Deconstructing Mary Burke’s Resume

In light of the recent news that Mary Burke was fired from Trek, it is worthwhile to evaluate her resume in more depth. I briefly examined her job history in a column last month, but let’s take a closer look from the perspective of a potential future employer.

After graduating with an MBA from Harvard, Burke was a consultant for a couple of companies for a couple of years. This is a relatively common and easy path for a newly-minted Harvard grad to take. After a short tenure with no notable achievements, Burke was hired by her father’s company to run their European operations in 1993. After three years in this position, Burke left the company for a two-year snowboarding sabbatical.

This is an interesting event in Burke’s job history. Burke originally claimed that after doing a remarkable job and growing sales from $3 million to $50 million, she was burnt out (after a whopping 5 years in the job force) and decided to take some time off.  In recent reports, two former executives – including her boss’ boss – shared with news outlets that Burke was fired for poor performance. Since that revelation, Burke has changed her story and now says that her position was eliminated after the company restructured.

Let’s examine that… let’s pretend for a moment that we believe Burke’s new story. Does it make sense? She has claimed that she grew sales from $3 million to $50 million in three years. If true, that is an incredible achievement. Unfortunately, she has never backed up that claim with any proof. We are supposed to take her at her word despite some news stories from the period that appear to make her claim almost impossible. So we are supposed to believe that after this remarkable success, she was restructured out of a job at her family’s own company? If she was so good, why wasn’t she promoted? Or snapped up by another company? Good executives are difficult to come by and a successful one should have been able to find a new position quickly.

But she didn’t. She went snowboarding for two years.

What is more likely closer to the truth? An amazingly talented and successful executive quits to take two years off after three years of work? Or that she was failing and we eased out of the company before she could do more damage?

The rest of her resume begins to answer that question. After Burke’s time away, she returned to Trek in a non-management position where she worked for another 9 years. She neither claims, nor does anyone note, any particularly impressive achievements during that period. It appears to have been a job to give her something to do where she could contribute, get paid, and generally stay out of the way. What is also worth noting is that after her self-celebrated remarkable achievements during her previous stint at Trek, she was not put in an upper-management position. It is not what one would call a promising career progression for someone who claimed to be a talented executive.

After 9 years of mediocrity at Trek, she was appointed as Commerce Secretary for Governor Doyle. As a rich lefty donor with a private sector history, it was a sensible appointment for Doyle. Her short, two-year tenure in government was not marked with any notable achievements. She again quit, or was squeezed out, with different stories for why. Her predecessor labeled her performance a “disaster.”

Mary Burke spent the next 7 years unemployed. She dropped over $100k to be elected to the Madison School Board. And now she wants to be governor.

If you were on a Board of Directors looking at resumes for a potential CEO for a $25 billion organization, would you hire her? What I see is a person who started out her career in a promising fashion. She is highly educated and quickly took a high-level job – even though it was with her family’s company. After three years where she claims to have been successful, but can’t document that success, she left and took two years off. She claims she was downsized, but her former boss’ boss and the head of HR at the time say she was let go for poor performance. After two years off, she returned to her family’s company and pushed paper for almost a decade before getting a job in politics. Since then she’s been unemployed.

Is she qualified to run a $25 billion organization with tens of thousands of employees?

I think not.

Bucks Looking to Buy MJS Building?

This is interesting.

According to several sources within the Milwaukee Department of City Development and the commercial real estate community, Milwaukee Bucks co-owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry are in negotiations to purchase the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel buildings with the intention of building a new arena on the block of land known as Journal Square.

It would make some sense. It is a prime piece of real estate owned by a company that is in decline, has fewer and fewer employees, and in need of cash.

Turnout Expected at 57%

Not that their history with predicting these things is very accurate, but…

Statewide turnout in Tuesday’s election is expected to be the highest for a midterm election in at least 64 years, but still shy of the 2012 recall election, according to the state’s nonpartisan election agency.

The Government Accountability Board is predicting turnout will reach 2.5 million, or 56.5 percent of the state’s voting-age population.

That would be just short of the 57.8 percent turnout in the 2012 gubernatorial recall election, but far lower than the 70 percent turnout level for the 2012 presidential election, GAB director Kevin Kennedy noted.

The more I think about this election, the more I think that Walker is going to win handily. He beat Barrett in the recall election by 7 points. That was at a time when passions were at the absolute highest on both sides. In the macro sense, nothing has really changed since then. No significant legislation has been passed. No major shifts have happened in the economy or employment picture. There haven’t been any major scandals. There are no major shifts in any of the key dynamics since the recall election.

Also, Burke is a far weaker candidate than Barrett. Barrett was a well-known former Congressman and mayor of Wisconsin’s largest city. He was well-liked and was well-funded for the election. By contrast, Burke came into the race as an unknown with no elected experience (save a short stint on a school board) and a sketchy resume.

Without anything shifting, I have a hard time picturing any voter having changed their mind about Walker since the recall election. The people who hate him do so just as much as they did in 2012. The people who support him do so just as much as they did in 2012. If everyone just shows up and votes like they did in the recall election, Walker wins easily. And in this case, the weak candidacy of Burke will likely keep a fair number of independents and core Democratic constituencies from turning out in great fashion.

Predictions are always iffy, but put me down for a Walker win. If I have to put a number on it, I’ll say Walker 54, Burke 46.

That being said… get out there and vote, folks.

More Confirmation That Burke Was Fired From Trek

Again… not shocking for anyone who knows how to spot red flags in resumes. It is just remarkable that after months and months of campaigning, the media is just now getting around to discovering this less than a week before the election.

Two former high-level executives of Trek Bicycle claim that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke was forced out as head of European operations for her family’s business 21 years ago — an allegation that Burke and the company denied, labeling it a last-minute smear campaign.

“I’m not saying she was incompetent,” said Tom Albers, former Trek chief operating officer who left the company in 1997. “Maybe this job was too big for her.”


Albers said in an interview Wednesday that he was sent to Europe by Richard Burke, the company founder and Mary Burke’s father, to look into problems with the European sales expansion that Mary Burke had been entrusted to head up in the early 1990s.

Albers said John Burke had concerns that his sister was not working out as the point person on the difficult job of switching from outside distributors of Trek bikes in Europe to a company sales force that spanned different countries, cultures and languages.

“I came back and pretty much reinforced what John Burke had told (Richard Burke) that this wasn’t working, and a change had to be made and a change was made,” Albers said. “I felt she was under water and it was going to be very difficult to turn it around.”

Phil Collins Donates Alamo Collection

Very cool.

SAN ANTONIO — British rocker Phil Collins watched from a few feet beyond the north wall of the Alamo as wooden crates the size of large amps were hydraulically lowered from a truck.

The songwriter of “Against All Odds” believed he had struck the perfect note by bringing home historical artifacts once owned by the defenders of the Alamo.

“I’m not sad,” he said Tuesday as the largest collection of Alamo memorabilia in the world was delivered. The 200-piece collection is worth between $10 million and $15 million. It took him two decades to assemble.

“I’m really happy that it’s going here, because this is the place where it should be,” said Collins, who gained worldwide fame in the band Genesis and as a solo performer. “This completes a journey for me.”


There is Jim Bowie’s legendary knife and one of four existing rifles known to have belonged to Crockett, as well as his fringed leather musket ball pouch. There are letters from Alamo commander Travis, Santa Anna’s sword, the hats of Mexican officers and cannonballs.

Citizens for Urban Justice Ad

First White President in Sub-Saharan Africa Since Apartheid


(CNN) — When Guy Scott takes the reins as Zambia’s interim President, he’ll become the first white African head of state in sub-Saharan Africa since apartheid.

Scott became vice president three years ago.

His boss, President Michael Sata, died Tuesday while undergoing treatment for an unknown illness in London.

Zambia’s constitution requires fresh elections within 90 days.

Until then, Scott, who is of Scottish descent, assumes interim presidency.

It’s unclear, however, whether he can run for president in the elections. The nation’s constitution says a candidate’s parents must have been born in Zambia; his were not.

I love how the last paragraph says it is “unclear” if he can run for president. He clearly does not meet the parameters set forth in the constitution. What is unclear about that?

Burke Misstated Fundraising Numbers

Uh huh.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has raised about $900,000 less over the past three months than her campaign originally said.

Burke’s campaign on Monday issued a press release saying she had raised about $10.2 million in the roughly three month period that ended Oct. 20. But in her official filing with state elections officials, made later Monday night, Burke reported raising about $9.3 million.

Burke spokesman Joe Zepecki says the $10.2 million figure referred to how much the campaign had raised to date, not counting $5 million that Burke herself contributed.

The stories were obviously about the most recent filing. If Zepecki is telling the truth, then this episode is a case of incompetence. More likely, he is not telling the truth and the campaign just wanted to be able to claim that they raised as much as Walker to cover for their abysmal fundraising.


Walker Pulls Ahead in Latest Marquette Poll

Beware of polls… but this is promising.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker leads Democratic challenger Mary Burke 50% to 43% among likely voters in a new survey by the Marquette University Law School.

That represents a change from other surveys in recent weeks — including Marquette’s previous poll two weeks ago — showing the race essentially tied.

Marquette surveyed 1,164 likely voters from last Thursday through Sunday. The poll has margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The race is much tighter among all registered voters — with Walker leading Burke 46% to 45%.

the shift toward Walker among the most likely voters in the poll reflects a spike in the share of Republicans who say they are certain to vote.

In Marquette’s last poll, 82% of Republicans and 80% of Democrats said they were certain to vote.

In the new poll, 93% of Republicans and 82% of Democrats said they were certain to vote. Those numbers, reflecting a potential turnout gap between the parties, are similar to what voters were reporting before the recall election of 2012, which Walker won by 7 points.

Burke Fired From Trek

Wow. Burke has based her entire electoral justification on her alleged business acumen despite the numerous red flags that she is incompetent as an executive. This puts a nail in that coffin if anyone in the electorate cares anymore.

D. Kittle / October 28, 2014 / No Comments

By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. – In attempting to explain her two-year work hiatus in the early to mid-1990s, Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke has said she was just burned out after an intense period of leading European operations for Trek Bicycle Corp. , her family’s Waterloo-based global manufacturer.

In fact, Burke apparently was fired by her own family following steep overseas financial losses and plummeting morale among Burke’s European sales staff, multiple former Trek executives and employees told Wisconsin Reporter.

The sales team threatened to quit if Burke was not removed from her position as director of European Operations, according to Gary Ellerman, who served as Trek’s human resources director for more than 21 years. His account was confirmed by three other former employees.

“She was not performing. She was (in) so far over her head. She didn’t understand the bike business,” said Ellerman who started with Trek in 1992, at the tail end of Burke’s first stint as a manager at Trek.

17-Year-Old Wants to Vote

You have to draw the line somewhere. It’s an interesting argument, though.

While Zachary Ziolkowski’s birthday is the day after the election, his father argued he actually turns 18 on November 4th and should be allowed to vote. Based on a common law interpretation in one of the high school student’s textbooks, Tim Ziolkowski said “since one is in existence on the day of his birth, he is in fact on the anniversary of his birth of the age of one year plus a day.”

Members of the GAB disagreed though, and rejected a request for an opinion stating the teen should be able to vote next Tuesday. Agency director Kevin Kennedy said the Statewide Voter Registration System has always based eligibility on a person’s actual date of birth, noting that none of the state’s municipal clerks would be able to even register him to vote before his actually birthday.

Chicago Activists Take On Failed Leadership

Half of Burke’s Recent Fundraising Comes From Own Checking Account

Well, that explains a lot.

From July 29 to Oct. 20, Walker raised $10.4 million and Burke raised $10.2 million, according to their campaigns. Burke said she has put $5 million of her own money into the race, with about $4.5 million of that coming in recent months.

Like it or not, fundraising is one of the best indicators of a candidate’s real support. Anybody can say that they support a candidate, but it takes a real supporter to part with their own money to help finance the campaign. The fact that Burke raised half as much as Walker in the final months of the campaign tells us that her campaign has failed to catch fire in the grass roots and also failed to attract many of the big donors who are willing to bet on her victory.

In light of this fundraising report, the move by Burke to bring the unpopular president into Wisconsin today to campaign in an overwhelmingly Democratic district (boost turnout) and attend a high-dollar fundraiser (raise the big money that Burke can’t) makes a lot of sense.

Assembly GOP releases its agenda

My column for the West Bend Daily News is out. It’s a look ahead past the election.

Assembly GOP releases its agenda

The Wisconsin Assembly Republicans, confident that they will retain firm control of the chamber, have released their “Forward for Wisconsin’s Future” agenda. It is an impressive list of initiatives that builds on earlier successes while also introducing some new ideas. Should the Republicans retain control of the state Senate and the governor’s chair, there is good reason that many of these proposals will make it into law.

Overall, the Assembly Republicans are committing to holding the growth of government to match projected personal income growth. It is disappointing that the goal is not actually reducing the size of state government, but it is a laudable move in the right direction. Some of the specifics in the plan are very intriguing.

While vowing to continue their trimming of government regulations, the plan also proposes to “future-proof” those regulations by writing administrative rules with an automatic sunset. This would force proactive action by future legislatures to renew regulations or they would expire. This would also have the added benefit of limiting the overall number of regulations since the Legislature can only review so many regulations each year.

In light of the recent biased action of the Government Accountability Board and a federal court ruling that the GAB has exceeded its authority and infringed on individual rights, the Assembly Republicans plan to reconstitute the GAB. This is a critical need to ensure an equal footing for all participants in the political process. This would mark the second time in a decade that the body that oversees elections has needed reform. This time around, the Legislature should cease trying to find the nonexistent “nonpartisan” mantle and instead build an adversarial process that allows for a vigorous vetting of controversial issues.

It is a relatively small thing, but the Assembly Republican’s plan also calls for providing funds for free GED exams. GED courses are already free, but the exams are not. This small item will remove one more barrier to education that is critical for people to move up the economic ladder.

A much larger proposal regarding education is the one to continue the tuition freeze for students who attend the University of Wisconsin System. This has already saved college students and their families millions of dollars. Coupled with this proposal is one to reform state schools to allow greater financial transparency and to refocus the state schools on the identified needs of Wisconsin’s economy.

The Assembly Republicans’ plan also proposes a list of measures designed to reduce fraud in the state’s welfare system to make sure that resources are only going to the people who need it. These measures include things like putting photo identification on EBT cards and limiting the number of times that a person can get a replacement card. More controversial is the proposal to require that welfare recipients undergo drug testing. It is perfectly reasonable and responsible to ensure that taxpayer money is not being spent to subsidize someone’s drug habit, but liberals take great offense at the notion.

Perhaps the heaviest lifting for the Assembly will be to find a way to stabilize the transportation fund. The plan states a goal of doing this, but fails to offer suggestions. This is a reflection of just how difficult this task will be. Watch for all sorts of goofy transportation options to be floated and for nobody to be happy with the result.

The Assembly Republicans’ plan continues on with all kinds of positive and meaningful initiatives that will improve Wisconsin. From cyber security to helping modernize the dairy industry to charitable deductions to work plans for inmates to self-employment training programs, the Assembly Republicans appear ready to get down to some serious business once the election is in the rear-view mirror. If Wisconsin sees fit to return Republicans to control in the senate and re-elect Gov. Scott Walker, the next legislative session might be almost as consequential to Wisconsin’s future as the 2011 session.

(Owen Robinson’s column runs Tuesdays in the Daily News.)


Walker Refuses to Answer WASB Survey

So some lefty school board member is upset at this.

Doug Perry, a retired teacher and former president of the Greenfield Education Association, is now a school board member in South Milwaukee. He voiced his disappointment over Walker’s silence in a letter published by the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the Capital Times opinion section.

Perry said he was “insulted and embarrassed” for his constituents and the children in his district by Walker’s refusal to answer the questions WASB posed.

“So the WASB, which is a member-driven organization of 424 communities that supports, promotes and advances the interests of public education in Wisconsin, is now an ‘interest group’?

Hmmm… “interest group“…

Interest group, also called special interest group or pressure group,  any association of individuals or organizations, usually formally organized, that, on the basis of one or more shared concerns, attempts to influence public policy in its favour. All interest groups share a desire to affect government policy to benefit themselves or their causes.

From the WASB website:

Advocating on behalf of Wisconsin public school boards and the students they serve.

Sounds like an interest group to me.

Burke Supports Pay Increases, But Not the Tax Increase to Fund It


Burke, who joined colleagues to support the teacher pay increase, said she could not support the overall budget and passing the 4.2 percent levy increase to taxpayers who are being squeezed.

What a farce. There isn’t a thinking person alive who believes that Burke would have voted against the tax increase had she not been running for governor.

Unhealthy Wind Turbines

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Brown County health officials have declared wind turbines a public health risk, but they haven’t determined how to put their declaration into action.

The county’s Health Board this month declared the Shirley Wind Farm operated by Duke Energy Renewables poses a health risk to its neighbors in the town of Glenmore. Three families have moved out of their homes rather than endure physical illness they blame on the low-frequency noise the wind turbines generate, according to Audrey Murphy, president of the board that oversees the Brown County Health Department.

“We struggled with this but just felt we needed to take some action to help these citizens,” Murphy said.

Quarantined for Ebola Exposure

This nurse is being put through a great deal of hassle that is surely difficult, but it is a sensible measure in light of the spread of a very deadly disease.

Hickox arrived in Newark Liberty Airport on Friday afternoon and after a seven-hour wait at the hospital. She was put in an isolation tent inside University Hospital in Newark. She’s twice tested negative for Ebola, including a test at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Hickox says she has asked repeatedly but hasn’t been told how long she’ll be held at the hospital.

“To put me in prison,” she said, “is just inhumane.”

On Fox News Sunday morning, Christie said he had “no second thoughts” about New Jersey’s mandatory quarantine for health care workers.

“I believe that folks who want to take that step and are willing to volunteer also understand that it’s in their interest and the public health interest to have a 21-day period thereafter if they’ve been directly exposed to people with the virus,” he said.

She is likely not infected, but given the penchant of people who have been exposed to Ebola to wander around potentially infecting people, a forced quarantine is necessary to stop this disease from infecting any more people.

Milwaukee Cops Have No-Confidence in Flynn

Flynn’s firing of the officer was clearly a politically-motivated butt-covering ploy by Flynn. In doing so, he has destroyed his relationship with his officers.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Police Association plans a no-confidence vote on the city’s police chief next week following the firing of an officer who fatally shot a man in a downtown park.

Union president Mike Crivello says morale among officers has been “broken” by the firing of Officer Christopher Manney. Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney earlier this month, saying Manney instigated the fight that led to the shooting.

Alleged Cop Killer Is an Illegal Alien

The inevitable consequence of porous borders.

Los Angeles (CNN) — One of the suspects in a California shooting spree that left two sheriff’s deputies dead was deported to Mexico twice, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Authorities say Marcelo Marquez, 34, of Salt Lake City, Utah, was arrested Friday after police found him in a home in Auburn, about 30 miles from the initial shooting. Also arrested was Jannelle Monroy, 38, of Sacramento County, who was allegedly with Marquez during the rampage, authorities said.

The rampage began in the parking lot of a $56-a-night motel outside downtown Sacramento when two sheriff’s deputies checked on a suspicious car there.

Authorities said by the time the spree was over on Friday, the suspects had killed two sheriff’s deputies in two counties, wounded a third deputy, attempted three car carjackings and shot a driver in the head — all during a span of six hours. Those events prompted a handful of school lockdowns and a massive manhunt.