Realtors and manufacturers plan to overhaul Wisconsin’s technical school system

cheeseheads against kochhead

Dear Readers,

It looks like the Wisconsin technical school system could be next in line for some of Walker’s patented “cares too much” treatment.

A special committee is looking to remove local control of technical schools in favor of state control and more funding from the state, not property taxes. The awkwardly named Study Committee on the Review of Wisconsin Technical
College System Funding and Governance committee meets July 24, 10:00 a.m. at the Capitol in Madison.

Readers will notice a heavy representation of manufacturer types on the committee list (see below). I expect “fix the skills gap!” talk at the upcoming meeting without comparable talk of paying skilled workers a competitive wage.

Readers should also note that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), Wisconsin Realtors Association, and the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers’ Alliance are given the opportunity to speak at the first meeting.

I seem to remember learning that all documents shared between Eric O’Keefe and WMC (and lots of other groups) got subpoenaed by a certain John Doe prosecutor due to suspected illegal campaign coordination between those groups and Walker’s campaign 2011 – 2012. – source

And I seem to remember Eric O’Keefe whining that conservative “speech” was being taken away.

The John Doe investigations have done nothing to take away WMC’s megaphone. WMC has a special relationship with The Guv. The Guv also has somethin’ goin’ on with Wisconsin Realtors Association.

Something so special that an article on John Doe emails might disappear [as seen here] to be swiftly replaced by an article about Scott’s promise to Wisconsin Realtors Assn. –  a promise to freeze property taxes.

So expect that the goal of freezing and/or cutting property taxes (and the goal of pleasing Wisconsin Realtors Assn.) will be top priority at this meeting as well.

promise to keep property taxes flat

Please note that this special committee is just one in a slew of special committees looking to “fix” things in Wisconsin. Hamilton Consulting has a list of all of them (and they seem to be especially pleased that a couple of people from Wisconsin Economic Development Association were installed on the committee looking to overhaul TIF).

Committee Mission:
“The Special Committee is directed to review the current governance model of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) in the interest of transferring governance responsibilities of local district boards to the state WTCS Board and examine the current funding model for the WTCS with a preference toward reassigning current local property tax revenue to a broader state tax source.”

Here’s the agenda:

Representative John Nygren, Chair; Senator Sheila Harsdorf, Vice-Chair
Wednesday, July 24, 10:00 a.m., Room 411 South, State Capitol
Organizational matters.

Presentations by invited speakers, including the following:
o Morna Foy, President, WTCS, and Andrew Peterson, President, WTCS Board.
o Joe Murray, Wisconsin Realtors Association.
o Todd Berry, Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
o Mike Birkley, Wisconsin Property Taxpayer’s Inc.
o Jim Morgan and Jason Culotta, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
o Member of a technical college district board.
o Josh Dukelow, Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce. Discussion of committee assignment.”


Members of the committee:

Representative John Nygren (Chair)

Senator Sheila Harsdorf (Vice-Chair)

Bruce Barker – President of Chippewa Valley Technical College

Allen Buechel – serving a sixth term as Fond du Lac County Executive as of April 16, 2013 / On board of FCEDC Board of Directors

Dan Conroy – Vice President of Human Resources Nexen Group, Inc., a manufacturer of precision motion control components, power transmission and web tension control products

David Dull – President and CEO of Allis Roller as of 2009.

Stephen R. Kohler – Director of Human Resources at Pierce Manufacturing Inc. based in Appleton.

Representative Debra Kolste

Representative Cory Mason

Dr. Susan May – President of Fox Valley Technical College

Joseph Sheehan – Superintendent at Sheboygan Area School District

Senator Jennifer Shilling

David Stark – President at Stark Company Realtors

Dennis Treu –
Managing Member at Treu Solutions LLC
Trustee/Board Member/Treasurer at Western Technical College
Member Governance Council at iLEAD Charter School
Advisory Board Member at Juneau County Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club
Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University
Partner/Member at Reliable Title and Abstract Company LLC
Broker/Owner at Century 21 Gold Award Homes – source

Mr. Mark Tyler – Public Member of the Wisconsin Technical College System board and founder and president of OEM Fabricators, Inc., a contract manufacturer in Western Wisconsin

Representative Thomas Weatherston

Bonus footnote on Wisconsin Realtors Assn.:

I wanted to emphasize that the Wisconsin Realtors Assn. are not only getting their voice heard when it comes to technical schools, they are also getting heard at the state Supreme Court level and they also, I assume, have a direct line to the U.W. System through top level Friend of Walker, Jim Villa.

Jim “V.I.P.” Villa

Jim Villa was a lobbyist for Wisconsin Realtors Association and he was Governor Walker’s chief of staff during the time he was in the state Assembly and during part of Walker’s time as Milwaukee County Executive. source

In the midst of a highly scrutinized 2005 real estate bidding process with Milwaukee County’s Department on Aging, Villa returned to work with Scott Walker in his executive office.

Wrote Dan Bice, “Authorities have been looking for signs of bid-rigging or other misconduct as representatives of the privately owned Reuss Federal Plaza vied unsuccessfully in 2010 to keep the county Department of Aging in its office space. The offices had moved in 2005 to the blue tower in a $3 million deal [a deal that has been described as “a rushed five hour bid“].”

“[Andrew P.] Jensen’s firm helped spearhead the Reuss effort to win the lease for the county offices.” – source

In 2008, Villa took the job as President of the Commercial Association of Realtors-Wisconsin (CARW), where he worked with Board Chair Andrew Jensen.

In 2010, Jensen won the “Wisconsin’s Realtor of the Year” award.

There was much in the press and the blogosphere about Jensen not “cooperating with the investigation” when Jensen got detained by authorities for one night in December of 2011. No criminal charges were brought up on Jensen. By April of 2012 Jensen had received a “highly unusual” letter of exoneration from D.A. John Chisholm’s office.

Nonetheless, in 2012, the Wisconsin Democratic Party reminded reporters that Villa’s company Markesan Group lobbied on real estate deals that were connected with suspected bid rigging in Milwaukee County as is documented in this lengthy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.

In May of 2014 Jim Villa began a $178K job as University of Wisconsin System vice president for university relations despite “concerns” raised by two members of the Board of Regents.

Wisconsin State Supreme Court
March 8, 2013:
“The realtors group filed documents with the state in February saying it may spend $206,648 to support incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack, who is considered one of the court’s four conservatives, in her April 2 reelection bid against Ed Fallone, a Marquette Law School professor.

The realtors have not directly spent money on outside electioneering activities in a Supreme Court race until now.”

Today at 1PM: WMC Meeting and Protest.

James Buchen (WMC) shakes the hand of Governor Walker January 27 when Special Session Senate Bill 1 was signed. Walker called the bill "Tort Reform". Ralph Nader has long called such legislation "Tort Deform" for stripping rights from plaintiffs.

[I’ll add on an article shortly – for now – the basics]

Today, Wednesday, February 23 · 12:00pm – 5:30pm

Protest of WMC’s “Business Day in Madison”

Location – Monona Terrace entrance

Schedule – Picketing: 12PM – 1PM  – – – Rally 4:30PM-5:30PM

“Who is responsible for Scott Walker’s attacks on public education, public services, public sector workers, and the right to vote? His corporate backers, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC). Join us in the growing “Wisconsin Wave” of resistance to austerity and corporatization.”

Sponsor: Wisconsin WAVE. See their facebook page.

On January 11th, labor and community groups gathered at the State Capitol to express opposition to Special Session Senate Bill 1/ Assembly Bill 1 (SB 1/AB 1).