We are told today in Politico about an emergency meeting yesterday that led to Scott Walker’s decision to suspend his campaign for President. According to the story, the meeting was called by Tonette Walker and Mike Grebe, and included Walker’s closest advisers, including veteran Walker hands John Hiller, Bill Eisner, Ed Goeas, and Jim Villa.

But I thought that Jim Villa worked for the University of Wisconsin System. Why, yes, he is paid something like $178,000 to be the Vice President for University Relations, and reports directly to System President Ray Cross.

How is it at all appropriate for him to be involved, then, in a political meeting on Monday morning? Shouldn’t he be attending to university business? Scott Walker’s presidential campaign has done nothing but bad things to the University of Wisconsin System.

Time for Ray Cross to discipline Mr. Villa. Maybe even time to fire him, since Mr. Villa is an at-will employee.

And if Ray Cross won’t fire Mr. Villa, it is time to fire Mr. Cross.

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13 Responses to Who does Jim Villa work for anyway?

  1. John Casper says:

    Joanne, nice scoop.

  2. This is nice, but a little naive. As I wrote in my blog earlier this year there is a daisy-chain of power from the Republican governor to the chancellors of the various UW System schools. To work for System is to work for the Republican administration. https://ragmanscircles.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/the-republican-takeover-of-the-university-of-wisconsin-system/

    • Joanne Brown says:

      Yes, perhaps it seems naive. I really do know that the current System administration, including the Board of Regents, is complicit with the current gubernatorial administration in bringing down a great institution. The end of State Street with the Capitol building is overly threatened by ideas emanating from the end of State Street with Bascom Hall, and that is a pity. The two sides should be working together for the betterment of Wisconsin, but the Republicans seem incapable of that.

      • John Casper says:

        Joanne, thanks.

        State government is not a corporation. The UW system is. I hope Prof. Grusin can ask attorneys specializing in corporate law and governance about legal counter strategies which the latest omnibus budget may have opened. While eliminating Prof. Ray Cross’ position as UW’s System president doesn’t rank high on my list of such strategies, hasn’t the current legislature assumed his responsibilities?

    • John Casper says:

      Prof. Grusin,

      I don’t agree with your “naive” characterization, but I’m on your side.

      Based on your impressive credentials http://www4.uwm.edu/c21/pages/about/staff/richard.html
      you’re on a short list of people who could design an effective media counter-strategy.

  3. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    And it’s not like Villa has prevented the US from being cut, abused, and had its reputation suffer due to his “connections” with the Guy and WisGOP legislators. So he couldn’t even execute the duties of his “official”, $178,000 taxpayer-funded job.

    Someone should file an open records requesto to see if Villa filled out his “2nd Job” conflict of interest form, like other public employees have to. And to see if he was doing his real job as a Walker 2016 campaign advisor out of the halls of System Administration. You know, like his former roommate Rindfleisch did in Milwaukee.

    • John Casper says:

      in case anyone is interested, the New York Times gave

      “NEUROTRIBES: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity”
      By Steve Silberman
      534 pp. Avery/Penguin Random House. $29.95.

      a favorable review.

      “But carry on nonetheless. “NeuroTribes” is beautifully told, humanizing, important. It has earned its enthusiastic foreword from Oliver Sacks; it has found its place on the shelf next to “Far From the Tree,” Andrew Solomon’s landmark appreciation of neurological differences. At its heart is a plea for the world to make accommodations for those with autism, not the other way around, and for researchers and the public alike to focus on getting them the services they need. They are, to use Temple Grandin’s words, “different, not less.” Better yet, indispensable: inseparably tied to innovation, showing us there are other ways to think and work and live.

      The most moving chapter, one that had me fitfully weeping throughout, is the penultimate one, which chronicles that miraculous moment 20 or so years ago when autistic adults finally began to find their own tribe after lifetimes of mis­diagnoses and alienation. Silberman tells the simple story of an autistic woman named Donna Williams who had just written a memoir, visiting two compatriots she had never met. “Seeing the thrill that Williams got from the lights playing off a Coke can,” Silberman writes of one, “he later sent her a belt covered in red sequins from Kmart as a gift.'”


      OT, Jim, when anyone writes something that they want others to read, the responsibility is on them to make it compelling and interesting.

    • John Casper says:

      Jake, bullseye.

      Thank you.

    • onevote says:

      Agree with you, Jake.

      Looking at Villa’s job, he is a highly-paid appointed public employee who should have been in his office at UW, working for UW, and not off at the Governor’s Mansion taking part in a political meeting dealing with a campaign. It would also be great to know just how much time our number one public employee was away from his Governor job (working for the state, that is)–instead off dealing with outside political campaigns. Yes, working on campaigning on the public’s dime instead of doing your job can get you hauled off to jail, just ask Kelly Rindfleisch.

      On a related note, with the campaign ending so quickly, you have to wonder if their wasn’t some legal line-crossing taking place between the Our American Revival (managed by Rick Wiley) campaign organization and the Unintimidated Super PAC. They are not legally able to coordinate and communicate between each other, and it looks a lot like the move to remove Wiley had a lot to do with people working through Unintimidated.

      Politico had an interesting article that describes Our American Revival chairman Michael Grebe initially broaching changes to the campaign:

      “Around Labor Day, Grebe approached Walker about instituting some staff changes, and he was open to the idea.

      In the meantime, at the super PAC supporting Walker, Unintimidated PAC, top officials were preparing something revolutionary. Keith Gilkes, a former Walker chief of staff who was a leader of the super PAC, was legally barred from coordinating with the campaign. But in August, he began asking donors pointed questions about the campaign’s finances. He concluded that the situation was dire.

      The super PAC, which had about $20 million available, looked into hiring field staffers in South Carolina and other early states — preparing to take over many communications and political functions from the campaign, rather than staying in the traditional role of running TV ads.”

      “…Walker advisers said they were considering bringing back longtime aides, Gilkes or R.J. Johnson, to replace or layer Wiley.”

      This raises a lot of questions about the “revolutionary” actions Unintimidated was involved in. Just how legal was this? The campaign stopped, yes, but that was after the fact of Unintimidated doing what it had already done in intervening on the supposedly seperate Our American Revival campaign operation.

      Another aspect of all this is that Our American Revival’s national finance co-chair is Todd Ricketts, son of Joe Ricketts, who was a co-founder of TD Ameritrade. The Ricketts family were Walker’s biggest benefactors, giving some $5 million to the Unintimidated Super PAC.

      Let’s find out if some illegal activity has occurred.

      • John Casper says:

        onevote, thanks for an excellent comment.

        One minor issue, I don’t know who is “chair” of “Our American Revival.” I’m not sure that Grebe’s officially on their org chart.

        “Michael Grebe, Stealth Warrior:
        Is the Bradley Foundation CEO the real thinker behind Scott Walker’s policies?”


        • onevote says:

          Thank you, John

          Our American Revival was set up as a 527 PAC in January, which collected money before Scott Walker’s candidacy announcement was made July 13th. Walker’s campaign organization since then is best shown at this link. The Uninitimidated super PAC organization can be seen

          The real point I was trying to express is that Walker’s campaign and the Unintimidated super PAC by law allowed no coordination between the two groups. Alarm bells went off reading the Politico article when it told about Keith Gilkes taking action, the move by those around Unintimidated to get rid of Wiley, or at least take over some of his responsibilities. Gilkes was Walker’s campaign manager in 2010 and for the 2012 recall.

          Ricketts organized fundraisers for the Walker campaign, yet a lot of Ricketts family money was going to Unintimidated at the same time, which seemed an awfully cozy arrangement.

          Just a lot of questions that the media isn’t really answering. Just like why would Jim Villa be called to this fatefull meeting when Scott Walker’s campaign ended.

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