Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Potted Plants? Well...

The chairman of the outgoing State Elections Board has been grousing about the $467 per diem each of the six retired judges on the new Government Accountability Board will get for meetings. The new board, expected to start work this fall, will replace the existing Elections and Ethics boards.

Each of the Elections Board's eight partisan, political appointees is paid $25 per meeting.

John Savage, a Milwaukee attorney and GOP appointee to the board, recently told the Shepherd Express the GAB members don't deserve to be paid that much just because they are judges, and they alread get a state pension.

Referring to the present board, Savage asks, "Are we potted plants?"

Well, if you don't want to know the answer maybe you shouldn't ask the question.

The Elections Board's legacy will be one of helping foster the decrepit political and policymaking environment we have now because it refused to enforce Wisconsin's campaign finance laws and penalties. It helped create an atmosphere in which six former legislative leaders were charged and convicted on a variety of misdemeanor or felony misconduct and other ethics charges. The investigations, charges and convictions were courtesy of outside law enforcement and not the board.

The board's inaction also has emboldened wealthy special interest contributors to make more and bigger campaign contributions, sometimes exceeding the legal limit, and run vicious media campaigns to elect officials who will oblige them and not the public.

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