Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Walker crony Finley fails

Milwaukee Public Museum President Dan Finley has failed at his job. The Journal Sentinel reported today:

A report prepared for the Milwaukee Public Museum says the cash-strapped institution can't survive even with a big fund-raising campaign unless Milwaukee County infuses more public money and then cedes control of the museum and its collections to the existing private operator by 2011....

The public-private museum's current operating plan "doesn't provide a long-term sustainable solution to the current situation," says a lengthy report given to top museum board members and shared with key county officials in recent weeks....

Under the draft of the recovery plan, the county would increase its annual operating contribution to the museum until 2010 and then taper off to zero by 2015. The county is providing $3.4 million this year but would give $4 million in 2007 under the plan, and 5% more a year through 2010.

Banks would be asked to forgive some of the old debt that burdened the museum's balance sheet even before last summer's crisis, under the plan. In addition, the museum would try to get out of its deal to purchase the former Discovery World space in the museum center downtown.

County Executive Scott Walker, a close crony to Finley, brought the former Waukesha County executive on board a year ago to fix the big mess that was the museum. Finley, who is paid $185,000 a year, said he could do that. The JS reported when he was appointed:

He thinks the institution is already stable and on its way toward recovery.

"I wouldn't have taken this job if I thought it was going in the other direction," Finley, 47, said in an interview. He spoke from the office vacated last month by Michael Stafford, the former museum president who resigned abruptly after revealing massive deficits that have forced deep layoffs at the institution.

Now Finley has apparently changed his mind. He wants the county to increase its donations to the museum and cut it loose from county ties. What comes after that? Moving it to Waukesha County, where Finley still lives? Sure would make for a shorter commute.

Finley was brought in and paid a very high salary to turn the museum around. He didn't do that. The first tiny step in saving the museum may be to recover some of that very handsome salary Finley is being paid to do a job he clearly is not up to doing.


Anonymous said...

Do you also remember that when Finley was questioned about his high salary, he replied that when he got the museum back in the black, no one would care what he was paid?

James Wigderson said...

time to close the doors.

Cream City said...

Ya gotta pay to play, Wiggy.

Those who do not live in Milwaukee County, so never have supported its world-class museum, would leave us with the likes of what you think is a museum -- a couple of rooms in your old courthouse.

Waukesha still would be a sleepy city on the banks of the lesser Fox River without its proximity to a real city with a real museum that was built by those with larger worldviews for generations.

It is past time for Waukeshans to start acting like citizens of a metropolis.