Thursday, March 31, 2011

Capitol Building Repairs - The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Part 2

In an article published yesterday,The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on the results of an open records request it made for calculations done by the Walker Adminstration before they paraded Cari Anne Renlund. a DOA attorney, into Judge Albert's courtroom on March 3 in the effort to keep access to the Capitol building restricted to the public.  Ms. Renlund testified that the building had suffered significant damage due to the presence of the protester in February and March, then put a whopping $7,500,000 price tag on the clean-up and restoration.

The basis for Ms. Renlund's testimony?  A one page hand-written note by Dan Stephens, a state architect, dated the same day as her testimony.  I didn't hear or read details about her testimony, but let me imagine the pre-courtroom preparation:   "What if the protestors' attorneys ask me if I have seen any written estimates backing up that number?"  "Here, let me write some numbers down, but don't take this into the courtroom."

At least the estimate wasn't on a bar napkin. 

The $7,500,000 estimate went viral, and caused the right-wing press and blogosphere to rant about the destructive protestors in Madison.  The Lieutenant Governor posted the figure on her Facebook page that generated considerable outrage.  It served the Adminstration's political purpose, and the Adminstration quickly backed off the number the next day.   DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch wrote a letter on March 9 telling Judge Albert the number was the best he could do under the circumstances when he testified on March 3.

 Politifacts has rated the $7,500,000 claim in the "Pants on Fire" Liar category.  To the best of my knowledge, that is the worst rating on the Politifacts' scale of political mendacity .

Presumably, Dan Stephens and anyone he wanted to bring in as an expert in stone restoration could have walked through the Capitol building the night before Ms. Renlund's testimony. The Adminstration could then have come up with an honest estimate based on the physical facts existing at the building.

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