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While Walker Campaigns, Milwaukee County Burns

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on June 23, 2009

Last night, I wrote (again) about Scott Walker’s campaign bike ride disguised as “a trip to promote Milwaukee County.” The focus of the post was on how Walker is taking illegal campaign contributions to fund his campaign tour.

However, at the end of the post, I raised a question that turned out to be rather pertinent today:

Why did Walker ask Air Tran for the money anyway? If he was going to not do the right thing and use his own campaign money, but seek out illegal corporate donations, couldn’t he at least have picked a company based in Milwaukee County? That is what he is supposed to be promoting anyway, right? I bet the folks at Midwest Airlines, which is based right here in Milwaukee, are just loving having the County Executive riding around campaigning with a big, old Air Tran flag on his bike. Walker disses Wisconsin and Milwaukee many times over with this stunt.

This afternoon, while Walker was riding around with Air Tran flags and stickers and decals everywhere, it was reported that Midwest Airlines is no more:

Midwest Airlines Inc.’s name will remain, some of its jets will still have wide seats, and the carrier promises more nonstop routes from Milwaukee under the ownership of Republic Airways Holdings Inc. of Indianapolis

Announced Tuesday, Republic’s purchase of Midwest from TPG Capital, a Texas investment firm, would end 25 years of local control for the largest airline to fly out of Mitchell International Airport. The scope of the changes is underscored by the decision of longtime Midwest Chief Executive Officer Timothy Hoeksema to retire once the sale becomes final in four to six weeks.

So while, Walker is out promoting himself, under the guise of promoting Milwaukee County, another stalwart Milwaukee company and good corporate sponsor of many things, like the Midwest Center, flies off never to be seen again.

But the damage isn’t done there. Not only will there be some job losses and further blows to the local economy, but Milwaukee County itself could be harmed financially, due to Walker.

Three years ago, Walker manipulated to have a $14 million dollar loan given to Midwest Airlines, with no safeguards attached:

The County Executive thinks we have all forgotten his aggressive support of loan guarantees for Midwest Airlines in 2006. Milwaukee County is now on the hook for some $14 million if Midwest were to default on bonds guaranteed by Milwaukee County. Walker did not support amendments that would have tied those loan guarantees to keeping jobs in Milwaukee. The results for taxpayers have been less than beneficial as executives of Midwest have cashed out with their golden parachutes and over a thousand jobs have vanished.

I did not see in the article any mention of a promise by Republican to pay off this loan, but I did see a number of executives will be retiring more than comfortably.

While Milwaukee County continues to suffer under Walker’s malfeasance and neglect, Walker is doing quite well fro himself. Cory Liebmann notes that Walker already has gotten not just one, but two different articles in local newspapers mentioning his run for governor. I’m sure Walker is just surprised and taken aback that the local median would do something like this (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

In fact, Walker’s illegal campaigning has gotten so egregious that Jason Stephany, Executive Director of DPW felt compelled to send a letter to the CEO and President of Air Tran Holdings to advise him of the the ethical problem Air Tran is in by sponsoring Walker’s campaign in this fashion.

With promoters like Walker, Milwaukee County doesn’t need any enemies.

But I do have a grand idea.

How about Walker steps down from his County Executive position so that he can focus on campaigning and getting ready to fight for his political life when Mark Neumann finally enters the race. And here, we can elect a County Executive that is willing to put Milwaukee County first.


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