Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary Mike Huebsch issued an apology by phone to Wisconsin Economic Development (WEDC) board members late Thursday.
Following the exposure of a Federal Agency letter (HUD) suspending WEDC from awarding or administering a federal block grant program; and Scott Walker’s disastrous press conference on Wednesday, Huebsch could be taking the fall for this fiasco. His apology reveals there is real cause for concern about WEDC and the block grant program administration.
Both DOA and WEDC were aware of the issues HUD has raised with the current administration of the program – the WEDC Board was just not informed. Huebsch actually lies about this in his “apology,” stating that HUD communications were with DOA. There is record of WEDC being informed of the Feds’ concern.
There are numerous critical, unanswered questions. There are units of local government that are working on, and negotiating contracts for CDBG funds through the state. Badger Democracy has learned they are negotiating with WEDC. Is DOA acting as the administrator of the program, with WEDC making the awards? That would seem to be in violation of federal statute, according to the HUD letter.
Is it legal for DOA to be acting as a “rubber stamp” for WEDC in this program?
If that is the case, DOA would be funneling the money to WEDC. Where is the money going? There is virtually no oversight or accountability of WEDC – as recently expressed by the Legislative Audit Bureau. Does WEDC use the CDBG funds for purposes OTHER then the public program? Venture capital? Quasi-private development?
Take away the role of governmental oversight and regulation; combined with ideology over responsibility, and this is the result. State government administration is currently a shambles. Huebsch may end up the fall guy, but there are scores more who are avoiding accountability.
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