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Wisconsin governor taking a 'detour' with highway signs

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s new Democratic governor is sawing in half road signs that his Republican predecessor Scott Walker installed declaring the state to be “open for business” and is turning them into detour signs.

The 23 “open for business” placards Walker had installed in 2011 hung on “Wisconsin Welcomes You” signs at the state’s borders. Walker used the motto after his 2010 win to send a message that his policies would entice job creators to the state. He placed the phrase on welcome signs at Wisconsin’s borders, in the same spot the state’s governors traditionally have put their name.

Gov. Tony Evers is following the practice of the previous governors in putting his name on the signs.

“The old signs will be cut in half with no material wasted,” wrote James Langdon, of Evers’ Department of Administration, on Feb. 1. Each “open for business” sign will be made into two detour sign and direction plaques, he said.

The move has generated criticism from Republican lawmakers who say taking down “open for business” signs send the wrong message. State Rep. John Macco wrote to Evers’ administration asking about the intended use of the signs and was told their fate.

Macco, a Republican from Green Bay, was not pleased about turning Walker’s motto into detour signs.

“Ironically that is exactly the result his policies may produce,” Macco wrote in a column this week.

Another Republican, state Sen. Dan Feyen, of Fond du Lac, wrote to Evers’ administration last month asking for the signs when he learned they had been removed. Feyen said he would be happy to display them in his offices in Madison and Fond du Lac to let the business community know that Wisconsin is still “open for business.”


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Scott Bauer, The Associated Press