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Daily Bread for 10.10.22: He Won’t Divest — He’ll Only Say He Has

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 67. Sunrise is 7:03 AM and sunset 6:19 PM for 11h 16m 22s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 99.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets at 6 PM

On this day in 1492, the crew of Christopher Columbus‘s ship, the Santa Maria, attempt a mutiny. 


The Journal Sentinel’s Corrinne Hess and Laura Schulte report that Tim Michels says he will divest from his family business if he’s elected governor. Experts say that will be a difficult task:

Tim Michels, Wisconsin’s Republican candidate for governor, is pitching himself as a successful businessman who can turn around state government.

But if he gets to the governor’s mansion he’ll have to figure out how to untangle his interests from his family’s construction business, which has received more than $1 billion from state road contracts and has ties to a pipeline project that is awaiting a key environmental study.

Michels, co-owner of Michels Corp., the state’s largest construction company, has said he’ll divest himself from the business but has not provided any details.

Experts say his task won’t be easy.  

State records show the Brownsville-based Michels Corp. has received more than $1.1 billion from Wisconsin for construction projects since 2014. 

When Tim Michels entered the governor’s race in April, he said he hoped the company would continue to compete for state work if he won the race for governor. 

He estimated his company had made about $1.3 billion in state road contracts since 2008, during an April 25 interview with conservative host Jay Weber on WISN-AM (1130). 

(Emphasis added.)

The story highlights two points about Michels. First, Hess’s and Schulte’s reporting shows how Michels’s business has been dependent on, if not parasitic of, government spending.

(Admittedly, Tim Michels is not merely a landlord in Whitewater whose business has been dependent on, if not parasitic of, a public university. Michels has worked on a bigger scale.)

Second, Michels talks about the primacy of private industry over public spending (he’s right!) but if he should take office, there’s likely to be finagling about the separation between public and private. Worse, he still wants his hand in the till for more publicly-funded contracts.

(In Whitewater, this would be like a councilman insisting that the city’s Community Development Authority should operate as though private when it is, in fact, a public body organized under state law and local ordinances. These landlords, bankers, and public relations men like to talk private while serving on public bodies.)

Public or private: pick one. Failing to choose leads too easily to regulatory capture — private business interests dominating public bodies in self-interested, anti-market directions.  


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3 months ago

This has been top of mind in the consideration of the gubernatorial race for this Wisconsin resident.