At a public forum on Madison's campus last night, Aaron Brower called the NBP "a pearl in a pile of crap." (Well, he said something a little stronger than "crap," but out of respect to kids everywhere, I'll use "crap.")
I have the utmost respect for Aaron, whom I've called a friend for nearly 7 years, and so I spent the night thinking about his contention that perhaps Scott Walker is offering UW-Madison the NBP because he views it as the "economic engine" of his state.
Like I said, I thought about it.
Then this morning, the answer presented itself once again-- thanks to Walker's cronies at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.
In Walker's view, life is "Madison versus the rest of the state." And as a senior fellow WPRI puts it in the National Review, "Right now, government employees in Madison run Wisconsin. It’s up to Scott Walker and legislative Republicans to wrest control back."
No one said it explicitly, but it's not just government employees in Madison who run Wisconsin--it's also UW-Madison. At least that's what people believe.
Make no mistake--Walker wants control over UW-Madison. WPRI wrote the blueprint for the NBP (see the 2001 report “Chartering the University of Wisconsin-Madison”). Public authority status where Walker controls the Board of Trustees is a downright savvy way to get control. So much the better if he can work it so UW-Madison's leaders lobby for it. That strips them of any credibility later on when they realize what hell they wrought.
UPDATE: Further evidence of animosity towards UW-Madison among those who are pro-NBP: A comment from a reader of the Cap Times article, "The big chill? UW's Cronon sees 'intimidation' in GOP' records request."
"The universities indoctrinate the young minds with all the wacko liberal ideology. Never do they teach them that there is another and better way!! I'm all for spinning off UW Madison from the rest of the system. Less taxpayer dollars used to promote only liberal ideas!! Go Biddy Go!!!"