DESPICABLE: Wisconsin GOP hates Milwaukee, continues laying waste to local control | Wis.Community

DESPICABLE: Wisconsin GOP hates Milwaukee, continues laying waste to local control

[img_assist|nid=65236|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=224|height=224]Republicans like to claim that local government is a lot better than state or national government, because it's more representative of the people. But in the most recent legislative session, the majority party has shown it doesn't really believe that, from the state Capitol mandating major changes and funding cuts to local government and other pubilc institutions, especially public schools.

Worse, the GOP's invective against local government reserves a special place of contempt for Milwaukee, by far the state's most populous and productive city. Apparently, Republicans are jealous or envious of Milwaukee's influence and power. Milwaukee is a union stronghold and historically Democratic and even Socialist.

As Milwaukee goes, so goes the state. It is so big and productive it is an essential cog in the engine of Wisconsin's economy. Rather than embrace the city's strengths and work with it, as Republicans in Indiana did to build up Indianapolis and help that entire state's economy, Wisconsin Republicans seem interested mainly in seizing power and weakening our state's greatest city. It's after the model used in Michigan by GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, who has gone further than his fellow Republicans here by implementing a law that lets state government literally seize control of local governments away from local elected officials.

The assaults on Milwaukee have come again and again, from a measure that would let city police officers reside in the suburbs against current city policy and at a loss of local control and revenue, to killing millions in Amtrak-related upgrades to Chicago-Milwaukee passenger rail that would have created new jobs in the city, to the GOP's refusal to compensate city schools for reallocating hundreds of millions of dollars to private schools and then complaining that the public schools are a mess.

And now the GOP is going after Milwaukee Area Technical College, a huge post-secondary institution that trains thousands of local citizens in many technical crafts -- including many minorities. And, as has been reported by other bloggers here, the move threatens Milwaukee Public Television, which operates a dozen digital public channels in the region.

A bill still being debated in the state Assembly would increase official representation of area businesses from two to five on the nine-seat MATC board. It also would change who gets to appoint board members. Now, public school board representatives from within the district served by MATC appoint members. Republicans would change that to a four-member appointment committee: the Milwaukee County executive along with and the chairmen of the Milwaukee, Ozaukee and Washington county boards of supervisors, giving suburban counties the balance of power.

UPDATE: Republican Assembly leaders later Friday agreed to make changes to the bill easing some of the concern about MATC losing its public TV licenses, but still ultimately transferring more power to the suburbs and business community. In exchange, Democrats agreed to withdraw some 70 amendments that would have kept the bill in play for days. See

The bill only applies to Milwaukee's technical college system; The state's 15 other technical colleges would still get to run things as usual. And that, too, is the recent earmark of anti-Milwaukee Republicans.

MATC isn't perfect but Republicans who complain about the college are about as credible as the pot calling the kettle black. The latest maneuver has all the markings of a business community plot to seize control and run the institution from afar.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an excellent news piece online today about the continuing battle. See the link below. It is all being done for the alleged sake of making MATC more responsive to business needs. Gee, like we need more of that.

If the bill does pass, the college will soon be mostly just a de facto free training center for businesses looking to staff up in a hurry. It won't serve the broader needs of students or the communities they live in, it will simply serve for-profit markets. In typical GOP thinking, only the business community should have any say-so in how things are run, aided and abetted by conservative Republican lawmakers, of course.

And who sponsored the Senate version of this bill that already passed? Why Sen. Glenn Grothman, a West Bend Repubilcan. Because, yoiu know, West Bend best knows how to run Milwaukee's technical college system, even though the system barely reaches into that area.

From the Journal Sentinel today:

The entire membership of the MATC Board would turn over almost immediately under the proposal, a move that would jeopardize MATC's license for its public television station, according to the college's attorney.

MATC holds the Federal Communications Commission license for Channels 10 and 36, and MATC's governing body is the college's board. At issue is whether replacing all nine board members at the same time would constitute a transfer of control. Federal statute requires FCC approval for transfer of control.

This wouldn't be the first time that politicians outside Milwaukee have made moves to eliminate Milwaukee Public Television, which has a proud and enviable record providing quality original public and educational programming. But the latest move to pack the MATC Board with suburban business choices looks in part like a back-door way to kill the city's highly respected public TV system.

In a word, this bill and in particular Sen. Grothman's sponsorship are despicable.

Published

March 16, 2012 - 12:00pm

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