On Tuesday, April 26, a highly placed source in The Greater Milwaukee Committee confirmed that Governor Scott Walker is aware of legislation that would affect Municipal Governance in Wisconsin. As previously reported in this blog April 18-19; lobbyists working for Foley and Lardner have been drafting legislation to be introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature. After publicly denying any knowledge of this type of legislation, citing that there is “no truth whatsoever” and “completely bogus” claims, it is now known that Scott Walker is aware of this bill-authoring activity.
The lynchpin between Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC) and Walker is the lobbying group Smart Government, Inc. A quick re-cap in case you need a refresher. Smart Government Inc (SGI) was chartered with the Secretary of State on January 7, 2011 (The Koch Lobby Madison offices were authorized on January 5 – two days before SGI was chartered). The charter holder is Raymond Carey, an attorney for Foley and Lardner in Madison, former Republican Caucus leader, and lobbyist for Koch Industries in Madison at 10 E. Doty Street http://ethics.state.wi.us/scripts/CurrentSession/oel.asp?PrinID=4407&start=S&start2= Carey has also given nearly $10,000 to Republican campaigns in the 2008, 2010 elections. On the Secretary of State website, the principal office for SGI is listed as 301 W. Wisconsin Ave. Ste 300, Milwaukee. This is the exact same address as the GMC. Listed as the “Policy Director” for SGI is Brian Schupper, also the “Director of Policy” for GMC. The listed phone number for Mr. Schupper, SGI is (414)905-0118 – his direct line for GMC. The connection is obvious – SGI is the lobbying front for GMC, chaired by Michael Grebe. Former CEO of Foley and Lardner, The ultra conservative Bradley Foundation, Chair of the Walker election campaign, and significant donor to recent Republican campaigns ($23,000 over two elections )http://www.followthemoney.org/database/search.phtml?searchbox=grebe+michael&Type%5B%5D=Contributors&Type%5B%5D=Committees&Type%5B%5D=Lobbyists&Type%5B%5D=Lobbyist+Clients&States%5B%5D=WI&Years%5B%5D=2011&Years%5B%5D=2010&Years%5B%5D=2009&Years%5B%5D=2008. SGI exists solely to forward the GMC’s agenda to Walker and Republican Legislators who have subscribed to the Koch, ALEC (see previous blogs), and corporatic influence over American Policy and legislation. The same Foley and Lardner lobbyists working for SGI also work for Koch Co. Public Lobby LLC in Madison – Ray Carey, Jason Childress, and Kathleen Walby http://ethics.state.wi.us/scripts/CurrentSession/oel.asp?PrinID=4238&start=K&start2=.
The source, after clarifying their understanding of the pending proposal, the public nature of the GMC studies and initiatives, and the GMC history behind it, stated that “Governor Walker knows as much about what is being written (in this legislation) as anyone else (on The Greater Milwaukee Committee) based on our public studies.” The source cited the “Make It Your Milwaukee County Initiative” The-MY-Milwaukee-County-Initiative1 (2011) as being the influence for this legislation. Citing “fiscal stress tests,” “municipal government transparency,” and “tools” for local government as the key components of this legislation, the source insisted that there is no “financial martial law” language in this bill. When asked as to whether there was any previous discussion of such language, they stated that was never the “intent” of the GMC, nor has that language existed in any of their policy studies. The source was very clear that Governor Walker has known about this work, and was concerned at all the publicity surrounding this issue, stating that no one should take issue with legislating for “fiscal transparency.”
While true that the “Make it Your Milwaukee County Initiative” does not specifically call for financial martial law; if expanded to the entire state, the initiative does call for regionalization, shared services, reduction in municipal governance, privatization, and consolidation of services and authority to the state. More concerning was my sources insistence that GMC never supported the elimination of a Governing body. Quite the contrary. In January 2010, the study conducted by the Public Policy Institute on behalf of the GMC (“Should it Stay or Should it Go”) was commissioned specifically to study the elimination of Milwaukee County Government as it exists today MilwaukeeCountyStructure.Full , as stated on document page 120. This “Scenario 1” is detailed on page 123. The GMC, while Walker was County Executive, authored a report supporting the elimination of Milwaukee County Government, a position supported by Walker (see Isthmus Citizen op-ed http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=33283).
This brings us to today. Scott Walker is aware of this pending legislation based on ideological policies he has supported longer than he has been Governor. There are two possible scenarios – both cannot be true simultaneously. First – Walker, my sources and the GMC are being completely truthful. There has never been any discussion, support, or publication of any policy similar to “Fiscal Martial Law” for municipalities in Wisconsin. This is all a big misunderstanding; everyone has misinterpreted their noble efforts to right our fiscal ship. They just want “fiscal transparency” so citizens know when their communities are in financial trouble – nothing to see here, move along.
Second scenario – they are telling “half-truths” – known as lies in some circles. The published documents and studies from the GMC are consistent in their tone and message. I have included the links – read them for yourself. Yes, they include “stress tests,” and “financial transparency;” but they also support dismantling of a County Government. They support mass privatization, regional shared services, and “structural changes” to Municipal Government. Would the GMC charter a lobby group with well-connected (Koch Co.) Foley and Lardner Attorneys/Lobbyists (SGI) to forward their agenda in the legislature – then leave out the biggest piece of the pie? I submit a scenario in which this “martial law” type language was in the bill being worked on at Smart Government Inc, and Foley and Lardner. When the information became public through Ed Garvey, Bdgrdemocracy, Rick Ungar, and others who followed the story, changes began taking place (in fact, probably are continuing to be). That language is being changed – again, this is just the beginning of the story. Our legislators will need to be vigilant and look at this legislation with a microscope. Scott Walker has known of this all along; as he is a puppet for the likes of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Koch Industries, and every other Corporatic whose policies he is a disciple for. His administration’s silence on this issue needs to end. A simple denial is useless – there is still more to this story, and Wisconsinites have a right to know the content of legislation, and who is drafting that legislation so greatly affecting their lives. After receiving this confirmation, I phoned Cullen Werwie twice. I left very specific messages as to what I required comment on by the end of the day. Not surprisingly, I received no return call. Scott Walker’s continued silence on this issue says more than any denial ever could. Stay vigilant, stay strong, Wisconsin.