Careful readers of TheDailyPage.com and Isthmus may have experienced a bit of déjà vu Thursday morning while reading the Wisconsin State Journal.
The State Journal's front page story," reprises a story reported Tuesday on TheDailyPage.com by news writer Joe Tarr. Both stories noted that state elections rules do not allow County Executive Kathleen Falk to wait until April to leave office and still allow a special election to be held that month to pick her replacement.
Indeed, according to Reid Magney, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections, Falk must resign by the end of this year to allow enough time for an special election to take place in the Feb. 15 primary.
Falk's spokesperson has disputed this interpretation, but the GAB is the authority when it comes to interpreting this rule. One option that might be for Falk to resign and be reappointed to serve out the rest of the term.
Also in Thursday's State Journal is a story about a Madison attorney facing criminal charges for allegedly overbilling the state in his representation of a state prison inmate named Brian Locke. The attorney, David G. Stokes, is charged with theft by fraud as well as perjury for allegedly lying at a John Doe hearing in 2006.
The issue of Stokes' overbilling was reported in Isthmus in a May 22, 2008 story entitled "Supermax Psychiatrist Alleges Dept. of Corrections Retaliation." The story, part of a report prepared cooperatively with Gil Halsted of Wisconsin Public Radio, was mostly about how prison psychologist Narinder K. Saini, a DOC employee since 1990, was allegedly fired in 2004 for refusing to buckle under to demands that he lie about Locke's condition.
But the story also addressed Locke's allegations that Stokes, a private attorney appointed to represent him, "defrauded the Public Defender's Office through overbilling." These accusations were made in connection with a lawsuit filed by Locke against Stokes. In February 2008, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Sarah O'Brien found probable cause that Stokes repeatedly submitted "false and fraudulent" records and appointed a special prosecutor to review the matter.
The new charges mean that Locke, who throughout his life has struggled with mental illness including delusional thinking, had at least some basis for two of his most extraordinary allegations about the others the DOC in firing Saini, and Stokes in his billings to the state.
That's significant because Locke's ordeal in the state prison system continues -- originally convicted of a misdemeanor, Locke has remained behind bars because of bad behavior there -- and he's made fresh allegations of misconduct by prison officials.
"On August 17, 2010, I was pulled out of my cell and my hands were cuffed behind my back," he writes in a letter from Green Bay Correctional. "The guard kept twisting the handcuffs until they broke the skin on the back of my right hand. Then he punched me 6 times in the side of head and dropped me on the floor. Then he stabbed me 5 times in my chest with some type of ice pick-looking thing. My ankle cuffs were twisted until blood flowed...."
Halsted of Wisconsin Public Radio has filed an open records request regarding this incident. He says that as of this morning, he has received no response.