Tuesday, January 30, 2018

No, You Man Up

The UW-Oshkosh Foundation remains bound and determined to make sure that Wisconsin taxpayers get stuck with the bill for their financial irresponsibility.  After a Federal Bankruptcy Judge in Milwaukee ruled last week that the UW System could not be dropped as a defendant in the lawsuit filed against it by the Foundation, the Foundation's attorney--Paul Swanson--was quoted as saying "The Legislature should just man up and settle this thing".  Swanson was referring to lawmakers' refusal to approve a bailout plan that would have seen the state pay the $16-million the Foundation owes on such projects as the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center, along with two biodigesters.

But what Attorney Swanson should have said is that he thinks taxpayers "man up and settle this thing"--because its not "the Legislature" that is putting up the money.  It's very easy to cast lawmakers as the Boogeymen in this scenario--like they are the bad guys who are sitting on their own pile of cash and the poor charitable Foundation is made to suffer.

The real bad guys were the Foundation President that sat with a former Chancellor and Vice Chancellor and hatched a plan to not only improperly suggest that the school (again with taxpayer dollars) would pay for any loans on which the Foundation defaulted.  And the bad guys were the Foundation executives and bookkeepers that devised a way to cover up inappropriate payments made from the school to the Foundation to pay for those loans.  Not a single legislator or taxpayer was involved in any of those meetings or authorized the cover up of any of those payments.

And yet Attorney Swanson--and for that matter the entire Foundation Board of Directors--still believes that you and me are responsible for paying for their mistakes.  You know what would really represent "manning up"?  Admitting that the Foundation is the one at fault in this situation--not the taxpayers of Wisconsin--and repaying their debts.  The real legal battle in this bankruptcy proceeding is the Foundation seeking to preserve the $30-million in assets it holds--versus the 19-million it has in debts.  Oh, and the interest on those defaulted loans continues to compound--just digging a deeper hole for the Foundation.

And if that means kids lose scholarships and professors lose grant monies for research projects, don't complain about how "legislators" or "the taxpayers are to blame.  You made this bed--and now you can lie in it.

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