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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Issue of the Week: Financial Martial Law?

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We know that Gov. Scott Walker rushed to his buddy Charlie Sykes to deny the rumor that he is planning to impose "financial martial law" on struggling local governments. Right.

We're not buying his denial, since Walker has a major credibility problem on his hands anyway (including his whopper that his tax-the-poor budget is "progressive"). And he's consolidated power in the executive branch like no other Wisconsin governor has previously.

So we believe that Walker wants to follow the lead of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a fellow conservative Republican, and be allowed to take over local governmental entities that don't pass a financial "stress test." The "policy ideas" that these recently elected ultraconservative governors have adopted come from a few right-wing policy groups like ALEC and the Heritage Foundation.

Madison attorney Ed Garvey has been all over this story, and says that according to a hand-delivered packet of materials he received, Walker's secret plan is being prepared by Foley & Lardner for the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), the Bradley Foundation and other Walker supporters. Former state Sen. Mary Panzer is providing the legislative strategy, the materials claim, which will be pushed through the Legislature in May.

Garvey is pointing to the GMC's "Make It Your Milwaukee County" PR effort as part of the state takeover, even though the GMC's fingerprints aren't easily found on the spin-filled website. The GMC, which has put out a package of policy proposals including "blowing up" Milwaukee County, is currently chaired by Michael Grebe, head of the right-wing, anti-government Bradley Foundation and chair of Walker's gubernatorial campaign.Grebe had been a partner in Foley & Lardner before retiring in 2002.

The financial martial law story got so hot that GMC President Julia Taylor was forced to issue a statement explaining that while the organization supports "fiscal stress tests" for municipalities, it does not support "providing the state with the ability to take over cities and other entities."

So we'll see if Walker's secret plan actually hatches in daylight.

That would be terrible for the state. Nearly as bad, though, is the reality that Walker is so distrusted by the public that Wisconsinites readily believe that the imperial governor would do anything, including playing ideological games with public resources, to raise his political profile.

Heroes of the Week

Kyle's Korner Volunteers

Losing a loved one is difficult at any age, but especially so for children. Kyle's Korner (7106 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa) provides an environment of support for grieving children and their families.

To help children deal with the irreversibility and finality of death, trained group facilitators provide free support and healing workshops structured around play and creative expression. The facility combines the efforts of professionals and volunteers to assist families with the difficulty of loss, adjustments and moving forward.

Readers who wish to volunteer at Kyle's Korner as facilitators, greeters or assistants must be willing to make a one-year commitment and participate in one of the twice-yearly, no-cost training sessions. Donations of materials and money are also welcome. For more information, call 414-777-1585 or visit www.kyleskorner.org.