Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Assessing -- Part 3: The abuse of state resources

"Reforms and Results" site hardly pretends to be a non-partisan, governmental resource

Having looked at some of the content found within it (part 1, part 2), it behooves us to analyze the purpose behind the "Reforms and Results" website itself. Located at, it's clear that the site is a misuse of state resources for the purposes of political "campaigning." Tax dollars should never be spent to promote an individual for a political purpose -- but that's exactly what's being done on this state-run site.

The context of "Reforms and Results" frames the "accomplishments" that the state has seen (a questionable claim itself) as wholly-owned by Gov. Scott Walker, as goals reached by an individual and not by Wisconsin.
When Scott Walker was sworn in as the 45th Governor of Wisconsin on January 3rd, he told the crowd, "What is failing us is not our people or our places. What is failing us is the expanse of government. But we can do something about it right here, right now, today."

And he did.
How dramatic.

The spin on the site is deplorable as well, but typical for what a candidate for political office might use. For example, Walker -- er, uh, the state of Wisconsin -- touts the first six months of job growth as an accomplishment worth taking note of:
"During the first six months of 2011, the private sector in Wisconsin created nearly 40,000 new jobs"
But the site disregards three straight months of job losses following that, doesn't even include resources for attaining either statistic (for fact-checking purposes), and celebrates a job-growth number from earlier this year that has since been halved.

That's improper use for a site that is meant to provide a truthful analysis of the policies passed this year.

It's clear the site is nothing more than a promotional device for Gov. Walker ahead of the recall petition drive. It's about par for Walker, though, who has done similar things while County Executive in Milwaukee -- including taking a state-wide joy-ride on a Harley Davidson using taxpayer dollars in order to promote himself during a gubernatorial election year...or rather, as he put it, to promote "Milwaukee County."

But if you're still not convinced, consider what viewing the website would entail in any other media format.

On a television, it'd be a campaign ad;

On the roadside, a campaign billboard;

Read over the airwaves, a radio campaign;

In the mailbox, a campaign mailer.

No matter which way you put it, it can only be seen as a promotion of Walker, serving political gain, not educating the public on the issues involved.

The site even includes partisan jabs at the former governor, touting Walker's current accomplishments over what was done in the past. That's fine to point out -- on Walker's own dime. But playing a game of "I'm-better-than-you-are" is really something that shouldn't be a part of a state government's website.

Don't misinterpret what I'm getting at: the governor and the state are both free to promote themselves (together or separately) for the "accomplishments" they've performed. If it were otherwise, we might one day enter a situation of not knowing things that people in government do, good or bad. But self-promotion, uniquely timed after your opponents' recall intentions are announced, that omit remaining challenges your policies face, and exaggerate the "greatness" of your leadership, serves only one purpose: a political one.

Considered in every context offered, the "Reforms and Results" website, administered through use of Wisconsin taxpayer dollars, is political posturing, nothing more. It can hardly even be called a proper place to become informed about the issues involved as it is one-sided and blatantly subjective material in favor of Gov. Walker, without even a hint of consideration into what wrongs he's done.

It should be removed from the web, and an apology should be issued to the taxpayers of the state.

Read more:
Part 1: Jobs
Part 2: WI School districts and Act 10

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