Sunday, December 6, 2015

Walker Admin information flow- lying here, hiding there

There is a disturbing trend of secrecy and controlling of information with the Walker Administration, and it's not just their atrocious approach to open records (the latest is the use of text messaging to try to get around open records laws). But there are a couple of other ways this administration continues to keep Wisconsinites in the dark over what's really going on in this state, and I want to focus in on that for a bit.

First of all, there is the Walker Administration's releasing of certain claims and then not having the truth come out until it's too late to do anything. A great example of this is how Walker and GOP officials told stories in public to try to "reform" the state's civil service system into one that required fewer protections for workers. And I know this'll shock you, but they didn't give the full story when making their case.
In making his case to Republican lawmakers this fall that the state’s civil service system needed to be overhauled, Gov. Scott Walker cited the case of two state workers who he said couldn’t be fired even though they had been caught having sex in their office.

But records released Friday show no efforts were made to fire those workers — and that the only discipline sought and issued to them was letters of reprimand.

Walker administration officials declined to address Wisconsin State Journal inquiries about why the workers could not have been fired for their conduct. Records show their actions included trading sexually explicit emails on their work accounts and engaging in sex acts at their state office in Madison in 2011....

As part of his push for civil service changes, Walker also claimed that a short-order cook scored high enough on a hiring exam to be considered for a state financial examiner job.

But when pressed, Walker’s administration couldn’t produce documents to support the claim, the State Journal found.
But did that change the story from getting out there, especially in right-wing Bubble World where the facts stated in the article above never are mentioned? Of course not. Now the civil service bill has already passed the Assembly, and merely needs to pass in amended form in the GOP-run State Senate to become law. This is a classic case of using the Big Lie strategy of communications, and this administration does it all the time, repeating things that are either anecdotes, claims that are proven untrue at a later point, or in worst cases, have already been proven untrue (like continuing to say "we were broke when we took over and that's why we needed Act 10", a claim that we have known for 4 years to be complete bullshit).

But there are other times when the Walker Administration doesn't give any data at all, despite having done so in previous times, and despite Wisconsin's open government tradition. This is especially true when it comes to Wisconsin's current fiscal situation, where there has been a virtual blackout on information in the last few months since the 2015-17 budget came into effect. For example, take a look at what's happened to the state's release of revenue figures over the last 3 years, which would be something that might give us an early indication to see if the already-tight budget is going to have further difficulties. Compare the release dates of these figures as the budget situation has grown more questionable in the last 2 years.

Release dates of revenue figures
First 3 months of new fiscal year
FY 2013-14 October 18
FY 2014-15 October 14
FY 2015-16 November 4

October revenues
FY 2013-14 November 18
FY 2014-15 November 21
FY 2015-16 No release as of December 6

This same pattern is playing out with the state's checking account, better known as the Monthly Statement of Receipts and Disbursements

Receipts/ Disbursement report released
October 2014 November 5
October 2015 Not released yet

November 2014 December 2
November 2015 Not released yet

And both the revenue and cash receipt report indicated that the first 3 months fell short of the year-over-year increases that are needed to balance the state budget. Sure makes you wonder if that trend is continuing through the Fall, especially with the large amount of mass layoffs hitting the state's manufacturers in the last 2 months, and if it portends even worse numbers coming out in the next few months that make an already-strained budget even worse.

I suppose one way or the other we will find out soon enough, as the state's Comprehensive Annual Fiscal Report (CAFR) for the 2014-15 year is due to drop this next week, with major jobs reports to follow the next week. But the increasing pattern of concealment of bad data and the selective release of bad information from the Walker Administration tells me there is even more bad news out there to find, if the state Dems and the state media chooses to step up and get it. In other words, if those groups actually decide to DO THEIR JOBS.

1 comment:

  1. Great job staying on top of this. It's obviously too subtle for our dysfunctional media to notice, but could be very important.
    I still can't believe how nobody really questions how Walker consistently mixes in BS shiny objects with the data when it is released. They sure won't let us forget about that #12 ranking from CEO Magazine... but for some reason they never mention the #31 ranking from Forbes or #43 from the Koch-funded Tax Foundation (not that any of those rankings are particularly meaningful, but if you're gonna call one of them an "indicator," you don't get to skip over the others). That should be more than enough to foster widespread skepticism/scrutiny of anything they release.