Sunday, February 15, 2009

Good people and good government

A Wisconsin Political Fix
not just another blog
February 15, 2009
By Bill Kraus

In this period when everyone is turning to and away from governments, when we are getting conflicting advice to do more, do less, or something in between, what comes to mind is the thought that what we really want is a government that works.

One of the special people who gave us that in Wisconsin for the last 50 years or so died last week.

His name was Wayne McGown.

He and serveral contemporaries like Paul Brown and Roger Schrantz, to name just two of many, served anywhere and everywhere in state government honorably and lengthily.

My first encounter in Madison with Wayne was when he was serving as Deputy Secretary of the embryonic Department of Administration for Warren Knowles. He became secretary of the department for a short while near the end of the Knowles era but quickly and happily rejoined his band of brothers who keep the Wisconsin government working.

The next time our paths crossed was when the hordes of Huns came to Madison from Stevens Point and other faraway places in 1978.

Despite our bravado we all secretly felt a twinge of doubt when we wondered if the place might come to a stop.

It wouldn’t. Wayne, Paul, Roger et al would keep the wheels turning.

They were, variously, working in jobs at places like the Department of Transportation, the Building Commission, and the University.

Wayne’s career culminated with a stunning achievement. He created, built, and managed Research Park, which promises to be the seed corn of Wisconsin’s economic future.

Due to a shortage of reporters in general and reporters with institutional memory in particular, Wayne’s passing and the “government that works” he helped deliver was not given its journalistic due.

I’m sure there is a succeeding generation of operatives quietly and efficiently at work today in state government.

Mourn the passing of a giant among you, and keep up the good--if under-noted and under-appreciated--work you do every day.

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