Monday, September 27, 2010

Walker's Teflon Thickly Applied By Apologists - - Who Also Get Things Wrong

Scott Walker's persona in County government and on the gubernatorial campaign trail has been marked by trademark finger-pointing and a political shoulder-shrug.

Any problems here? 'Not my doing...somebody else's fault.'

So it's not surprising that this theme has been picked up by one of Walker's leading media excuse-makers, who argues in a piece of sheer partisan propaganda in the Sunday paper that Walker's inaction on developing County-owned land in the downtown Park East Corridor is partially the fault of the former Milwaukee Mayor, John Norquist - who left office in January, 2004.

Though Walker has been slow or absent on following through with the nitty-gritty detailed work managing an urban county, he found time Sunday to wash the other hand through a timely Tweet for the Sunday column:

"As usual, another great column on the economy by Patrick McIlheran:

Yes, Norquist pushed for the demolition of the Park East freeway spur, which released the land beneath to the County, but County officials at the time were insistent that the County be in charge of the land's management and development planning.

Norquist, however, opposed setting in place by the County the very community benefits agreement that the County did establish on its land, and which McIlheran also blames - - so, in fact, McIlheran, if he were accurate, would be praising Norquist, not condemning him.

But that doesn't fit the conservatives' bash-Norquist templace; inaccurate simply works better for the Right.

Walker has nothing effective since 2002 to change the County's Park East passivity, and even left the position of county economic development manager vacant for years.

In a bad economy, any property seller has to be creative and aggressive. Inert won't find you many buyers, which explains, in part, why the County has been unable also to unload a $3 million recreational parcel in Franklin for a long time.

And let's remember that it was Walker's mentor, then-Governor Tommy Thompson, who initiated the deal among the city, county and state that included tearing down the freeway spur - - also approved by the regional planning commission (SEWRPC) - - so that a frozen pot of $241 million in federal funds could be thawed and partially invested in the rebuilding of the Marquette Interchange.

The interchange was a top Walker and Thompson highway-project priority in a package that also got the Sixth Street Bridge built, and which will buy the County some new buses and the city a starter, downtown trolley system.

So it is not accurate to say, as does the pro-Walker writer, that Norquist "ordered" the spur be destroyed.

It came after many meetings and approvals by and among city, county and state officials, and as a Norquist aide, I was present at many of those discussions.

No one ordered anything be done, and if you want to complain about the deal then you also have to complain about the Interchange, and the Sixth Street Bridge, and all the development in its wake - - the Harley-Davidson Museum, Canal Street and west through the Valley along a cleaned river and on a new bike trail- - results which Walker has said he likes.

So let's leave it at this: Walker is free to say that he wasn't at the table when Tommy's deal with the city and the county began, but where's the leadership or vision in pouting?

What has he done since as the County Executive - - the top manger - - since 2002 to work with the realities of the Park East corridor?

He has got to stop evading responsibility for County situations, or problems, or their fixes.

His cheerleaders in the conservative echo-chamber should stop enabling their candidate for Governor by blaming people long-gone from the local scene, too.


krshorewood said...

The thing to point out is that these were money making opportunities for the county that could have taken a big bite out of the county's deficit.

James Rowen said...


Walker has been focused on his gubernatorial run and less concerned with the daily nitty-gritty of governance.

So you don't action, for example, on the economic development position - - unfunded, then vacant - - but finally filled until a few weeks ago.

Fraley said...


Speaking of money making opportunities...did you pay back the loan to Shorewood yet?

Anonymous said...

Is that Keith Schmitz who closed the Open Book after only a few months specifically so they could repay thier $35k loan to Shorewood?

The Open Book that Rowen was all gaga over?

Guess Shorewood is still waiting.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rowen - do you still have a tingly feeling in your leg over The Open Book?

Or did you invest and lose it?

Or more likely were you in on the fraud with Keith and you turned a buck?

Inquiring minds would like to know.