Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 23, 2022
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers is once again proclaiming “Shop Small Wisconsin” this holiday season. It’s an interesting declaration from the guy who drove so many small businesses out of business during the pandemic.
Evers put out a press release this week announcing his second consecutive “Shop Small Wisconsin” proclamation. The initiative — from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31 — encourages Wisconsinites to shop local and support Wisconsin’s Main Streets and small businesses during the holiday season.
Evers and his “high school sweetheart,” First Lady Kathy, even released a hokey video (is there any other kind for Evers)? declaring the anti-business governor’s dedication to small business.
“Hey folks, Governor Tony Evers here. Kathy and I are excited to help kick off ‘Shop Small Wisconsin,’ a season of celebrating all the unique and wonderful small businesses at the hearts of all our communities across the state,” he says, claiming to be doing some shopping at the Spring Green General Store.
“Who are you shopping for?” the first lady stiffly asks, smiling. “It’s a secret, I can’t tell you,” Evers, pretending to scold, responds.
Evers’ gushing support of small businesses is quite a change from March 2020, the start of the pandemic, when he declared many small operators “non-essential.” His power-grabbing health department, in fact, forced restaurants, small retailers, hair stylists, gyms, and so many others to shut down in-person service. And after the first wave of the health emergency, Evers and his health czar extended the lockdown order. Meanwhile, mega, big-box stores were deemed “essential.” Only the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 4-3 ruling in May 2020 stopped the madness, saving untold small businesses from having to close for good.
In April 2021, more than a year after the COVID-19 outbreak in Wisconsin, 29 percent of small businesses remained closed — the 27th highest among 45 states examined by Harvard University.
Evers and his COVID mitigation zealots continued to encourage local governments to issue stringent capacity limits and lockdown orders.
The governor broke the law again later in 2020, when his administration attempted to mandate capacity limits statewide at Wisconsin’s bars and restaurants. State courts, including the Supreme Court, checked him again on his abuse of power.
A Madison restaurant staple, the Avenue Club, was one of Evers’ many victims.
“We have made the very hard decision to temporarily close the Avenue Club at the end of October. With limited capacity and a decline in customer foot traffic, we couldn’t find a way to keep operating under the current circumstances,” restaurant owners posted on Facebook in October 2020. “Our sales aren’t covering our expenses, and that’s been the case since March.”
But Evers likes to point to the $1 billion-plus in taxpayer-funded COVID relief he spent on “economic resilience and supporting small businesses.” He used the federal money like a re-election campaign slush fund. And it worked. Evers bought himself a second term.
It’s blood money. It came far too late for the many small businesses that collapsed under the force of his health orders. Like Bob Dylan once said, “forget the dead you’ve left they will not follow you.”
Evers’ goofy small business proclamations won’t bring back the stores that are no more.