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Lubar Campaigns For Benefactor

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on December 3, 2009

Sheldon Lubar has again trotted out his tired and inane idea of demolishing the Milwaukee County government. Of course, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Scott Walker are falling all over themselves in promoting this again as well.

I pointed out some nine months ago that this was simply a dumb idea. First of all, it would require a change in state law for this to happen.

But it is also fiscally irresponsible. At a time when every other governmental body is looking to consolidate their services, either through regional cooperation, or by towns contracting with their counties to provide services like law enforcement. The thought of eliminating one umbrella government and splitting up those duties among 22 different governmental bodies (19 municipalities, the state, a regional park authority and a regional transit authority) would only guarantee that taxes would go up, services would be more cumbersome and less efficient, and it does nothing to address the “legacy costs” that already have been incurred by the County.

So why would Lubar, an undeniably successful businessman, suggest such a ludicrous idea, much less blow the dust off of it and bring it up again and again?

James Rowen thinks that it only highlights Walker’s failure as County Executive.

One Wisconsin Now takes the same point of view as Rowen, but they add one interesting tidbit:

Each of these massive failures were in part the result of mismanagement or ineptitude by Scott Walker and his administration, yet Sheldon Lubar, a former president and chairman of Charlie Syke’s ultra right-wing Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, is putting the blame on the board, workers and unions — the same groups Walker has scapegoated in budget after budget, and is threatening to continue doing so if elected governor.

And we all know who hold Charlie Sykes’ leash.

While I agree with James and the fine people at OWN that Walker is an undeniable failure, I don’t think that is why Lubar said what he said.

He’s most likely doing it to benefit his benefactor, Scott Walker.

Instead of reading only the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Steve Schultze’s lovefest for Walker, I also like to read news from nonpartisan papers, like the Business Journal, who also covered this event. While they covered Lubar’s harping on Milwaukee County and praising Barrett’s proposal to take over MPS like Schultze did, they reported on one other thing Lubar said:

With regard to promoting economic development through university research, Lubar said the community’s one shot may be the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. The Freshwater Sciences School represents an opportunity for UWM and the city to put its brand on an emerging technological business sector, according to Lubar.

“We have to understand that the real engines of economic development in the world are not generous giveaways by the state, or clever advertising, but the development of outstanding research institutions that persons like Chancellor Carlos Santiago are struggling to accomplish here in Milwaukee,” Lubar said.

This raised a red flag for me, besides the fact that it’s ironic that Lubar would complain about “generous giveaways.” Lubar is one of the people that would benefit greatly from the proposed school and other land developments (such as a five-star restaurant and a posh hotel) that they want to build on the county grounds, which Walker wants to sell at about one third of its current value. Unfortunately, it appears that Lubar’s group is going to still try to ram this irresponsible plan through, regardless of the cost to the ecological wonders there.

I just wonder if Walker’s going to list Lubar’s speaking fee as an in-kind contribution on his next campaign finance report. Aw, who am I kidding? Walker is never honest on those things.


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