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Friday, August 03, 2007

Tuesday's Election: Who Wants a Crony This Summer?

by capper

I knew that there was an election next week to fill a seat on the Milwaukee County Board, which was vacated when Ryan McCue won his bid to be the mayor of Cudahy. The race is between Chris Kujawa and Pat Jursik. But to be honest, I wasn't paying too much attention to it, as that I don't live in that district, and I was preoccupied with getting ready for a vacation trip up north next week (aren't you jealous).

However, when I saw this morning's paper, and read this article, I became more concerned. What raised a red flag was the second paragraph,

Chris Kujawa, 45, operates a family landscaping business and was the early recipient of Walker's endorsement. Kujawa bills himself as a conservative, small-government budget-cutter who often - though not always - backs Walker. Kujawa donated $1,000 to Walker's abortive bid for governor in 2005, and a Walker campaign aide also works on Kujawa's campaign.

I knew I had heard about this guy before, but at first couldn't remember where. Then I remembered why it seemed so familiar. It was because of this story, from Walker's grandstanding on his budget veto last year. At the end of the article, it reads:

If Walker is somehow able to rally the votes today, the County Board would have to resubmit a budget to him. Asked where he would suggest additional savings, Walker said more outsourcing of county services could be proposed.
He made his veto announcement among friends and supporters gathered at Kujawa Enterprises Incorporated, an Oak Creek landscaping company whose executive vice president has contributed to Walker's campaign fund.
Walker noted that companies such as KEI do a lot of work for local governments and that such a move to private landscaping help could be more efficient for the county.
KEI has done repair work for the county but currently does not do landscaping for Milwaukee County. Walker said after the event that the firm's executives were longtime supporters of him and backed his position on taxes.

So, basically Scott Walker wanted to give a campaign donor, a chance at a county contract, if he got to privatize the parks like he wanted to do. Fortunately, the county board overrode his veto, and the privatization never happened. Now, Walker is backing Kujawa for the open seat on the open board. This is cronyism. It is not the first time Walker has practiced (or tried to) cronyism as evidenced here.

SIDENOTE: Walker is practicing cronyism, even though he promised to clean it up, as noted here and here. I guess it's OK for him to do it, just not anyone else.

Now, I am not saying that Kujawa is a bad person, I don't know him personally. But, if you have a politician that is trying to get his buddy into the county system, repeatedly, it reeks to me. Especially, when Kujawa is trying to pretend that he isn't tight with Walker, even though he hosts Walker's grandstanding at his company, donates to Walker's campaigns, almost gets a privatization deal, and just happens to be using the same campaign aides. We already have seen with the Ament pension disaster what can happen when you have cronyism run amok.

The fact that Walker and Kujawa are practicing cronyism, or at least trying to, again, disturbs me and makes me wonder what their true motivation is. Is it that Kujawa wants to be able to manipulate the law to favor his company, like Peter Agnos did? Or are they trying to get their own pieces of the county pie, thinking that no one will be watching them while distracted by their pension scandal outrage?

To the people that are voting on Tuesday, please consider if you want a repeat of the Ament dynasty, or if you want someone that wants to help the people of Milwaukee County move beyond Walker's messes.

Most importantly, please vote, no matter who the candidate of your choice is.

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