With the end of the semester near, and in honor of a wildly fluctuating Dow Jones, let’s take a look at the varying fortunes of some prominent officials at the local and national levels:

Stock up: University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly. The state of Wisconsin faces a $5.4 billion budget shortfall in the next two years. In response, Reilly suggested the university look into implementing a three-year degree program for undergrads, which would lower costs for both the school and students interested in the voluntary program. He additionally proposed cutting annual faculty pay raises to 2.5 percent, down considerably from an earlier plan. He even donated part of his salary to need-based financial aid. Taken together, it’s apparent Reilly recognizes the state’s perilous budget situation and is willing to take decisive steps to address it.

Stock down: UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin. In the face of that pesky $5.4 billion budget deficit, Martin last month announced her intention to establish a new vice chancellor of university relations. The position will coordinate communication within and outside the university, she said. Beyond that, she left unexplained the precise scope of the vice chancellor’s duties as well as why the existing University Communications office is inadequate. (Martin’s inability to articulate any of this might be an argument in favor of creating the position, I will admit.)

Martin has defended her decision on the grounds that she is reallocating money from other unfilled positions. Even so, now is not the time to add a new bureaucrat to Bascom. Martin has issued statements acknowledging the state’s financial situation, but her course of action for the university thus far has been vague. Spending does not need to be reallocated — it needs to be cut. She should, for instance, take a hard look at the $14 million UW-Madison spends annually on various “diversity” initiatives, including a well-compensated diversity provost. That, along with her new communications czar, might be a good place to start.

Stock up: Former Illinois governor George Ryan. He’s still in prison, but at least the title of ‘most corrupt Illinois governor of this decade’ has a new owner.

Stock down: Obama adviser David Axelrod. There’s no evidence Barack Obama was in on Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s scheme to sell the state’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald made that clear in his press conference Tuesday. Indeed, Blagojevich expressed marked and profane dissatisfaction with his inability to secure favors from the Obama camp in the phone calls that led to his arrest.

That’s good. But Axelrod told Fox News last month that the president-elect had discussed possible successors with Blagojevich. Obama said Axelrod “misspoke.” One person is lying.

Hopefully it was Axelrod. Not that he would necessarily disapprove of such conversations. In a 2005 op-ed, he wrote that the granting of jobs as political favors is and should be standard governmental operating procedure. Between his “misstatements” and fondness for backroom deal-making, Axelrod is clearly not the adviser you want by your side when you’re trying to “change” the tenor of Washington.

Stock up: Madison Alder Eli Judge. Elected officials representing the UW area have far too often divulged in the worst kinds of liberal excess. Refreshingly, Judge has taken a different tack during his term as District 8 alder. His photo ordinance holds landlords accountable but does so in a way far less draconian than other “tenant rights” proposals. His lighting ordinance is a cost-effective means of helping to combat increasing crime downtown. Judge is not running for re-election in the spring, and he will be missed.

Stock down: Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. Let’s see. First, in April, the Dane County 911 Center failed to dispatch police for nearly 50 minutes after receiving an emergency call from UW junior Brittany Zimmermann. Then the center’s leadership obfuscated the existence of the call before acknowledging they received it. Then we learned that no one — not Falk, not the 911 Center oversight board — had conducted a performance review of the center’s director for five years. Then Falk’s hand-picked 911 center director, Joe Norwick, resigned under heavy criticism of the center’s planning and protocol. Then, last month, the center mishandled another call related to a murder, this time in the city’s Lake Edge Park.

Despite this litany of ongoing incompetence, Falk had the audacity to tell Isthmus last month that media coverage of the center’s problems has been “overblown” and “one-sided.” Falk clearly would like to ignore the controversy, just as she ignored the 911 center for so long. When she runs for re-election in the spring, voters should ignore her.

Ryan Masse ([email protected]) is a second-year law student.