Walker blames Tom Barrett for bringing jobs to Milwaukee

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…


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25 thoughts on “Walker blames Tom Barrett for bringing jobs to Milwaukee

    1. And I bet DPW criticized Tommy for it at the time, but won’t be critical of this. Isn’t that just as hypocritical? “What do you expect from DPW though?”

      1. Here’s hypocritical. Scott Walker, the favored candidate of the Wisconsin GOP, voted for Wisconsin Act 27 back in 1997. Let’s not forget WI Act 27 included the no-bid railroad provision the GOP is now railing against.

        1. Let’s not forget that WI Act 27 was the STATE BUDGET ACT, containing hundreds of provisions. A majority of both Republicans AND Democrats voted for that bill.

          1. And a Republican governor signed it into law without vetoing the very provision Republicans are now attacking Gov. Doyle and Barrett over.

            1. So are you blaming Walker or Tommy? If Walker had voted against that budget bill, you could pull out something you deemed good in the bill and deride Walker for having voting against it. You failed to clearly point out that Act 27 was the budget and contained so much more than the rail provision. I’m sure Barrett’s Congressional voting record is squeaky clean though.

              1. The point is that Walker and the GOP are railing against something they supported only 13 years ago. I don’t recall any outrage from any Republicans about the no-bid provision back when it was being considered.

  1. Even though Walker’s objections are all wrong, I’m wondering if he will get away with it in the major media.

    As a business man, I’m also wondering if I would want to do business with a company filing for bankruptcy. I’m not suggesting I wouldn’t consider helping Super Steel survive if they won my contract, but it does make you wonder about Walker’s business sense and feel for the real world brutality of a profit driven free market system.

    But best of all, love the title to the piece. That says it all about the Republican Party’s Wisconsin bashing talking points.

  2. I think the legality of the no-bid contract is not the issue. The issue is that Super Steel was cut out of two bids because Barrett gave Talgo a sweetheart deal at the former Tower Automotive facility. Walker won’t get burned on this one. This will discredit Barrett’s false job creation scheme.

    1. Heh….I wondered when you’d get around to defending Walker.

      You say this will discredit Barrett’s “false job creation scheme,” but I’m wondering what’s false about 125 new jobs in Milwaukee, on top of the hundreds of new jobs that will be created by Ingeteam.

      Tell me Aaron, what tangible successes has Scott Walker had in luring new jobs to Milwaukee County? Cite me a specific example of a company Walker had an integral role in luring to Milwaukee County.

  3. @Aaron Ummm no. Super Steel did not respond to the original RFI, so they cut themselves out on building the train sets. Then Talgo cut Super Steel as the facilities did not meet their requirements. To think Mayor Barrett wouldn’t of offered similar incentives for Talgo to work with Super Steel, if it actually made sense, is just non sense.

    Finally, in the long run if Super Steel plays their cards right, not doing so right now with this politically sponsored outrage, they could get work from… Talgo. Oh yeah, and there are the 400 or so U.S. vendors that will get work Talgo as well, many in Wisconsin.

    1. Are you referring to the 2004 opening of the new GE Medical Systems headquarters? If so, it’s worth noting that didn’t create 2,000 new jobs, it merely consolidated 1,400 existing jobs in Milwaukee County into one facility instead of several.

  4. Dave,

    If by RFI, you are referring to Talgo being the only one to provide the state with a detailed outlay, then my response to you is that the RFI is immaterial to my point.

    My criticism is not that Super Steel didn’t get the Talgo job, but rather Barrett used the city funds to purchase the Tower Automotive site with the expressed purpose of securing Talgo in Milwaukee. He knew that letting Super Steel bid on the project took a risk of losing the plant to either FonDuLac, Racine, or Janesville. He couldn’t take that risk, so he used taxpayer funds to compete against Super Steel.

    1. Aaron, how exactly did Tom Barrett prevent Super Steel from bidding on the project?

      What’s more, it’s worth noting Tom Barrett wanted Super Steel to assemble trains for Talgo; it wasn’t until after Talgo indicated Super Steel couldn’t do the job that Barrett and city officials tried to get Talgo to come to Milwaukee.

      But hey, continue to keep blaming Tom Barrett for bringing jobs to Milwaukee; that’s an attack that’s sure to be effective.

    2. Oh, and what’s more, if Scott Walker had such a keen interest in Talgo and Super Steel,
      why didn’t he or anyone from his staff contact Talgo to ask them to consider the Super Steel facility before the company made its decision?

      The fact is, you’re unwilling to see this for what it is…which is, an attempt by Scott Walker and a big-money campaign donor to score some cheap political points. If Scott Walker really was concerned about Super Steel, where was he to stand up for them when this whole situation was developing?

  5. Zach,

    I will have to go with the 2,000 number since it comes from the county government.

    Walker also helped with Bloom Engineering for the expansion of Children’s, Froedtert and the Medical College on the Regional Medical Center grounds.

    Walker also helped to recruit new companies at the airport, Franklin, West Allis, Milwaukee and Oak Creek.

    Not to mention that the Mitchell Airport has grown substantially under his watch breaking records for passengers increasing from 5.5 million to 7.3 million. 3,549 direct and indirect jobs have been created by the efforts of Scott Walker – according to Walker’s Communications Director for the county government.

  6. Zach,

    Barrett didn’t prevent Super Steel from bidding on the project. You’re not reading what I wrote.

    I said that Barrett sweetened the pot so much for Talgo that Super Steel’s bids became unnecessary.

    The only thing you have to show that Barrett wanted Super Steel to build Talgo’s trains is a public letter from Barrett urging Talgo to work with Super Steel. A letter!!! A lot of good that letter did Super Steel. It just so happened that Barrett bought the former Tower Automotive site with an agreement to renovate it as the same time that Doyle was brokering a deal with Talgo to move their plant to Wisconsin.

    And then Jeff Fleming, a spokesman for Milwaukee’s City Development Office, said that Talgo had long ruled out the Super Steel site and that Talgo never intended on using local workers to build their trains. Talgo, according to Fleming, was only looking for a space to lease, not for a work force.

    This means that Super Steel never had a chance to get the work, and Barrett’s public letter to Talgo was a farce.

    1. Again, what did Scott Walker do to support Super Steel? Talgo executives have noted neither Walker nor his staff made any attempts to contact them on behalf of Super Steel.

      Oh, and it’s not as if Super Steel hasn’t received taxpayer funded assistance recently; it was the recipient of a $200,000 forgivable loan from the city.

  7. @Aaron You simply don’t know the facts or want to ignore them. For example, “Barrett used the city funds to purchase the Tower Automotive site with the expressed purpose of securing Talgo in Milwaukee” This is just not true. The City of Milwaukee has been working on the Tower site, long before Talgo came into the picture.

    Another example, “He knew that letting Super Steel bid on the project..” Mayor Barrett first pushed the Super Steel site (this has been reported), it was not acceptable to Talgo and then they moved to insure Talgo came to Milwaukee.

    And just to say it again, Mayor Barrett helped to get a company to locate in Milwaukee that builds trains that Super Steel doesn’t.

    1. Excellent point Dave…I had forgotten that Super Steel doesn’t even build the trains necessary for the state’s project.

  8. Zach,

    I’ll say it again, you’re not reading my posts very well. I’m not talking about Super Steel versus Talgo. I’m talking about Super Steel doing “subcontracting” work for Talgo.

  9. Dave,

    The first report that I could find shows that the city planned on buying the Tower Automotive site in July of 09. This is precisely the time that Doyle was purchasing the two train sets from Talgo.

    And let’s suppose that you’re right – that the city considered buying the Tower site much earlier, it still didn’t happen until Doyle made good on his deal with Talgo.

    Not only is the timing very convenient, but the Department of Transportation already spilled the beans that Talgo never considered using Super Steel to begin with.

  10. Article from 2008 http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-19299516.html regarding the city’s attempt to acquire the land. Another article from March 2008. http://www.jsonline.com/business/29446859.html The purchase was slow because of the legal dispute with the owners and the city.

    It has been a disputed property for awhile, essentially because the property owners were attempting to bring businesses that were not in accordance with the area plan (salvage facilities)… Anyhow the city has been attempting to purchase it for quite some time, it is a key part of the 30th Street Industrial Corridor redevelopment project.

    Further, at the Common Council meetings approving the TIF raised concerns from Alderman because there was no tenant at the time for the property… (you can look at the ZND meetings yourself).

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