Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nope, they've learned nothing at WEDC

Just when you think this administration can't do things more tone-deaf, they manage to surprise you. After sending thousands of taxpayer dollars to a private company to put on a nationwide search and getting down to 3 outside candidates, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation decided their next CEO should be....the guy who was laready there and wasn't interviewed. That's right, Gov. Walker, acting as WEDC's Board Chair, announced Reed Hall would stay as the WEDC CEO. The statement released by Walker in the job announcement is quite funny, and I'll add notes to explain why.
“Reed brings a fresh perspective and strong leadership to the WEDC,” said Governor Scott Walker (um Scotty, he's been in charge for a few months now). “Reed’s experience at the Marshfield Clinic, in numerous civic organizations, and involvement in creating private sector jobs in Wisconsin makes him a perfect fit for this position. He will be guided by years of experience and a record of effective management in the private sector." (the Marshfield Clinic is actually a "not-for-profit" that makes $1.1 billion in revenue but pays little to no taxes ....which probably makes him perfectly understanding of WEDC's tax-giveaway goal.)
So not only are they doubling down on the failed, cronyist WEDC model, they're going to rely on the same guy to try to drag them out of the unaccountable, money-losing abyss they're currently in. Don't worry, NOW it'll be different.

And they know this despite the fact that the WEDC Board hasn't met in 6 weeks, and had no say on the hire. You may recall that the last regular WEDC Board meeting in December featured revelations of $19 million in WEDC loans missing and not expected to be returned, and that WEDC had no plans to handle the transition which removed half of the Department of Commerce from these duties.

So now Scotty and company are saying "trust us, things at WEDC are on track with Reed." Sorry kid, I need to see hard proof of it, or else I'll just have to assume that Hall's $1,000 in contributions to Walker's last 2 governor campaigns and being an organizer for Central Wisconsin Tea Party events (on April 21, 2012...for total nutcase Kim Simac no less!) had a lot more to do with Hall being hired over his competence or ability to clean up this WEDC mess.

Know what else should give you pause about this hire? The groups that all liked it. A quick glance of The Wheeler Report finds approval from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (where Hall was a member of the Board of Directors), the Wisconsin Bankers Association, the Wisconsin Realtors Association, the Wisconsin Builders Association (with quotes from Jerry "Give my dropout son Brian a job!" Deschane), and the Wisconsin chapter of the Commercial Association of Realtors, headed by former Walker Chief of Staff Jim Villa, who housed Kelly Rindfleisch while she was ripping off County taxpayers in Walker's office in 2010 and has connections to many of the doings in the John Doe investigation.

If those guys like the hire, you know it's bad news for those of us who give a damn about transparency and healthy job creation. Nope, things haven't changed a bit at WEDC, and we'd better keep our eyes and ears open in the next few months, because I have zero confidence things will get cleaned up with this crew in charge. Seriously, do you believe the $67 million they got in the last budget, or the $63 million in taxpayer funding they are slated to get for the next 2 years is going to be used responsibly and fairly? C'mon man!

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