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Walker Says It's A Christmas, Not Holiday, Tree

Gov. Scott Walker is calling the tree decorated with ornaments and adorned with a star at the top in the center of Wisconsin's Capitol Rotunda a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree.

The roughly 30-foot tall tree had been called a Christmas tree since it was first displayed in 1916 until 1985 when the name was changed to the more generic holiday tree.

"It was always a Christmas tree in my house, as it has been in other houses around the country, around the state," Walker said. "It's been a Christmas tree."

Visitors at the Capitol had differing views on what the tree should be called.

"It is a Christmas tree," said Lois Janezic. "I firmly believe that we should put Christ back in Christmas."

"If they want to have a Christmas tree at home, that's fine," said Karla Anderegg. "They want to have it at their workplace, I guess that's fine. But this government represents all people."

Eggs Thrown At Outside Of Lawmaker's State Capitol Office

A Wisconsin state lawmaker said he's sad that someone egged the outside of his state Capitol office.

The first floor office of state Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, had splatters of egg on the exterior marble and eggshells on the balcony on Wednesday morning. The staff reported the vandalism to Capitol police and said officers came to investigate.

Schultz said he is both baffled and disappointed by the incident.

"I have no idea what happened or where it came from," he said. "The fact that somebody would egg the state Capitol makes me feel really bad because, as a member of the state Capitol Executive Residence Board, I feel like I'm privileged to take care of this wonderful building. It's the people's building, and anybody who would do that I think is committing an affront to the people of Wisconsin."

Dane County Food Council Announces New Coaltion

Dane County Food Council Announces New Coaltion

The Dane County Food Council aims to create an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable local food system. At their celebration of National Food Day on Oct. 24, the council released an action plan to do just that.

Chair of the council, County Supervisor Melissa Sargent, welcomed the National Food Day crowd to Goodman Community Center. The audience included representatives from Sustainable Times, Community Action Coalition, Family Farm Defenders and Farm Fresh for All.

"We have a lot to celebrate," Sargent said. "Our farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), our community gardens, and locally sourced foods in our grocery stores."

Community Debates Bill To Repeal Discrimination Protection For Felons

Community Debates Bill To Repeal Discrimination Protection For Felons

A new bill proposed by Wisconsin Republican representatives would repeal discrimination protection for felons and may limit employment opportunities.

When John Miller left his north-side Madison home the morning of Wednesday Oct. 12, his schedule was full—just as it has been since he was released from prison in January 2010.

Some responsibilities have changed for Miller in the past 21 months.  He has a job, sees his family regularly, and attends classes at Madison Area Technical College.  But certain facts remain: Miller can’t vote or own a firearm, and he must mark the box labeled ‘convicted felon’ if he ever completes another job application.

Miller went to sociology class Wednesday morning, and then to work, believing if that he worked hard and stayed positive, future employers might evaluate his skills and attributes instead of his criminal record. 

City Council Holds Public Hearing On 2012 Operating Budget

The Madison Common Council held its public hearing on Madison’s 2012 Executive Operating budget on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin released his proposed budget of $250.4 million.

According to the mayor’s budget, basic services will be kept, but Madison residents will pay a 3.2 percent tax increase for the average homeowner, which is equal to an extra $66 in city taxes annually.

The Madison board of Estimates will hold another public hearing about the budget on Oct. 24.

Proposal Would Make Firing Felons Legal

A proposed bill that would make it legal to fire people with felonies on their records is igniting some controversy at the state Capitol.

The bill would also make it legal for employers to refuse to hire convicted felons for any reason.

Under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act, it's currently only legal to refuse employment to a felon if the job is substantially related to the felon's crime. For example, a bookkeeping firm wouldn't have to hire someone who wrote bad checks.

The proposed legislation would change that, making any felony conviction a legal bar to any employment.

At a hearing at the Capitol on Wednesday, several blasted the proposed changes.

There were several stories of people who had turned their lives around who said they wouldn't have had that opportunity without jobs they obtained after getting out of prison.

Madison Holds Mock Election To Test Voter Photo ID Law

The city of Madison on Tuesday held a mock election with the goal of ironing out any potential wrinkles of Wisconsin's new voter ID law.

The city clerk's office held the fake election specifically to see how much extra time the new law will require voters to spend in line.

The new law requires voters to sign the poll book and to present a photo ID.

Clerks said they are running different scenarios to train election officials, but they are still not at the speed they hope to be at by February.

"Right now, it is looking like it's going to take twice as long in line, and we've been working very hard at cutting that down," said Elena Berg, a municipal clerk.

Berg said voters can also help keep the lines down if they check their IDs early and register early.