Flip Flop Walker Deprioritized Economic Development Before He Prioritized It

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Dear Mr. Walker,

Yes, jobs are the top concern for people all across the state of Wisconsin. But unlike you, who didn’€™t start addressing job creation until after your announcement for Governor earlier this year, Wisconsin families have been concerned about losing their jobs in this Bush-created recession for nearly two years now.

It’€™s great you finally joined President Obama’€™s bandwagon in recovery dollars for its intended purpose: creating jobs and boosting local economies, like Milwaukee County’€™s. It’€™s also great you created a new marketing scheme within your office to ‘€œboost economic development.’€ I am curious, however, about why you booted the Office of Community Business Development Partners out of your office in your 2006 budget, and eliminated the Department of Administrative Services Economic & Community Development division right when the economy was collapsing. I can’€™t even believe an elected official would so completely abdicate his responsibility to help create jobs right when such efforts are needed the most.  

Here’€™s what you said in October of 2008, during the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression:

The state and municipalities play larger roles than the county in shaping development, Walker said. They have access to more incentives that developers want and, in the case of cities, control zoning decisions. Often, firms interested in a deal mistakenly assume the county has a grab-bag of incentives, he said.

County Supervisor Toni Clark said she would oppose Walker’s move, calling economic development “probably the most important division of county government.”

The county needs to redouble its efforts at marketing its Park East holdings and hire more experienced development staffers, not downplay its development role, said Clark, the chairwoman of the County Board’s Economic and Community Development Committee.

Walker’s last two choices to lead the county economic development office, Bob Dennik and Tim Russell, came from his campaign and lacked depth in the development business, Clark said. Dennik left the post this week to become an executive with a Pewaukee construction company. Russell is now Walker’s community relations director.

“Walker chooses folks who don’t have (the necessary) experience,” she said. (MJS, ‘€œWalker Budget Adjusts Priorities; He would lower profile of development efforts,’€ 10/3/2008)

Your change of tune now that you’€™re running for governor in what the county can do to spur economic development is hypocritical at best.

I’€™m also curious about what ‘€œMilwaukee County Works’€ will be marketing ‘€“ your campaign for governor? It seems to me economic growth and job creation should have been an every year, year-round effort for an elected official with your responsibilities, not just in years leading up to an election. ‘€œMilwaukee County Works’€ sure is a great marketing ploy for campaign television ads though.

And then let’€™s review your stance on federal recovery funds, and whether you were for or against, or was it you were against it before you were for it?

First of all, aren’€™t federal dollars really taxpayer dollars that we sent to Uncle Sam out of our paychecks? And if Wisconsin is getting federal dollars, aren’€™t we just getting back our own money? And if so, wouldn’€™t we want to get back as much of our money as possible? So why would an elected leader take a stance in which he’€™s refusing to accept our own money? Especially when he doesn’€™t even have the authority to reject this return of our money.

Mr. Walker, your ‘€œcriteria’€ are nonsensical and ridiculous and it’€™s fortunate for Milwaukee County residents that the Board ignored you and did what is best for the taxpayers. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board rejected your arguments (‘€œJust Plain Wrong,’€ 1/8/09) in favor of the best interests of residents of Milwaukee County. So do your constituents.

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