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Questioning The Doyle Recall Movement

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on April 13, 2009

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a half-serious plea for a recall of Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, based on the continuous string of bad and malicious decisions he has made. The editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thought it was a silly thing to say.

Despite the fact that it turned out that it was not a feasible task to undergo, for the moment anyway, the echoes of that call reverberated, and continue to reverberate, around the Cheddarsphere.

Then two months later, the questionably named group Citizens for Responsible Government called for a recall of Governor Jim Doyle, because they don’t like to pay taxes. CRG tried to do this once before, and failed miserably. People from the left and the right side of the aisle questioned the wisdom of another recall attempt.

Curiously, the same paper that criticized my plea treated this call for a recall as credible. Go figure.

Even more curiously, one blogger, and a friend of mine, thought it was my fault that CRG was doing this. I seriously doubt the words of one lesser known blogger would be enough to do that.

In fact, when CRG, and their new partner, Wisconsin Interests Now (a conservative version of ACORN), launched their new website, it seemed like it was as they said. They wanted to recall Doyle because they don’t like to pay taxes.

The key word is “seemed.” It now appears that there may be much more to the story than the recall people want us to know.

Today, we find a post on, written by one Vince Schmuki, who is identified as representing WIN, and has a link to the Doyle recall site.

He starts out stating that he is part of the recall Doyle movement, and claims that Mark Neumann officially announced he would run for governor on the Mark Belling show. Schmuki seems to think that this isn’t necessarily a good thing, as that it could lead to a long primary, which would leave the victor too battered and bloodied to effectively challenge Doyle. Schmuki also bewails that the DPW is doing some fund raising at Scott Walker’s expense.

But the third paragraph is where it really gets interesting. It starts like this:

Our recall effort helps in two ways. First, it cuts the legs out from Doyle’s forces by preventing a long bruising runnup[sic] ad time to the election.

OK. I don’t know if trying to undermine the expected opponent’s campaign is what recalls are for, but what the hey?

The next sentence, giving the second reason, really raised my eyebrows:

Second, by preventing a long stretch of time for Neumann to marshall forces it prevents a deadly bloodletting between Walker and Neumann that would leave both candidates in a severely weakened condition to take on Doyle.

Not only do they want to undermine Doyle, but they want to undermine Mark Neumann!

What this means, gentle reader, is that the CRG/WIN faction might not want to just recall Governor Doyle, they want to do it in such a way as to allow Scott Walker to slide into the race over either Doyle or Neumann. In other words, they want to appoint Walker as governor, much like CRG was able to appoint Walker to the county executive’s seat.

I wonder how Mark Neumann feels about this?

But it would not surprise me that this group of activist thugs are trying to push Walker into the governor’s office.

CRG is headed by Chris Kleismet. Chris Kleismet is also affiliated with Six Sigma, a type of business paradigm that focuses on cutting staff in order to promote profitability. The exact nature of his relationship with that group is unclear at the moment.

Anyway, Kleismet was able to convince the less than astute Walker into signing on to Six Sigma as a way to administer the county’s business. (And we have all seen how well that turned out with a dying transit system, a dilapidated park system, and the state having to take over social service programs to avoid costly lawsuits. And these are just the more positive things.) Kleismet has previously denied that he would gain anything personally from the County going to Sigma Six, but Watchdog Milwaukee saw things differently:

So tell us Chris, if you had no qualifications and can’t offer the services, how can you say that Six Sigma is going to save the county a pile of money? Are you saying that Spivak and Bice got it wrong when they said “Kliesmet has been trained in Six Sigma and does work for one of its publications.”

Later in the same post, the Watchdog quotes George Stanley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (slightly edited as it does appear to have degraded over time; the context is the same, I only cleaned up the quotation marks and apostrophes) :

Cary Spivak and Dan Bice have very detailed notes from a July interview and a second interview on Tuesday in which you talk quite openly about making money as a Six Sigma adviser to other government entities. Here are just a few examples of things you said to them:

“Yeah, I might be inclined to sell my services to those people (you were talking about other governments contacting you about Six Sigma services)

“Loss leader ” that’s a good way to put it (you were talking about your work at no charge for Milwaukee County and later getting business from others)

“Could I make a dollar on it in the future? I guess the answer is true.

“I have no intention at this point of starting a company and doing this. But If somebody came to me and made me a better offer, of course I would.”

“I’m also a capitalist. I don’t have any altruistic motives toward San Diego or any other place.”

Given your openness about how your Six Sigma work for the county could lead to business with other government units, I see nothing inaccurate about today’s Spivak & Bice column.

When you lobby government officials, pressure them with your clout as a citizen organizer, and mention possible business dealings with them, you should not be surprised that this newspaper will watch you with the same scrutiny as we do others who lobby and do business with government officials spending taxpayers’ money.

We will continue to watch your actions in the future.

Now, if one were to presume that this is all true, Kleismet would have a lot of motivation to see Walker get elected as governor. There could be a bid pay off.

But there may be another reason why they would want Walker in as soon as possible. They might genuinely think Walker would be the best person to lead this state. (Needless to say, I would disagree whole-heartedly.)

But if they do want to ever see a Governor Walker, they have to move pretty damn quick.

As I, and many other people, have repeatedly noted over the past several years, the county has really suffered under Walker’s administration. Unfortunately, things are about to hit the exploding point. Walker has already called for a 3% cut across the board in an effort to just keep this year’s budget from imploding.

From all of the people I’ve spoken to, the 2010 budget will be even more of a real terror. Walker will be forced to either raise taxes somewhere or to cut benefits and/or services to a lot of citizens. Either way he loses votes from his support base, from the citizens of Milwaukee County, or both.

On top of that, how would he campaign? Would he offer to do the same to the state as he did to Milwaukee County? Most people up state have never heard of him. Of those that did, they wouldn’t vote for anyone from Milwaukee for the simple fact that they are from Milwaukee. Then he would have all the state workers, their families and their friends, as well as all the people that are receive government services in any form rising up against him.

The only chance Walker would have is to get into office before too much of the fecal matter hits the air circulation device.

Unfortunately for Walker, that doesn’t seem likely.

Wednesday is the Great Tea Bag Party, and which would have been the perfect opportunity for the recall people to get a lot of signatures. However, judging from their website, they are still only looking for volunteers. The longer it takes them to get going, the more Walker’s chances go from slim to none.


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