Friday, August 2, 2013

The Ghost Of John Doe Haunts O'Donnell Park

On June 24, 2010, the unthinkable happened.

In a tragic course of events, a concrete facade fell off o O'Donnell Park fell and landed on top of Jared Kellner, a teenager on his way to the opening day of Summerfest.  The slab killed him instantly.  It also severely injured another boy and amputated part of the leg of the second boy's mother.

Since it was opening day, both Mayor Tom Barrett and then County Executive Scott Walker were at the Summerfest grounds when the tragedy occurred.  Barrett went straight to the site when he was informed of the incident and gave free reign to his police chief.  This is a great example of Barrett's compassion and humanity.

Walker, on the other hand, also revealed his true nature. It was considerably more base than Barrett's:
Within hours of this tragic incident, Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway issued a statement remembering the victims and calling for an immediate inspection of all county structures and buildings. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker criticized Holloway’s actions and called them “irresponsible.”


What makes Walker’s accusations even more egregious is that the first thing Walker did was to check in at the courthouse to see if there was any deferred maintenance. At the press conference that occurred shortly after the tragedy, after appropriately expressing his sympathy for the victims, Walker felt it necessary to keep repeating that there was no deferred maintenance that he was aware of. It was as if his first concern was that he didn’t get blamed for this catastrophe.

Regardless of whether this tragedy was caused by poor design, faulty construction, deferred maintenance or something else, the only responsible action would be to inspect all of the county-owned buildings and structures, especially given their history, before anyone else is injured.

For Walker to argue for anything else would make one wonder if he is really concerned about the public safety or if he is just worried about how this might effect his gubernatorial campaign.
As the days and weeks progressed, Walker continued to try squelch any discussions of the subject by saying "it was too soon," just like gun nuts say every time there is a mass shooting. But there were other questions that remained:
On the day of the incident, Holloway released the above linked document showing the findings of the result of the survey from last year. The very next day, Walker produced the same document, but with an added column showing that the issues raised had been addressed. What is not clear is when those issues had been addressed and why it had not been reported previously. Those two things also need to be looked into.

Another question that needs investigated is whether the fact that Walker has been raiding the capital funds, which had historically gone into building inspections and maintenance and similar projects, and using that money to cover the holes in the operational costs of his budgets, contributed to any possible deferred maintenance issues. Likewise, does the fact that he had cut the number of building inspectors down to one have an impact on all of this is worthy of further consideration.
Sure enough, Supervisor John Weishan found that Walker had taken over $112 million from capital funds and used it to cover the budget gaps left from his tax giveaways.

As a result of the tragedy, the families have filed lawsuits against the county and the contractors.  One of the lawsuits alone is for $20 million.

Stemming from these lawsuits came a request to resurrect and reopen the John Doe investigation into Scott Walker, his county staff and his campaign staff, which was commonly referred to as Walkergate, and had suffered a much too early demise.  The judge whom presided over the John Doe investigation, the Honorable Neal P. Nettesheim, decided to reopen the case just so that the ADA Bruce Landgraf and the O'Donnell Park attorneys could go through them to for any emails prevalent to their case.  Even this isn't going smoothly and there are concerns of a cover up within the cover up.

They release the O'Donnell Park-related emails in four parts.

One is called "gopfran" for Fran McLaughlin who was doing a helluva lot more than editing a press release, as we had been led to believe from the Walkergate investigation.  The bulk of this release has the historic documents regarding O'Donnell Park.

The next packet is called "breakfast" and shows how Walker's campaign manager Keith Gilkes was the one calling the shots and giving orders, including to Walker's county staff.

The other two are rather duplicative, but each does have some choice tidbits which we will look at later.  One is titled "Donnell" and the other is "maintenance."

While all of these don't have much new information contained within them, they do serve to confirm four important points which Team Walker and the Republicans have been denying all along.

The first point is that Walker was much more concerned about the political ramifications from this incident than he was in the well-being of the families, public safety and that he doesn't feel the slightest remorse for his responsibility for the incident.  His sole focus was that it not allow to hurt his campaign.  If that doesn't show Walker truly is a megalomaniacal sociopath, I don't know what would.

Secondly, the emails show that there was not a permeable line between his campaign staff and his county staff.  There was no line at all.  We now see that Walker and county staffers Tim Russell, Cindy Archer, Tom Nardelli, Kelly Rindfleisch and Fran McLaughlin were working as hard on the campaign as hard as the campaign staff.  Maybe even harder.

Thirdly, in the "Donnell" and the "maintenance" emails, we see that everything had to be run past Walker for his approval.  These emails show that Walker was fully aware of and approving of everything from the secret router to the illegal politicking.  Nothing happened without his approval.  There were no over-zealous staffers.  There was no rogue workers acting on their own.  It was all Walker all the time, and he didn't give a damn about the laws he was breaking.  Indeed, there is more.  There is always more.

Fourthly, the emails remove any reasonable doubt that Walker is/was John Doe.

There is still one lingering questions that hasn't been exorcised by these emails.  If anything, the emails actually gave more substance to the question.

Just why did Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm suddenly drop the investigation and court proceedings against Walker and his crew?  It appears to my layman eyes that there is undeniable and overwhelming evidence that Walker and all of his crew was up to no good. Is it that the millions of dollars Walker collected for his legal cooperation fund was enough that his high profile high crime attorneys would be able to muddy the waters enough?  I sure hate to think that Chisholm was somehow compromised.

Maybe it's time for an autopsy on John Doe to find out exactly why he died long before his time, leaving just his ghost to wander parking garages.


  1. So what? A dead teenager, a maimed boy and an amputated leg of a mother are minor collateral damage compared to the political damage that accountability for Scott Walker would cause. We should praise the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for not reporting on the malfeasance of County Executive Walker. Just because the teenager, the boy and the mother cannot stand, does not mean that the rest of us should not Stand With Governor Walker.

  2. It would be a treasure trove to have access to the SKW email account. I would bet my bottom dollar that Walker was forwarding those emails to Rancid Penis for his input. There's no way Walker was able to think fast enough on his own.

  3. Reading the JS articles on this, the thing that struck me was Archer talking about slow-walking the Open Records requests from Mark Neumann et al., while Gilkes was saying the campaign needed every bit of paper on the subject.

    If Archer was providing documents to Gilkes (with no Open Records request) while at the same time not-quite-withholding them from Neumann (who had made an Open Records request), she could and should be in trouble for the same statute violation that Rindfleisch pled guilty to.

    1. Robert, thanks a lot.

    2. Robert, there is evidence of that, which makes me wonder why Chisholm stopped short of the goal.