January 8, 2012

Full interview: Gov. Scott Walker, Dec. 23, 2011

Gov. Walker talks with Center reporter Bill Lueders about his regrets over the past year, his approach to conflict, his thoughts on out-of-state money that has flooded Wisconsin’s politics, and how he got the yearbook nickname “Desperado.”

The interview comes at the end of a year of extraordinary turbulence in Wisconsin that began when Walker introduced a plan to strip most collective bargaining rights from public workers. Walker, whose opponents are trying to recall him, says he wishes he’d sold his changes better beforehand — but stands by them.

Length: About 22 minutes
Location: Governor’s mansion, Madison, Wis.

Produced by Kate Golden.

  • Peggy Lemahieu

    Dear Mr. Lueders, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalist

    As I listened to your interview on WPR and read your articles, I was amazed how conciliatory and positive you sounded about Scott Walker and his governing tactics. What really amazed me, while interviewing him, you asked about his improper election and campaign materials while attending Marquette University. You failed to follow up on his reason for not completing his college degree when there are rumors about wrong doings. You narrated a nice story by his mother but no mention of his outright lies and/or half-truths as he discusses his legislative accomplishments . I did not see any critical questioning about his use of executive appointments and centralizing decisions/rules in his office and the DOA that previously were crafted in the legislature.

    What really surprised and alarmed me at the same time, was your acceptance and support of his dogmatic and unyielding way. You noted “ main reason he’s held firm on core issues is that it was right: “The objective if you get elected is to do the things you said you were going to do for voters.” Where was the critical come back to this statement by Walker, collective bargaining and other issues where not part of his promises?

    You noted this comment on collective bargaining, “Walker insists his decision to pursue collective bargaining changes “had nothing to do” with the national conservative movement. It had to do with his experience in Milwaukee County, where he felt hamstrung by union intransigence.” Where were the appropriate questions from you, on the fact he never mentioned collective bargaining issues in his year + campaign for governor? Where did this intransigence evident in his time in Milwaukee? If it had nothing to do with the conservative right, why did it come out as an important legislative policy after he and others attended a conservative right wing meeting prior to taking office? Where were your questions on why the collective bargaining legislation was so similar to legislation proposed by ALEC and used by other states?

    You also spoke on WPR in an awe like manner about how Walker is a different type of governor, not like other politicians. It seemed you had already determined Walker’s qualities were to be respected and applauded.

    You mentioned he “ had a longtime penchant for brinkmanship”. Why was this not examined as being or not being an effective governing leadership quality ? When legislators stated, “the governor isn’t interested in compromise or negotiation and has even spurned input from legislative Republicans: “Scott Walker comes in and says, ‘I’m driving,’ and treats us like kids in the back seat, telling us to shut up.” Why did you not examine this form of leadership and its impact on effective governing?

    “Compromise is so unpalatable to him.” How does this fit with the need to work both sides of the isle? Since when did compromise and collaboration in order to achieve great legislative outcomes benefitting all citizens of the state become dirty leadership methods?

    I am amazed you did not critically look at Walker’s personality as related to leadership skills for effective governing. Did you give this any consideration in your interviews? I was looking for a more investigative attitude on whether Walker’s methods are benefitting the state. Are they worthy of the Wisconsin ideal of open and honest government, and supportive of the history and hard fought accomplishments for clean government of Bob La Follette.

    The interview seemed like a friendly sit down with little reference to how his political management skills are changing the life and social structure of our state for better or worse. Why didn’t you take his personality and political traits and analyze how they have impacted the outcome of his legislative budget agenda. A journalistic investigation of each individual budget item and its impact on business, social safety net, middle class and poor would be helpful to inform the public in a non-partisan way.

    Sincerely,
    Peggy LeMahieu