Scott Walker’s WEDC CEO resigning

As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Reed Hall, the chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is leaving his post.

The head of the state’s flagship jobs agency is expected to leave his post as the governor moves into a second term, a move that would generate additional turnover at an agency that has struggled with the problem.

Several Republican sources told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Reed Hall, chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., will be leaving the agency. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the governor has not yet announced any cabinet changes. They did not provide specific reasons for Hall’s departure or any names of potential replacements.

It’s worth noting the Walker administration has already announced that the WEDC chief operating officer Ryan Murray is leaving WEDC to take a job in the private sector, which will leave the WEDC without its top two “leaders” (and I use that term loosely given how poorly the WEDC has performed) at a time when job creation needs to be a top priority for Gov. Scott “I failed to live up to my job creation promise” Walker.

Scott Walker Is Not Ready For Prime Time As Proven By John Kasich

At the Republicans Governors Association Conference, a little preliminary bout for the 2016 GOP Presidential Primary Campaign found Ohio Governor John Kasich showing just how shallow and how ignorant our Governor Scott Walker is. And hopefully the national media won’t be quite as complacent as the Wisconsin media has been during Gov. Walker’s three gubernatorial campaigns.

It was almost as if John Kasich wanted to reach out and pat Scott Walker on the head.

The Republican governor of Ohio and the Republican governor of Wisconsin were seated onstage at the opening plenary session of the Republican Governors Association annual conference. Before an audience of roughly 2,000 donors, political operatives and lobbyists watching from the darkened floor of the cavernous ballroom, the first fireworks of the 2016 Republican presidential primary went off.

Call it a dry run for the primary debates. Five governors all thinking of running for president were on the stage when Kasich, a wily 62-year-old former congressman, demonstratively disputed Walker’s retelling of political history.

Walker, the 47-year-old conservative star, was arguing that President Barack Obama is more hostile toward congressional Republicans than President Bill Clinton was during the ’90s, teeing up a critique of Obama’s plans to issue an executive order on immigration this week.

During the 1995-96 budget dispute between Clinton and the Republican-controlled Congress, Walker said, “Clinton did not say the Republicans in Congress aren’t going to work with me so I’m going to do an executive order.”

“He sat down with them,” Walker said.

Kasich, who like Walker just won re-election to a second term in a Rust Belt, labor-dominated state, snapped almost matter-of-factly.

“No, he shut the government — the government got shut down first,” Kasich said.

The audience laughed. And then the two men, both of them likely to run for president in 2016, began to talk over each other as NBC’s “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd stroked his red goatee in delight.

“There was tremendous animosity,” Kasich said, almost yelling, to remind the younger Walker that he, Kasich, had been there himself as a member of Congress.

“It wasn’t —” Walker tried to get out before Kasich cut him off.

“Scott, it was!” Kasich said. “I’ll tell you, when you’re sitting around and we’ve got Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole at each other over a shutdown, it wasn’t easy either.”

Check out the link…read the rest of the story. But I will be amazed if Governor Walker gets as free a hand at telling his own version of history on the national stage as he’s had here in Wisconsin.

Thursday Music: Foo Fighters: Something From Nothing

Scott Walker’s adminstration facing $2.2 billion deficit heading into 2015-17 budget cycle

But remember, Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the legislature have our state budget on the right track…

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is projecting a $2.2 billion deficit heading into the 2015-17 budget cycle.

That’s a sizable hole for Walker, who is contemplating a 2016 presidential run, to climb out of as he crafts his own budget proposal due out early next year. Achieving a balanced budget will require scaling back program requests, especially if he wants to further cut taxes.

“We will continue to protect Wisconsin taxpayers, provide a good value to those taxpayers, and live within our means,” Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said. “Gov. Walker will introduce a balanced budget early next year focused on growing the economy and moving people from government dependence to true independence.”

Scott Walker thinks he’s a Wisconsin progressive

What a load of horse crap…

Newly re-elected Gov. Scott Walker tells the Wall Street Journal’s hotshot editorial writer Joseph Rago that he’s confident he fits into the progressive tradition of Wisconsin’s Robert M. “Fighting Bob” La Follette.

I kid you not.

It was right there on the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper’s opinion page in a piece authored by Rago headlined “How Scott Walker keeps winning.”

The very idea that ultra-conservative Tea Party favorite thinks he fits into the progressive tradition of “Fighting Bob” La Follette shows a stunning lack of understanding about what kind of progressive “Fighting Bob” was. After all, Bob La Follette fought to implement a workers’ compensation system, for railroad rate reform, municipal home rule, the minimum wage, against big corporations, and for a system of progressive taxation. Perhaps most importantly La Follette fought for clean, honest government that was accountable to the citizens of Wisconsin. The things that Bob La Follette fought for – which are the very things that made him a progressive – are many of the same things Scott Walker has made a point of fighting against during his long career at the public trough.

Scott Walker’s higher speed rail boondoggle

This is worth a read.

Walker won and trains lost. He quickly moved to kill the Milwaukee to Madison part of the project, but he claimed to support upgrades to the Hiawatha line. Meanwhile, Talgo was already well along in the construction of two sets of trains to serve that line. In fact, the state has already paid Talgo $40 million for those trains, and it paid another $12 million to other vendors, for a total cost so far of $52 million.

But Walker, apparently backed into a corner by extremist legislators who were even more anti-train than he was, decided to renege on even the Hiawatha trains.

So Talgo filed a claim against the state for an additional $66 million in unpaid invoices and other losses due to the deal gone bad. That claim was recently denied by the state as expected, and a formal lawsuit is likely.

To add insult to injury, in May the completed trains were unceremoniously moved from the now abandoned Milwaukee Talgo plant for Indiana, where it is possible they will become part of the Wolverine line connecting Chicago to Detroit. And, in fact, Illinois is paying for an extension of Amtrak service to Rockford, and plans are in place to also go from Rockford to Dubuque. From there it’s not hard to imagine completing the line to the Twin Cities and bypassing Wisconsin altogether.

Walker claimed that he opposed the 100% federally funded train because of the annual operating costs to the state, which amounted to around $7 million. But now the state is on the line for as much as $118 million, for which it will have received nothing at all. In other words, for the dollars the governor has put at risk, the state could have funded the new train operation for about a decade and a half.

Had Walker not been elected governor, the Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison service would have started a year ago. Sleek new trains would have been connecting us and providing economic development opportunities not just in Milwaukee but in other places along the line. A train station near Monona Terrace would be bustling and contributing to a revival of that portion of Madison’s downtown. Even more importantly, Wisconsin would have been literally on the map as the first place in the country outside of the northeast corridor to be served by new higher-speed passenger rail.

Instead, Wisconsin now ranks a consistent 37th in job creation under Walker, the Talgo plant and its Milwaukee jobs are gone, the Madison station never happened and the ancillary development around it is on the ropes, our own tax dollars are on their way to build the same kind of system in other states, and we’re still on the hook for as much as $118 million. Even if we don’t end up paying out that much, every dollar that is lost will be lost completely.

Scott Walker donor Terrence Wall among finalists for $197 million facility to replace state DOT headquarters

Color me unsurprised to find out Republican Terrence Wall is among the finalists to redevelop the Hill Farms site in Madison into a $197 million headquarters for the state Department of Transportation.

A development group headed by T. Wall Enterprises is among the four finalists selected for the purchase and redevelopment of the Hill Farms property.

T. Wall is part of a bidding team that includes Potter Lawson Architects of Madison and Miron Construction of Neenah for the largest public real estate project in Wisconsin since the Miller Park baseball stadium.

As reported by the CapTimes report, according to campaign finance records Terrence Wall of T. Wall Enterprises gave $9,975 to the Scott Walker’s reelection campaign less than a month ago.

Another Desperate And Irresponsible Attempt To Smear The GOP

Apparently I am not the only desperate liberal blogger who wants to smear the GOP in their own words…about that grant to UW-Madison to study the sleep habits of fruit flies and mice. Just today Bruce Murphy in his column Murphy’s Law at UrbanMilwaukee.com wrote just a bit about Representative Robin Vos’ (R – Burlington) predilection with finding fault with the ways and means of research on campus.

“Of course I want research, but I want to have research done in a way that focuses on growing our economy, not on ancient mating habits of whatever,” Vos said at a press conference. “So we want to try to have priorities that are focused on growing our economy.”

Vos was referring to research on the sleep habits of fruit flies and mice by Chiara Cirelli and Giulio Tononi, two highly regarded UW-Madison professors in the department of psychiatry, whose research gained them a grant of $1.6 million in the first year and up to $7.7 million over five years from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “We are trying to understand why we sleep, why we need to sleep,” Cirelli told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We have a lot of evidence already that the major mechanisms of the regulation of sleep are surprisingly similar in flies, in mice and in humans.”

Where have I heard that before…well I quoted it in comments in an earlier blog about UW-Madison research grants and the GOP in Wisconsin.

Mr. Murphy goes on to discuss Rep. Vos’ interest in mucking around with how the university works and what research it should consider undertaking. Quite frankly allowing politicians the chance to dictate much of anything that occurs in the classroom or research facilities would be a disaster for this world class university. But as Mr. Murphy continues:

If legislators are to set the criteria for what is acceptable research, what will be the message to wealthy alumni of UW-Madison like John and Tashia Morgridge, who just announced a $100 million grant to the university. They previously gave $100 million over several years to fund the Morgridge Institute for Research, which does a wide range of scientific research. Would they want to keep funding it if legislators were to decide what research is acceptable?

To state the obvious, the Morgridges haven’t given any money to the state legislature. But they have endowed UW faculty chairs in reading, computer science, economics, geoscience, business, pediatric nursing and health systems innovation, which seems to bespeak a tremendous faith in the broadest kind of academic learning. I doubt they’d be as interested in donating to a university that prioritizes only learning that helps grow the economy.

Vos’s comment arose from his concern that professors should be teaching more courses. That’s certainly an issue worth discussing, but attacking award-winning research is a poor way to address it. Moreover, if his goal is to get more bang for the state’s buck, the reality is that UW full professors earn about 15 percent or $18,000 less in annual salary than their peer group professors. They are “pretty much at the bottom of the Big Ten,” as University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank has noted.

The percent of the UW System paid by the state has been dropping for about three decades. The state now pays for less than a quarter of the budget. Meanwhile the UW-Madison endowment — and private donations — have become an ever bigger part of how the state’s flagship institution funds itself. Those donations could decline drastically if it became a university which could only conduct research related to growing the economy. And in the long run, such restrictions would badly damage the economy Vos wants to help.

Not content with underfunding public schools, technical schools and the UW System…the GOP is bound and determined to undermine higher education as well…all to the detriment of Wisconsin’s economy.

Breaking! Shock! Scott Walker to consider run for president in 2016

I’m actually surprised it took Gov. Walker this long to admit he’s going to consider a run for president in 2016.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday he is seriously considering whether to get into the race for president in 2016, but he hasn’t decided yet whether he feels the call to run.

“My personal process is I have to feel like it’s a calling, particularly for the time and the effort and the impact it has on family and friends,” Walker told AP in a telephone interview from Boca Raton, Fla., where he is attending the Republican Governors Association meeting this week. “It’s not something you should yearn for…”

Walker, who won re-election to a second term this month in after becoming the nation’s first governor to defeat a recall in 2012, said it was “pretty obvious” that running for president is something he should consider.

Walker has taken several steps to keep his name in the mix as a potential GOP contender. Walker published a book in 2013 about his effort taking on public unions that spurred his recall election, he’s traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire, and he has courted large conservative donors, including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

It’s a near-mortal lock that Gov. Walker will mount a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but it’s also nearly as certain he’ll be relegated to the back bench of Republican candidates once the shine has worn off him.

Did a pro-energy lobbying group commit fraud to drum up artificial support for WE Energies/MGE rate increase?

A few minutes ago I wrote about the rate increase approved by Gov. Scott Walker’s Public Service Commission, a rate increase that would benefit WE Energies, which last year enjoyed record profits of $577 million at the expense of ratepayers (you & I).

In a related story, Mike Ivey of the CapTimes is reporting that a group lobbying on behalf of the rate increase may have fraudulently used the names of Wisconsin residents in order to artificially drum up support for the rate increase.

A fossil fuel industry group backing changes to Wisconsin’s electric rate structure is misrepresenting the wishes of some Madison Gas & Electric and We Energies customers in a legal filing with state regulators.

The Houston-based Consumer Energy Alliance on Oct. 7 sent the state Public Service Commission a petition with names of 2,500 electric customers statewide, claiming those consumers “believe changing the current rule will ensure that all ratepayers are treated fairly and electricity bills remain affordable.”

But it’s unclear how many of those customers actually support the proposed changes, which would raise fixed costs for residential ratepayers.

For example, Mary Frawley, who lives on Madison’s near west side, is listed on the petition as supporting the changes. But she told The Capital Times she strongly opposes the MGE plan, which would hike her monthly service fees from $10 to $19 starting next year.

Among the 2,500 ratepayers whose names may have been used fraudulently was Mike Sinicki, husband to Democratic State Rep. Christine Sinicki. In response to revelations the Consumer Energy Alliance may have fraudulently used the names of thousands of Wisconsinites, Rep. Sinicki requested Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm investigate whether any crime was committed.

Rep. Christine Sinicki's letter to MKE DA John Chisholm regarding utility rates

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