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
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.