By CLAY BARBOUR | Wisconsin State Journal lacrossetribune.com | Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker on Monday shot down reports that he was working on legislation to take over struggling cities and schools.
The rumor was born this weekend when writer Rick Ungar posted a blog item on Forbes.com that claimed the governor was working on a bill mirroring Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s emergency financial manager law.
The new law gives Snyder the power to appoint emergency managers who could go into struggling cities and schools and fire elected officials, terminate union contracts, seize and sell assets, and eliminate services. Already one Michigan city, Benton Harbor, has fallen under the law.
But according to Chris Schrimpf, Walker’s communication director, the report is “100 percent untrue.”
“Governor Walker’s administration is not considering any legislation similar to what Ungar reports,” he said.
The governor also denied the rumor in a WTMJ-AM interview earlier Monday, saying it was “absolutely a bogus story.”
Ungar quotes local liberal heavyweight Ed Garvey as his source. An April 18 posting on Garvey’s own blog details the whole plan.
Except there doesn’t seem to be any such plan.
“The secret plan is being prepared by the state’s largest law firm, Foley & Lardner, for the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the Bradley Foundation, the governor, and key legislators,” Garvey writes. “There is speculation that Alberta Darling is the Walker point person on this nutty scheme, but no need to speculate: call Senator Darling’s office and ask!”
When the State Journal did just that, Andy Potts, Darling’s spokesman, said: “I have no idea where they are getting this. It’s not true.”
Later in the blog, Garvey, who did not return calls Monday, quotes from a “fancy brochure” he said was in the works to sell the governor’s plan to the state. But the brochure he cites was put out Feb. 14 by the Greater Milwaukee Committee and has nothing to do with the state or the governor.
Instead, it focuses on Milwaukee County and offers suggestions for changes that could lead to greater transparency in government.
“Contrary to the rumors that circulated this weekend, the Initiative does not support providing the state with the ability to take over cities and other entities,” said Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.