— By Steve Arnold, an alderman from Fitchburg, Wisconsin
In December, I attended the winter “policy summit” of the American City County Exchange (ACCE), a new venture of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). I’m a progressive, local elected official, focused on protecting and empowering every resident of my small (pop. 25,000) city of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, through things like better zoning laws, more transit service, and more inclusive public discussion. ALEC is a bill mill that advances the legislative initiatives of its corporate sponsors in state houses across the country, and now, perhaps in city halls and county court houses.So the trip was an effort to “know thy enemy.”
ALEC’s policy agenda requires a bit of acrobatics. Members feign attention to the “principles” of free markets, limited government, and federalism, but really use a diverse set of conflicting ideological props as needed to justify the often-concealed agendas of their corporate sponsors. For example, local control leads to a proliferation of local governments and districts, each requiring care and feeding by the public, a widespread but cherished form of “big government”. So ALEC puppet masters can invoke limited government or local control with opposite effects, depending on the circumstances.
Corporate Dating Service in Action
A workshop on “challenges facing energy developers” featured a panel with representatives from the natural gas producers association, investor-owned utilities, and the petroleum industry. The second panelist was infamous climate science denier and former ALEC staffer Todd Wynn, who now works for Edison Electric Institute, a trade association for utilities