Sunday, April 9, 2017

That's some failing business you're running, Governor

[Updated from 4/8/17] It's hardly a coincidence that the State of Wisconsin  - - "The Dairy State" which also once had decent roads it could afford - - finds itself simultaneously with a surplus of milk it stimulated that farmers can't sell and a glut of half-finished highways connecting to crumbling local streets it can't repair.

Along with a firm spot among the lower tier of job-creating states that lag the national rate.

Like all units of government run by today's Republicans, Wisconsin is supposedly being run like a business by the fake GOP conservative Governor Scott Walker who has been for years throwing borrowed billions at every major highway expansion his road-building allies have demanded while also green-lighting dairy farm expansion through groundwater permits and larger herds for every big ag applicant that fills in a permit application at Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' Department of Natural Resources.

See the pattern? 

Corporate power make its demands - - right out in the open - -  and the rest of us take a back seat or feel the pain when Walker and the rest of The Bellhop Gang fill their order.

Wisconsin Senate passes groundwater privatization bill

Walker and his GOP allies in the Legislature and in the courts have been saying 'yes' and 'what more do you want' to every special interest and trade association and well-heeled advocacy group and individual big donor interested in keeping Republicans in office and furthering Walker's decades-long dream of running for President regardless of the in-state consequences.

Much of Walker's management, now-mismanagement, of environmental, business, tax and spending policy has been tailored since the beginning to gain him greater publicity, guaranteed incumbency and promotion to higher office.

Partisanship and personal gain and political ideology on the far-right above people and public policy looped back to and for like-minded insiders and donors:

*  Get used to more corporate control of WI, US environment
[Updated from 3/6 and 3/7/17] Here are a few points of context for the preliminary state approval of a Wisconsin frac sand mine that will destroy a Jackson County pristine wooded wetland and require huge amounts of groundwater for its operation:
1. This is just the latest example of Wisconsin right-wing GOP Gov. and corporate tool Scott Walker and his party helping the private sector absorb public resources in a loop of mutual self-interest across multiple business interests:
*  The scandal-ridden, performance-flawed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Walker founded and chaired was less about strategic growth in Wisconsin and more about serving donors and showcasing to national audiences the 250,000 new private sector jobs he promised, but spectacularly failed to create in his first four years as Governor.

The audacity: a quasi-public business bank created by and for Walker at taxpayer expense that was actually a publicly-financed, self-serving campaign tool.

And not being run like a business itself, given all its out-of-bounds practices:

I point you to this 2012 story:
MADISON (WKOW) -- The chief financial officer of the state's flagship jobs agency resigned, as state leaders vowed better accounting practices, after the agency lost track of more than $7 million in unpaid loans.
This second of two 2014 WEDC postings on the same day:
Working my way through the full text of the jaw-dropping state audit of the operations at the Scott Walker-conceived-and-created Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. 
Virtually every page documents an agency not meeting rules, standards or law or failing to provide documentation, accurate data or procedural follow-through - - as state funds were disbursed willy-nilly.
Or this 2014 story: 
One of the high profile companies to receive backing from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is again delinquent on its loans with the state. 
Superior-based Kestrel Aircraft Company — a firm touted by Gov. Scott Walker as an example of his business recruitment efforts — hasn’t made any payment on its $4 million in loans since October. It is supposed to pay $6,600 monthly and is now over $26,000 in arrears.
And this 2014 story: 
MADISON (WKOW) -- A liberal advocacy group reports that nearly 60 percent of the financial assistance money awarded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has gone to businesses whose owners or employees have donated money to the campaign of Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) or the Republican Governors Association (RGA)...
One Wisconsin Now found that 192 donors associated with businesses receiving WEDC grants donated a total of just over $1 million directly to Gov. Walker's campaign and another $1.1 million to the RGA.  The RGA is a special interest group that spent $13 million to help get Gov. Walker elected in 2010 and then defeat the recall effort in 2012.
One Wisconsin Now reports that $570 million of the $975 million in funds awarded by the state's leading economic development agency went to the companies of those donors.
WEDC was going to help Waker tie his business bonafides together in the Iowa caucuses and launch him like a rocket - - Team Walker long loved that metaphor - - across the Presidential landscape.

He'd ride his motorcycle in Iowa wrapped up in GOP 'values,' 
Harley-Davidson leather, Evangelical fervor, childhood memories and WEDC/executive leadership data - - then on to New Hampshire (think traditional Republican voters) and Florida (think Wisconsin retirees)...and...the nominating convention...and the White H...

...and then...Donald Trump. 

Who dismissed Walker. 

Told him to go back to Wisconsin and fix his budget problems, which, despite Walker's protestations sure looks prescient today:

Right-wing WI GOP Gov. and breaker of economic promises Scott Walker now knows his proposed 2017-'19 state projects a deficit of $1.1 billion, up from the $740 million he'd led us to believe:
Where Walker is today. 

Still running.

For a third-term.

Still running 60,000-some jobs behind that 250,000 new jobs promise after six years, not four.

Still running deficits:

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal for the state’s next budget creates a larger structural deficit than previously thought, nearly $1.1 billion, in the ensuing budget cycle beginning in 2019, the state’s nonpartisan fiscal office said...
While manure runs into state waters because the DNR he remade on a business model has been allowed to run from its clean water, environmental stewardship mission.

Wisconsin can't afford to be run like a business anymore.

Can't afford to be run by Walker anymore, especially because Donald Trump wants to give Walker and the states more power to do as they please, which means Walker and the Wisconsin GOP - - on steroids.

Wisconsin need a new course set by fundamental political and leadership change.

And, look, none of this is rocket science. We know what the needs are:

*  Aggressively clean up the water, whether in Lake Michigan's dead zone, or near overbuilt dairy feedlots, or in Madison schools' drinking fountains and Milwaukee's antiquated pipes that connect homes to the conduits under the streets.

*  Fix the roads we have, expand the transit we need and then work on the Interstates if honest traffic counts, safety studies and neighbors' concerns prove there is a need (that's another way of saying I-94 North/South is an absolutely last-place priority, I-39-90 is a no-starter, and I-94 East-West cannot be allowed to overwhelm three cemeteries and the Story Hill neighborhood).

*  Pull the plug on the WEDC. $124 million in loans, often to campaign donors, without traditional reviews, is flat out wrong.

So little is expected of that failed agency that when a business in the Fox Cities announced it was closing last week, there was hardly a peep about it repaying $800,000 in job-creating tax credits WEDC had shoveled its way. 

As it had other businesses who took the money, sent jobs overseas or failed to keep their end of the bargain. WEDC is code for failure. Get rid of it.

And let's be positive:

*  Re-establish honest, fair government that provides broad health care coverage to equitable taxation to sustainable spending to true and effective conservation and environmental protection.  

* Embrace the Wisconsin Idea of public service through government for the people rather than deleting it from government's traditional mission to instead serve special interests or give them access to power and privilege from the get-go.

You don’t have to be a campaign donor or corporate executive to get an audience with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But it doesn’t hurt.
Walker received contributions from employees or political action committees at more than half of the 130-plus companies that appear in his official calendars, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
*  Bring science and working relationships with the UW system back to the Department of Natural Resources so the DNR can perform and succeed at its traditional, vital clean water and air and public health missions.

* Make voting easier. No more restrictive early voting hours, unjustified IDs, hassles for students who attend college away from their home communities, etc.

Running government like a business has failed Wisconsin.

It's time that government get back in the people business.

No comments: