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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Anonymous Column - "Pass It On" Monterey Dam Edition

"Pass it on" is a Rock Netroots "anonymous" feature of unique comments, thoughts and observations on current local topics and politics.

On The Monterey Dam:

✦ I haven't heard all that much about the Monterey Dam from family or neighbors. In fact, I thought the city made the decision on it already. It's a shame that we have to buy the biased Gazette to get a story on it.

✦ Been hearing some Janesville folks make the claim that removing the Monterey Dam from the Rock River is "what's best for the city." Who exactly knows what is "best" for the city and which priority is everyone willing to accept to make that distinction? If saving money is always the top priority, good luck with that. May as well dismantle everything our taxes pay for.

✦ Repair the dam!

✦ Tear out the dam!

✦ Save the dam. Tear out the city!

✦ Wow. The Janesville kleptocracy is throwing everything they have at those hoping to save the dam. They even enlisted kids from civil "engineering" class at Craig HS to opine their opposition to the dam. Why doesn't the city and its media enabler Gazette do that for all the important decisions? Let the kids from all of Janesville schools vote on it. It'll be the closest thing to democracy Janesville has seen in 90 years.

✦ Unfortunately, the kids from Craig HS went the red state tea party route on the dam. They oppose saving the dam for sentimental reasons. Primarily the sentiment they expect to have in the future by parting with money to pay for inevitable maintenance again down the road. Was it civil engineering class or rightwing engineering? Sad!

✦ Interesting how important it is to so many in Janesville that the river be allowed to return "back to nature." They certainly made the case for tearing out the Centerway Dam. Indianford too!

✦ Tear out the city! Nature!

✦ City officials said the river will drop only five inches through downtown without the dam. Yet, I haven't heard if that determination was made with or without the new height rule for Indianford. They need to come clean and clarify that projection.

✦ What's the consensus when they officially raise the Indianford locks five inches higher for the first time ever and then remove Monterey? Janesville, Home of the Mud Pull Nationals?

✦ It's great that a Janesville resident is willing to donate $200,000 to save Monterey Dam should the city decide to keep it. A very generous offer indeed. But he could have structured it as an incentive to challenge the ARISE rubes to open the downtown TIF account for matching funds up to $200K. That would have made it $400K. It's not called a slush fund for nothing. But could'a, should'a, would'a. Too late now.

✦ One council member made a great case to buy a new dam. She said if the city makes the repairs, it would only be fixing the most deteriorated portion of the dam and compared it to making repairs on an old car, delaying the vehicle's inevitable demise and adding new expenses in the process.

✦ Has anyone thought that the Monterey and Centerway dams have both a functional and symbiotic relationship with Indianford? The downstream dams provide a step up to keep access open and water levels stable near major drop-offs in the river's floor during normal/low water conditions. Together, the dams work like a water ladder.

✦ A city able to afford shorting itself by giving away a million dollars a year in downtown property tax revenue for the next 27 years should easily afford to fix what some call a large brick in the river. No?

✦ Removing dams throughout the watershed improves public safety in downstream communities, providing benefits to residents and public infrastructure. The return of migratory fish is an indicator of the environmental benefits of dam removal.

Looking at you, Indianford.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Scott Walker's "Reform Dividend" Bails Out His Many Failed Reforms

Reform Dividend Excerpt:
Our budget proposal reinvests these savings into our top priority areas to ensure Wisconsin students succeed, reduce college costs, care for the needy, maintain our roads and bridges, reward work, and provides a total of $592.7 million in tax relief for our hard-working taxpayers.
— Governor Scott Walker, 2017

What? Government "provides" ..rewards work and cares for the needy? Keep that thought.

Remember that time before the 2012 recall election when Scott Walker borrowed $558M, kept $342M, and then called it a surplus? Or that time in 2014 when he borrowed $688M mid-budget while promising to return surplus dollars to taxpayers.

State of the State Excerpt: “What do you do with a surplus? Give it back to the people who earned it. It’s your money.” -- Gov. Scott Walker, Jan. 2014

Except, not one person in Wisconsin received a rebate check. Not one. THAT was hilarious too.

Later that year, Walker was re-elected to his second term. Wisconsin voters fall for it every time. Go figure. But, "Give a surplus back to the people who earned it." Those were the days. Ahem.

So here's Walker again and like clockwork he's asking for a one billion plus borrowing note. But this time he won't be giving a portion of the "surplus" back to taxpayers who never ever get it anyways. This time he will be using about $600 million of the note to bail out his failed reforms. He calls this next re-election spending campaign a "reform dividend."

It's pure political genius ...for suckers.

Here's why:
Had Scott Walker's so-called "reforms" actually worked the way he claimed, there would be no need to borrow a dime for this budget or any of his previous budgets. But he does and he did borrow plenty. His precious Act 10 "reform" including tying increases in local budget spending to increases in assessed value growth is an absolute failure bust of epic proportions. They need a bail out.

The first sign of failure for Scott Walker's so-called "reforms" comes by way of all the referendums that have passed across the state annually since he won election in 2010. If his reforms worked, locals would have plenty of increased revenues flowing in NATURALLY from his Laffer Curve induced trickle-down economy. With Wisconsin's millionaires and billionaires "re-investing" their huge tax cuts and credits back into taxable value for their communities, * eyeroll * locals would have no need to turn to referendums just to pay the bills. Everyone should be swimming in cash.

Sure, even under the best of circumstances, local spending referendums would never completely disappear. But they increased at a tremendous rate during Scott Walker's governorship and have become the only way many Wisconsin communities can keep their doors open and lights on. Each and every local referendum passed, (both, operational and maintenance - not for new) is a sign of massive structural failure from Walker's "reforms."

The second sign of massive failure is the billion dollars plus in bonding his budgets require to meet balance followed by additional borrowing mid-term to meet cash-on-hand demands. He could spin it any way he wants and he does, but his so-called "reform dividend," just like his previous "surpluses" is not a dividend if it's paid for with borrowed money. Fact is, BAIL-OUTS require borrowed money. That shouldn't be too difficult for anyone to understand.

Third, six years have passed since Walker introduced his conservative "brown bag" campaign of "don't spend more than you have" smaller government and less dependency. If those reforms worked as he intended, the state budget would be shrinking and local governments flush in Laffer Curve dollars would be far less dependent and welcoming of state aid.

Indeed, Walker's ideological base should be screaming "socialism" at him for building local economies with reforms that when they do well (in his twisted wrong-headed alternative view) he increases government spending, aid and dependency funded with borrowed money AND spins it as a reward. We're conservatives ...wheeee! We're bootstrapping our over-abundance of surplusage. Hang on everybody. LOL.

Lastly, Walker's idea that government pay out a capital "dividend" as reward for a positive budget outlook but funded with borrowed money, smacks of a backwards overbearing ideologue picking winners and losers for timely political effect. It also helps shape and confirm, albeit in a unflattering way, what many suspect is inevitably true - that government IS the great provider.


RNR - Walker Proposes Bailing Out Act 10 With $659M

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On Coverage Of Paul Ryan - Great Work, Janesville Gazette!

Possibly the biggest story of many stories to come out in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency is his promise to immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with a system that covers more people with better health care for less.

To some folks, Trump's promise was music to their ears. More covered with better care for less? Trump Care? But seriously, that sounds a lot like Medicare-for-all or single payer. Doesn't it?

Not to Rep. Paul Ryan however.

As speaker of a house gerrymandered heavily into his party's favor and a president who thinks Ryan is a "genius," Ryan knows this could be his last chance to usher in a national economic dystopia built from the fairy tales of Ayn Rand. Winning his tenth term to congress with full hometown support this time all the way down to his ward, Ryan believes he has a mandate. And, why not?

To cut it short, Ryan is the top dog, the mastermind, the kingpin and point man in power point representations for his own plan - not Trump's because Trump never had a plan to begin with. Trump's plan was to get as many suckers as possible to vote for him to win the election. Trump aced it with his promise to replace the ACA with a system that covers more people with better health care for less. That was it.

But, no one in Paul Ryan's hometown of Janesville Wisconsin would know any of that if the Janesville Gazette had their way.

Here's what I mean. If there was a national article examining the consequences of repealing the Affordable Care Act that did NOT mention Paul Ryan even once, the Gazette found it ...and made it front page headlines of their Monday edition. You might think that impossible, but the story they front lined on Monday is here.

Published by the AP and re-titled, "Worries of the newly uninsured" by Gazette staffers, the story is written with the presumption the ACA will indeed be replaced and mentions the "GOP" twice and "republican" six times as the owners of the plan while completely avoiding any connection to Paul Ryan.

On Tuesday, the hard copy Gazette headlined another article relating to the consequences expected from the repeal and replace fiasco, but sub-titled it as a republican proposal. Ryan's name was at least mentioned in the article.

The Gazette's Web edition lacked both articles. Instead, they ran with this.

That's not a photoshopped screenshot. It's been cropped, but it's real. The link to their top story on Paul Ryan is here.

But wow.

That is the news many residents in Ryan's hometown of Janesville see at a glance during what is shaping up to be a disasterous moment in U.S. history with the pride of Janesville not only the lead salesman, but is encouraged by CBO reports that his plan will economically force 24 million Americans off of health care rolls and skyrocket health care premiums.

Instead, Ryan is being presented as just one of the guys.

Again. Great work Gazette! You'll win more awards for this. You're the best!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

Obamacare Repeal Becomes Paul Ryan's Vessel For Atlas Shrugged Care

With a gerrymandered majority in the House and retaking his hometown for his tenth consecutive win in 2016, the empty-suited congressman Paul Ryan is carrying his own personal mandate into Congress on the repeal of Obamacare.

Ryan, after many years of shrugging in his struggle fighting for the rich, intends on replacing the Affordable Care Act with massive tax cuts for the non-production, non-employee non-labor investor class, tax credits for the working class intended to defund government AND subsidize donor class members of America's unaffordable health care industry ...and block grants for the poor. Whew!

Some have termed Ryan's bill "Obamacare Lite," I call it "Atlas Shrugged Care."

JS Online Excerpt:
Let's abandon the pretense.

Republicans' "health care" bill is not really about health care. It's not about improving access to health insurance, or reducing premiums, or making sure you get to keep your doctor if you like your doctor. And it's certainly not about preventing people from dying in the streets.

Instead, it's about hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts — tax cuts that will quietly pave the way for more, and far larger, tax cuts.

Let's stop calling it the "Republican's bill." This has Ayn Rand written all over it. It's Paul Ryan's bill.

CBS News Excerpt:
As Republicans work to pitch their health care plan, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he can’t say how many people would lose coverage under the new legislation -- and that it will be “up to people” to decide whether they want to purchase coverage.

Let's not continue to kid ourselves here folks. Paul Ryan and his support base really believe that government "forced" people to buy health insurance they never wanted ...and that the majority of Americans unable to afford health care insurance was little more than a lifestyle "choice" they made when they decided to not earn enough income. Simple.

The bottom line: Paul Ryan's replacement for Obamacare is not health care at all. Instead, it's become his excuse to usher in what he calls "good tax policy," which is nothing more than tax cuts for the rich and a spring board into Atlas Shrugged.

For the "Pride of Janesville," it's now reached a state of emergency.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Fort Janesville, WI

Here's another story that began with the task of deciding the future of the Monterey Dam in Janesville evolving into yet another example on why Janesville's form of city government, mayorless and without sturdy rules governing administration duties or routine spending authority, must be reformed.

The latest begins with Jens Jorgensen, one of seven elected city council members, daring to step outside of Janesville's kleptocracy and ask some simple questions of the status quo in charge of city hall.

More to the point, Jorgensen saw city spending on consultants with little oversight skyrocket over the past few years. He's right. Upon asking the city administration for records regarding consultant activity so he can be armed with the facts to develop a new ordinance, Jorgensen was met with stiff resistance from city staffers.

The city manager, Mark Freitag, a retired army colonel (paid handsomely by Janesville taxpayers), apparently saw the young council member (mature beyond his 19 years) as the belligerent non-conforming agitator Pfc. John Winger (Stripes) and ordered staffers to ignore Jorgensen's request. Freitag, it was reported "declined Jorgensen's request in part because he didn't believe Jorgensen was being cooperative."


From there, the situation only got worse. Freitag wanted to know in detail WHY the council member wanted the information. That in turn made Freitag appear as if he is hiding something. If anything however, it shows a second ordinance is needed to establish rules and a trigger for the administration to follow when council members request draft ordinances or public records.

This episode also goes a long way to show Janesville's city manager/at-large system of government is in desperate need of wide-ranging reform. In truth, the administration should have no skin in the decision-making game. It is only the council that may need consultation since they are ones charged with making the decisions.

Except in Janesville, not only does the administration have unchecked funding and maintain exclusive guarded access with consultants as demonstrated by the city manager, they can and have used the reports AND city committees as tools for their benefit by shaping them into presentations to fit their goals and to steer a rubber stamp from the council.

To make matters worse, the "conservative" Janesville Gazette, instead of defending Jorgensen's request for open records and supporting an ordinance for more fiscal accountability, felt their "government watchdog" inadequacy challenged once again and editorialized against the council member. They wrote that Jorgensen was grandstanding and taking advantage of people's negative perceptions of consultants and called his ideas "a solution in search of a problem."

That's what is said when somebody else does your job.

Just more of the same shameless partisan hackery I expect from the vacant Gazette.

My last point is; I've seen problematic events very similar to this one unfold several times before between council members and the city administration only to be suddenly dropped from sight with congratulations and pay raises for everyone.

So residents shouldn't expect much forward progress if any will arise this time around. But it's fun to hope and keep those fingers crossed. * eyeroll *

My advice to Jens Jorgensen is a quote attributable to Andrew Breitbart:

"Walk towards the fire, don’t worry about what they call you. All of those things are said because they want to stop you in your tracks."