Milwaukee County Executive and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Walker is a very generous man to his friends.
One of his long time pals, Tim Russell, can attest to that.
The friendship between Walker and Russell go back many years. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article from 2002, Russell is "an old friend" of Walker's (emphasis mine):
For the exec's race, Dennik hired Tim Russell, a 38-year-old South Sider who is an old friend of Walker's and used to run Tommy Thompson's Milwaukee office. He also brought on Jim Villa, a 30-year-old former top aide to Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills, to work with the electronic media and coordinate direct mail.
Another article appeared two weeks later, this one written by Cary Spivak and Dan Bice, which indicated just how well Walker was willing to reward Russell, even then:
Two other Walker cronies expected to snag jobs in the third-floor county exec office: Bob Dennik, a former lobbyist who managed Walker's election effort, and Tim Russell, who used to run former Gov. Tommy Thompson's Milwaukee office. Russell, active in the group that represents gays in the Republican Party, was soundly defeated in a bid for an Assembly seat in 2000 but is said to be eyeing another run for a Capitol slot.community relations director:
Walker’s last two choices to lead the county economic development office, Bob Dennik and Tim Russell, came from his campaign and lacked depth in the development business, Clark said. Dennik left the post this week to become an executive with a Pewaukee construction company. Russell is now Walker’s community relations director.
After that, Walker appointed Russell as his Assistant Chief of Staff, where Russell was reportedly bringing in more than $50,000 per year. I'm not sure if Russell was included or not regarding the exorbitant raises that Walker gave to other members of his top staff in 2008, but I think the safe bet would be that he was indeed one of the beneficiaries.
But even those raises would pale in comparison to the bump in pay that Russell recently received. I have just learned today, that on this past Friday, Walker promoted Russell to the position of Administrator of the Division of Housing. Now, I don't know exactly what Russell's new salary is, but I would think it reasonable to presume that it is somewhere in the range of his predecessor, James Hill, who had retired last fall. According to JSOnline's Data on Demand, in 2008, James Hill received a salary of $110,571:
That would mean that Walker has just given his long time crony and former campaign staffer a raise in the neighbor hood of $50,000 doubling his salary. That is just like the raise he gave himself two years ago.
We are in a time of history when the entire nation is trying to pull itself out of a deep recession and unemployment is still very high. Many people in Milwaukee County, as well as the entire state and country, have lost their jobs and their homes.
At the same time, Walker, claiming a fiscal crisis in Milwaukee County (even though it is one that he intentionally created) has laid off scores of county workers and has demanded large concessions from the remaining workers. He has also cut, if not eliminated, many of the services on which our most vulnerable citizens depend. On top of that, Walker has also cut many services that all citizens enjoy, like the parks and the transit systems.
For Walker to now give himself and his cronies raises so exorbitant that they are bigger than most people's entire annual salaries is simply scandalous and should not be tolerated.
Cross posted at Milwaukee County First.