Newsflash: Democrats rip Republican leader and suggests he end his campaign to unseat current Governor Jim Doyle.
In his most recent Milwaukee Insight column, Democrat Jim Rowen attempts to make the case that Scott Walker's record of leadership in Milwaukee County, specifically his handling of the financial crisis at the Milwaukee Public Museum, is a liability and that he would be wise to withdraw from the race for governor.
Rowen is right on one account, however. Walker's handling of the museum fiasco is indicative of his attributes as a leader and responsible steward of tax dollars. His actions are indicative of his character as someone who has vision, shows bold leadership and can take control even in the most politically treacherous situation.
Let's review the Museum situation, for example.
On May 3, Milwaukee Public Museum officials disclosed a huge 2004 deficit and serious cash-flow shortfalls only months after negotiating a renewal of the museum's lease agreement with Milwaukee County. Almost immediately, Walker got to work. Since the initial deficit was uncovered, we've found out that the Museum has drained its endowment fund and was teetering on the brink of collapse; yet, thanks to Walker and several business leaders in the community, the Museum's future is a lot brighter than it was just a month ago.
The fruits of his labor may not have been immediately apparent, but as he always is, Walker was more concerned about getting the job done and protecting taxpayers than about what the political insiders thought.
For example, despite possible political fall out, Walker immediately worked with the elected chairman of the County Board to right the course. Chairman Lee Holloway is under an ethical cloud based on information uncovered during the investigation of a Milwaukee social welfare agency. Walker doesn't have the luxury of choosing the County Board chair; the County Board has placed him in that lofty spot and continues to choose to do so. So Walker worked collaboratively with Holloway because he had to in order to move quickly enough to calm the creditors who rightly were nervous - each day brought more disclosures of mismanagement and dishonesty from the Museum's administration.
Had it been up to the Milwaukee County Board, a majority of whom are hell-bent to frustrate any Walker-initiated progress, the proposed remedy to the museum's woes would still be undergoing review by some committee or task force, and the Museum's doors would be closed, perhaps for good.
Instead, Walker embarked on a deliberate, methodical plan to right the ship. All along Walker had two basic goals, secure the future of the world-renown public museum, and protect the interests of the taxpayers who elected him.
1. Walker and Holloway convened a meeting of Milwaukee business leaders to make a pitch for continued private sector support.
2. When the County's auditor uncovered a series of emails which indicated Museum President Michael Stafford and COO/CFO Terry Gaouette appeared to have deliberately misled the County Board during contract negotiations, Walker called for a criminal investigation. "The county deal needs to go through on Thursday for us to have a snowball's chance," Stafford wrote in an email to Gaouette. Together, these two deceived County officials and time will tell whether they face any criminal or civil liabilities as a result.
3. Walker, who only has five appointments on the 27 member Museum Board, conceived a plan to circumvent the board in time to meet the demands of the Museum's fiscal year, which ends June 30. He created, and he and Holloway appointed, a five-member financial oversight panel, a board of control if you will, that assumes authority over the museum's expenditures. The panel, which does not need approval of the slow-moving County Board, consists of proven professionals: Michael Grebe, president and CEO of The Bradley Foundation; Valerie Daniels-Carter, president and CEO of V & J Foods Inc.; Carol Skornicka, senior vice president with Midwest Airlines; Jennifer Noyes, former auditor with the state Legislative Audit Bureau and now a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Michael Falbo, president and CEO of State Financial Services.
4. In a radio interview on Mark Belling's WISN afternoon program on Wednesday, Walker put public pressure on Museum Board Chairman and interim CEO David Meissner to resign. Meissner resigned his executive posts on Thursday, thus completing the house cleaning of museum leadership.
Scott Walker is a proven leader who delivers results for taxpayers.
The liberals, who for generations had an iron grip on the reins of power in Milwaukee, are never going to be happy with anything Scott Walker does. He is, after all, the first Republican ever to hold the post of Milwaukee County Executive and won his last race with more than 58 percent of the vote in the heart of the Democrats' base. Fortunately for Milwaukee County taxpayers, the left's caterwauling has not prevented Walker from focusing on the tasks at hand and consistently getting the job done in a fiscally prudent manner. His passion, vision and work ethic are what makes him a great county executive and what will make him a great governor of the state of Wisconsin.
In the short term, if history is our guide, look for the liberals on the County Board to try to stop Walker at every point, putting their own interests ahead of the taxpayers and demanding that they have oversight over Walker's highly-qualified, much-praised oversight panel.
A veteran of Republican political and policy for nearly two decades, Fraley is a principal with The Markesan Group, a national business and political consulting firm located in Milwaukee. Republican gubernatorial candidate and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is among the firm's clients.
The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OnMilwaukee.com, its advertisers or editorial staff.
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