Boots & Sabers

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2245, 10 Oct 18

Senator Stroebel to Advance Referendum Reform

It is remarkable that school districts are one of the only government bodies that can do massive construction projects without putting it out to bid. Given the school-construction-industrial-complex that has sprung up in Wisconsin (now, apparently aided by hired gun Gard), reform is necessary.

With a prominent Wisconsin lawmaker irked that a record could be set for approvals of school projects this year, a lobbying group has emerged to block legislation that could upend the state’s school-referendum system.

Former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker John Gard has registered as a lobbyist for an organization called the Wisconsin Construction Group, which advocates for “school construction and school referendums.” Gard filed a disclosure form with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission on Thursday — one day after a Wisconsin Policy Forum report found that state voters will have the opportunity in November to approve a record $2 billion worth of school referendum spending this year.

The prospect that a record could be set has irked Wisconsin Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, who has promised to again pursue legislation that would curtail the use of school referendums. Stroebel has also criticized construction companies for offering so-called pre-referendum services to help school districts win voters’ approval for spending proposals.


In a statement released on Tuesday, Stroebel deemed Wisconsin’s current system for school projects uncompetitive. He noted that school districts, unlike most other forms of government, are not required to bid out their projects, even those whose cost runs into millions of dollars.

A proposal Stroebel sponsored in the most recent legislative session, Senate Bill 236, would have required school districts to bid out such projects. The bill passed the Wisconsin Senate but failed in the Assembly. Stroebel blamed lobbyists “who don’t want transparency.”

“I am not surprised Mr. Gard is involved as he has been one of the go to lobbyists for anyone opposing reform in the construction industry in recent years at the expense of the taxpayer,” Stroebel said. “There is nothing inherently wrong with a school district seeking technical expertise from a company, but the way construction companies advertise their services shows the real world unspoken understanding.  ‘You give me the contract. I’ll help pass your referendum’.  The question should be, will you deliver the best building at the best price?”


2245, 10 October 2018


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    This has been awful.

    We should also cut state aid to districts that pass large referendums.

  2. Le Roi du Nord

    And just a few years ago Gard was the darling of the far right, a self-righteous, self-promoting tool of TGT.  And unfortunately my representative for a few years.  I love it when you folks on the right eat your own.

  3. Mark Hoefert

    I love it when you folks on the right eat your own.

    Oh my, he is really being treated harshly and thrown under the bus by it being noted that he is serving as a lobbyist for a cause that might work against some conservative’s ideology.

    It’s called accountability and integrity – something someone of your low horsepower intellect would not be able to comprehend.

  4. Mark Hoefert

    Dang it Owen, why doesn’t this platform allow for going back to edit comments (or delete them and repost)?  Meant to put quotation marks around “I love it when you folks on the right eat your own.”

  5. Le Roi du Nord


    Why complain about Gard and what he is doing.  Since when  is looking out for your client, and making some bucks off the taxpayer a bad thing to you guys?  Just take a look at our current leader and the scam he is running at all his properties.  Or is his lack of accountability and integrity OK?

    Any time you want to compare horsepower, bring it on…..


  6. Kevin Scheunemann

    When was Gard a darling of conservatives?

    I have been critical of him many times as being a weak moderate.  I viewed him closer to Mary Panzer then I do to Duey Strobel.

    So where do you get your political calculations?   A lucky charms box?

  7. Le Roi du Nord


    You have said some pretty silly stuff throughout the years.  That last post was right up there in the top 10.


  8. Mark Hoefert

    @ La Nord  Why complain about Gard and what he is doing.

    Who’s “complaining”?  Looks like Owen and Strobel are stating as coincidental that Gard is now working as a lobbyist for an organization that they feel is working against the interests of tax payers.  Take the name “Gard” out of it, and the balance of the article would still make sense as to content – not like your comment that seems to veer off into a completely unrelated tangent (assume it is about Trump?).  It’s almost as if Owen & Strobel need to mention Gard because idiots like you would discredit the point of the article by saying that there is a former Republican legislator involved.



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