DFER’s most visible involvement in WI education was their push for mayoral control of the Milwaukee Public Schools. The Metropolitan Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce joined DFER in this push; the ACLU, Milwaukee Public Schools, AFT-Wisconsin, SEIU Wisconsin State Council, Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin Education Association, and Milwaukee Teachers Education Association opposed the mayoral takeover.
DFER’s lobbyist, Katy Venskus, testified about the mayoral takeover back in January of 2009. Venskus, speaking in the videos below, is one of the few WI lobbyists with a criminal record. She pleaded no contest to forgery in 2002 for stealing $13,000 from a former employer, and was recently charged with stealing $15,473 from another former employer, Public Affairs Company. Joe Williams claims he didn’t know of her past, and retained her services after learning of her criminal conviction (might want to keep your eye on the checkbook, Joe). Venskus also lobbied for School Choice Wisconsin, a pro-charter/voucher group, between 1/28/09 and 4/14/09.
The mayoral takeover ultimately failed.