A great man once said, “Be not afraid of greatness: Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” This year, Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board had more than its fair share of greatness thrust upon it.
Before the recalls, one might have thought the public employees of the GAB had the good fortune to fade into the comfort and security of bureaucratic irrelevance, sheltered from political pressure and public scrutiny.
Political events of the past year changed all of that. The GAB was responsible for overseeing the recall petition drive, the implementation of voter ID laws and redistricting. One might say the board spent the past year picking up the flotsam of a legislative session gone bad.
Throughout the recall process both Republicans and Democrats watched the board’s every move, ready to pounce on any mistake, real or imagined. Meanwhile, the board was stuck with the undesirable task of sorting through an avalanche of petitions, determining their validity, providing an accurate count and approving a recall election. To their credit, the GAB handled the recall process remarkably well, processing mountains of paperwork in an efficient manner and remaining transparent almost to a fault — despite privacy concerns, recall petitions were posted online for all to see.
In years to come, it might be said that the GAB got more work done in this legislative session than an embattled state Congress and an ever-defiant Gov. Scott Walker. That’s why it is the lucky winner of this year’s Thrust of Greatness Award.