Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson has weighed in on the Wisconsin labor protests, and is zeroing in on a measure that potentially could benefit Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s wealthy campaign contributors: the oil billionaire Koch brothers.
In a personal blog, Carlson, a Republican who served from 1991 to 1999, raises smart questions about a provision in Walker’s “budget repair bill” that deals with the no-bid sale of state-owned energy facilities.
Carlson not only questions whether the Koch brothers’ might have a business interest in this, but points out that this is the antithesis of the free-market philosophy at the heart of Republican party philosophy.
"Certainly this empowerment should be disturbing to all particularly conservatives. How is it in the public’s interest to give such extraordinary power to one person (the Governor) who can dispose of taxpayer-owned facilities without public hearings, without legislative review, and without competitive bids?” Carlson writes.
“In essence, publicly owned energy facilities can be sold like used furniture.”
Carlson also criticizes Walker for playing favorites with some public sector unions; police and firefighters are exempt from Walker’s bid to severely curtail other public workers’ collective bargaining rights.
Carlson also has sharp words about the prank phone call taken by the Wisconsin governor last week — the call ostensibly was from one of the Koch brothers. Americans for Prosperity, a special interest group with strong ties to the Koch brothers, is running ads in Wisconsin in support of Walker.
Carlson concludes that Walker’s willingness to take a faux Koch phone call raises troubling questions about the Wisconsin governor’s priorities.
Carlson is not a fan of Walker’s hardline approach and says the state -- and the nation -- would be served by more pragmatic leadership that unites people around public policy instead of dividing them.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.