Sunday, October 14, 2012

Life In Fitzwalkerstan: A Classic Tale

While running for governor, Scott Walker set up a caucus scandal type of operation inside the Milwaukee County Executive's Suite. Said operation, which would eventually come under a John Doe investigation known as Walkergate, was vast and expansive in its corruption. There was no law that Walker and his gang of hoodlums were afraid of breaking in their pursuit of seeing Walker in the governor's office.

At this point in time, the Walkergate investigation has yielded four convictions on a wide array of charges. The first person to be charged and convicted was railroad tycoon William E. Gardner, who so wanted to see a Walker administration that he was willing to illegally donate corporate money to Walker's campaign.

Gardner's railroad empire, Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Company, ran through most of southern and eastern Wisconsin, utilizing state-owned tracks. This obviously made the decisions of the future governor important to the success of his business.

In order to gain influence on Walker's decision making, Gardner had employees make political donations to Walker's campaign and then reimburse them with his company's money.

Gardner was arrested, charged and convicted of making illegal campaign contributions. Thus he will forever be in the history books as the first of the Walker Six to be convicted.

But his efforts did not go unnoticed or unrewarded by Walker. To reward his wannabe benefactor, Walker made changes in the law and in administrative code which was favorable to Wisconsin & Southern.

As if to rub it in the face of every good Wisconsinite, the Governor of Fitzwalkerstan flaunted his pay for play antics by having a model Wisconsin & Southern train circling the Christmas tree.

Furthermore, it looked like Gardner was about to cash in on his efforts to further the cause. Another railroad company, Watco Transportation Services, which is based in Kansas, was buying Wisconsin & Southern. It was purely coincidental that Watco's largest customer was none other than Koch Industries. Officials from both companies denied up and down that there was any correlation between Watco's relationship to the Kochs, Walker's relationship with the Kochs and Gardner helping Walker out. They wouldn't lie, right?

But the story doesn't end there, because, as the gentle reader already knows, in Fitzwalkerstan, there is more. There is always more.

It turns out that Watco has been slowly but steadily siphoning jobs from Wisconsin to Kansas. First, the payroll and accounting jobs were taken over by the main office in Kansas and those Wisconsin jobs ended.

Now more jobs are about to head south as well:
While Gov. Scott Walker and other state officials are focused on bringing jobs to Wisconsin, Watco Transportation Services, which in January bought Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, is sending them out of state, a source with knowledge of the workings of the company says.

Of the approximately 250 people who work for Wisconsin & Southern, at least 30 can expect to see their positions transferred to Watco’s company headquarters in Pittsburg, Kan. The changes at Wisconsin & Southern since it was sold have left some managers demoralized and looking for new jobs, says the source, a longtime Wisconsin & Southern manager who doesn’t want to be named for fear of repercussions.

The situation has already resulted in the departure of some managers, says the source, which was confirmed by a state official.

"A few managers have left, but I think that was of their own accord -- I'm not sure," says Frank Huntington of the state Department of Transportation's Bureau of Rails and Harbors.

The jobs potentially being transferred are administrative and managerial positions at the railroad’s Milwaukee headquarters, but could also include dispatching and customer service, leaving only repair, track maintenance and locomotive personnel. Payroll and accounting functions have already been sent to Kansas, says the source.

Yuppers, classical Fitzwalkerstan tale so far. Pay for play, Walkergate, corruption, job losses and intimidation. The only thing missing is betrayal.

Oh, wait, I spoke too soon!

Look at what really happened to Gardner who sacrificed his career and his freedom for Walker:
One position that's been vacated is that of former Wisconsin & Southern President Bill Gardner, who, according to the source, was pushed out last month after complaining about the way Watco has gone about operating the railroad. A flashpoint between Watco and Gardner was the firing of a company manager, which Gardner objected to.

In January, Watco bought 90 percent of the railroad from Gardner, who kept 10 percent ownership of the company. The financial terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed, but the source says Watco purchased the 90 percent share of the company for $63 million. Gardner’s take was pushed to over $70 million when he sold his remaining stake in the company last month.

My story Wednesday quoted a Wisconsin & Southern official saying Gardner left the company on good terms to pursue other opportunities in the rail industry.

That official, Ken Lucht, director of community development, did not return calls on Thursday.

The Wisconsin & Southern source says Gardner was basically shoved out the door. The source says that Watco had originally promised Gardner that he could stay with the company to help “take it to the next level” by expanding Wisconsin & Southern’s operations with access to Watco’s rail lines and corporate connections. But after taking control of the railroad Watco brought in its own management team, which told Gardner he would no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations.

Calls to Gardner’s home earlier this week were not answered. Watco Cos. CEO Rick Webb didn’t return messages Thursday seeking comment. The company’s chief information officer, Cheryl Correll, also didn’t return a phone call.
Ah, now it's a classic Fitzwalkerstan tale.

The only thing is I really don't understand why so many people are having such a hard time learning the moral of these tales and keep supporting Walker and his friends. You'd think that the sense of preservation would kick in at some point. Then again, one might have said that about the folks at Jonestown too.


  1. With Weasel John Doe Walker there is always more, stay tuned you suckers that continue to support him. His corruption will rise to even your tresh-hold of disgust. The Weasel is so absolutely greedy and corrupt that his sheer volume of disgusting immorality will offend even his most loyal flunkies.

  2. This is another example how Wisconsin politicians are as corrupt as the pols in Illinois. While Illinois is locking up its political scum, Wisconsin politicians are reaping in the cash of corruption.

    Illinois recently convicted Governor Blagojevich and power brokers “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak and William Cellini. Cellini is a Republican who was convicted of soliciting a bribe for Democratic Governor Blagojevich. Talk about bipartisan corruption!

    In Wisconsin we had Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala convicted of a variety of felonies involving political corruption. Chvala is persona non grata with Democrats, whereas Jensen remains a leading Wisconsin Republican mover and shaker as a member of ALEC and the leader of the MacIver Institute, whose name is an insult to MacIver. Why do Republicans allow Jensen to have ANY involvement, much less power, in Republican politics?

    Now we have Kevin Kavanaugh, a former aide to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, convicted of stealing money from a fund for widows and orphans of U.S. soldiers who fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Embezzling money from widows and orphans of our brave soldier heroes! How low is that? How can anyone be any lower?

    Scott Walker reminds me of Rod Blagojevich. Walker is stupid and arrogant like Blagojevich. I firmly believe it is not a matter of if Walker will be convicted. It is only a matter of “when” and for what crimes.

    The Kochs buying out illegal Walker contributor William Gardner and his railroad is only one example of corruption that we know of. I am confident there are many more examples to be discovered. All these millions in outside money going to Wisconsin Republicans surely include quid pro quos.

    Let’s hope the grand jury brings the indictments quickly and with severe felony charges. The people of Wisconsin do not want our state to turn into Illinois.

  3. His latest charge is for driving with excessively tinted windows, no lie. Seeing that, I researched a little further and found that he actually stole his parents money from his own brother who was named after his father. What a shamfule character, no wonder he wants tinted windows....

  4. Capper or other readers,

    Does this have anything to do with Walker turning down the train money? I still don't get that, it seems like it would have been better to accept at least the Chicago to Milwaukee portion of that money?

    I can't help thinking that in Wisconsin the saying "Pride goeth before a fall" has come true. People here were so proud of clean government, that they seem to have been blinded by the GOP and let them bring us to the the brink of disaster, perhaps we are already over the cliff?

  5. Capper,
    not to be picky, but it is "too" soon, not "to soon"

    By the way, thanks for the update on this. I heard about the sell out to the Kansas company and subsequent job loss and wondered what was going on. This was the topic of our Sunday dinner family discussion today.

    1. Thanks for the heads up. It's been corrected.

      Glad I could make dinner more interesting. ;^)

  6. I hope I'm not being nitpicky either.

    Did they really do this, or is it a typo?

    "Officials from both companies denied up and down that there was no correlation between Watco's relationship to the Kochs, Walker's relationship with the Kochs and Gardner helping Walker out. They wouldn't lie, right?"

    What happened to Gardner happens to a lot of felons. A sweet buyout deal and they get to spend more time with family and other pursuits. His former company will make more money without him. Like a friend of Mitt's says, you buy a company and eliminate a lot of the labor.

    1. The reason I asked is because the sentence offers a double negative.

      "denied up and down that there was no correlation between "

      Where one might expect either "denied up and down that there was (A) correlation between" or "(STATED) up and down that there was no correlation between."

      Did they really use the double negative?

    2. Ah, I see. Let me correct that...

    3. You see, the phrase caused me some cognitive dis...

    4. LOL. You'd be surprised how many people have issues between dissidence and dissonance.