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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 44.0° F  Overcast
The Daily
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Rumors of Walker's cronies running UW are highly exaggerated
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A fierce red scare has gripped Sconz Nation. The paranoia Gov. Scott Walker's lust for power has stoked may rival the hysteria that ol' Tailgunner Joe was selling back when Dave Blaska was a commie-hating toddler. This time, of course, the reds are not the communists, but radical right-wingers.

In this context, it's understandable that many liberals (and moderates...and Republicans) don't want to see any major changes to the UW System take place under Walker. They figure that any moderate proposal that he negotiates with UW-Madison leadership must be simply a guise for something more extreme.

Specifically, many are appalled that the 21-member board which will govern the newly-separated UW-Madison will consist of 11 Walker appointees. A guy with a record of disdain for public institutions will have a majority control of the state's most important one right off the bat.

But this fear is misplaced. In the long-term, the new system will be less politicized than the current one. The Board of Regents, which is the entity that governs the entire UW System, is made up entirely of gubernatorial appointees. In fact, assuming Walker serves at least an entire 4-year term, his influence would be much greater under the current system than under the new one.

A common misconception is that the terms of office for the trustees would not be staggered, as they are for the regents. That is simply not true. The above chart, created by Erik Paulson, blogging for the Badger Herald compares the influence Walker would have on the new board of trustees vs. the board of regents, based on how many years he serves:

Here's the takeaway with one and only one full term: Walker obtains a majority of the Board of Regents in the middle of 2014, and holds it until the middle of 2016. Walker controls 45% of the Board of Regents from middle of 2013 until the middle of 2018. Walker's influence on the Board of Regents is felt until 2021. With the Board of Trustees, Walker obtains a majority immediately, and can hold it until the middle of 2015. By the middle of 2015, he drops below 40%, and his influence ends the middle of 2017.

Under a recall scenario, Walker never obtains a full majority on the Board of Regents, peaking with 33% of the board in the middle of 2012. His four appointees hold 22% of the board until the middle of 2018, and they're gone by the middle of 2019. For the UW-Madison Board of Trustees, he again obtains a majority immediately, but loses it middle of 2013, and vanishes by the middle of 2015.

If your number one fear is Walker, than the public authority model for UW-Madison is no scarier than the current system.

Follow The Sconz on Twitter or Facebook to get regular updates on city and state politics. Please send anonymous tips, interview requests or any other comments to jcraver@isthmus.com.

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