Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Welcome To Wisconsin: Now Made In Georgia
The annals of "WTF?" in the Walker Administration are extensive for such a brief administration, but a new chapter has been written this week that deserves special notice.
The blue highway signs, so pervasive across the state, have been maintained for 28 years by the Derse-Wisconsin Highway Business Sign Company out of Milwaukee. Derse used to make signs in Racine for a awhile, but moved to Chicago in the late nineties. Since then, they have expanded to several states and built a facility in Milwaukee.
Earlier in the year, chatter began indicating Derse might lose its contract to out of state competitors.
Odd. With job loss draining away in Wisconsin, who would be stupid enough to end a contract with a Wisconsin company that maintains Wisconsin highway signs and award the contract to a company in Georgia?
You know the answer kids. Scott Walker, that's who!
Now get this: The company, Lamar Advertising, which is based in Louisiana, offered to to keep the price for sign maintenance literally the same as Derse by farming it out to one of their subsidiaries in Georgia. Except Derse offered to do the job for less than they ever had - which would have meant a sizable price decrease for the businesses that advertise on them.
The contract is good for 10 years.
According to the Journal Sentinel, on the contract scoring tally, Derse came in just a mere 22 points behind Lamar out of a possible thousand points. (For the record, we'd like to see that tally list which doesn't award a contract to a Wisconsin based company, who has done the job for more than two decades and is willing to do it for less money.)
Is Derse not on the right side of the political tracks? Well, no. Employees of Derse have forked over more than $45,000 to state Republicans over the years - but Jim Derse is dead and he made the lion share of contributions.
Guess who started making political contributions to Scott Walker around recall season? The folks at Lamar Advertising. Lamar has busted out over $1 million dollars in political contributions over the last decade - and that's the kind of cash Walker has developed a taste for.
Derse doesn't even score a single hit at Open Secrets.
The Siren is going to make a suggestion to Mary Burke: Start talking about it. Loud and repeatedly.
People are busy, people are dumb. They don't understand BLS reports and they don't care if people get kicked off Badgercare (as long as it isn't them). THIS they understand. All you have to say is:
SCOTT WALKER GAVE A HIGHWAY SIGN CONTRACT TO AN OUT OF STATE COMPANY OVER A CHEAPER WISCONSIN COMPANY BECAUSE THEY HAVE DEEP POCKETS.
It even fits a Tweet. This is NOT how you run a business or a state.