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Friday, February 24, 2017

TIF Districts Are Well Represented In Janesville's At-Large City Government

If somebody told me the retail commercial strip surrounding Humes Road (Hwy 14) at the I39/90 Interstate in Janesville required taxpayer TIF District surplus cash to develop more retail, without thinking I'd say "no waaaaay."

But, if you're familiar with Janesville's captured city government and the embedded wealth redistribution network governing the use of public taxpayer dollars for private-for-profit enterprise, you would say, "Yes way. Way."

That is precisely what the city council will approve at their next meeting when the Freitag administration will speak on behalf to represent yet another developer who expects to receive about $2.8M.

In exchange, the developer promises to develop his property. I'm not kidding you.

WCLO Excerpt:
Economic Development Director Gale Price says a TIF agreement under consideration by the City Council would have a developer rehabilitate the former Menards building to make way for four new national retail tenants.

Price says as part of the agreement under consideration by the council, the developer would rehabilitate the property, increasing the value by an estimated $6 million. In return, the City would fill a $2.8 million financing gap on a pay as you go basis.

If only a decision to fund public enhancement projects like the Monterey Dam with TIF District surplus had that kind of representation at City Hall. But I digress.

Instead, we have supporters of the dam fighting for its survival much on their own, without support from the city and a city manager resorting to Trumpism describing their views and positions as based on, "alternative facts."

One question to ask is; Who speaks on behalf of city taxpayers to request TIF District surplus funding to pay for qualifying public enhancement projects? Certainly not the folks at city hall. The reality is - they're our adversaries.

The bottom line is the same as it ever was before.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Court House Park In Janesville Remains Off-Limits For Free Speech

The vacant underutilized Court House Park shortly before the advocacy group Ultraviolet begins its "postcard delivery" event at Rep. Paul Ryan's office.

For decades, Court House Park in downtown Janesville has been a welcoming place for important open-to-the-public civic activities. But for some unexplained reason, the park has not been mentioned in recent local stories and articles about advocacy groups planning outdoor speaking engagements or rallies.

The most recent newspaper story about the event hosted by the women's advocacy group, Ultraviolet, with Rep. Paul Ryan's office proves this account, despite the fact that the three-acre Court House park is only about 300 feet from Ryan's office.

Obviously there's a much bigger story here. But once again, Janesville does not have a community media outlet or an independent news service with enough integrity or basic journalistic curiosity to ask the tough questions.

Well. Except for little old me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Can't Find Paul Ryan This Week? He's In Texas Responding To His "Special" Constituents. Sorry.

The national women's advocacy group, UltraViolet, plans on delivering 85,000 postcards to Rep. Paul Ryan's Janesville office today at 11AM.

According to a Janesville Gazette article, the group said it wanted to help out after hearing many concerned citizens were not able to reach the congressman to express their views.

Ryan press secretary Ian Martorana responded to the criticism:

Paul Ryan's House Schedule.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Downtown TIF District Fund Off Limits For Monterey Dam

As you probably know, after making a case here on how Monterey Dam helps maintain downtown river levels and describing it as a public infrastructure enhancement project eligible for downtown TIF surplus cash, the Janesville Gazette reversed their tepid support for saving the dam and are now opposed to keeping it, according to their latest editorial.

Point is, no way will the Gazette and their minions at Forward Janesville allow those funds to be used for anything NOT outlined and earmarked in their gimmicky ARISE catalog. That money is gone. In their eyes, the Monterey Dam not only doesn't qualify, they made sure the public understands that whatever happens to the dam - downtown simply doesn't care.

JG Excerpt:
Removing the dam wouldn't negatively impact the city's downtown ARISE project plans, including building a Town Square area near the now-demolished parking deck, officials have said.

Making downtown a destination “can happen with or without the Monterey Dam removal,” McGrath said.

In other words, "No TIF surplus money for you, sorry."

That's unfortunate because the city's downtown position could have just as easily remained neutral until after a decision is made on the dam's future. Instead, they are engaging in semantics to sway public opinion against the costs of saving the dam by shutting down any ideas about using TIF surplus.

It's always follow the money. Always.

Two more points of interest:
1. The Gazette and city officials point out that dam repair consultants said Monterey is a good candidate for removal. To be blunt, every dam is a good candidate for removal.

2. In the story considered an "analysis" by the Janesville Gazette of projected water levels and conditions through downtown with the dam removed, there is no mention of new DNR rules governing the height of the Indianford Dam.

The new DNR rules allow for the water levels on Lake Koshkonong to be raised by 5 inches over previous levels beginning in 2017. That means even less water rolling downstream to the Centerway Dam before it reaches Monterey.

So far, none of the reports I've seen, whether from the newspaper or city public engagement forums, mention the new rule for Indianford and how it will affect seasonal water levels downstream.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Abandoned To Their Conservative Principles, Are Rural Areas In a Downward Spiral?

Wisconsin republicans think so.

According to this story, Wisconsin republicans claim people in rural parts of the state are desperate and can't wait any longer for government to provide better health care, broadband, education and jobs.

Star Tribune Excerpt:
"It's high time that our rural areas and our small towns had our attention," said freshman Rep. Ron Tusler, of Harrison. Residents of these areas "are waiting without rioting, without yelling in somebody's ear. They're waiting patiently for us to focus on the issues that they have."

What a mouthful of resentment and demagoguery if you know what I mean. Rurals don't "riot" or yell like those people from non-rural areas?

I have to ask: What happened to the proudly independent small-government pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps off-the-grid rural conservatives?

It's true that rurals don't complain much publicly. Also, I have not seen one major request, petition, referendum or protest coming from rural residents, whether asking the state for broadband or anything. Maybe it's because they're not asking for what politicians are claiming. But it's certainly worth asking rural residents and their communities what they want from government. They need to be precise.

My other point is, "conservative" rurals cannot complain or ask for government assistance without looking like hypocrites. Their self-inflicted small government austerity-driven ideology prevents that. Plus, today's "reformed" Wisconsin should be their utopia.

No doubt, Democrats have slowly but steadfastly evolved away from conservatism over the past 60 years and in doing so, through natural attrition, also abandoned rural areas. At some point over the last 20 years, residents in those areas began to feel the abandonment. Recent history tells us they responded in a big way at the ballot box.

So, red county rurals are credited with turning Wisconsin into a single-party ruled central state government and spent the last ten years demagoguing those who do complain or ask for assistance - like precious Ron Tusler just did.

The problem is rurals had no one to turn to but "conservative" republicans. Politicians unfortunately, who were and still are in the process of defunding and dismantling our contemporary American way of life. That contemporary American way was built on the steady progressivism of a government regulated economy that subsidized local business environments, whether through infrastructure, education or other benefits, into supporting good paying blue collar jobs for rural residents.

Ironically, Wisconsin republicans have now formed an "initiative" they claim will bring back government provided essentials to rurals (education, health care and jobs), cornerstones of liberalism they worked so hard to take away from them over the past six years.

Star Tribune Excerpt:
The Rural Wisconsin Initiative is a year old and has 26 Assembly Republicans as members. It was created to address the "downward spiral" in rural areas when young people move away, causing the populations to drop, businesses to fail and job opportunities to decrease.

It's not often republicans will admit that their reforms, geared to resurrect conservatism, have failed their most ardent believers. But there it is.

I think the most liberal "urbanized" assembly Democrats from Wisconsin's two biggest cities, Madison and Milwaukee, should join the Rural Wisconsin Initiative. Now is as good a time as ever for Democrats to reach out to those who feel they have been betrayed, disrespected and shortchanged. Even if not through Rural Wisconsin Initiative, Democrats at some point soon should make serious attempts to reconnect with their former support base.

At the least, Wisconsin Democrats would be wise to keep tabs on the amount of state and federal assistance rurals are apparently NOT rioting asking for, but will be receiving through RWI. Just to remind them that government assistance from collectivism is not a "giving money to people who did not earn it" meme to demagogue perceived opponents with, but that we are all in this together.

Liberals should then tell rurals, "Welcome back to the club."

Related reading:

Urban Milwaukee - Milwaukee Subsidizes The State

WaPo - How rural resentment helps explain the surprising victory of Donald Trump

Tuesday, February 14, 2017