INTEGRITY. We will hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards.
HONESTY. We will tell the truth without qualification.
ACCOUNTABILITY. We will honor our commitments to ourselves, our partners, and our investors.
RESULTS-FOCUS. We will add value in every action.
CUSTOMER-CENTRIC. We will put the needs of the customer first. – from WEDC’s homepage
As I watched an archived 3 1/2 hour “emergency” WEDC board meeting held in Waukesha Wednesday, I heard board member Paul Radspinner say that his own business pays WEDC $8,000 per month.
It is at the 2 hour 14 min. 50 sec. mark of the recording found HERE.
In 2008. the Department of Commerce gave Radspinner’s company Flugen a $250,000 Technology Venture Fund loan. Then in 2011 the government agency known as “Department of Commerce” became “WEDC” – an amalgam of public and private. Radspinner was appointed to the board in June of 2011.
Radspinner divulged information about his own company’s debt payments as he tried to explain why it is that companies might need to have 90 days to not make a payment to WEDC. (Companies that don’t make timely payments within 30 days of due dates are technically “delinquent”.)
He was trying to discuss how the agency can improve.
WEDC still has no policy to handle delinquent debt two years into its tenure. That was revealed in a recent L.A.B. audit of WEDC.
Radspinner also expressed concern during the meeting about liability board members have for loans that WEDC gives out. He asked a WEDC attorney about it and she replied that in the case of the “enterprise zone” loans [there were $61 million of those from 2011 – 2012 per the L.A.B. audit] that WEDC board members do share liability and that the liability terms are expressed in WEDC’s bylaws. She tried to reassure Radspinner by saying that WEDC could share program policies, their checklist, and routing slips with the board so that the board members would be more comfortable with “delegating” contract review to WEDC.
As I heard this exchange, and it registered with me that WEDC’s business people have no intention of involving the board in contract review, I also realized that the WEDC board members could easily be manipulated by WEDC.
By that I mean that if they are technically held liable for loans that they never get to authorize for companies that they may or may not be familiar with and under accounting that is lax or absent, then they must ALWAYS go along to get along with the other side. Without anything nearing functional accounting that can be audited, it is one board member’s word against the others – or against the director’s or the vice presidents’s or.. the list goes on. That’s not an environment where the board members are safe to offer a check on this agency’s power.
In the case of Radspinner, what if his loan WAS being tracked but now it’s suddenly not showing all of those $8,000 payments he said he made because he spoke up about something. Or maybe his loan could get suddenly wiped from the books completely if he does somebody a VERY nice favor.
This is clearly speculation.
But if there’s any place where speculation is appropriate – wouldn’t it be where there is no accounting to even set the baseline for what’s real and what’s fake? WEDC hides mistakes from its own board [or at least that is the appearance of things]. We learned this when the board itself didn’t learn about a February 2012 letter HUD sent to WEDC until August.*
The shoddy spendthrift administration of Walker’s showpiece agency is not only arrogant in its defiance of Walker’s promise of ‘transparent” and “brown bag” government. WEDC opens the door to criminal activity with huge sums of taxpayer money.
This goes beyond our state’s partisan bickering these last two years and it’s beyond your outrage over the $1,789 in Badger football tickets somebody bought on a WEDC credit card.
When an agency loses 11% of its half billion dollar budget,
when it doesn’t track loans from July 2011 to October 2012,
when it only has 45% of the paperwork it’s supposed to have by law from July 11 – December 2012,
when it swaps out CEOs three times in 2 years,
when it has no concern for conflict of interest,
when there’s no oversight for minimum wages for workers as laid out in its own contracts and as required by statute,
when it is a jobs agency and the Legislative Audit Bureau can’t even verify how many jobs it made —
they are beyond audits. WEDC should be shut down.
WEDC’s directors should also be criminally charged and investigated.
The audio cut out during this videorecorded meeting repeatedly.
– At the 60 minute mark.
– Also at the 1 hour and 36 min. mark when it stays off until the 1 hour and 58 minute mark,
And there are several other brief cut-outs of the audio.
I watched the 3.5 hour meeting until the 2 hour and 17 minute mark before writing this and I’ll complete the remainder tonight.
Note: There were two other meetings that addressed WEDC today:
*a Joint L.A.B. mtg.
*Joint Finance Committee had WEDC on its agenda for today’s meeting as well
cash image appears courtesy of 401(K)2013 of flickr. Creative commons use license.