DAILY WISCONSIN

Cronyism

Fines? Back Taxes?  Just the candidate for WEDC funding!

Madison — The state’s top jobs agency has settled its $360,000 lawsuit with a shuttered Tomahawk metal company for $125,000, state officials said.

The Department of Commerce made a $375,000 to the company now known as Tomahawk Metal Products LLC in June 2011 even though the firm was behind in rent and taxes to the city and was facing federal fines for alleged health and safety violations, the website Wisconsin Watch reported this week.

Days after the loan was made, the Department of Commerce was replaced by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which brought the lawsuit against Tomahawk after it defaulted on the loan.

WEDC spokesman Mark Maley said that state officials were aware of the health and safety violations but that the project held the potential for creating jobs in a Northern Wisconsin area with high unemployment.

Via State gave now soured loan to company that owed rent and potential federal fines @ JS All Politics Blog.

Walker Phones

Moreover, the agency’s expense account turned out to be full of nuggets: WEDC had bought six season tickets to University of Wisconsin football games for the governor’s office. They expensed booze for meetings with WEDC contractors, train tickets in China and meals in India for the agency director’s family, and iTunes gift cards for agency staff.

Why iTunes cards?  Well, what good is a new iPhone without one?

WEDC footed the bill for 46 of its employees to break existing cell phone contracts so it could buy them $210 phones. The agency even kicked for a $35 activation fee.

Via How Walker Turned ‘Job Creation’ Into a Goodie Bag for Campaign Donors @ TPM.

‘We have one customer, and our job is to make him look good. . . . Huebsch is the prince, Walker is the king.’

Donor-Feeding Station

Well, the list of recipients of WEDC grants and its generous taxpayer-funded forgivable loans is populated with Walker campaign donors. Five awards worth $10.5 million went to cheese manufacturers who gave $104,000 to Walker’s campaigns. Diane Hendricks, a billionaire involved in construction who gave $500,000 to Walker’s 2012 recall campaign, won a $2 million tax credit. Another smaller, $500,000 loan was given to different construction firm, also owned by a Walker donor, who met with Walker’s chief of staff and the man Walker eventually put in charge of WEDC, Mike Huebsch. Huebsch was pushing for a $4.3 million package for the donor, William Minahan, even though his company was on the verge of collapse. The $500,000 loan was extended instead – and without review.These are just a few examples from a very long list….

Via How Walker Turned ‘Job Creation’ Into a Goodie Bag for Campaign Donors @ TPM.

Meanwhile, Reed Hall’s still around

“We are kept in the dark about so many things that are going on and only told when there is an investigative report or a legislative audit,” Barca said. “It’s clear to me that we are unable to proceed and get to the bottom of problems and protect the taxpayers if (Hall) were to continue as the CEO of WEDC.”

Via Democratic leaders call for WEDC chief to resign @ JS All Politics Blog.

$7,600,000

The state’s top jobs agency has written off $7.6 million in taxpayer-funded loans since it was created by Gov. Scott Walker about four years ago.The write-offs include 28 different loans removed from the balance sheets of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., with some companies receiving multiple loans. The majority of those loans, which officials typically…

Another!

Months after Gov. Scott Walker’s flagship job-creation agency was formed in 2011, it gave a forgivable $686,000 taxpayer loan to a Sheboygan company planning to build a combination helicopter and corporate jet — even though the company had no experience in aircraft manufacturing and underwriters hadn’t reviewed the company’s finances in years. But Morgan Aircraft…

Conservative Case Against WEDC

“Today, every state offers at least some sort of tax incentive for businesses,” according to the article by Jackson Brainerd, a research analyst for the National Council of State Legislatures. “Yet, despite lawmakers’ enthusiasm for corporation-specific incentives, many economists, experts and other observers, from the left to the right, doubt they are an efficient use…

WEDC worthless to Northern Wisconsin

Dale Kupczyk, executive director of the Ashland Area Development Corporation, has a system for dealing with applications from Gov. Scott Walker’s job-creation agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.: “We have to throw them in the trash.” Kupczyk says WEDC assistance is not of much value to his community. One problem is that companies courting state…

WEDC above the fold

Which leads me back to the front pages of this past week’s Wisconsin State Journal.  There we found solid reporting about WEDC from Dee Hall and Matthew DeFour.  If you want to know what intrepid reporters look like I suggest you look at them as they research and work to piece together the convoluted parts…

Walker’s Off the WEDC Board 

The state’s Republican-led budget committee Thursday retained legislative oversight of Gov. Scott Walker’s troubled job-creation agency, removed the governor from its board and pledged further changes later this fall in the wake of a recent critical audit and a State Journal investigation.   Via Republicans ‘have concerns’ about 2011 WEDC loan to struggling business @ State…

Calls for investigation

As chairman of the WEDC board, Walker would receive the same updates about delinquent loans that Barca and Lassa do. Barca said the governor should have known more by now about the problems with it. Barca said that he was skeptical of a statement by Patrick that the governor didn’t know about the last-minute donation…

WEDC: $500,000, Unsecured, for an Insider

Gov. Scott Walker’s top aides and a powerful lobbyist pressed for a taxpayer-funded loan in 2011 to a financially struggling Milwaukee construction company that lost the state half a million dollars, created no jobs and raised questions about where the money went, a State Journal investigation has found. The extraordinary steps led the Wisconsin Economic…

WEDC Slowly Crumbles

WEDC ‘CEO’ Reed Hall Looks Downcast. You Would, Too, If You’d Disgraced All Wisconsin Yet Again. AP Photo. On a Friday afternoon, there’s breaking news across Wisconsin. Having rejected free markets in capital, labor, and goods for cronyism and ineffectual manipulation of the economy, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation now slowly crumbles…. Should one be…