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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, June 30, 2006

Prism Lawsuit Baseless; Newspaper Still Makes Doyle Look Guilty

Conservatives and Republicans across the state went all kinds of giddy earlier this week when a development firm sued the state, blaming the much-maligned former Administration Secretary--now campaign chair--for Jim Doyle, Marc Marotta, for their having lost a building contract with UW-Milwaukee. Fraley, for example, flat-out claimed that Marotta intervened, contra what Marotta told the witch hunt State Finance Committee and the law.

However, no such thing occured:
At Wednesday's commission meeting, [Sen. Carol Roessler (R-Oshkosh)] said the commission itself, rather than Marotta, was responsible for ending negotiations with Prism. "It was our decision as a Building Commission. . . . We were dissatisfied with the process. And when we looked into the process more and more we said, 'This process we cannot support,' " she said at the meeting.

Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) agreed that the commission was displeased with the negotiations, but also noted that commissioners have little say in building projects because they do not select vendors. Instead, they take up-or-down votes on bidders selected by evaluation committees. "These are very complex issues--complex deals--that are put together and we literally get two days to look at them," Fitzgerald said.
So here we have two Republicans who were there, not just watching from the sidelines, who confirm Marotta's story and who place the blame not on any intervention by Doyle or Marotta on behalf of campaign contributors, but on Prism--the development company that has filed the lawsuit. See, Prism broke the rules and, after following the state law and their own sense of ethics, the commission overseeing the bidding process for this project unanimously called for a do-over.

Yet the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which is reporting that the Republicans on the commission support Doyle and Marotta's claims that nothing improper happened, doesn't headline the story "Republicans defend action of Doyle aid." That would make sense, right? Gives you a good sense of what the politically significant news within the story might actually be.

No, the paper decided to call it, "Doyle defends actions of aide in UWM project." The sub-head, "Commission made the final call, he says," makes it even worse: If all you read was the headline--and maybe the lede--you wouldn't know at all that the commission itself is defending Marotta and saying that they made "the final call." Sure, Doyle repeated what the Republican members of the commission said, but Doyle's saying it isn't what makes it news. Instead, it looks like stonewalling or, worse, covering up, from Doyle. That leaves room for the right Cheddarsphere and the talk-show bloviators to keep spinning this, keep the story of a "corrupt" Jim Doyle alive for a few more days.

That kind of enabling needs to stop.

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