Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker has a big problem with Democratic candidate Tom Barrett. His problem? Barrett helped bring 125 good jobs to Milwaukee, in the form of the Spanish company Talgo, which will occupy a portion of the former Tower Automotive site. On Wednesday, Walker, along with Super Steel Chairman Fred Luber, who happens to have donated $13,000 to Walker over the years, attacked Barrett, with Walker accusing Barrett of using taxpayer money to “stab Wisconsin companies in the back,” while Luber added, “Mayor Barrett and Gov. Doyle don’t understand the damage they have done to Wisconsin companies like ours. They’ve used the very same tax dollars our company and employees pay to dole out work to foreign companies.” Shortly after Talgo announced it would be placing a plant at the Tower Automotive site, Super Steel, which had hoped to bring work from Talgo to its plant, filed for receivership. Now here’s where things get really interesting: while Walker and Luber are attacking Tom Barrett for giving taxpayer money to a foreign company (thus negatively affecting Super Steel), Super Steel’s chief executive officer, Jim Schmelzer, has said the Talgo decision alone didn’t drive his company into receivership, and the company expects to reorganize and retain its workers. What’s more, the state Department of Transportation has said Super Steel would not have been able to bid even if the contract had been put up for bid, because it doesn’t build trains itself. Instead, it assembles trains as a subcontractor to a Japanese company, Nippon Sharyo, and executives from that company have said Super Steel could pursue subcontracting work with Talgo without jeopardizing its relationship with Nippon Sharyo.
As The Chief notes, Walker’s joint press conference with Fred Luber reeks of cronyism, and it’s certainly a preview into what a Walker gubernatorial administration will be like.
And as the ever-astute capper notes, Fred Luber certainly didn’t shy away from outright lying in order to score some points for his favored candidate. Referencing the city’s assistance to Talgo, Luber asserted Talgo was given a year’s free rent at the former Tower Automotive site, but as Milwaukee Department of City Development spokesman Jeff Fleming noted, Talgo will lease the space at the Tower Automotive site from the city at market rates, for $2.59 per square foot, or $344,470 a year.
I think it’s safe to say Scott Walker’s campaign is like a train that’s come off the rails…