Note to Gov. Jim Doyle: To quote tennis “legend” John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”
Actions of the governor and his administration in its waning days are more likely to be reported on “The Colbert Report” than “Meet the Press.”
Consider just these two examples:
(1) On his way out the door, Doyle made sure that his chief aide, Michael Morgan, would continue to be paid by taxpayers, getting him a juicy, high-paying job in the University of Wisconsin system.
Forget that Morgan clearly is not qualified for the “three-year interim appointment.” There also is the fact that the Board of Regents disregarded its own hiring rules by considering only Morgan. This is the same educational system that requires consideration of at least five applicants even for an “interim custodial” job.
(2) The most humorous act of the departing Doyle administration, however, came when the Department of Transportation grudgingly agreed to put a plastic diaper under Milwaukee’s Hoan Bridge to capture falling pieces of concrete.
The comedic Hoan Bridge controversy began last year when the DOT suggested that the city would be better served by a street level bridge, opening and closing to allow passage of Great Lakes ships and pleasure boats.
At a Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker luncheon shortly after that DOT “suggestion,” legislators led by County Supervisor Patricia Jursik began to object. Typically, the DOT declined to attend the luncheon, preferring to defend its position through news releases.
It’s clear that the DOT “suggestion” was not spur-of-the-moment. The Newsmaker Luncheon revealed that the Marquette Interchange project came in under budget and ahead of schedule because it was not completed. It’s something that is obvious to drivers who find the smooth lanes of I-794 heading toward Lake Michigan suddenly turn into rutted ones at Plankinton. And it’s not coincidence that the unfinished strip leads to the Hoan Bridge.
Most observers/taxpayers find the governor’s willingness to pad the UW System payroll as less than humorous. And thanks to Supervisor Jursik’s campaign to demonstrate the economic impact of removal of the Hoan Bridge, the DOT “suggestion” largely has been discarded, except in the corridors of the DOT.
It will be nice to have a new governor with a real sense of humor, one that is able to tell a joke without forgetting the punch line. And it will also be nice to have a governor who considers that the economic future of the state is no joke.
Roger Stafford is the managing editor of the Key Milwaukee traveler’s guide (www.keymilwaukee.com).