Scotty's Used State Office Buildings: Shop our going out of business sale! Our prices are c-r-a-z-y! | WisCommunity

Scotty's Used State Office Buildings: Shop our going out of business sale! Our prices are c-r-a-z-y!

You didn't read about this today in Wisconsin's largest newspaper because, well, apparently it's not suprising enough to be news in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But the Associated Press thought otherwise. The AP filed a story yesterday telling how real-estate developer Terrence Wall wrote Gov. Scott Walker expressing interest in buying several large state office buildings. His offer came as the GOP-dominated legislature was busy enacting a Walker-driven law that lets the governor sell off state buildings and other property without competitive bids.

Wall is one of the state's largest real estate developers and a major Republican campaign donor, including donations to Walker. His letter said he supported the new law and, according to the AP, he listed specific properties he'd like to buy, including the large state office building in Madison housing the Department of Transportation and the state crime lab.

The new law permits the governor to offer even the Capitol building for sale, along with university dormitories, buildings financed with dedicated private donations, state office buildings and other properties including roads and parks. Walker signed the measure into law after legislators approved it, adding a relatively weak provision saying the governor wouldn't have unilateral authority to make such deals, but would need approval from the legislature's budget committee and the state Building Commission (which Walker chairs).

Walker and Republicans (along with the editors at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) have pooh-poohed suggestions that Wisconsin lawmakers would ever consider actually selling the state Capitol to private investors, but the law permits that. Moreover, a similar law in Arizona led to that state's sale of portions of its capitol building complex, including legislative offices.

From the AP account, we learn that Wall:

... offered his cellphone number in the letter, urging that the "appropriate person" call him to discuss possible deals for properties including the state crime lab, records obtained by The Associated Press show. Wall also offered his support for the change in the bidding process, an idea that originated with Walker.

Wall sent the letter on June 10. The Republican-controlled Legislature agreed 11 days later to allow no-bid sales of state properties over the objection of Democrats, who argued that it opened the door for political cronies to be cut special deals.

Walker's office told the AP the governor did not respond to Wall's letter. Aides insist Walker has no plans to sell state property providing a public service, such as a campus dorm, a state highway or the prison system. But if the governor is not really interested in making such deals, why did he ask for virtually unlimited power to make them? Maybe we need merely await the next Walker-manufactured / imagined "we're broke" fiscal crisis.

Indeed, Rep. John Nygren, co-chair of the legislature's budget committee, told the AP that lawmakers would seriously consider any proposal, adding that if Wall "stepped up and made an offer we couldn't refuse, we'd have to take a look." 

And remember those state-owned power plants, which Walker proposed to sell off in his first budget two years ago? Don't be surprised if other politically well-connected businessmen -- the infamous Koch brothers or someone else -- grabs those up for pennies on the dollar, all to reduce a projected half-billion-dollar state deficit in time to prevent a black eye for Walker, who'll be running for a second term as governor and/or a stint as the nation's president. And if he gets to be president, maybe he'll offer up a bill that would allow him to sell the US Capitol, without competitive bids.

So there you have it. Thanks to the AP, the cat's now completely out of the bag. Unless, of course, you're a reader of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and some other state newspapers. Not to mention most mainstream TV and radio news outlets. And political scientists wonder why the voters are increasingly "sheeple." Knowledge is, after all, power.


July 19, 2013 - 9:20am