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Friday, June 19, 2009

Secret Government Deals Should Be Scorned - Regardless of The Merit

I’m getting way ahead of myself on this one after only five days have passed since the Janesville Gazette headlined their publicity piece last Sunday on the Rock County Development Alliance.

If you may recall, that article was a very lightweight info-ad masquerading as a news article on a new local government agency recently formed to lure prospective business owners and entrepreneurs into the county - I think.
JG Excerpt (Alliance Article)
Each week, the group is in either Milwaukee or Chicago making detailed presentations to potential brokers, developers and investors.

The alliance taps a bigger war chest of talent and money.

Most will not appear on any public radar screen. Discretion and confidentiality are an integral part of dealing with prospects.
Keep in mind that the above statements were drawn and parsed from government employees and followed with absolutely no sense of common curiosity by the newspaper's writer.

Regarding an unrelated story, the Gazette published an editorial on Wednesday attacking Sen. Judy Robson for inserting a nursing school into the state budget during late hours.
JG Editorial Excerpt: (on Robson)
We abhor such secret decision-making and late-night earmarking, regardless of the merits of the decision.
That's a pretty heavy blanket to keep on when the heat is turned up. Lets' hope their high-ended criticism of government officials dealing under a perceived cloak of secrecy isn't meant for Judy Robson alone - regardless of the merits.

But as far as Robson was concerned, she was right to budget for the nursing school. All the data points to this. Nobody, including the UW dismisses the rising urgency of more nurses in the health care field. So the need is right and the timing was right too. Yet, the legislators were right to remove it from the budget, but not because she did it “in the dead of night” as the Gazette put it, but only because – of the economy. The only thing wrong with the $47 million nursing school is the economy, but that's not her fault.

History tells me that two years from now, the so-called "governmental watchdogs" at the Gazette will be seething when the UW finally presents their feasibility study along with the engineering, design and technological reports for the new nursing school. Chances are high that the price of a "properly planned" school as they prefer to call it will make Robson's $47 million request look like small potatoes.

Still, it's wasn't fair for the Gazette to paint Robson's legislative work as underhanded or buried in secrecy. It was all out there for everyone to see.

We can't say the same for the activities of the Alliance group.

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