- The Big Picture - http://www.ritholtz.com/blog -

The Less Discussed Part of Walker’s Wisconsin Plan: No-Bid Energy Assets Firesales.

Posted By Guest Author On February 22, 2011 @ 11:30 am In Politics,Really, really bad calls,Think Tank | Comments Disabled

Mike Konczal is a fellow with the Roosevelt Institute, and is a blogger at the Rortybomb [1] Blog and New Deal 2.0. [2]

Originally posted here [3]


Have you heard about 16.896?

The fight in Wisconsin is over Governor Walker’s 144-page Budget Repair Bill. [4] The parts everyone is focusing on have to do with the right to collectively bargain being stripped from public sector unions (except for the unions that supported Walker running for Governor [5]). Focusing on this misses a large part of what the bill would do. Check out this language, from the same bill (my bold):

16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

The bill would allow for the selling of state-owned heating/cooling/power plants without bids and without concern for the legally-defined public interest.  This excellent catch is from Ed at ginandtacos.com [6] (who, speaking of Madison, took me to the Essen Haus [7] on my 21st birthday, where the night began to go sideways). Ed correctly notes:

If this isn’t the best summary of the goals of modern conservatism, I don’t know what is. It’s like a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism. Extra bonus points for the explicit effort to legally redefine the term “public interest” as “whatever the energy industry lobbyists we appoint to these unelected bureaucratic positions say it is.”

In case it isn’t clear where the naked cronyism comes in, remember which large, politically active private interest loves [8] buying up power plants and already has considerable interests in Wisconsin [9]. Then consider their demonstrated eagerness [10] to help Mr. Walker get elected and bus in carpetbaggers to have a sad little pro-Mubarak style “rally” in his honor [11]. There are dots to be connected here, but doing so might not be in the public interest.

It’s important to think of this battle as a larger one over the role of the state. The attempt to break labor is part of the same continuous motion as saying that the crony, corporatist selling of state utilities to the Koch brothers and other energy interests is the new “public interest.”

Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2011/02/walkers-plan-no-bid-energy-assets-firesales/

URLs in this post:

[1] Rortybomb: http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/

[2] New Deal 2.0.: http://www.newdeal20.org/2010/05/06/thoughts-on-the-sec-1977-edition-10566/

[3] here: http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/02/21/how-walkers-wisconsin-plan-allows-for-the-selling-of-energy-assets-with-no-bids-36483/

[4] 144-page Budget Repair Bill.: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/data/JR1SB-11.pdf

[5] supported Walker running for Governor: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2011/02/scrooge-ism_in_wisconsin_part.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

[6] catch is from Ed at ginandtacos.com: http://www.ginandtacos.com/2011/02/21/stand-and-deliver/

[7] Essen Haus: http://www.essen-haus.com/

[8] loves: http://www.kochind.com/ViewPoint/climateEnergy.aspx

[9] already has considerable interests in Wisconsin: http://www.kochind.com/factsSheets/WisconsinFacts.aspx

[10] demonstrated eagerness: http://markcrispinmiller.com/2011/02/big-surprise-not-gov-walker-is-a-creature-of-koch-industries/

[11] bus in carpetbaggers to have a sad little pro-Mubarak style “rally” in his honor: http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/116519738.html

Copyright © 2008 The Big Picture. All rights reserved.