At this point in time, the Walkergate investigation has yielded four convictions on a wide array of charges. The first person to be charged and convicted was railroad tycoon William E. Gardner, who so wanted to see a Walker administration that he was willing to illegally donate corporate money to Walker's campaign.
Gardner's railroad empire, Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Company, ran through most of southern and eastern Wisconsin, utilizing state-owned tracks. This obviously made the decisions of the future governor important to the success of his business.
In order to gain influence on Walker's decision making, Gardner had employees make political donations to Walker's campaign and then reimburse them with his company's money.
Gardner was arrested, charged and convicted of making illegal campaign contributions. Thus he will forever be in the history books as the first of the Walker Six to be convicted.
But his efforts did not go unnoticed or unrewarded by Walker. To reward his wannabe benefactor, Walker made changes in the law and in administrative code which was favorable to Wisconsin & Southern.
As if to rub it in the face of every good Wisconsinite, the Governor of Fitzwalkerstan flaunted his pay for play antics by having a model Wisconsin & Southern train circling the Christmas tree.
Furthermore, it looked like Gardner was about to cash in on his efforts to further the cause. Another railroad company, Watco Transportation Services, which is based in Kansas, was buying Wisconsin & Southern. It was purely coincidental that Watco's largest customer was none other than Koch Industries. Officials from both companies denied up and down that there was any correlation between Watco's relationship to the Kochs, Walker's relationship with the Kochs and Gardner helping Walker out. They wouldn't lie, right?
But the story doesn't end there, because, as the gentle reader already knows, in Fitzwalkerstan, there is more. There is always more.
It turns out that Watco has been slowly but steadily siphoning jobs from Wisconsin to Kansas. First, the payroll and accounting jobs were taken over by the main office in Kansas and those Wisconsin jobs ended.
Now more jobs are about to head south as well:
While Gov. Scott Walker and other state officials are focused on bringing jobs to Wisconsin, Watco Transportation Services, which in January bought Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, is sending them out of state, a source with knowledge of the workings of the company says.
Of the approximately 250 people who work for Wisconsin & Southern, at least 30 can expect to see their positions transferred to Watco’s company headquarters in Pittsburg, Kan. The changes at Wisconsin & Southern since it was sold have left some managers demoralized and looking for new jobs, says the source, a longtime Wisconsin & Southern manager who doesn’t want to be named for fear of repercussions.
The situation has already resulted in the departure of some managers, says the source, which was confirmed by a state official.
"A few managers have left, but I think that was of their own accord -- I'm not sure," says Frank Huntington of the state Department of Transportation's Bureau of Rails and Harbors.
The jobs potentially being transferred are administrative and managerial positions at the railroad’s Milwaukee headquarters, but could also include dispatching and customer service, leaving only repair, track maintenance and locomotive personnel. Payroll and accounting functions have already been sent to Kansas, says the source.
Yuppers, classical Fitzwalkerstan tale so far. Pay for play, Walkergate, corruption, job losses and intimidation. The only thing missing is betrayal.
Oh, wait, I spoke too soon!
Look at what really happened to Gardner who sacrificed his career and his freedom for Walker:
One position that's been vacated is that of former Wisconsin & Southern President Bill Gardner, who, according to the source, was pushed out last month after complaining about the way Watco has gone about operating the railroad. A flashpoint between Watco and Gardner was the firing of a company manager, which Gardner objected to.Ah, now it's a classic Fitzwalkerstan tale.
In January, Watco bought 90 percent of the railroad from Gardner, who kept 10 percent ownership of the company. The financial terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed, but the source says Watco purchased the 90 percent share of the company for $63 million. Gardner’s take was pushed to over $70 million when he sold his remaining stake in the company last month.
My story Wednesday quoted a Wisconsin & Southern official saying Gardner left the company on good terms to pursue other opportunities in the rail industry.
The Wisconsin & Southern source says Gardner was basically shoved out the door. The source says that Watco had originally promised Gardner that he could stay with the company to help “take it to the next level” by expanding Wisconsin & Southern’s operations with access to Watco’s rail lines and corporate connections. But after taking control of the railroad Watco brought in its own management team, which told Gardner he would no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations.
Calls to Gardner’s home earlier this week were not answered. Watco Cos. CEO Rick Webb didn’t return messages Thursday seeking comment. The company’s chief information officer, Cheryl Correll, also didn’t return a phone call.
The only thing is I really don't understand why so many people are having such a hard time learning the moral of these tales and keep supporting Walker and his friends. You'd think that the sense of preservation would kick in at some point. Then again, one might have said that about the folks at Jonestown too.