Tag Archives: Tommy Thompson

Tommy Thompson to lead UW system

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

The University of Wisconsin System has been struggling to find a new system president to replace the retiring Ray Cross. After an exhaustive and expensive search that yielded a single final candidate, that candidate withdrew his application saying that, “it’s clear they have important process issues to work out.” Indeed, they do.

Last week, the University Of Wisconsin Board Of Regents paused their search for a permanent president and appointed former Gov. Tommy Thompson as an interim president for at least the next year. It is an inspired choice. The UW System is desperately in need of a fundamental transformation and Thompson is one of the few people who might be able to build enough unity to pull it off.

As Wisconsin’s only four term governor, Thompson is known as a pragmatic, consensus- building leader. He is also a cheerleader par excellence for everything Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s political landscape, however, is very different than when Thompson held power in Madison. Time will tell if Thompson can still build political bridges in this climate.

 

TOMMY! Named Interim UW-President

Good choice.

MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin System regents’ leader has picked Republican darling Tommy Thompson as the system’s interim president, delivering another twist in what has become a messy search to replace outgoing President Ray Cross during the coronavirus pandemic.

Regents President Andrew Petersen asked Thompson, the state’s only four-term governor, to jump into the position, according to a system statement. Petersen has the power to unilaterally appoint interim presidents. He announced his choice to the full board of regents Thursday; the statement said Petersen received “uniform” support from the board.

“The University of Wisconsin System is the state’s most valuable asset, and I will be its biggest advocate and its toughest evaluator,” Thompson said in the statement. “No other institution in the state can do more to improve lives, communities, and Wisconsin’s economy.”

He’s a fantastic cheerleader who might be able to help unify some of the factions. He’s also a big government spender, so it will probably take someone else to shepherd the necessary budget contraction.

Tommy Thompson Condemns Club for Growth

Right on, Governor.

Former Governor Tommy Thompson issued a statement Wednesday condemning the national Club for Growth for getting involved in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate by attacking state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield).

“The national Club for Growth is at it again,” said Thompson. “I won the 2012 GOP primary for U.S. Senate despite Club for Growth’s attacks. Worse yet, the national Club for Growth never offered any help to my campaign in the general election which gave Tammy Baldwin a huge cash advantage. I condemned the Club’s attacks in the GOP primary in 2012 and now in the 2018 primary. They are wasting precious resources that would be better used in the general election to elect a conservative to the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin.”

[…]

The national Club for Growth is a different organization from the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Eric O’Keefe, the Director of Wisconsin Club for Growth, endorsed Vukmir in April.

[…]

The Thompson statement and the Nicholson ad comes at a time when momentum appears to have swung in Vukmir’s direction in the Republican primary. Vukmir now has a lead for the first time in the Marquette University Law School poll 34 percent to 32 percent, but well within the margin of error of +/- 7 percent. In June, Nicholson led 37 percent to 32 percent.

Second Chances

Former governor Tommy Thompson penned an interesting piece last week that suggests that Wisconsin do a better job of training ex-cons to reenter the workforce.

Our prisons are full of people who want another chance to succeed.  Here’s how we can help create better parolees and in turn help our state address workforce shortages:

• Create a core criteria/survey/interview process to find those incarcerated individuals who have both the desire and will to succeed after prison.

• Develop a “Second Chance Skills Institute” that would deliver certified job and entrepreneurial tools along with necessary life skills training. Participation would require a signed contract and a “no mistakes,” immediate expulsion policy.  The program would have to be fully completed, similar to a skilled technical college degree.

• Work with state government, employers, business groups such as Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and trade unions both financially and for instructional and mentoring support.

• Convert an existing prison (or build a new one) to house the “Second Chance Skills Institute.” This secure hub would be part of the Department of Corrections, but fully supported by other state agency efforts including the Department of Workforce Development and the University of Wisconsin and technical college systems.

• Draw on technical schools, two-year colleges and social service organizations along with specifically-hired instructors.

• Develop a highly-structured early parole opportunity, with specific responsibilities and a “no mistake” clause for the most qualified graduates, in which a sponsor-business would provide a skills-specific job opportunity.

The end product, a highly-skilled and marketable job applicant best-equipped to enter the workforce and far-better equipped to reenter society. This high-quality program would create a highly marketable and sought after payroll-ready employee, permanently attached to an ongoing “Second Chance Skills Institute” support network.

There’s a lot of merit in some of these ideas. We need to have harsher penalties and less lenient judges when people violate the laws, but we also need to do a better job of reintegrating these folks back into the mainstream when they are released. The best way to keep people from committing further crimes is to get them integrated into the mainstream culture where criminal behavior is discouraged and where they have more to lose if they get put in prison again.