Thursday, September 24, 2015

Walker crony not a pristine little Villa

This came out last weekend, so maybe you didn't see all of this, but there was yet another story with insight into the systematic corruption and sketchiness that has become part and parcel of any Scott Walker administration, this one dating back to Scotty's time in Milwaukee.
A former aide to Gov. Scott Walker who is now a top University of Wisconsin official was under investigation for several suspected felonies as part of the now-closed John Doe investigation into Walker’s Milwaukee County executive office.

No charges were filed against Jim Villa, the UW System’s vice president of university relations. But sworn statements released this week show investigators sought a search warrant for Villa’s home and office. At the time, he was president of the Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin, and he was previously Walker’s chief of staff.

To justify the warrants, investigators wrote that they suspected Villa had broken several laws, including misconduct in public office and solicitation of public employees to commit misconduct. They presented evidence of Villa’s involvement in both an alleged bid-rigging scheme and a political action committee that Walker aide Tim Russell was suspected of doing work for while on county time....

The September 2011 affidavit were previously sealed under a John Doe secrecy order but were released with the permission of John Doe Judge Neal Nettesheim by the defendants in a lawsuit brought by Cindy Archer, another former Walker aide who was also under investigation but never charged.
With that in mind, check out this passage as part of an in-depth Politico article that goes over the death throes of the Walker 2016 campaign, and look who’s in the room helping to make big decisions after Walker does nothing in the second GOP debate.
But the reviews had been brutal. Donors were grousing, and money was drying up. It was a painful turn for Walker, who had quickly vaulted to the top of the Iowa polls, powered by a fiery January speech in Des Moines, only to drop precipitously in the summer amid Donald Trump’s rise. He had gone from front-runner to also-ran in a matter of months.

So on Monday morning, the group of advisers — including veteran Walker hands John Hiller, Bill Eisner, Ed Goeas, and Jim Villa — huddled with Scott and Tonette Walker. The top of the agenda, according to campaign sources: polling and fundraising. And the numbers were bad.

Shortly after the meeting wrapped, Walker arrived at his decision: He was out. It was a shocking and sudden move that blindsided many of Walker’s closest allies, threw the power of super PACs into doubt and opened opportunities for rivals to pick up patrons, staff, and supporters.
This is where I remind you that taxpayers are shelling out $178,000 a year to Villa so he can “work” as VP of University Relations at the UW System, a position that UW System President Ray Cross offered to Villa last year amid numerous concerns about Villa’s background and partisanship. And as part of the application process, Villa got a nice boost from his old bud Scotty.
Villa listed Walker, former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and powerful lobbyist and former Thompson administration official Bill McCoshen as his references when applying for the position.

Tony Evers, superintendent of public instruction of Wisconsin and also a member of the board of regents, emailed fellow regent John Drew two days after the appointment was announced to say he was reading “scary” information online about Villa.

Liberal groups also objected to the appointment, noting that the Walker administration has been repeatedly embarrassed by hiring unqualified “cronies” for high-paying jobs.
What did the UW System get out of the allegedly improved relationship with the Governor’s Office that was supposed to come with Villa’s hire? A $250 million cut in state funding and the removal of tenure, along with regressive abortion legislation that threatens to cut off research dollars to the UW and drive talent away from the state. Forget the crookedness of Villa working for the Walker campaign while pulling down a huge state paycheck, this guy should be fired for what he's allowed to happen (or even worse, cleared the way for) to the UW in the time that he’s been on the "job."

But wait, one thing Jim Villa does know is commercial real estate, as a former lobbyist for the Commercial Realtors Association of Wisconsin, and one thing the UW has a lot of is buildings and operations that could go a long way toward filling budget holes. A Walker campaign contributor could get a tidy little profit if they got such a building or operation for pennies on the dollar, if something like UW-Madison’s power plant were put up for sale and some local utilities wanted to buy it and jack up rates to customers. Quite a nice scheme if you’re in the inner circle and get a kickback new business opportunity, but it sure sucks for the user (who likely pays higher rates), the UW (who’d pay more to get a service back that they were previously running themselves), the workers at the plant (who now operate with a new boss under new rules, and likely get fewer benefits), and the state’s taxpayers (who’ll shell out more in future years, without having a public asset to offset it).

And gee, what's the first proposal Scotty throws his support behind when he gets back to Madison to do the actual job taxpayers pay him 6 figures to do? Try to eradicate civil service rules and clear the way for more cronies like Jim Villa to get fat taxpayer-funded paychecks while "analyzing and implementing" policies according to the ALEC handbook. Funny how those things work.

It's pretty obvious to me that there are more shoes to drop in light of Walker’s hasty, panicky exit from the presidential campaign, well past the bleeding of money and support his campaign had (Walker's ducking of questions in that disgraceful “press conference” add to this fishiness). Throw in the recent revelations involving Jim Villa’s role as a Walker 2016 campaign aide and questions about his pay-to-play past, and it seems he might be a key part of things when those shoes start to fall.


  1. Glad you caught this. I'm UW faculty - I saw the Walker Exit article and immediately blew my stack. For Villa to remain in a position of power in the Walker circle is completely unethical. But I'm not in a position to make that connection.

    And this when the regents and system president Cross are ordering that no one complains about the cuts, that the UW is just fine under Scott Walker. When they tell us that the system's official position is that we're supportive of the current budget.


    1. Thank you for the candor, and it's completely true. It's absolutely sickening, and any regular person who pulled this two-timing stunt without filling out an "outside employment" form would have been fired on the spot. Let's check the upcoming finance reports to see if Villa got any checks from his time as a Walker 2016 "advisor".

      When I saw Villa's name. I was like Aykroyd and Murphy in "Trading Places" when they hear the name "CLARENCE BEEKS!!" Just a brazen slap in the face to anyone who gives a crap about the UW.

  2. I was sitting down to write a blog post today about the UW, Villa, and Cross's inner circle... but you did it already, of course! (And much better.) In all seriousness, this is beyond troubling, and I'm still waiting for the first actual newspaper story about the role these folks played in the tenure/shared governance fiasco. Of course, since we're talking about lowly professors, no one cares. But this is all so bizarre, and I'm always swinging between 2 poles on this with the real plan for the UW: diabolical genius, or just flat out incompetence that is so glaring you have no choice but to suspect something more, thinking, "they can't be this bad."

    1. I rarely think these things are coincidences. Even if Gov Dropout or his flunkies may not know or understand all the steps of the plan, you can bet his puppetmasters do.

      And if this destruction of civil service moves through, you'll see even.more of this

    2. I'm 100% on board with the diabolical design in place from the legislative end, but when I look at UW leadership, I see one bungled snap after another.

    3. The UW's mistake is thinking you can reason with these anti-academic terrorists. Cross was just quoted this week as saying he thinks the US would be lucky to stay at the reduced funding in the next budget if things stay as they are today.

      So the obvious solution for those of us who care about the UW is to remove the current people in power. And UW officials and Administration should actively do the same, with Madison declaring independence from the System and becoming a self-supporting entity

  3. When Walker was pushing Act 10 through he was promising people that civil service rules would still protect workers.

    Another time limited Walker campaign promise.

    I promise this until I have your vote. After that, forget it.

    1. Much like with another Dubya, the Walker crew (and their bosses) know what they ultimately want to see (unions busted, no job protections, UW privatized and owned by corporate intetests). It's just a matter of selling it in a way that enough rubes can be tricked just enough to keep them in power long enough to do it.

      We need to call BS on them and any media that tries to let them get away with it

    2. I agree.

      But how?

      His voters don't seem to have any memory beyond what time period? A few months at the most? And then all that they do is look at public employees and say "I don't have those benefits, why should they have those benefits?

      As far as I can tell Walkers supporters won't do a whole heck of a lot to improve their own lives. As long as Walker makes someone elses life worse in their minds they come out ahead.

      Walkers supporters are never going to look at someone else and say "he has those benefits, why don't I have those benefits?" And they are never ever going do do anything like join a union to make their lives better.

      How can you possibly get through to these people?

    3. Another consideration: Walker supporters have been trained to believe that anything a Democrat or a liberal says is a lie. And remember that the definition of "liberal" is very flexible -- basically it works out to anyone the radio squawkers can pin a label to, or who disagrees with "us".

      I figure Walker's own highly selective hearing is what got him in trouble with the Canadian Wall nonsense, and is probably why he's out of the Presidential primary race, thank God (who also only gets a very selective and heavily interpreted hearing from Governor Asterisk, it seems to me).

    4. Mad City Voter explains the mentality well, greg. The typical person. That still stands with Walker these days does so as a negatove- it's because he hurts "THOSE PEOPLE", and academics that expose the limitations of the weak-minded are in that group.

      But they're a small portion of the population (like 20% overall), but ALL THOSE DOPES VOTE. My best advice is to mock those people, and show bystanders just how corrupt, stupid and wrong those 20%erst are. The silent majority believes in Democrats positions, we just need people to be exposed to those values, and exposed to the negative effects of Walkerism.

      A majority already have seen the light, but I want a lot more to do so. And we can't let up now that Scotty has flamed at the National level, because there are far too many Jim Villa types left that are screwing up the Wisconsin we once loved

  4. I don't know. Mocking the Walker supporters won't help. It will only piss them off. (That may be good for entertainment but it won't turn them against Walker and his destructive policies.)

    What needs to happen is to get more people to vote.

    I work with a good man that does not vote. He believes that ALL politicians are corrupt and he will not vote for any of them. This has resulted in him getting lower wages and having any future advancement in his current employment being extremely limited. Basically, he has no chance to earn more money because job positions have been eliminated.

    The people that see no reason to vote are the people who must be convinced that the government can work for them if control of government is taken away from the corporations and restored to serving the citizens as a whole and not just special interests.

    How do we convince them to take government back before the economic disparity turns to riots and violence?

    Who is going to step forward to this challenge?

    The Democrats?

    I believe that the Democrats are at least trying to look out for the working class, but they are also taking so much money from Wall Street. This is the problem that my non voting co-worker sees.

    Campaign finance reform will have to go through a conservative Supreme Court that believes that corporations are people.

    Congress is controlled by the corporations so there won't be any Constitutional ammendments any time in the near future to correct campaign finance laws.

    I don't consider myself to be pessimistic. I know that I am not optimistic about much.

    I want to see this political system change.

    How can it when there is this much corruption?

    Jake: If you reply to this don't reply until Monday. Enjoy the rest of the weekend with your wife.