wisconsin capitol

Scott Walker’s Record on Mismanagement

While Gov. Scott Walker Is an Expert at Campaigning, His Time in Office Shows That He Is Not an Expert at Governing

While Gov. Scott Walker is an expert at campaigning, his time in office shows that he is not an expert at governing. As Milwaukee County exec, public assistance programs managed by the county were so poorly managed that the state intervened and took them over. In addition, his severe cuts to the county workforce resulted in millions of budget-busting overtime costs.

Similar mismanagement problems have plagued Walker’s tenure as governor, the chief among them problems at his flagship jobs agency, WEDC. Multiple audits have shown the agency is failing to comply with state law and internal policies, and has lost track of millions in state dollars. Further, it has failed to deliver on the promise of job creation while sometimes giving out awards without any requirement of job creation or retention or for jobs that were created in the past. The problems at the troubled jobs agency are capped off by a revolving door of top officials at the agency. And Scott Walker? Well, not only was WEDC his idea, he’s been in charge of for every single misstep, as the chair of the WEDC board.

Walker Weakened Department of Revenue’s ability to go after tax cheats

Additionally, the governor slowed the progress made in 2010 by the Department of Revenue in collecting delinquent taxes. In 2010, the Department collected $193 million in delinquent taxes, a $40 million increase over the previous year. But now the Governor would scale back on tax-collection activities, reducing the Department’s goal by $20 million a year. (Department of Administration’s Executive Budget for the Department of Revenue, pp. 453-454)

[Department of Administration, 06/05/2015]

Rep. Chris Taylor says Gov. Scott Walker’s budget filled with mistakes

Democrats (and a few Republicans) have complained about a variety of matters in the budget, and said the package was poorly prepared. Such complaints were raised in a news release issued the day before work on the budget began in the Joint Finance Committee. The Democrats on the committee complained that lawmakers were given a "last minute error document" that ran 110 pages. "Drafting errors may happen, but I highly doubt that 110 pages and millions of dollars’ worth of mistakes and unintended consequences are anything but the product of an extremely distracted Governor not putting his home state first," state Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) said in a news release issued by the Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee...Compared with recent budgets, the errata report from the Department of Administration for the 2015-’17, dated April 15, 2015, budget made more corrections -- about 110 by our count -- than those in the past several budgets... That’s at least $20 million in cleaned up mistakes. [Politifact, 06/01/2015]

Walker aides pushed for questionable WEDC loan for donor who had maxed out to Walker

Gov. Scott Walker’s top aides and a powerful lobbyist pressed for a taxpayer-funded loan in 2011 to a financially struggling Milwaukee construction company that lost the state half a million dollars, created no jobs and raised questions about where the money went, a State Journal investigation has found...The push to fund the BCI project came after Minahan gave Walker’s 2010 Republican campaign for governor a last-minute infusion of $10,000 on Election Day — the maximum individual contribution. Jadin said Minahan and Huebsch -- a nonvoting member of the WEDC board by virtue of his role as Administration secretary -- pushed for a $4.3 million WEDC loan, but the agency could justify no more than a $500,000 loan, which Jadin said he considered “fairly risky.”

[Wisconsin State Journal, 05/18/2015]

Walker budget skips debt payments to make up for Walker’s tax cuts

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, facing a $283 million deficit that needs to be closed by the end of June, will skip more than $100 million in debt payments to balance the books thrown into disarray by his tax cuts.
The move comes as Walker, 47, mounts a 2016 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, and while his state is under stress from a projected shortfall that could exceed $2 billion in the two-year budget beginning in July. Delaying the $108 million principal payment due in May on short-term debt would free funds. The move doesn’t require legislative approval, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said in a Feb. 13 memorandum. The terms of the debt sale allow Wisconsin to defer the payment in any given year, a procedure known as a restructuring, without defaulting.

[Bloomberg, 02/18/2015]

Scott Walker’s Budget Deficit Keeps Getting Worse as He Campaigns in Iowa and California.

The highly respected and nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released new projections showing that Wisconsin is ending its current budget with a $283 million deficit, more than twice what Walker’s aides said it would be just a few months ago. And Wisconsin is heading into a $2.2 billion deficit in its next budget cycle if Walker grants all of his state agency requests. Even if he doesn’t, Wisconsin will still have a $648 million hole in the next budget just to continue operating as it does now. Walker’s $283 million deficit is so big that it should trigger a budget repair bill, argued Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Schilling (D-La Crosse), but the Walker administration doesn’t seem to be interested in proposing one. State law requires a balanced budget at the end of every cycle and a budget repair bill changes current spending to uphold the law. Walker should know that—almost immediately after taking office in 2011 he proposed one and it was his 2011 budget repair bill that included the union-busting provisions that sparked massive Capitol protests and made Walker the darling of billionaire tea party guys. Not surprisingly, Walker is trying to hush up the budget shortfalls created on his watch. Walker may be a fresh face in Iowa and California as he makes a case for himself as the Republican presidential nominee. However, his ideas are the same old failed policies of giving massive tax breaks to the rich, weakening the middle class and ending up with larger and larger budget deficits.

[Express Milwaukee, 01/27/2015]

Walker’s campaign and county aides coordinated response to outrageous remarks of his appointed...

John Chianelli, then administrator of the county's Behavioral Health Division, was quoted telling county supervisors that sexual assaults in mixed-gender wards were a trade-off for more violent assaults that would happen in all-male psychiatric units. Walker's staff furiously exchanged views on what to do. Gilkes, Walker's campaign manager, told Rindfleisch: "We won't be commenting at all." Rindfleisch emailed back that Walker wasn't likely to comment and that "it's not really (Walker's) place" to weigh in on Chianelli's remarks. An effort through a lawyer hired by the county to handle patient abuse claims might help to discourage further comment by supervisors, Rindfleisch wrote. A Journal Sentinel reporter "doesn't get any traction if he can't get anyone to say anything," she said. Exchanges on May 10 among Walker's campaign and county staff ended with Walker drafting a statement to be issued by a county official saying "any form of violence at the Mental Health Complex is unacceptable." Chianelli was later demoted, then resigned.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/26/2014]

Campaign aides again directing response to county issues, this time Walker mismanagement of county mental...

Walker's county and campaign staffs collaborated in determining how to respond to one issue after another — sexual assaults of patients at the complex, security lapses, controversial remarks by Milwaukee County's mental health administrator. At one point, Walker's campaign manager complained that a county lawyer needed to "think political for a change." Walker played an active role in how to respond, even when he insisted on staying at a distance publicly.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/26/2014]

Walker, again, personally directing response to controversy

"We need to continue to keep me out of the story as this is a process issue and not a policy matter," Walker wrote on March 27, 2010. The issue at that point was fallout from stories on a patient sexual assault of another patient that resulted in a pregnancy. [...] In this exchange, Walker was careful to send the email to personal accounts — not official county email accounts — of his county staffers. "We need to be 100% certain that everything is working and that all state and federal regulations are in place," Walker wrote. He also directed mental health administrators to "keep us in the loop on all issues going on at BHD," referring to the county's Behavioral Health Division. And Walker suggested reaching out to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial writers, noting: "The next problem will be editorials and this can nip it in the butt."

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/26/2014]

Walker’s gubernatorial campaign manager directs top Walker county aide to try to suppress open records

Gilkes told Rindfleisch to prod a county lawyer — then-Deputy Corporation Counsel Timothy Schoewe — to take a tougher stance. "Just do me a favor and tell him that we are getting the crap kicked out of us by the County Board," Gilkes wrote. "At some point I would like him to stop being a lawyer and think political for a change and let us fight back." The emails released Wednesday included a message by Mark Cameli, a private lawyer for the county, attempting to persuade Journal Sentinel Managing Editor George Stanley to withhold publication of an article about Chianelli's remarks to supervisors. They were made during a closed session but later disclosed by several supervisors, including Lynne De Bruin. She said danger to patients outweighed her obligation to keep quiet about the discussion and provided notes she took from the session and a letter she wrote to a reporter. Stanley told Cameli, "There is no way a letter from an elected county official to a county administrator is protected by attorney-client privilege. It's a public record, period."

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/26/2014]

Top Walker aide makes light of county mismanagement of mental health services, “no one care about crazy...

Rindfleisch was sarcastic about the Mental Health Complex issue in a Sept. 2, 2010, email to a friend. "Last week was a nightmare," she wrote. "A bad story every day on our looney bin. Doctors having sex with patients, patients getting knocked up. This has been coming for months and I've unofficially been dealing with it. So, it's been crazy (pun intended)." Rindfleisch seemed unconcerned the mental health controversies would hurt Walker's chances with voters in the governor's race. In a Sept. 1, 2010, email she said she expected Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to make the issue "the center of his campaign" for governor against Walker. She agreed with Joan Hansen — then a county official and later a deputy secretary for the state Department of Children and Families — that Barrett would lose. "Yep," Rindfleisch replied. "No one cares about crazy people." The emails show how Walker's campaign staff dictated county personnel moves.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/26/2014]

Emails show Walker campaign manager successfully delayed Milwaukee County settlement with parents of woman...

Instructions from Scott Walker's campaign manager were explicit: Delay settlement of a long-standing legal case over the starvation-relateddeath of Cindy Anczak at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. "Could care less what it is on," Walker campaign manager Keith Gilkes wrote in an Oct. 22, 2010, email exchange with a Walker aide at the county, referring to the claim's legal basis. "Keep it buried until Nov. 2nd and then hopefully they'll settle." Walker went on to win his term as governor that Nov. 2. Anczak's parents, Jean and Myron Anczak of Greendale, would wait another full year before the county approved a $125,000 settlement. The emails were part of thousands released last week in an appeal by Kelly Rindfleisch of her 2012 felony conviction for misconduct in office. Rindfleisch was Walker's deputy chief of staff during his last year as county executive.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/26/2014]

Walker campaign manager directs firing of county aide to take the fall for mismanagement of mental health...

After Chianelli was demoted for his handling of sexual assaults at the complex, Gilkes wrote to Walker's staff about the need to fire him: "I think we throw John under the bus for covering up how dysfunctional the place is." The campaign took a hard line on reacting to the sexual assault scandal, even as county staff members pleaded for mercy for Chianelli. "I feel bad, too, but the reality is that this needs to be a clean break," Gilkes wrote. "Now is not the time to be exchanging accolades."

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/20/2014]

What did Walker aides think was funny? Racism, apparently.

In April 2010, Walker's former deputy chief of staff Kelly Rindfleisch received an emailed joke from a friend about someone whose dogs supposedly qualified for welfare because they are "mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddys are." Rindfleisch wrote back: "That is hilarious. And so true!" [...] In another email, sent in July 2010, Thomas Nardelli, Walker's chief of staff for Walker at Milwaukee County, forwarded Rindfleisch and others a joke about someone who has what he calls a "nightmare" about turning into a black, Jewish, disabled gay man who is unemployed. "Oh God, please don't tell me I'm a Democrat," the email concludes. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/20/2014]

Walker campaign aide’s racist tweets revealed

In December, Walker fired Taylor Palmisano as his campaign's deputy finance director after Journal Sentinel columnist Daniel Bice contacted the campaign about tweets made by Palmisano. In one, Palmisano, 23, complained about an individual who was doing custodial work in a library in which she was working. "I will choke that illegal mex cleaning in the library. Stop banging (expletive) chairs around and turn off your Walkman," she posted on March 9, 2011. Two months earlier, she went to Twitter to write about her bus trip from Pasadena, Calif., to Las Vegas after watching the Wisconsin Badgers play in the Rose Bowl. "This bus is my worst (expletive) nightmare Nobody speaks English & these ppl dont know how 2 control their kids #only3morehours #illegalaliens." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/20/2014]

Walker Transportation Department Assistant Deputy Secretary’s racist Facebook rant

In August, Walker fired Steven Krieser, assistant deputy secretary at the state Department of Transportation, after he likened illegal immigrants to Satan during a Facebook debate over a bumper sticker declaring open season on foreigners living in the United States without documentation. That case was also brought to light by Bice. "You may see Jesus when you look at them," Krieser wrote. "I see Satan." Krieser wrote that a "stream of wretched criminals" is crossing the border without obstruction. These individuals, he said, "completely ruined" entire states and industries, breeding "the animus that many American citizens feel toward them." [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/20/2014]

Walker aide fired after tweets demeaning Hispanics

For the second time in less than four months, Gov. Scott Walker has fired an aide for making demeaning comments about Hispanics on social media. Walker — who has been calling on fellow Republicans to do more to reach out to minority voters — ousted Taylor Palmisano as his campaign’s deputy finance director on Tuesday. The first-term governor made the move after No Quarter contacted his campaign regarding the inflammatory tweets. In one, Palmisano, 23, complained about an individual who was doing custodial work in a library in which she was working. "I will choke that illegal mex cleaning in the library. Stop banging (expletive) chairs around and turn off your Walkman," she posted on March 9, 2011. Two months earlier, she went to Twitter to write about her bus trip from Pasadena, Calif., to Las Vegas after watching the Wisconsin Badgersplay in the Rose Bowl: "This bus is my worst (expletive) nightmare Nobody speaks English & these ppl dont know how 2 control their kids #only3morehours #illegalaliens.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/03/2013]

Scott Suder steps away from job in Scott Walker’s administration

Just days before receiving the grant, the lobbyist for United Sportsmen offered free fishing excursions to Suder, the Journal Sentinel reported Monday. The day the trip began, Suder joined 17 other Republicans in urging a committee to give the grant to United Sportsmen.
The liberal group One Wisconsin Now filed an ethics complaint with the state Government Accountability Board over the matter.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/03/2013]

United Sportsmen Official Offered Free Two-Day Fishing Excursion to Author of Sweetheart Deal

The author of a sweetheart deal worth potentially millions of dollars for a politically-connected organization was offered a free, two-day Lake Michigan fishing excursion by the lobbyist and Executive Director for the group, according to a story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One Wisconsin Now has filed a formal complaint with the state Government Accountability Board asking for an investigation of possible violations of state ethics laws based on the report, according Executive Director Scot Ross.

[One Wisconsin Now, 09/29/2013]

Journal Sentinel investigation provides a case study in WEDC failures

To see the recent struggles of the state's jobs programs, take the case of a missing crane, a seemingly untraceable business owner and $83,000 in squandered taxpayer money. When the state lent the money to Milwaukee Iron Works in the fall of 2010, seemingly everything soured — from the state's spotty follow-up on the delinquent loan and the firm's eventual status as a tax scofflaw to a shortchanged pension fund for the company's workers and even a sloppy job of lawmaking by legislators eliminating the state program. Taxpayers were left with bad debt and no collateral: The crane that was supposed to back up their loan can't be found. The case turned up in an ongoing Journal Sentinel review of the state's job programs that encompassed hundreds of records on delinquent loans and matched a database of tax-delinquent companies against firms that have received state jobs incentives such as grants, loans or other awards. The review found seven companies that benefited from nearly $1.3 million worth of taxpayer subsidies — including loans, grants and loan guarantees — and that owe nearly $300,000 in state taxes and other charges, according to a recent count in state records. One business actually owed taxes at the time the state gave it the award, and others, like Milwaukee Iron Works, had growing financial problems that could have been spotted by state officials had they looked deeper into the companies.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 07/20/2013]

#WalkerAt20: Friends’ Felonious Failures

In his twenty years in office, Scott Walker has amassed a truly astounding record of failure. To commemorate the looming anniversary of his first election to office, One Wisconsin Now is highlighting a different and depressing failure of Gov. Walker every day, for twenty days. Today we examine the close aides and associates, with whom Gov. Walker has surrounded himself, failures to follow the law.

[One Wisconsin Now, 06/26/2013]

Walker wanted to give scandal-plagued WEDC more money

In what parallel universe does a scandal-plagued agency that just got dinged for failing to account for the money it’s been spending get more money? That parallel universe would be Scott Walker’s Wisconsin. There’s something flat-out bizarre about the governor's response to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. fiasco...The governor, who chairs the WEDC board, actually wants to give the agency more money BEFORE the mess is cleaned up. That may make sense to Walker. But in the real world, common sense says this: Fix WEDC before you throw any more taxpayer dollars at the failed experiment.

[Capital Times, 05/09/2013]

Will Legislators OK Growth of Walker's Scandal-Plagued WEDC?

The continuing mismanagement and misuse of public funds at Governor Walker's Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) ought to disqualify the agency from any new funding, according to One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. Particularly egregious is a 2013-15 budget proposal giving WEDC $11 million in new taxpayer money to run an advertising campaign.

[One Wisconsin Now, 05/06/2013]

State audit says Walker’s flagship WEDC broke state law

A blistering audit released Wednesday said Republican Gov. Scott Walker's premier job creation agency repeatedly broke state law in its first year of operation, failed to adequately track money it awarded for economic development projects and sometimes gave money to ineligible recipients...The audit found numerous examples where the agency did not consistently follow the law or existing policies when making awards, and had no policies for determining how to handle delinquent loan amounts. In one example, WEDC executed a $2.5 million contract through a tax credit program that required jobs to be created in order for companies to get the credit. But the contract did not require any jobs be created, the audit said...Employees of the public-private entity also made unexplained purchases of University of Wisconsin football season tickets, alcohol and iTunes gift cards, the audit said. The audit faulted WEDC for not having sufficient policies to administer its $520 million worth of grant, loan and tax credit programs effectively, including some policies required by law. It awarded $80 million in its first year.

[Associated Press, 05/01/2013]

Walker’s flagship jobs agency failed in tracking taxpayer money, audit finds

“A stinging audit has found that the state's flagship jobs agency repeatedly failed last year to follow basic standards in state law for ensuring the clear and proper use of millions of dollars in taxpayer money, prompting lawmakers of both parties to call for immediate changes. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has faced repeated criticism for poor financial controls since Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers created the quasi-public authority in July 2011 as a replacement for the Department of Commerce. The agency's chief financial officer, Mike Klonsinski, resigned in October when problems came to light. His position remains open - the latest person to take the job resigned after 24 hours to accept a promotion from his old firm.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 05/01/2013]

Some economists say Walker to blame for Wisconsin’s slow economic recovery

Across the country, the economy is slowly but steadily improving. More companies are hiring, consumers are spending again, the stock market is tickling record highs and many Americans say they are feeling more optimistic about the future. But Wisconsin stands somewhat apart from this trend, consistently and stubbornly lagging in job creation and finding itself near the bottom of many measures of economic health...It’s a familiar story across Wisconsin. While fewer businesses are cutting jobs these days, they sure aren’t adding a lot of new employees either. And for those with a job — whether in the private or public sector — the pay raises have been few and far between. So what gives? Some observers point to Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature. They say the drastic spending cuts in the 2011-2013 state budget, just as the economy was beginning to recover from the recession, have actually made things worse. “Wisconsin did absolutely the wrong thing at the wrong time,” says Kenneth Thomas, a political scientist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and author of the popular Middle Class Political Economist blog. “You want to practice austerity when things are going well, not the other way around.”

[Capital Times, 02/06/2013]

Walker hires interim CEO for WEDC

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross said WMC spent $4 million to help elect Walker and support him in the recall elections. He said he questioned whether the appointment would help restore accountability to the WEDC. “Walker’s WEDC has come up so short because there is no accountability in handing out millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded giveaways to businesses,” Ross said. “And Walker’s ‘solution’ is to put a board member from the state’s biggest business lobby in charge.” [Badger Herald, 10/20/2012]

WEDC loses track of $8M in past due loans

“Gov. Walker’s WEDC has proven to be as unaccountable and unsuccessful at getting the job done for Wisconsin as critics said it would be,” said Scot Ross, executive director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now. “Wisconsin is among the worst states in the nation in creating jobs under Walker and WEDC, and a steady stream of revelations show a poorly run agency that can’t even keep track of the grants and loans it’s giving out.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 10/18/2012]

Sexual harassment allegation against Perez surfaces from woman who was fired

A woman who claimed she filed a harassment complaint with the state Department of Administration against former Workforce Development Secretary Manny Perez in fact never did so, records show. Allison Rozek, until recently a top official with the Department of Workforce Development, claimed in an Oct. 19 email to her supervisor that she had filed a harassment complaint about Perez with the Department of Administration. Rozek was dismissed from the department about a month after sending the email. No reason has been given publicly, and none was required because she was a political appointee… On Oct. 19, Rozek wrote her email to then-Deputy Secretary Reggie Newson claiming that he had avoided her and asking whether she would be let go. Five days later, Baumbach abruptly resigned and Walker appointed Newson as secretary of the department. Three days later, on Oct. 27, Newson dismissed Rozek. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/30/2011]

Walker’s Second DWD secretary abruptly resigns

A second person has resigned as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development in Gov. Scott Walker's first year in office. Walker announced Monday that Secretary Scott Baumbach had resigned after being in the position just four months. He replaced Walker's first appointee, Manny Perez, who resigned in May after five months in the post. Baumbach said in his letter of resignation Monday that he wanted to pursue opportunities in the private sector to connect job seekers and employers. Walker said that Reggie Newson, who had been serving as executive assistant at the Department of Transportation, was taking over as secretary effective Monday.

[Associated Press, 10/24/2011]

Wisconsin Gov. Walker broke campaign promise on paying full cost of pension

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who forced public workers to pay more for their pensions as part of a push to curb union rights, broke his campaign promise to pay the full cost of his state pension immediately after taking office in January. “It is indefensible Scott Walker promised to live by these rules and then broke his word to Wisconsin,” said Scot Ross, head of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now. “Scott Walker tore Wisconsin in two to pass these unnecessary changes and then tells us ‘Do as I say, not as I didn’t.’”

[Boston Globe, 10/13/2011]

Walker’s #2 at DOA abruptly takes leave of absence; is moved to new state job; house gets raided by FBI

Three days after Cindy Archer was to have started her job as the legislative liaison at the state Department of Children and Families - and while she was already being paid sick leave for it - the agency interviewed someone else for the same job. Department officials did not fully explain why they interviewed another person to be the legislative liaison. They did not respond to a question asking if they expected Archer to stay in the job for long Documents released under the state's open records law Friday also show the office of Gov. Scott Walker - and not the Department of Children and Families - offered Archer the job at up to 65% more than what the last person to hold the position made. Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson never interviewed Archer for the nearly $100,000-a-year job, even though Anderson is responsible for appointing someone to the post. Archer was granted the job just weeks before her home was raided by the FBI as part of a secret John Doe investigation of current and former Walker aides, dating back to when he was still Milwaukee County executive and running for governor. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 09/23/2011]

Archer’s home raided by FBI as part of John Doe investigation

About a dozen law enforcement officers, including FBI agents, searched the Madison home of a former top aide to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker on Wednesday morning...The search of Archer's house comes amid a John Doe investigation in Milwaukee County, which started last year after another staff member working for Walker, then county executive, was caught posting online political comments during work time. Archer was director of administrative services for Walker, the county's top staff position, while he was county executive, and followed him to Madison after he won the governor's race in November.

[Wisconsin State Journal, 09/15/2011]

Walker’s #2 at DOA abruptly takes leave of absence; is moved to new state job; house gets raided by FBI

Cindy Archer, who abruptly left Scott Walker's administration last month for "personal family matters," actually had another politically appointed job under the governor already lined up. She'll take a $25,000 pay cut in moving to the Department of Children and Families, but the nearly $100,000 she'll be making is tens of thousands of dollars more than the pay of others who have had the job. State officials said Archer remained on leave. Department spokeswoman Stephanie Hayden would not answer whether Archer was being paid while on leave, saying that was confidential...Archer, in her resignation letter emailed to Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, said simply that she was done with her job that same day. Now, documents provided by the state show she actually was already hired a day earlier, on Aug. 18, to a $99,449-a-year job in the Department of Children and Families, as the department's legislative liaison, according to a letter released Friday from Eloise Anderson, who heads the department.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 09/12/2011]

Public-Private economic agencies under fire in other states

WEDC has been the source of some controversy. From its inception, critics worried it would wrestle with the same problems that plagued similar hybrid agencies in other states. In Texas, state leaders have gone after officials with TexasOne for making stock deals that allegedly cross the line into conflicts of interest. A Dallas Morning News investigation found the organization had final say over a fund that awarded $16 million to companies with ties to friends and supporters of Gov. Rick Perry, who is now running for the Republican nomination for president. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. got in trouble last year after awarding $9.1 million in tax credits to a convicted embezzler. And recently, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. was scrutinized for inflating job creation numbers and resisting efforts to open its books to the public. But according to Jadin, there is more than enough oversight in place to make sure his new agency will be accountable. "I can't imagine that Commerce was ever as accountable as we will be," Jadin said.

[Wisconsin State Journal, 08/30/2011]

WEDC Working on Hiring, Branding, and Being Nimble

The public-private hybrid agency officially opened July 1, but there still are no outward signs of its existence. Now, some eight weeks in, WEDC officials are working out the details. They've installed new human resources and payroll software, hired employees and set up customer-relations services. But they are trying to fill four vice president slots and several key director positions.

[Wisconsin State Journal, 08/30/2011]

Wisconsin’s chief economic recruiter still is very much under construction

There is this perception that we just took Commerce and privatized it, said Paul Jadin, Commerce secretary and CEO of WEDC. "The truth is, we are creating a whole new organization and there is a lot that goes into that." The governor signed legislation in February abolishing the Commerce Department and replacing it with WEDC, an agency free of the regulatory duties many felt hampered Commerce. Now, some eight weeks in, WEDC officials are working out the details. They've installed new human resources and payroll software, hired employees and set up customer-relations services. But they are trying to fill four vice president slots and several key director positions. And they're still wrestling with how to brand the agency. Should it go by its acronym and phonetic pronunciation, "weed-ic"? Or should it be "The Corporation"?...WEDC is tasked with one thing: attracting and retaining businesses. The agency was given an $83 million budget, almost twice what Commerce received for economic development. Since July, WEDC has awarded more than $34 million in grants it says have created more than 900 planned jobs. That's not a marked jump in the amount or number of awards from what Commerce disbursed in January through July, but officials say they are laying the groundwork for future success.

[Wisconsin State Journal, 08/30/2011]

Walker’s former chief of staff awarded multiple state jobs, resigns from final appointment three days after...

Tom Nardelli abruptly quit his state job with Gov. Scott Walker in late July, pulling the plug on his $90,000-a-year position just days after accepting the post…Nardelli said Tuesday he resigned as administrator for the state Division of Environmental and Regulatory Services because he decided it would be unfair to keep the job knowing he planned to resign soon anyway. In an interview, Nardelli said "other little things" related to the internal operations of his former state agency also led to his resignation. He declined to say what those were.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 08/23/2011]

Privatization attempt halted by federal gov’t

Attempts by the new Republican administration to largely privatize the state's food assistance program have been all but stopped in their tracks. The controversial plan, first proposed by Gov. Scott Walker in March, would have replaced county-level sites where residents can simultaneously apply for FoodShare and medical assistance with a limited number of centers across the state staffed by private workers. The move would have cost roughly 270 public workers their jobs…Turns out, USDA officials were never keen on private workers being involved in the administration of the federally funded food assistance program. The federal officials have been warning the state to change its course, or at a minimum refrain from hiring more private employees, since early 2010. ”The state right now is not in compliance (with federal law)," said Alan Shannon, a spokesman with the USDA's regional office in Chicago. "It's that simple."

[Capital Times, 08/16/2011]

Walker’s former chief of staff awarded multiple state jobs, resigns from final appointment three days after...

Tom Nardelli was named to his second job in Gov. Scott Walker's administration Monday as administrator of the state Division of Environmental and Regulatory Services. The division, formerly housed in the state Commerce Department, now falls under the newly organized Department of Safety and Regulatory Services. The environmental division regulates underground fuel tanks, petroleum quality assurance and the state Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Award. Nardelli served for six months as state administrator of Safety and Buildings. He'll be paid the same $90,000 salary in his new position that he earned in his initial state post under Walker, said John Murray, a department spokesman.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 07/18/2011]

Walker raided money from other projects for reconstruction of bridge in Milwaukee

In the budget, Walker signed into law a provision that allows the Department of Transportation to take money from other major projects funded through major highway development, state highway rehabilitation, and southeast Wisconsin megaprojects programs for costs associated with the reconstruction of the Hoan Bridge and I-794 in Milwaukee County. (2011-13 Executive Budget Comparative Summary, Department of Transportation, page 686; 2011 Assembly Bill 40, introduced 3/1/11; Senate Roll Call; Assembly Roll Call) [2011 WI Act 32, 06/26/2011]

Walker’s Second DWD secretary abruptly resigns

Gov. Scott Walker has named Scott Baumbach as fulltime secretary of Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development. Baumbach had served as interim secretary since last month when Manny Perez resigned just five months after his appointment by Walker. Baumbach was named the department's deputy secretary last January. Before joining the department, he was an associate and partner at the Michael Best and Friedrich law firm in Milwaukee from 2001-2010. Baumbach received his law degree from Marquette University Law School.

[Associated Press, 06/08/2011]

DWD Secretary quits to pursue “new opportunities”

First DWD Secretary: The Wisconsin secretary of workforce development has resigned just five months after his appointment by Gov. Scott Walker. Manny Perez says in a statement that he'll return to the private sector to seek out new opportunities and looks forward to watching the Wisconsin economy grow. He is the first Walker cabinet appointee to leave his post since taking office.

[Associated Press, 05/11/2011]

Walker’s former chief of staff awarded multiple state jobs, resigns from final appointment three days after...

Tom Nardelli, former chief of staff to then-Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, has been named administrator of the state Safety & Buildings Division….As head of the state safety division in the Commerce Department, he inherits an operation with about 165 employees and has oversight of state building and safety codes on everything from amusement park rides to elevators and fire safety, Nardelli said.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/11/2011]

Walker supported allowing county streams to be used for wastewater

“Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway Friday defended the board's opposition to use of county streams for treated wastewater from Waukesha on health grounds. Waukesha has proposed using Underwood Creek as a way to return Lake Michigan water the suburban community wants to buy from Milwaukee. Holloway said in a statement that "returning water in this manner would create a terrible public health situation and put children at risk. Children play in this water and animals drink from this water," Holloway said. Waukesha Water Utility Manager Dan Duchniak has said the treated effluent would improve water quality in the creek. Holloway also said he disagreed with Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker's comment that the board's opposition was ‘a knee-jerk reaction.’ Walker said he would veto the board's resolution opposing the Waukesha water plan. But if the 13 supervisors stick to their position, they could override the veto. Holloway said the county should have a direct role in the issue.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 04/23/2010]

Public Safety Officials Warned Walker Furloughs Could Compromise Public Safety

“Unpaid furloughs ordered to help balance Milwaukee County's 2010 budget could compromise public safety, according to law enforcement and court officials. The impact of furloughs -- or other substitute budget cuts - -could range from slower prosecutions to delayed trials and criminal arrest warrants, the officials said. Restraining orders in domestic violence cases also might be slowed, they said. The furloughs may force him to make ‘triage decisions’ in which charges for lesser crimes are delayed or skipped so prosecutors can focus on serious felony cases, said District Attorney John Chisholm.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 01/18/2010]

Advocates Warn Walker County Plan Ending Mental Health Day Treatment Likely Leads to Relapses and Greater...

“After nearly 15 years helping patients discharged from Milwaukee County's Mental Health Complex cope with life in the community, occupational therapist Kari Held faces an uncertain future and coping issues of her own. Like hundreds of other county employees, Held has a job that has been targeted for elimination next year by County Executive Scott Walker. Her $53,000-a-year pay is one small part of Walker's overall plan to trim $80 million in costs to avoid a deficit next year without raising taxes. Held also is blind. She has found ways to thrive in her chosen field, but her disability could make it harder to deal with a pink slip or transfer to a different county job. ...Patient advocates say that curtailing the day treatment for patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder when they are discharged worsens their recovery chances and likely will lead to relapses and more hospitalizations. ‘This is leaving a gap in the continuum of care,’ said Barbara Beckert, Milwaukee director of Disability Rights Wisconsin. ‘It doesn't make sense from a fiscal point of view or from a perspective of human suffering.’” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/08/2009]

Supervisors Accused Walker of Concealing Deficit-Causing Change in State Medical Care

“Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s plan to temporarily lay off up to 180 employees as a last-ditch move to balance this year's budget prompted finger-pointing and shouting Thursday from county supervisors. ...Supervisors accused Walker of mismanagement and his department heads of hiding what appears to be one of the major causes of the county's 2009 deficit -- a change in the formula used by the state to reimburse the county for low-income patients' care. A shortfall in anticipated sales tax revenue also was blamed. ‘The administration failed, and the county executive failed,’ said Supervisor Michael Mayo Sr. ‘We're supposed to be in this together,’ said Supervisor Elizabeth M. Coggs, who complained that supervisors routinely have been shut out of critical information by Walker's department heads. ‘The only time we are in this together is when the crap hits the fan.’” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/30/2009]

Funds That Could Have Gone to Fraud Prevention Went Unused in Milwaukee County Under Walker

“Milwaukee County under spent its budget for running the Wisconsin Shares child-care program by more than $4.3 million since 2004 -- money that could have gone toward greater fraud prevention, state officials said. The county was authorized to spend $8 million or more annually to run the program, under contracts with the state that included oversight of participants and child-care providers. The county, however, passed up the chance to use $1.4 million in 2004 and high six-figure sums nearly every year since then. In 2006, the county didn't use $376,000 of its child-care oversight money -- the smallest sum the county left on the table through 2008, state figures show. The county also is on track to leave unspent another $600,000 of its child-care administration funds this year. Counties are not allowed to roll over the money they don't spend on the program in any given year.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/01/2009]

County Board Shot Down Walker Plan to Privatize Call Center

“Meanwhile, the board delivered a second snub to Walker on Thursday on his plan to outsource operation of the public assistance call center, voting 12-6 to reject his plan. The board also voted against the idea last year. Walker favored hiring Impact, a private agency, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to operate the call center for $2 million a year. ...The board approved a resolution calling on Walker to increase the call center staff to 30 using county employees, which would cost slightly less than Walker's outsourcing, according to board figures.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/06/2009]

State Took Over County of Role of Administering Public Assistance Programs Due to Mismanagement

“The state's unprecedented move Tuesday to strip Milwaukee County of its role in administering food aid, child care and medical assistance programs was prompted by years of county mismanagement, state Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake said. The takeover requires installing state managers but retaining county case workers, a ‘hybrid model’ she said had never been tried before. Timberlake said that will require a law change that's likely to win legislative support. She said the new setup was the best way to fix the problems quickly.” The state memo noted: “The county's poor performance in the programs includes answering only 5% of the hundreds of thousands of phone calls to the county's public assistance call center every month; The county fails to process 30% of its benefit applications within the required seven days, with some families waiting weeks or months for food or health care; In 2007, 60% of county decisions to deny food or health care benefits were overturned within two months. That resulted in benefit delays and forced families to go through time-consuming appeals or a second round of applications; and, The county's high food assistance error rate means nearly one in five deserving applicants were cut off from the program in fiscal 2008.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/04/2009]

Walker Cuts to County Staff Resulted in Skyrocketing Overtime

“Milwaukee County's 2008 overtime spending is on pace to match or beat last year's record $15.8 million tab, despite extra recruitment and hiring of mental health and corrections workers, an analysis of county spending records shows. The overtime bill for the first 10 months of this year was $14.4 million. Overtime costs for November and December are expected to drive the bill to more than $16 million. ...Amid the economic downturn, Walker imposed a partial hiring and travel freeze in September to help ward off a year-end deficit. He credited such moves with keeping the county in the black. But critics on the County Board say Walker has courted overtime growth by too thinly staffing county departments.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 12/05/2008]

Walker Gave Up Control of House of Correction and Transferred to Sheriff

“The board did not disrupt Walker's plan to place oversight of the House of Correction under Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. and merge it with Clarke's operation of the county jail. Under the change, Walker would give up his management responsibility over the House of Correction and county work-release center. The center came under fire in a federal audit early this year. Holloway said he wasn't enthusiastic about that change, but noted supervisors had little choice because of some $3 million in savings linked to the merger. Supervisors ordered a specific merger plan by July 1 and use of the National Institute of Corrections audit as the blueprint for changes at the House of Correction.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/11/2008]

Walker Mantra: Privatize

“His message to his staff members as they gear up for the annual budget pageant: economize and privatize. ‘Anywhere and everywhere, they should be considering contracting out’ so services can be provided at less cost, Walker said in an interview. That's been his mantra since he took office, one that he re-emphasized during his successful re-election campaign this year.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 05/31/2008]

Walker’s House of Correction Mistakenly Released Inmates, Had Over 50 Inmates Leave Without Permission

“Also Thursday, Malone released a report showing the House of Correction has mistakenly released six inmates since April 2005 and the downtown work-release center has had 54 inmates who left without permission since 2003. The minimum-security center downtown can't lock its doors overnight when inmates are supposed to be confined because the converted 1930s hospital building is a fire hazard.… The jail is run by Clarke, while the House of Correction and work-release center are the responsibility of Walker.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 03/07/2008]

Federal Reports Slams Milwaukee County Lockups

“The Milwaukee County House of Correction in Franklin and the downtown work-release center come under severe criticism in a new federal report, which calls the operations seriously flawed and marred by security lapses, bad management, poor employee morale and crowded conditions. Both facilities also have serious fire safety shortcomings, including inoperative alarms and no sprinklers at the work-release center. The report, by the National Institute of Corrections, calls for a major overhaul of operations and suggests that the county plan to build additional lockups and consider merging the county jail with the House of Correction under management of a single department.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 01/25/2008]

While Walker Campaigned for Higher Office, County Struggled

“Unfortunately, the current county executive, career politician Scott Walker, can't wait to get out of Milwaukee. He tried to run for governor last year. He's busy attaching himself to presidential campaigns this year, in hopes of getting appointed to some federal job. Walker's lack of attention to a county government that serves more people, manages more parkland, and is home to more of a manufacturing base than a number of states has been striking. While he has been off campaigning for higher office, the county has suffered. Services have deteriorated dramatically.” [Capital Times, 08/22/2007]