There is a long story in Sunday's Journal Sentinel lauding Rich Meeusen, the CEO of Badger Meter, for his leadership of the business and public relations effort known as the Milwaukee Water Council.
It's a nice profile of Meeusen, and I'm all for people and their projects getting their due - - but Meeusen disappoints by touting the same anti-government philosophy that Scott Walker - - whom Meeusen says he likes - - is using to dismantle recycling programs, phosphorus-dumping regulations and wetlands preservation rules that are designed to keep state waters clean and safe.
Besides the irony, why does Meeusen need to get in a lick at government when praising the Council to out-of-staters, thereby diminishing the grants and other subsidies government has given and will continue to give the Council?
""They all asked how we did this so quickly," Meeusen recounted. "The answer is simple: It's not government driven."
Let's look at the record, beginning with this Journal Sentinel story from late 2009:
"The Wisconsin Department of Commerce on Wednesday announced a $172,000 grant to the Milwaukee Water Council, an industry trade group in southeastern Wisconsin, which will use the money to identify and develop growth strategies for the region's concentration of water-technology firms...Then there is this description of the "public-private partnership" - - and that is the accurate way to describe the multi-layered government involvement to date - - to assist the Council in acquiring a headquarters site of its choosing near the Harley museum:
The grant money comes from the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration. Total project costs are estimated at $230,000, with the remainder from matching grants from other sources."
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has joined forces with the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Water Council to establish two locations for its new School of Freshwater Sciences.
UWM will build a $50 million addition to its existing Great Lakes WATER Institute at 600 E. Greenfield Ave. with part of the $240 million in bonding authority UWM received from the state last year. The 85,000-square-foot, four-story addition will provide advanced laboratories, and classroom and collaboration space, for a dozen academic programs.Here's another accounting of government activity assisting the Council, this time from the Business Journal:
In addition, the UWM Real Estate Foundation and the Water Council will seek funding to develop a site at the Reed Street Yards, near S. Third Street and W. Pittsburgh Avenue (across the Menomonee River from the Harley-Davidson Museum and just south of MMSD’s headquarters), for a “public-private” facility that will house academic applied research labs, conference space, and business interests, including a business accelerator and the Water Council offices.
That TIF could take 33 years to pay off. That's certainly a long-term government-driven activity, as is the rest of the package.
From the Business Journal
Project aimed at water businesses
Posted: August 28, 2009
A $117 million business park proposed for Milwaukee’s 5th Ward along the Menomonee Canal would be aimed at water-based technology firms.
The park is likely to help Milwaukee’s burgeoning water research businesses, which city and community leaders have been touting in recent months as part of a recruiting effort by the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Water Council.
Atlas Development Corp., Milwaukee, and General Capital Group, Fox Point, are collaborating to build a 630,000-square-foot office and research park on 17 acres across the Menomonee Canal from the Harley-Davidson Museum.
The redevelopment of the Reed Street Yards, a former railroad property owned by Atlas Development Corp., could include a $6.5 million [City of Milwaukee] tax incremental financing district...
And Meeusen has mentioned a major federal science grant that will be worked into the collaborative program.
That's my point: it's a collaboration.
Significant time and/or public money has been invested by government - - in other words, by you and me - - at the city, state, federal and University levels to help the Council get off the ground, promote a range of activities and build its headquarters on primo real estate at the water.
Without parsing to death Meeusen'a term "government driven," isn't there a way to acknowledge government for its past, present and future contributions?
Couldn't Meeusen be more generous and less ideological in his presentation?