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Friday, May 27, 2016

The Dawn of a New Era: "Rock The First" For a Clean Slate!

Opportunity knocks like never before for voters to elect a brand new representative in the First Congressional District of Wisconsin.

That one-time golden opportunity arrives on Fall Primary Tuesday in Wisconsin - August 9, 2016. Mark your calendars.

Here's the deal. Plan to take action on Primary Tuesday by going to your voting ward/precinct station and cast a vote for Paul Nehlen on the Republican primary side of the partisan ballot. That's it!

Who's Paul Nehlen? So far he seems like a gutsy legitimate guy with a serious handle on current politics. I agree with him on a couple issues, most notably the TPP, but I don't agree with him in several other areas. Like most of us however, he also feels deeply betrayed by his representative in Congress.

But, more to the point for our purpose, none of that matters right now. What really matters is, Paul Ryan is facing a serious challenger in a primary for the republican nomination for House Representative of the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin. If Nehlen wins the primary, Ryan's name will not appear on the ballot in November's General Election.


Obviously,  the fallout from that will be tremendous, but this won't be a cakewalk for Nehlen because the right-wing heavens and corporate hells are about to open up on him like a locked and loaded C-130 flying fortress. Many of us in Wisconsin know exactly what that means. We can even expect the GOP to run fake candidates on the democratic side. The establishment borg is super-strong. The stakes are very high. It will be in the truest sense, a David versus Goliath contest.

But most importantly IF Nehlen wins, it will be the dawn of a new era for our congressional house district. Imagine for the first time in nearly twenty years, voters will have a selection of several fresh-faced honest candidates eager to serve with a passion for the job. It will be a clean slate. After the August primary, other party nominees for the 1st CD will have the chance to compete for the job and debate each other on a level playing field ...and may the best man (or woman) win.

And IF Paul Ryan loses, there is no need to worry about him. He'll make millions more doing the same job lobbying in DC he always does representing billionaires and corporations - except he will no longer be on the taxpayers payroll.

Just to be clear, "Rock The First" is not a partisan, candidate or party sloganeered promotion. There is no coordination whatsoever between myself and any of the parties or declared candidates for the 1st CD. It doesn't matter to me if you're a republican, democrat, progressive, independent, liberal, conservative or tea party, we'll all get another chance to elect a new representative in November. There is no hidden agenda or endorsement to follow. But we must rock the First Congressional District Of Wisconsin on August 9th - first.

It's simple. #RockTheFirst is a bottom-up grassroots citizen-run public service message to bring awareness to area voters about the once-in-a-lifetime chance we have to empower ourselves on August 9th and finally remove a deeply entrenched, capital over labor, profits over people, corporate-shill, district derelict, billionaire-owned congressman actor with a ton of bad ideas - from our house seat.

Helping to usher in a clean slate for the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin should be Job One. Let's Rock The First on August 9th!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Popcorn Time: Diane Hendricks Named Co-Chair Of Trump Victory PAC

WKOW Excerpt:
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Two of Gov. Scott Walker's major supporters are serving on a committee created to support Donald Trump.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced the creation of the Trump Victory Committee on Tuesday. One of the vice-chairs is Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks. Campaign finance reports show Hendricks gave $5 million last year to Unintimidated PAC, a super PAC formed to support Walker's ill-fated presidential bid.

I like how they start it off, "Two of Gov. Scott Walker's major supporters ..."

Forget Walker for now, he's not on the ballot this November. It should have been, "Two of Rep. Paul Ryan's major supporters ..." Now that's far more relevant for this election cycle.

Although Trump won Janesville (Ryan's hometown) and Rock County in the presidential primary, Cruz defeated Trump decisively and carried the congressional district on the backs of GOP "Never Trump" voters - 51% to 32%.

But by avoiding an endorsement decision on Trump, Ryan is playing off of Paul Nehlen, his tough primary challenger's endorsement of Donald Trump, thereby hoping the state GOP and right-wing radio talkers can maintain the district's Trump/Cruz split to his advantage through the primary in August.

This is also why I believe Ryan's rhetoric at the recent Wisconsin State GOP convention asking for "real party unity, not pretend party unity" was NOT about Donald Trump, Trump's campaign or nomination. It was Ryan talking in code about his campaign and his own primary and re-election in the 1st CD.

Coming from the GOP's top office holder in the country, it became an order for the establishment, "I must win. Stay true to the party - not the party's nominee - and give me a primary victory." Ryan is saying, "don't pretend party unity now by linking a Trump/Nehlen ticket. After we defeat Nehlen, stay true to the party again - and then give Trump a victory in November."

So it does seem odd right now to most political watchers how the RNC and one of Paul Ryan's top financiers, Diane Hendricks, can support Trump AND be in the tank for a candidate seemingly hostile to their top national candidate at the same time.

There's no second-guessing between them. Forget the Trump national scene for the moment. Forget anyone suggesting they're abandoning their "conservative" principles with Trump. There's no betrayal. They know what they're doing. It becomes clear when you realize they're doing it to maintain a winning contrast for Republican primary voters in the 1st CD to save Paul Ryan's career.

Ryan also recently said Trump could win, but he wouldn't bet on it. He has to say that to maintain consistency with his phony party "unity" game plan when in fact supporting Trump is party unity. But locally, that would also mean supporting Nehlen. Ryan isn't quite there yet ...ahem.

After the primary and assuming he wins, my guess is Ryan will be "all in" for Donald Trump. Any suggestion Ryan opposed Trump would be his latest urban legend.

Ryan himself could end this by suddenly endorsing Trump, but that would hand Nehlen a clear but small victory on party unity and decisiveness.

Trump however could be the key or the spoiler here IF he makes an endorsement in the Wisconsin primary.

On that, I suggest the media press the outspoken Trump on his choice for the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin as soon as possible. Now is not the time to suddenly be politically correct or wishy-washy.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Top Story And Links For Janesville This Week

Many people don't know it, but Janesville property taxpayers will be taking a pretty big hit on Monday as the city council expects to rubber stamp a funding program for Forward Janesville's downtown 'ARISE' gimmick.

Under the guise of a TIF District, the council will be shifting about $45 million, tax dollars originally destined for future city operational expenses and other general fund duties, to the exclusive use of downtown political donor-class business activities. It'll be the equivalent of paying for five new fire department central stations, but without the five new fire stations.

Where will the city find the revenue to make up for the $800,000 deficit expected to begin next year's budget along with other unforeseen increases and expenses for general operations and maintenance for years to come?

It'll be glorious.

More On The Janesville Downtown TIF District Below:

Major City Hall Stories Are Swept Under The Rug

Janesville Downtown TIF District Won't Boost Property Value Much. But It Will Confiscate It

Tax Credits, TIF Districts Funnel Taxpayer Cash To Republican Candidates

City Economic Development Director: "We're Putting Our Money Where Our Mouth Is"

Things To Watch For After The Janesville TIF District Rubber Stamp

Friday, May 20, 2016

Things To Watch For After The Janesville TIF District Rubber Stamp

Here are several things to watch for a few months after Janesville's city council rubber stamps the downtown TIF District on Monday.

The first thing to watch for are whiny council members, city administrators, the city manager, even school district and county officials (area schools and county government budgets will also be affected by the TIF) start complaining about budget shortfalls and the difficult cuts they may have to make to balance the next budget. We'll hear the typical scatter-shot blame game followed by talk for the need of a municipal sales tax or other revenue raising gimmicks including new tax hike referendums.

So, watch for the whine and the referendums.

The second item to watch for will be a spike in contested property tax bills from downtown property owners. This won't happen in a few months of course, but once those new sizable assessments start showing up in their 2017 and 2018 bills on properties with little direct improvements, it'll be hard for even the Gazette to censor the rage.

Of course much of the perception will be real enough to point blame on the TIF District since administrators have claimed the core purpose of the TIF is to increase assessed values (taxes) in the district by $100 million so they could collect an additional $1.5m in taxes a year over the 2016 bill. There's no getting away from that narrative, but by then it will be too late to complain.

The third item not just to watch for, but "watch out for" is the real possibility that downtown property values won't rise as rapidly or to the levels anticipated.

Keep in mind Janesville's downtown is already highly developed and the fact that all TIF Districts are not created equal. That means if TIF values flatten or face a sudden downturn, it will be much worse on Janesville taxpayers than the average TIF because the city intends on issuing bonds collateralized on the speculation of rising downtown property values to pay for up to $45 million worth of "amenities" and corporate welfare programs they have planned for Forward Janesville's membership.

So not only will city taxpayers have to pay for the rising costs of local operations over the next twenty years or so, property taxpayers could get a double-whammy by suddenly finding themselves paying off the bonds for the entire "ARISE" program. If the TIF collapses, the cost would add at least one million a year to the city budget at a time when trying to find or cut $30,000 is worse than pulling teeth.

The fourth item will be a new push by city administrators to privatize public operations in a backwards effort to cut operational expenses and lower costs. There's actually much more, but I don't want to overkill.

Of course, some of the things mentioned above have already been acknowledged in public discussions. However, instead of city officials proposing new ideas to solve those problems, they have taken a path to exacerbate and hasten their arrival.

Again, the things to watch for won't happen immediately, but they will be unmistakable when they do.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Major City Hall Stories Are Swept Under The Rug

While the Janesville Gazette and establishment social media operations continue to pepper the Janesville conscience with negative stories on the school district and other "look squirrel" diversions, their deliberate silence on the city's projected budget deficit including a special TIF District that will funnel about $1.5 million a year (for the next 27 years) in future tax revenue away from General Fund obligations, borders on conspiracy.

As described in a previous blog posting, city budget deficits for Janesville will occur more regularly once the city council rubber stamps a new downtown TIF District that in effect will remove about $100 million in future taxable assessed values from participating in the city's mounting general fund obligations.

Those resources will instead be handed over to enrich Scott Walker's local donor-class supper club, the downtown membership cartel of Forward Janesville. Their program is named, "ARISE."

The story actually began with Mark Freitag, the Janesville City Manager appointed unironically by a Forward Janesville top heavy committee, claiming in his state-of-the-city address that Janesville can expect a $800,000 shortfall to begin the 2017 budget. During his speech he emphasized the urgency to fix the projected deficit and asked the public to join him in immediate discussions. He warned that solutions could be very, very painful for the city.

After his speech, some local officials stated that the city is already running tight while others said cuts in state shared revenue are responsible for the city manager's deficit projection ...

JG Excerpt:
City officials have long been frustrated by the way the state government controls some its revenue streams.

State shared revenue formulas award Janesville $5.12 million annually, which is about $5 million less than the average amount given to 15 other Wisconsin cities of comparable size. A cap on increasing property taxes and a ban on municipalities implementing a sales tax also limits options.

That "cap and cut" narrative however places blame squarely on the state and the gerrymandered GOP majority in control including Forward Janesville's golden boy, Scott Walker. The thing is, placing blame on red-state policies is a no-no among Janesville establishment power brokers.

The very next day, the city manager squashed placing any blame on the state for the city's deficit by instead pointing the blame, believe it or not, on ...unions!

That's right. Unions! Freitag, who received a 5% raise a year and a half ago, said pay raises of one and two percent negotiated in union contracts are what's driving the city's projected budget deficit.

At that point, someone probably told Freitag to stop digging ...

...because in the works was Forward Janesville's downtown "ARISE" plan and that's where part two of this story begins.

Besides cranking up the heat on an already simmering pot, his counter-strike appeared to pre-empt opposition to Forward Janesville's agenda of funding their pet project with taxpayer money. But throwing unions under the bus for the deficit also indirectly placed blame back on the city council AND on the city's much ballyhooed TIF-District fueled sprawl-based growth agenda.

And on that he's half right.

Because it is the city council who ultimately approved of Freitag's raise AND city employees' raises. They did so knowing the growing pressure Walker's "cap and cut" policy is having on the city's budget AND the inability of the city's TIF-District fueled tax-growth plans to return enough revenue to cover for basic operations and minimal raises.

Next week Monday however, priorities will be very different again as the Janesville city council and Freitag are expected to ignore all of the above and all of their own warnings when they rubber stamp Forward Janesville's downtown TIF District.

The added irony here is Janesville taxpayers will be forced to referendum to make up for the lost revenue along with future annual budget deficits OR make large cuts in city services while insiders with the right connections can readily find the money for their pet projects - no referendum required.

Another city hall story swept under the rug revolves around a recent audit report from the state’s WEDC agency showing Grainger in Janesville failed to create the 130 jobs necessary to qualify for state tax credits. The state is attempting to claw back $50k worth in claimed tax credits from Grainger.

During that same time, the City of Janesville also gave Grainger a $227,500 cash loan forgivable on the creation of those 130 jobs. But so far, city administration officials and their media enablers have not answered questions or outlined their plans to claw back the money given to Grainger.

In fact, Janesville's link to the state audit and the city's cash "incentive" to Grainger for the jobs is not even acknowledged to exist.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Summer of 2010 Defined Paul Ryan's Commitment To His "People"

McClatchy DC Excerpt:
“People in southern Wisconsin know Paul Ryan and they know what he stands for,” said Zack Roday, a Ryan spokesman. “Janesville is his home, and his commitment will always be to the people he represents.”

Was that a trick answer? Because exactly who are the people he represents?

Here's what I mean:

The summer of 2010 was a time of great economic uncertainty for the manufacturing auto towns in the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin. That summer was approximately one-and-a-half years after the GM plant in Janesville officially shut down, displacing about 10,000 workers region-wide. So it represents a window of time for local leaders to compile solutions and schedule meetings to collaborate a path forward out of the crisis.

In Janesville, the meeting was an important enough event for representatives of labor, education, county, state and municipal governments, transportation and housing agencies, health and human services, law enforcement, environmental protection, business, science and technology industries - just about everybody - including a liaison from the White House, to attend.

But the guy who represents the district in Congress and repeatedly called himself the area's federal go-to guy. Paul Ryan? That guy? He wasn't there. He never showed.

But that's not the complete story:
In the summer of 2010, Paul Ryan was invited to attend several important auto town recovery summits in his home district. Shortly after, he was invited to the Koch brothers compound for an important meeting in California to help with fund-raising strategy for the upcoming elections.

Guess which one he attended in person?

The other? He sent them a letter.


RNR - Everyone But Paul Ryan Showed Up

RNR - At The Crossroads, Paul Ryan's Hometown Facing a Death Spiral. But Where's Ryan?