2010 was a busy year for the MacIver News Service as a whole and their investigative reporter in particular. While we covered a wide variety of topics, including the development and eventual derailment of the Madison to Milwaukee train project, the recent controversy surrounding the state labor contracts and the ongoing fiscal problems with the state budget–this year-end retrospective covers the work we did on video and focuses on stories that were MNS exclusives.
Joe Biden Plugs Free Markets…and Sweeping, New Government Intervention
Vice President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner came to UWM in April to make a case for financial sector reform. The MacIver News Service was very interested in attending this event, but the organizers weren’t so interested in returning our phone calls. So we showed up anyway. Biden’
s press people welcomed us into the event, giving us credentials on the spot. During the event, our cameras caught an interesting pitch from the vice president as he argued for a free market economy, while Geithner and Congresswoman Gwen Moore argued for taking over failing banks.
Wisconsin Pushing Forward with ObamaCare Implementation
The Doyle Administration was so excited about ObamaCare, it started planning for a state insurance exchange right away, even though the law didn’t require them until 2014. The University of Wisconsin held a symposium at the Capitol to talk about some of the issues that would come up in setting up the exchanges. The MacIver News Service stumped a national expert when we asked why Wisconsin should set up the exchanges now, when the federal government has not yet given any guidance on what it expects from the exchanges.
Milwaukee Teachers Now Aware of Budget Mess at MPS
For weeks the MPS Board of Directors had been talking about laying off 700 educators, including 500 teachers. However, only a handful of educators ever showed up to the meetings to defend their jobs. Then when the layoff notices went out, less than 200 people participated in a protest in front of the administration building, and only a fraction of them were the ones actually getting laid off. The MacIver News Service asks some of those who did come out for the protest why they never attended any of the budget meetings and why so few of their fellow teachers were at the rally with them.
WEAC Pockets Stimulus Cash
While combing through records of stimulus spending in Wisconsin, the MacIver News Service noticed the New Holstein School District used its stimulus funds to pay $416,219.32 to WEA Trust for health insurance and another $237, 861.68 to utility companies. Guidance from the Federal Government stated stimulus money could not be used for these types of expenses. It turns out there was a loophole, but our investigation got WEAC pretty upset. They sent out notices to their members about us, claiming we weren’t really reporters. Here’s out news story about it.
DNR Publishes, Distributes Global Warming Textbook
Sometimes the best stories are hidden in plain view. That was the case with the DNR’s Global Warming Textbook, which anyone can download right off the DNR’s website. The book is distributed to schools around the state, and Representative Jim Ott says it appears to be an indoctrination tool for the global warming lobby.
Did Wisconsin Lie on Race to the Top Application?
It stinks when you lose, but it’s even worse when you cheat and still lose. That’s what happened to Wisconsin in its quest for a Race to the Top education grant. The state claimed there are no enrollment caps for charter schools, but the state’s statutes claim something different.
About those Green Jobs…
Wisconsin’s global warming bill wanted 25 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025. Right now, utilities are required to bump up its renewable energy percentage to 10 percent by 2015, and even that is proving difficult. The fact is Wisconsin doesn’t have much potential for wind energy, so the companies are outsourcing electricity production to states that do. Howard County, Iowa is benefiting from that Wisconsin policy in jobs, rent money, and property taxes.
MPS Has 17 Painters on Staff at $98k/year
There are days when MPS seems like an onion, and every layer you peel away reveals new and startling facts. During the budget debate this spring, we learned the district employs dozens of full time tradesmen. The board was talking about laying off 17 of its painters. When we learned what those painters made, a lot of people in the community could understand why they were on the chopping block.
Lawmaker Removed from Committee Prior to Controversial Vote
The MacIver News Service followed the state’s controversial global warming bill very closely, which meant we attended a lot of committee meetings that otherwise would have been ignored. It led to some interesting discoveries. Right before an assembly committee was about to vote on the bill, it was revealed that a key democrat was removed from the committee. We were there to chronicle that discovery and quickly learned about the closed-door politics that led to the decision.
Average MPS Compensation Tops $100k
Other than the headline itself, this story tops our list for another extraordinary reason. We were in a room packed with Milwaukee reporters when this announcement was made, and somehow we got the exclusive on it. Why? Your guess is as good as ours.