreed it would be difficult to predict how the Dem-backed impeachment inquiry would affect swing voters in the Midwest.
“I don’t see yet … how anybody can say it’s going to be a plus or minus for either side,” Dem pollster Paul Maslin told the Midwest Polling Summit in Madison on Wednesday. “If any of us can really answer that question, we’re lying.”
GOP pollster B.J. Martino agreed, saying a prediction “is a fool’s errand.” He noted that opinion polls now showed a majority of voters supported the idea of an inquiry, but he cautioned the wording of those polls was “absolutely essential.”
“Anytime you see a poll that says ‘Voters, do you believe this on impeachment?’ go look in the article and read the wording of the question,” he said. “Critically important as voters are parsing this whole thing out, because it talks about impeach and remove. That’s a different scenario in voters’ minds.”
Martino said being in a presidential election cycle “can change public opinion quickly” and questioned how voters would perceive impeachment if the process dragged out through the point where Dems had named a nominee.
“Will public opinion say, ‘You know what, we have the Democratic nominee now, we have an election directly at our sights, let the voters say?'” he asked.
But Maslin predicted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was a savvy enough operator to prevent that from happening.
“Pelosi understands this,” he said. “This is not going to be a sword hanging over the head in spring or summer of next year. However it plays out, it’ll be over and done with before that point.”
Still, Maslin said he saw parallels with the effort to recall former Gov. Scott Walker in 2012.
“Clearly the more that we went on into Walker’s second year, the more that voters start to say in Wisconsin, ‘What are you doing this for, really? I mean can’t we just vote on this?” he said. “And that was with still two years left to go.”
Walker went on to defeat Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
GOP operative Brian Reisinger, who served as an adviser to Walker later in his tenure, said the conduct of House Dems would be a factor in how the public views the inquiry moving forward.
“If they end up putting themselves in a position where they have a process that appears to be a partisan one that was really pre-judged from the day the president took office and people begin to feel this reduced down to really just a political process, that’s when it really does begin to look a little bit more like the lessons we took away from the recall,” he said.
Dem pollster Celinda Lake said her group, Lake Research Partners, conducted a number of focus groups with swing voters and found the inquiry was not at the top of their agendas.
“Not once, not in a single group in the last week did they start out talking about impeachment,” she said, adding health care costs, education, gun policy, the economy and China were far more pressing concerns.
She warned the impeachment inquiry could actually be dangerous for Dem lawmakers in Congress.
“We’re not breaking through on doing anything and now it’s almost impossible for our candidates or our office holders to break through,” she said.
Listen to audio from other portions of the summit:
— The UW System Board of Regents approved by voice vote moving forward with an amendment to administrative rules requiring mandatory punishments for students who “substantially disrupted the free expression of others.”
But the change appears unlikely to take effect with Gov. Tony Evers opposed to it.
The modification to Chapter UWS 17 would suspend students for a minimum of one semester after a formal investigation and disciplinary hearing found them responsible for two offenses. The change would then expel students after a third offense.
The board already approved of the change two years ago. But an amendment to administrative code is required for the law to go into effect.
“As president of this board, I’ll be supporting this item,” said Regent President Andrew Petersen, appointed by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, before voting on the amendment.
The next steps for the amendment are to first go through a second public hearing and one last board vote. It then needs the guv’s approval to be finalized, and a spokeswoman said this week he remains opposed to the proposal.
The board held its first public hearing on the rules change this year on Aug. 13. All nine who spoke at the hearing opposed the change, in addition to 37 of the 38 written public statements received.
The main concerns of the amendment were a fear that the change would punish first amendment rights to students and that the scope statement’s language, punishing students who are “disrupting the free expression of others,” is too vague and could lead to selective punishment of certain students over others.
Before the vote, Regent Edmund Manydeeds, an Evers appointee, said he will vote “no” on the resolution due to his oath as a lawyer “to uphold the Constitution” and “our rights to speak freely.”
“It’s a very hard road to go down, to police, to punish, people that may be young that are saying things that they have a right to say,” Manydeeds said.
See the board’s agenda:
— Ben Voelkel, an aide to GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, is passing on a bid for the 5th CD.
“We all owe a debt of service to the generations of Americans whose hard work and sacrifice have made our country a land of opportunity and a force for good in the world, and that debt is what led me to consider public office,” Voelkel said. “We need principled leadership in Congress to protect and grow freedom for all Americans, and while this is not the right time for me to run, I am confident that the voters of the 5th Congressional District will have a good choice in 2020.”
So far, the only Republican to get into the race is Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, though state Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, has been making moves to mount a run. Other Republicans who have been considering a run include Matt Neumann, the son of former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann, and Kevin Nicholson, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2018.
On the Dem side, Tom Palzewicz has announced plans to run. He lost to retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, last year with 38 percent of the vote.
— GOP legislative leaders has sent the guv a bill requiring municipalities to pay the health insurance premiums for the surviving spouse and children of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
The Assembly signed off on SB 266 yesterday, and bills that have cleared both houses of the Legislature are scheduled to be sent to the guv on Dec. 5. But by sending the guv the bill now, it triggers the one-week window for him to take action on the legislation.
Currently, state law requires municipalities to cover the health insurance premiums for the surviving spouse and children of fallen firefighters. The bill seeks to extend that to law enforcement officers and emergency medical services personnel.
It cleared both houses unanimously.
See Vos’ tweet:
— Seventeen Assembly Republicans from the 7th CD urged Gov. Tony Evers in a letter to “stop playing politics” with the dates for a special election to fill the seat and schedule it as soon as possible.
Eight of the signees have publicly endorsed GOP state Sen. Tom Tiffany, of Hazelhurst, in his bid to replace former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau.
Evers originally called a special election for Jan. 27 with a primary Dec. 30. But his office said he would instead issue a new order due to federal law that requires ballots to be sent to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before an election. The original window between elections of 28 days didn’t allow enough time to meet that requirement.
The Assembly Republicans wrote in their letter they were happy that Evers had “retreated” from his original call, charging it was “so ill-conceived” that it must’ve been an “intention of voter suppression.” They noted Evers had originally said he wanted a special election as soon as possible to make sure the 7th had a representative during debates over impeachment and the ongoing trade war.
“The longer you wait, the easier it becomes for you to avoid scheduling the election on one of the already-scheduled spring election dates,” they wrote.
Evers’ office has said he’s looking at either a primary Feb. 4 and a general election April 7 or a primary Feb. 18 and a general election May 5.
The normally scheduled spring primary is Feb. 18 with the general election April 7.
Along with Tiffany, Jason Church, an aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and businessman Michael Opela have announced plans to run as Republicans.
— Dem Sarah Yacoub, a former Los Angeles County prosecutor, today announced her bid for the 30th AD in western Wisconsin to challenge GOP Rep. Shannon Zimmerman.
Yacoub moved to Hudson after starting a family.
“I’m running because in a time when bullies, big money, and political extremism are louder than ever, the voices of the communities in the 30th District have been lost,” Yacoub said.
— Former state Rep. Joe Tregoning, R-Shullsburg, died Thursday. He was 78.
Tregoning won his Assembly seat in a 1967 special election and served through 1991. His time in the Assembly included serving as assistant minority leader in the 1987-88 session, according to his Blue Book entry.
He passed away at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, according to his obituary, and funeral arrangements were still pending this morning.
See his obituary:
— Morris Andrews, who helped build WEAC into a powerful political player during his two decades as executive director, died Thursday. He was 83.
Andrews joined the teacher’s union in 1972, leading the union through the Hortonville strike in 1974 as well as significant gains in teacher salaries and benefits.
After retiring in 1992, he became a political adviser and consultant, working on campaigns for Dems and Republicans.
See more in headlines below.
From WisBusiness.com …
— Revenue Secretary Peter Barca says a new business development unit at DOR will support the WEDC’s economic development strategy.
“We’re trying to augment what WEDC is doing,” Barca told WisBusiness.com in a recent interview.
He says the new Business Development and Government Relations unit, or BDGR, has the support of the state’s regional economic development groups and Gov. Tony Evers. Barca says the unit will complement the guv’s statewide economic development initiative, which calls on agencies to collaborate to drive growth in all 72 counties.
“Like any problem, you want to tackle it from every angle,” he said.
Any tax credits authorized by WEDC and earned by companies are administered by DOR. Barca sees the new BDGR unit as a natural extension of that relationship, adding DOR can offer resources and perspectives that WEDC can’t.
He said DOR has a number of economists that can provide insight on housing, sales tax revenues, current retail sales trends and much more. Since WEDC doesn’t have the same expertise on hand, Barca said, the new unit will leverage those economists to complement existing economic development efforts.
As part of DOR’s research and policy division, the new unit will work with businesses to help them get off the ground or expand, recruit and retain workers, analyze economic data, and identify potential tax incentives.
Barca said the unit will play a role in supporting startups as part of the Evers administration’s efforts to boost entrepreneurship in the state.
“It’s not like this is centered around that, but clearly we’re very mindful of that,” he said. “That’s one of the governor’s top priorities. … We think this will be one element that will be helpful.”
(Check local listings for times in your area)
“UpFront” is a statewide commercial TV news magazine show airing Sundays around the state. This week’s show, hosted by ADRIENNE PEDERSEN, features U.S. Rep. GLENN GROTHMAN, R-Glenbeulah; a Marine vet who received a pardon from Gov. TONY EVERS; and state Rep. JIMMY ANDERSON, R-Fitchburg.
*See viewing times in state markets here: http://www.wisn.com/upfront/
*Also view the show online each Monday at WisPolitics.com
“Rewind,” a weekly show from WisconsinEye and WisPolitics.com, airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. on Sundays in addition to being available online. On this week’s episode, WisPolitics.com’s JR ROSS and WisconsinEye’s STEVE WALTERS discuss rules changes in the Assembly, the votes in the Senate and pardons issued by Gov. TONY EVERS.
*Watch the show: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/rewind-your-week-in-review-for-oct-11/
Wisconsin Public TV’s “Here and Now” airs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. On this week’s program, anchor FREDERICA FREYBERG speaks with Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention Director REGGIE MOORE about gun violence and UW-Madison political scientist ANDREW KYDD explains U.S. foreign policy and the Turkish border crisis.
“For the Record” airs at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on WISC-TV in Madison. Host NEIL HEINEN previews the ninth annual Wisconsin Science Festival.
“Capital City Sunday” airs at 9 a.m. Sunday on WKOW-TV in Madison, WAOW-TV in Wausau, WXOW-TV in La Crosse and WQOW-TV in Eau Claire. Host EMILEE FANNON interviews NOBLE WRAY, from the guv’s Pardon Advisory Board; SHAWN JOHNSON and BRIDGIT BOWDEN, of Wisconsin Public Radio; and RYAN OWENS, a UW-Madison poli sci professor.
“The Insiders” is a weekly WisOpinion.com web show featuring former Democratic Senate Majority Leader CHUCK CHVALA and former Republican Assembly Speaker SCOTT JENSEN. Amid national concern about mass shootings, the two, consider how the GOP-run Wisconsin Legislature will respond to Gov. TONY EVERS’ call for action against gun violence.
*Watch the video or listen to the show: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/wisopinion-com-the-insiders-discuss-evers-call-for-action-on-gun-violence/
Oct. 17: Struggles in Wisconsin Farm Country: The Trade War, Weather and Workforce Issues
Farm news personality Pam Jahnke moderates a panel discussion on the troubled farm economy. Confirmed panelists include: State Agriculture Secretary Brad Pfaff; State Representative Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City; Paul Mitchell, director, Renk Agribusiness Institute; Anna Landmark, award-winning cheesemaker and owner of Landmark Creamery, one of the “soil sisters” of southwestern Wisconsin; and Charles Irish, the emeritus Volkman-Bascom professor of Law and former director of the East Asian Legal Studies Center — an expert on international trade policies and international tax law.
UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields will provide introductory remarks.
This is part of WisBusiness.com’s “Navigating the New Economy” series supported by the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training. It’s also part of the “East Asia Now” series supported by the Center for East Asian Studies, UW-Madison.
The event will take place in the University Rooms at Markee Pioneer Student Center 1313, 1 University Plaza, Platteville WI 53818. The program will go from about noon to 1:15 p.m.
The event is free, but pre-registration is required to provide an accurate count to the caterer.
Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/struggles-in-wisconsin-farm-country-tickets-72401094623
LRB 2970/2: Canvassing absentee ballots on the day before an election.
LRB-2117/1: Real estate disclosure reports.
LRB-2669/LRB-4611: Credit transactions between beer retailers and beer wholesalers.
Ab 523: An interim psychologist license. Referred to Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform.
AB 524: Farmer tuition assistance and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Colleges and Universities.
AB 525: Implementing a suicide prevention program and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Health.
Track bills for free:
Capital Times: Former WEAC executive director Morris Andrews dies
WPR: UW Fund Balances Tied To Campus Donation Increased 132 Percent Since 2013
WPR: EPA Wants To Change The Way It Fights Lead In Drinking Water
State Journal: Court report finds significant improvement at Lincoln Hills youth prison
Green Bay Press Gazette: Wisconsin Assembly approves $1.2M for Green Bay to move coal piles, upgrade port
The New York Times: Boeing and F.A.A. Faulted in Damning Report on 737 Max Certification
Washington Post: Ousted ambassador Marie Yovanovitch tells Congress Trump pressured State Dept. to remove her
CNN: A wildfire has swept into northern Los Angeles. Tens of thousands are under a mandatory evacuation order
Axios: EU ambassador Sondland intends to testify in Trump impeachment inquiry, defying State Department
– 2 p.m.: Rep. Goyke fundraiser.
– 5 p.m.: USO 2019 “Heroes of Wisconsin” Gala.
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