Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wisconsin Budget Bill Would Sell Off Dirty Plants – No Bids

Koch Industries “furiously” denying it will profit from such a deal

Madison – Aging black smoke power plants owned by the State of Wisconsin are up for grabs at no-bid bargain basement prices – if a budget repair bill closely allied with the union busting legislation pending happens to pass.

Liberal on-line news outlets such as MSNBC, Bloomberg, Salon, Gin and Tacos, and DailyKos are blaring reports that the proposed legislation would benefit the giant conglomerate owned mostly by the brothers Koch, David and Charles, billionaire supporters of the Tea Party, Americans For Prosperity, and other libertarian causes.

The heating and electical generation plants are located at penitentiaries, the University of Wisconsin, and other state government installations.

More moderate commentators like the Milwaukee “Journal-Sentinel” and Forbes, are calling the deal “unusual." Said Forbes writer Rick Unger, “At best, it is highly irregular that a state legislature would grant the executive the power to sell off or lease public utilities without a bidding process...At worse – well, I would hate to think that such a bargain could be struck all for the benefit of one company.”

At the heart of the matter is the fact that Governor Scott Walker has benefited from large political contributions from the ultra-conservative Koch brothers.

Gov. Scott was duped recently into believing he was speaking with Mr. Koch in a phone call placed as a hoax by a Buffalo on-line journalist who got him to talking about putting thugs and troublemakers in the huge crowds of people demonstrating at the Wisconsin state capitol against legislation that would end collective bargaining for teachers', fireman's and police officers' unions.

In fact, the Governor bragged to the “Buffalo Beast” editor that he was following in the footsteps of President Ronald Reagan, the former president of the Screen Actors Guild who served the FBI as a paid confidential informant during his tenure as a labor leader, later became the corporate spokesman for power plant builder General Electric, Governor of California and President of the U.S.

Stipulated in the power plant bill is the language that the Wisconsin Department of Administration “may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state.”

The Koch Industries flacks responded by saying, “The power plant assertion is one more example of many falsehoods and speculation made by a vested interest that gets picked up and repeated over and over in the media.”

According to the Sierra Club acitivist Jennifer Feyerherm, who was quoted in the Milwaukee newspaper, “The state knows darn well that it has got compliance issues with these aging coal plants, and so the violations are going to have to be corrected...How the governor thinks he can put lipstick on that pig and sell huge financial and environmental liabilities to someone else, good luck. Bottom line, those plants need to be cleaned up.”

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