Though Gov. Walker will deny it, the plans for taking over local governments is charging ahead. From the great reporting by Forbes' Rick Ungar, this update:
On Saturday, I posted a piece here on The Policy Page entitled, “Governor Scott Walker Reportedly Planning Financial Martial Law In Wisconsin.” On Monday morning, Governor Walker appeared on “ Midday With Charlie Sykes” … where Walker denied the story published here, suggesting that there was ‘No truth to it whatsoever. Absolutely a bogus story.” He simply made a technical denial by stating that nobody on his staff or administration was working on any such legislation … that involvement could be happening somewhere else, such as in the legislative branch or in the private sector.
Let’s begin with Lance Gosnell, a private security officer in Madison … he was already on the elevator when two individuals stepped on and joined him … one of the two as Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald … At some point during the conversation, one of the two speculated that the responsible party could be someone named “Jason”. I spoke with Speaker Fitzgerald’s press secretary, John Jaglon, who denied Mr. Gosnell’s account. I asked Mr. Jaglon how he would account for the fact that the parties … raised the question of “Jason” being the leak and the coincidental fact that there happens to be a gentleman employed on Speaker Fitzgerald’s small staff named Jason Bauknecht … Mr. Jaglon had little to add on that subject.
This takes us to what is going on in the private sector – particularly the Greater Milwaukee Committee (“GMC”), The past- Chairman of the GMC is one Mike Grebe who also happens to be the President and CEO of The Bradley Foundation, one of the leading ultra-conservative players in the nation and a primary funder of the Tea Party movement. Mr Grebe is also a past managing partner of the Wisconsin office of Foley & Lardner whom you may recall I discussed in the original piece (they’re writing the bill).
Politiscoop.com, posted a video of then County Executive Scott Walker addressing the GMC in 2009 … you’ll see that Walker suggests the possibility of disbanding Milwaukee County, allocating its functions to the state and, possibly, municipalities.
When I sought a comment on the video from the Governor’s Office, Communications Director, Chris Schrimpf, emailed me the following response-
“That’s not what he says, your reporting would be 100% wrong as the Governor’s quote says he’s talking about finding efficiencies in a local government that is one hundred percent incorporated. That is not remotely similar…”I would suggest that, before you reach a conclusion, you might first want to read the one page report issued by the Greater Milwaukee Committee on January 27, 2010. The report recommends restructuring or eliminating Milwaukee County. It also quotes Sheldon Lubar, then a member of the board of directors of GMC as saying, in reference to Milwaukee County, “Scott Walker has joined the chorus, saying it should be taken apart.”
In response to my questions posed to the Greater Milwaukee Committee, president Julia Tayor issued a statement today:
“The Greater Milwaukee Committee has supported the development of a fiscal stress test for Wisconsin municipalities. The proposed stress test would solely focus on encouraging greater openness and transparency in the operation of local government … Contrary to the rumors that circulated this week, the Initiative does not support providing the state with the ability to takeover cities and other entities."Think about that for a moment. Why would the state government go to all the trouble – not to mention the expense incurred by the GMC – to consider legislation that merely tells people pretty much what they already know?
If Governor Walker will provide the people of Wisconsin with a full answer on this topic, I will be more than happy to print his response in total. Maybe I’ll even get off his back. Or not.