PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

Walker: Executiving Is Hard Work

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on November 25, 2009

Scott Walker has been having a tough go of things during the last couple of weeks.

First, he has the popular and charismatic hero-mayor “Battling” Tom Barrett announce that he will be seeking the the Democratic nomination for governor. This spells bad news for Team Walker due to Barrett already have statewide name recognition, especially due to his hero status. Barrett has also proven to be a more effective leader who can get things done, such as when the Private Industry Council was transferred from Walker’s control to Barrett’s due to Walker’s inability to run it, or when Barrett outmaneuvered Walker on the transportation money that had been languishing for years.

Then Walker just passes a budget that has broken all of his previous records by having a fiscal emergency even before it is enacted. To make matters worse, the fiscal emergency was from Walker’s own inability to create a balance budget.

Now we are learning that he mucked up the budget even worse than previously thought, breaking a campaign promise in the process:

The savings for applying the county furloughs to deputies and jailers were included in a $3.1 million budget amendment, according to county fiscal analysts. Walker said Monday if the 2010 budget comes up short because of an exclusion for law enforcement personnel, he has authority to assign more furlough days to the rest of the county work force to make up the difference.

“I believe we can do it,” Walker said, though he has requested a legal opinion on the issue from county Corporation Counsel William Domina.

County Board Chairman Lee Holloway said that Walker was skewing his interpretation of the final budget provision on employee furloughs to try to cover a mistake he made with a budget veto. The plain language of the vetoed provision was to subject all county employees to eight “floater” furlough days next year, including deputies and jailers, according to Holloway.

There’s no dispute that all other employees have to take four additional, date-certain furlough days off without pay.

During a meeting last week, Walker seemed to endorse the same interpretation the board and county budget staff had of the furlough provision – that law enforcement personnel had to take eight unpaid days next year along with everyone else except elected officials, Holloway said.

Under that interpretation, all employees other than deputies and jailers would have a total of 12 furlough days – the equivalent of a 4.6% yearly pay cut.

Walker changed his tune “so he doesn’t look bad across the state” while appealing for conservative support for governor, Holloway said. Walker is competing against homebuilder and former congressman Mark Neumann for the Republican nomination for governor.

Supervisor Johnny Thomas, the vice chairman of the board’s finance committee, said Walker had stumbled on the furlough issue and was now “playing to his political base” by insisting deputies would be excluded from furloughs.

The question that needs to be asked is: How did this happen?

Was it that his veto crayola was too cumbersome? Was it that he is just that inept? Or is it simply that he has been too busy campaigning and appearing at CRG-sponsored rallies/campaign events that he is not capable of meeting key requirements of his current position?

Whatever the reason, now Walker has given county law enforcement officers four times the furlough days that Barrett gave to the police. Not good for him since he wants to take a law and order enforcement. I also wonder if the other elected officials and department heads will be pointing out that they are also part of the public safety network, especially those involved with the mental health safety network.

So, even though Walker had two weeks to go over every detail and check and double check everything, and has 20 staffers to help him to do so, he still couldn’t do it the way he meant to. This is not exactly something that would strike confidence in anyone’s heart on his ability to manage the county, much less the state.

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