Wisconsin club For Growth

 November 12, 2008

 Special Report

In This Issue:

1. Chancellors Behaving

2. No Job Openings? No

3. Speak Now and Be
    Forever Silenced

4. Old Hippies Never Die

5. Mommy, What's a

6. Selective Speech

Chancellors Behaving Badly

Back in August, outgoing UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley authored a poison pen to the state’s business community, blaming them for the “toxic” tone of state politics in Wisconsin today. Since then, most of Wiley’s claims have been thoroughly discredited, exposing him as a partisan hack.

The Wisconsin Club for Growth was interested in exactly how Wiley’s screed came about – whether anyone counseled him on what he was saying, whether he did any independent research on the topic, or whether he even bothered to check any facts contained in his odd column. So CFG submitted an open records request for Wiley’s e-mails from his UW-Madison account dealing with the column. Not surprisingly, what we found were sycophantic friends and UW-Madison employees praising Wiley for his “honesty,” and Wiley fantasizing about his pending martyrdom while the state’s largest business group comes at him with guns a-blazing.

Wiley tells Madison Magazine Editor Neil Heinen that he has spoken with Governor Doyle about the sad state of Wisconsin’s fiscal affairs, and he quotes Doyle as saying, “We are prisoners of the past. It is not politically possibly to suggest re-writing the tax code in this environment.”

Incoming Chancellor Biddy Martin hopes all the work Wiley has done to “move things forward will have an impact on the WMC, the way it is viewed, its influence, and the consequence of that influence.” In an earlier e-mail, Martin attempts to distance herself from Wiley’s column, asking to consult him about the timing of its issue. “I’m afraid it would produce awkwardness for you, for me, and for the university to have it appear at that very moment,” she warns on August 4th – a warning that went unheeded.

Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler e-mailed Wiley soon after the article appeared, praising his attack on WMC. Butler told Wiley he wanted “to thank you personally for taking the time to speak out about the problems being caused by WMC, particularly as it concerned my Supreme Court race.” Then, in order to bolster his case, Butler attaches a link to blogger Tom Foley (a.k.a. “Illusory Tenant,” who boasts of being the “champagne of hate blogs”) which purports to further discredit WMC (it does not.) From there, the Wiley/Butler love affair blossoms, and eventually leads to Butler receiving a job offer from the UW for a job they hadn’t even created yet. (More on this later.)

But even more troubling than the tight cabal of yes-men (and women) that Wiley keeps, is the breathtaking arrogance and ignorance that he displays throughout his private conversations.

In an e-mail to Judy Faulkner, Wiley is intent on bashing Republicans, so he actually has to go to Wikipedia to look up what a Republican is. To get there, he searches for what he considers to be the prototypical Republican: Grover Norquist. (Which is ironic, because when you type “clueless partisan hack” into Wikipedia, you get “John Wiley.”)

Wiley then ascribes whatever Norquist says to WMC’s motives, saying WMC “truly believe(s) there is no need for a public sector.” (This would be news to those at WMC who advocate for increased Medicaid reimbursements.) Pretty airtight argument from an academic.

Wiley finishes by claiming WMC is “killing public education (at all levels) in Wisconsin.” Then he tells Faulkner to enjoy her trip to Ireland. Oddly, Wiley was responding to a request from Faulkner to provide specific examples of how WMC is “bad for education.” In his response, he provides none.

In other e-mails, WMC board member Jay Smith promises to “work together” with Wiley in his quest. Wiley also runs a draft of his column by the formerly relevant Paul Soglin, who put down his bong just long enough to respond with a meaningless story about how his father enjoyed the work of Bertrand Russell. Soglin then suggests some media outlets Wiley could send his column to in order to get better coverage. Not surprisingly, Soglin also works for the UW.

Finally, Wiley received several e-mails from Madison Magazine editor Neil Heinen, who clearly wants to jump out of his computer to hug Wiley for speaking “truth to money.” Heinen calls Wiley’s column “timely, provocative, relevant, important, critical, appropriately detailed, unambiguous, well-focused, and extremely well stated.” Apparently, he believes the future of civilized society depends on Wiley’s column, or at least the future of the 18 people who subscribe to Madison Magazine.

Through Wiley’s chain of e-mails, it is clear that his column was never meant to be a fair-minded, serious work. Instead, he sought comment from people who were going to agree with him completely, and not actually provide any meaningful critique. For instance, maybe one person could have pointed out that it was Democratic Governor Jim Doyle that actually cut state aid to the UW by $250 million. Or that the teachers’ union and casino interests have pumped millions of dollars into state campaigns in the past decade. Or that it was Gableman himself that ran the only objectionable ad during Louis Butler’s campaign, not WMC.

No Job Openings? No Problem!

As mentioned earlier, Wiley began discussions to hire former Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler at the UW shortly after Butler lost his seat to Mike Gableman. In fact, Wiley put the ball in motion before they even had a position for Butler. An e-mail on May 21st from Kenneth Davis of the UW-Madison Law School says:

“In trying to come up with a portfolio of responsibilities for Louis that would support a full-time salary, I thought of including Legal Studies in the mix. My understanding is that it is a very large undergraduate major that is always in the market for additional course offerings. I suspect Louis would be a real draw. I spoke with my colleague, Howie Erlanger, who directs the program, and he confirmed that they would be interested in having Louis teach in their program. So, if Louis is agreeable, my thought would be a course or two in the Law School and a course or two in Legal Studies. If that arrangement helps support the case for having campus pick up some of the salary, all the better.”

Wiley responded, two months later:

“If we can’t find a full-time or long-term position for him, and if he does, indeed, have other suitable options, then perhaps we can offer some kind of supplementary position in which he has some kind of adjunct position, does guest lectures, or is in some other way associated with the Law School. I’m not the one to define or design it, but I do think we should reach out and try to work with him to craft something mutually beneficial.”

Now, it’s no surprise that the UW would want a former Supreme Court justice on their staff – especially a liberal justice. But what you have here is two high-ranking officials essentially creating a position for Butler before any official duties actually exist. It’s a “let’s hire him, then figure out what he’s going to do” situation.

Oddly, WMC has damaged the University of Wisconsin so much that they can hire former Supreme Court justices and pay them a large salary, without even giving him any real duties.

It would be interesting to see how often the UW completely bypasses the application process for hiring staff. If you wanted a job at the UW Law School, go ahead and wait in line for years. When Louis Butler wants a job, even when they don’t know what he’s going to do at this job, he jumps in line. Somehow, that preferential treatment for UW faculty doesn’t seem to go too far – Scott McCallum, a former Governor, is probably still checking his mailbox every day waiting for a job offer from the UW.

Speak Now and Be Forever Silenced

UW Chancellor John Wiley has a history of passionately defending the right of unrestricted speech in a free society.

This was Wiley’s response to public outrage over the University’s decision to allow publication of a controversial political cartoon with racial and religious implications in the Badger Herald:

This is not the first time that the swords of speech and controversy have clashed on this campus, and, most assuredly, it will not be the last. Most often, the disputes have involved charges of racial, ethnic or religious insensitivity, even hostility - not unlike the situation today. But any review of these disputes demonstrates a common finding: that the public controversies which ensued represent, together, a perfect embodiment of unrestricted speech in a free society, in which all views on a given subject were given equal weight and attention, aired so that every individual could form his or her own opinions. Then, as now, it should never be routine to recall that this university has for more than 100 years championed the cause of free and open debate, the "fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found," and that an increasingly complex world requires this standard more than ever.

Unfortunately, Chancellor Wiley’s passion for free speech and association does not extend beyond the campus walls, and he’s been working overtime at taxpayer’s expense to undermine the State’s largest business association, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC).

Wiley who wrote a political hit piece on (WMC) which was published in the September issue of Madison Magazine, told former Justice Louis Butler his goal was to make WMC think twice, (or maybe three times) before trying to do to Justice Shirley Abrahamson what they did to Butler.

In other words, Wiley exercised his free speech to publicly shame WMC so they would refrain from exercising theirs. It was the least he could do for the woman who presided over his step-daughter’s wedding. All he could offer Justice Butler was a taxpayer funded position with the University.

It’s also reassuring to know that Justice Butler is keeping up with his legal education by reading Illusory Tenant, the self-described “Champaign of Hate Blogs,” whose author is a recent Marquette Law School graduate and frequent “friend of the court.”

Old Hippies Never Die

To aid him in his effort to destroy WMC, an organization whose 4,000 members include both large and small manufacturers, service companies and local chambers of commerce, Wiley put a washed up old hippie on the University payroll so he could write an anti-WMC blog in his spare time. Wiley and his new colleague, former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, are creating a new organization to replace WMC. Soglin provided Willey with a draft plan for the Wisconsin Partnership Project in August. Like most Soglin screeds, the plan is difficult to follow, but it does sound really expensive.

As its first commitment, the Partnership will focus on:

  • Ensuring adequate financing of public education in all
    districts throughout the state of Wisconsin.
    • UW System education Financing adequate so that
    • no in state student has to pay more than % of their tuition
    • out of state tuition is not more than 100% of the costs
      of educating the student
    • Faculty salaries are at the Madison campus are
      commensurate with other Big ten Schools
  • UW system Schools are.....
    A workforce development program through the VATC System ....
    A tax structure that will most likely require an increase of existing taxes, the expansion of the tax base, and or the adoption of new taxes in order to adequately finance…

Hey, guys, how about engaging the business community in an honest dialogue about the appropriate role of state government in Wisconsin, and a re-prioritization of existing state resources rather than simply investigating news ways to soak the taxpayers? You can start with those turncoats on the WMC board with whom you’ve been conspiring.

Mommy, What's a Conservative?

Don’t let anyone tell you that Chancellor John Wiley is judge-mental, mean- spirited, self-righteous or conspiratorial. Let Wiley speak for himself:

From:     John D. Wiley
To:       Faulkner, Judy
Date:     8/6/2008 7:38 AM
Subject:  Update on issues of common interest

WMCs policies and practices are bad for education because they are bad for everything that is a part of, or that depends on, public (tax) support.

I am loathe to attribute motives to the things people do. All we really know is what they did - not why they did it. But everything WMC does is perfectly consistent with the philosophy that drove (and still drives) the Republican party's position in recent years, starting most clearly with the "Contract with America " campaign, led by Newt Gingrich. The simplest, clearest and most widely-quoted admission of that goal is attributed to its theoretical architect, Grover Norquist: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown It in the bathtub." You can learn more about Norquist at: You can learn more about Norquist at: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Grover_Norquist

Or at the following Wikipedia entry which includes the quote I cited and also gives a reference to another cite where you can hear him say it in his own voice, (on National Public Radio, ironically): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_Norquist

Now, I can't prove that WMC and the three Jim s have adopted this philosophy as their own, but: everything they do is consistent without it. They Insist that all of Wisconsin's problems will go away If we just keep cutting taxes (all taxes, and every year), and eliminating. Government (an reQuiations, again year-after-year). They seem to truly believe that there is no, need for a public sector- that everything would be fine if we had a totally unregulated "free-market economy" and no government or public sector (except perhaps to maintain police, fire, and military services - I don't think: they would even concede the need for public -financing of roads. After all, roads could be built with private capital and financed by tolls.) They seem to believe social security is socialist theft public: employment is welfare; etc.

When it comes to education, they seem to believe this, too, should be private and be financed by tuition, period. When I've told WMC that their candidates were killing the university with their budget cuts with budget cuts they said we should just raise some more• "no problem, look how cheap you are compared, or Stanford, or Marquette. Isn't UW-Madison worth as mum as Marquette? In the Norquist refs above, you can learn that he believes the best K-12 schooling is home schooling. These people live in worlds of wealth and privilege, and they simply have, no concern at all for anyone who doesn't.
So, yes, WMC has been and is killing public education (at all levels) in Wisconsin. Enjoy Ireland! My stepdaughter did her study-abroad in Gallway and loved it.


There you have it folks, a thoughtful, and truly enlightened analysis of conservative economic and social policy from our former Chancellor. It’s important to note how Wiley took great care not to cast aspirations on people because of their affiliations, or to fall into the old trap of stereotyping people he does not know personally.

When Wiley says, “These people live in worlds of wealth and privilege, and they simply have no concern for anyone who doesn’t,” Wiley is merely establishing the fact that unlike University Chancellors who are living hand to mouth, barely eking out an existence on anywhere from $340,000- $437,000 a year, and forced to live in musty old public housing units in desperate need of renovation, these corporate big shots and their Association staff, are clearly living the life of Riley.

Finally, we were impressed to see that Wiley utilizes state of the art technology to conduct his research, and that he relies exclusively on accurate, credible, and unbiased sources for his information. Perhaps he can eliminate the use of textbooks in his new role as Professor of Public Affairs and Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, by simply referring students to online sources such as WMC Watch and Soglin’s blog, Waxing America. Maybe he’ll even teach them to use Google.

If you’re impressed with former Chancellor Wiley too, give him a call.  Better yet, give Chancellor Martin a shout. 

(608) 262-9946
Email camartin@bascom.wisc

Selective Speech

In reviewing Wiley’s e-mails, another interesting fact stands out: the UW’s legal counsel unilaterally decided to redact certain portions of the documents that they deemed “personal” in nature. This appears to give the University a great deal of leeway in deciding what portions of the open records law they must obey and what portions they can ignore. In blacking out certain passages they deem non-germane, the UW has made itself the sole determinant of what information is public and what is not.

Under the UW open records policy, records that are deemed patently embarrassing to members of the University are not subject to disclosure. It will be left to the legislature or the media to pry open the remaining records deemed non-germane or just too humiliating to print.

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