Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Before the FoxCon, there was WEDC-con. By Scott-con.

Before we get to the news of the day, which is Foxconn's planned company-wide contraction, let's go back and nail down how and why Walker led us into and leaves behind an historic, multi-billion-dollar, taxpayer-subsidized boondoggle.

Let's remember how the WEDC came about and that its mission and bottom line were always more about Walker's political future - - at least that was the plan - - rather than expert-driven business lending, which proved to be, shall we say, problematic.

Walker spent much of his 2010 run for Governor and post-election prance quintupling down on his 250,000 new jobs pledge.

It was big and bold. It was a floor not a ceiling. It would be the bright trail on the Wisconsin business rocket ship. It was going to be tattooed on the foreheads of his incoming cabinet. 

Sometimes he even threw in that he'd create 10,000 new businesses - - and even more!! - - but that riff turned sour after the Journal Sentinel caught him counting in non-profits, sports teams, fund-raising groups and one-person LLC's.

So Walker got the legislature to create the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, throwing away the Wisconsin Department of Commerce while recasting the Department of Natural Resources as a "chamber of commerce mentality" one-stop shop for rubber-stamped permits and make-believe pollution enforcement - - all to awe and serve Wisconsin CEO's with a private-sector-rich WEDC board that had none less than Walker himself as WEDC chairman.

Why would Walker take the political twin risks of a) putting a specific, memorable number on the jobs' promise, and b) giving himself another position and title with actual power that meant specific results would be raised to the level he promised?

Because he knew he was going to run for President, and wouldn't this grand plan bearing fruit look great - - perhaps Reaganesque - - in ads and talking-point laden campaign appearances before the tycoons who would fund it!

But the truth was that Walker had no experience in either private sector managing or using government to stimulate the economy.

As Milwaukee County executive, he sat on valuable county-owned real estate downtown ripe for development.

He tried to turn over the office that managed it to his long-time gofer Tim Russell who eventually went to prison for stealing money from a veterans fund Walker moved into the County Executive's office so he could control it.

Even though County ethics officials had urged the office be transferred to avoid any conflicts of interest.

Details, here.

And during a debate with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in the 2010 election, Walker could not name a single job he had created in low-income Milwaukee.

I wrote it up at the time:
Twice, Barrett asked Walker to name a single job he'd created in the central city of Milwaukee, and twice Walker had no response.
Because Walker never had any real interest in jobs - - if he had, then why post a no-content phony economic development plan made to look really substantive with really big type.

And why turn down Wisconsin's development-spurring Amtrak funding and budding rail industry and other stimulus money.

Because he had interest in and plans for only one job. His. And how to use one position as the springboard to another, and another.

It's an understatement to say that WEDC got off to a rocky start artificially kept afloat with propagandized boosts.

There were repetitive CEO and vice-chair departures, and chief financial officer resignations, and searing audits - - one, here - - and so many scandals over loans - - links, here - - that shouldn't have been made or that went had or that had been goosed along for political reasons that the Legislature stopped for one budget cycle WEDC's ability to make new loans, and also booted Walker off the board.

Then his presidential campaign crashed and burned.

But the 250,000 new jobs pledge still hung out there, unmet.

So along came the Foxconn opportunity, and Walker ran after it with our money to save, in one fell swoop, his reputation, governship and the jobs' promise, too.

Swoop, swamped.

Walker lost the election two weeks ago in a losing race dragged down by the obviously hideous terms of the WEDC-linked Foxconn-deal in a campaign in which four of his former Cabinet secretaries, including an ex-WEDC CEO, and two-other development-related agencies, said Walker was unfit to lead.

And while we're all awaiting the Robin Vos-Scott Fitzgerald 11th-hour Make WEDC and Walker's Counterfeit Legacy Permanent Bill, absorb the news that Foxconn, having already reduced the size of the factory it said it would build in Mt. Pleasant, is planning "deep cuts" across its business.

By the way, "deep cuts" could also be how to describe Foxconn's impact on Mt. Pleasant home and farm sites, along with state's lending opportunities for the next 28 years.

You know what they say, 'Con me once, shame on you. Con me continually,  you're fired.'


Anonymous said...

Lying liars lie. Grifters grift. None of this would blanket the State of Wisconsin without mass media, an echo-chamber lead by a few large sources that are then picked up by virtually every other sources. The initial dishonest report merely repeats Walker's lies as news without context or fact checking.

Then the rest of the media repeats without context or fact checking, because they are not just carrying what the leading Walker shills reported as news. The whole system is brilliantly devious, but is alone responsible for our divide-and-conquer governor and the fact that Democratic candidates can win the majority of votes and yet 2/3 our the legislature is awarded to Republicans.

WEDC and Foxcon are just extensions of this. Scott Walker has run for public office 23 times, on average, every 2 years. Sure, he got lots of money from out-of-state multinational interest; but he also is the poster boy for our dysfunctional media environment.

Yes, before FoxCon, there was WEDC-con; but before that, there was a right-wing echo-chamber of disinformation blanketing the state. Rinse, repeat.

markmadness said...

Where do we go from here? Are we going to get trapped by the sunk costs to this point or can we renegotiate with Foxconn in good faith? Will we have the guts to walk away?

Chris said...

I hope we have the guts to walk away, before Hon Hai/Foxconn does irreparable harm to our water, soil and air.

Jake formerly of the LP said...

I think you threaten Foxconn with a lawsuit for breach of contract due to flooding and change of product, and then,behind closed doors offer $100 mil to have them go away.

Beats spending $490 million over the next 2 year's, andany budgets after that.