Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

How much is that contract in the window?


Spivak & Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found out just what former Administration Secretary Marc Marotta (and current Doyle campaign chairman) meant when he said he was hands off when it came to state contracts. They go into detail on the Kenilworth Building contract:

For being as hands-off on state contracts as he says he was, former Administration Secretary Marc Marotta’s fingerprints are all over a $68.7 million building deal near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Newly disclosed state records show that Marotta met with officials for J. P. Cullen & Sons in October 2003 to hear them gripe that a competitor should not have tentatively won the huge job of converting the Kenilworth Building near UWM into student housing, classrooms and retail stores.

Then, on Jan. 21, 2004, Marotta spent 45 minutes with a lobbyist and lawyer for Cullen just hours before the state Building Commission deferred action on the Kenilworth project to ask Marotta’s agency to offer a legal opinion on the deal.

Shortly after that, Marotta recommended that the Building Commission not give the contract to Prism – which had been selected by UWM officials and the UW Board of Regents – but instead rebid the deal. The Building Commission unanimously followed the recommendation in February 2004. In the end, however, Cullen didn’t get the deal.

David Hanson, the Cullen attorney at the Marotta meeting, said he asked for face time with the secretary the day of the commission meeting “to find out what recommendation, if any, DOA would be making to the Building Commission.”

“Why did we go to Marotta? Where else would you go?” asked Eric Petersen, a heavy-hitting lobbyist who represented Cullen and its partner on the project. “The university circled the wagons, and then we went to Marotta.”

J. P. Cullen & Sons did not get the contract, despite doing the heavy lifting. Instead it went to a team comprising Weas Development, KBS Construction and Hammel, Green & Abrahamson. Having sowed a little goodwill, the Doyle campaign reaped.

Calendars for Marotta and Doyle show the two attended a Sept. 29, 2005, fund-raiser at the Lake Drive home of Doug Weas, whose firm is a partner in the group that eventually beat out the Cullen group and won the Kenilworth contract after it was put out to bid a second time. Weas’ firm and its partners have given $51,000 to Doyle since late 2003, including $12,500 deposited in the days after the event at Weas’ home.

Weas and spokesmen for Doyle and Marotta all said the soiree, which was attended by 40 to 50 people, was not connected to the Kenilworth project in any way – with one exception:

“When I got to meet him (Doyle) through the Kenilworth project, I realized he was the type of guy who I enjoyed,” said Weas, who added he admires Doyle’s policies on economic development and job creation. Weas, who leans Republican, had never given to Doyle before, but he chipped $750 into ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson’s campaign.

If this keeps up, Marotta is going to need to travel to Africa again.

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