On December 29, 2010, I wrote a post titled
Apparently, "less government" means "less powers, but more pay for friends." Also: Lying is cool.
in which I discussed the then-pending creation of the "Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation," and pointed out that it might not be the best thing to create a quasi-government agency staffed with Walker cronies who would be given the ability to manipulate millions of government dollars with little oversight or regulatory authority
Now, today, I check the headlines on Madison.com and see this gem:
Walker calls for 'dramatic' changes after WEDC lost track of $8M in past-due loans
For the life of me, I can't imagine why "lost track" isn't in quotes. If there was ever a two-word phrase dripping with sarcasm, it's that one.
That story, though, does what journalists call "burying the lead." Let's play "WE ARE ALL JOURNALISTS" and see if you can spot the story in this, the seventh and eighth paragraphs of the story:
The newly-uncovered loans to 99 businesses, which are past due by 30 days or more, amount to 16 percent of the state agency's total loan portfolio of $51 million in loans, WEDC chief operating officer Ryan Murray said. He said they are still trying to determine how the problem occurred and working to clean up the mess, adding that the problem was uncovered during an audit of the agency.
The head of the agency didn't mention the mishap when he testified at length Wednesday morning before the Legislature's Joint Audit Committee, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported.
I mean, I suppose it's important to point out to readers that Gov. Patsy, who created this boondoggle just over a year ago, now wants to completely revamp this patronage position to
help pay off people who refuse to testify against him in
the John Doe proceeding I mean "make it more effective" or something that sounds innocuous, but wouldn't these potential headlines have also been effective?
State agency staffed by Walker buddy not sure what happened to $8,000,000.
Walker crony deliberately hides evidence from legislative inquiry because he didn't want to talk about it yet.
I at least saw the collapse of the WEDC coming. What still stuns me, as always, is the complete lack of journalism that goes on. There are lots and lots of people -- my in-laws -- who swear Gov. Patsy is like a God to them, and part of the problem is that journalists no longer are.
Not only does this story lean in Gov. Patsy's favor -- it does not call him out or remind people that he created the agency but apparently did so without ever bothering to put in place employees to monitor a $51,000,000 portfolio:
Murray added that some of the businesses had paid back at least a portion of their loans. But he added that WEDC loan collection appears to have been lost in the shuffle as the former Commerce Department was transformed into the new quasi-public WEDC.(would this be a good time to point out that Walker fired 400-some people from the old Commerce Department when he created WEDC? The "journalists" in that story didn't mention it, but I bet some of those 400 people were part of "the system collecting loans.")
"It's pretty clear that the Department of Commerce had this function — they had staff that handled this — and it's clear for the last year that WEDC hasn't," Murray said. "I think the important thing is clearly we dropped the ball — the staff here did — but while the system collecting loans didn't work, the system for catching this did."
(FYI, Mr. Murray: To say "the system didn't work" implies you have a system. You didn't.)
but beyond presenting the story the way the Madison.com site did -- essentially saying "Here is a problem that nobody could have foreseen but Walker will fix it, when the story is "Here is a problem entirely created by a poorly-thought out, ALEC-driven revamping of a political system to reward people with patronage jobs, and now we're going to trust the same guy to fix it? -- the "journalism" which is completely not on display in that story leaves out several critical factors, which include:
Chief Executive Officer Paul Jadin announced last month that he is leaving the WEDC on Nov. 1 to take a job as president of Thrive, a Madison-area economic development agency.