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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Ron Johnson: People With Preexisting Conditions Are Like 'Somebody Who Crashes Their Car'

I remember when Ron Johnson would repeatedly hyperventilate, "Obamacare is the greatest assault on freedom in our lifetime."

In an interview with Chuck Todd, Johnson compares people with preexisting conditions to people who crash their cars. Todd also plays video of Johnson on the campaign trail using rhetoric that never matched the reality on health care. Yet, Wisconsin voters fell for him ...twice!

Watch it:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

SHINE Lobbies For $100M Worth Of Paul Ryan's Decentralized Bootstrap Stimulus

Somehow, some way, the Janesville Gazette was able to publish a story (front page headlines) about a well-connected Janesville "entrepreneur" hiring three lobbying firms to schmooze the federal government out of $100 million for their business project ...and not mention Paul 'Mr. Money' Ryan even once.

I have to give the Gazette some credit however for uncovering the story in the first place. For some reason lately, they have decided to do a little investigative reporting. That's not the norm, so it's a good thing.

But leaving Rep. Paul Ryan out of the SHINE story however is so obvious and of such major consequence, it's nearly impossible to think it was done by accident. That's a shame because it shows the Gazette has a huge political blindspot.

Here's why. When Paul Ryan used to hold town hall meetings, he would remind his constituents that he is the area's "federal go to guy." That was before he was speaker of the house. Ryan would say, "if you have any problems with or requests of the federal government, I'm your guy." He said that repeatedly. SHINE is in Janesville. Janesville is in Paul Ryan's congressional district. The Gazette knows all that.

Secondly, the internet is full of essays, articles and reports about Paul Ryan's philosophy on crony capitalism, centralized control, statism, subsidized jobs and make-believe markets.

Here's just one of many dozens...

Fox Excerpt: (On Solyndra)
This is industrial policy and crony capitalism at its worst. It's exhibit A for how this kind of economic policy doesn't work," he told "Fox News Sunday." "We shouldn't be picking winners or losers in Washington. We should be setting the conditions for economic growth so that the private sector can create jobs. Washington is not good at picking winners and losers, so we shouldn't try."

Remember when President Obama said, "if you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen." Oh my Lord. That was blasphemy to Paul Ryan, back then...

American Enterprise Institute Excerpt:
It was Rep. Paul Ryan’s wife, Janna, who first saw — via Twitter — President Obama’s recent comments about American entrepreneurs, that “if you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Paul Ryan at the time — thought to be on Mitt Romney’s running-mate short list — couldn’t believe it. He thought someone must “have been putting words in the president’s mouth.”

But Obama said it all. And Ryan absolutely tore into the president in a chat I had with him earlier today. Among the highlights:

— “The idea that these entrepreneurs owe all their success to some government bureaucrat or some centralized planner just defies reality.”
— “Every now and then, President Obama pierces the veil. He’s usually pretty coy about his ideology, but he lets the veil slip from time to time.”
— “We believe in free communities and this is a statist attack on free communities.”

So how does any of that reflect on Paul Ryan's position now with hometown pal SHINE CEO Greg Piefer? Well, it doesn't.

First, Ryan doesn't have Barack Obama around anymore to juxtapose his goofy ideas against whether to draw contrasts with, scapegoat or for political expedience.

Secondly, SHINE held a private invite-only "celebration" party a few months ago and among the area's elite in attendance was Rep. Paul Ryan.

Believe it or not, Ryan was taking bows for SHINE and called his pal, Greg Piefer, "the head, the brain, the bird dog.” He told the crowd that SHINE's plan was a "great, fantastic breakthrough," and said it shows Janesville has begun to “decentralize” its local economy and bounce back. The Gazette knows all that. They reported on it.

But, Janesville's "decentralized" economy? LOL. Do you know how disconnected Ryan must be to think that? More than I even thought.

Nothing, and I mean this literally, nothing is done or accomplished in Janesville's economy without the big hand of government at every level, from federal grants, to state tax credits, central "comprehensive" planning and of course millions of dollars in wealth transfers through TIF District abstracts, property tax kickbacks and free land. The other thing is, all of that is escalating. I'm not knocking it all, just saying.

So, if Paul Ryan calls that his idea of decentralization, then I can't blame his local cronies for lobbying DC for $100M in stimulus to bootstrap their decentralization. Particularly with Ryan, now House Speaker, as the area's federal go-to guy.

In days gone by, the national media would be all over a story about a hometown pal of the House Speaker busting on the federal government for $100 million.

Those days are officially over.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Janesville Gazette's Criticism Of Paul Ryan Ran Rings Around Challenger

In a recent Janesville Gazette editorial, Democracy drowning in flood of campaign cash, the newspaper's editorial staff appears to be taking issue with our fleebagger congressman, Paul Ryan.

Don't believe the hype.

The barbs of criticism they threw at Ryan were made of rubber, though necessary to provide cover so as not to appear partisan for taking shots at their intended target - declared 1st District democratic challenger David Yankovich.

To shift our focus, the Gazette claimed there's too much money in politics, yet they belittle Ryan's last democratic challenger, Ryan Solen, for raising "a paltry $23,749." If they were true believers in their own hype, Solen's lightweight campaign cash would have been the blessing they were looking for in a candidate and not the curse they mock in their editorial.

The Gazette also trumpets the fact that Rock County voters knew better about money in politics when we overwhelmingly (86% to 14%) approved the "Amend Citizen's United" referendum last fall, yet I don't recall the Gazette's endorsement of the referendum when they were posting their political recommendations in November. According to my blog records ...they didn't have one.

As far as their concern for Democratic challenger David Yankovich goes, the Gazette calls him a "carpetbagger" from Ohio. Yet again, although previous challenger Ryan Solen is a Wisconsin native, it wasn't enough quality to turn the key for an endorsement from the Gazette last year.

Yeah. No. The Gazette's editorial about democracy drowning in a flood of campaign cash wasn't meant to show the Gazette's worm has finally turned against Paul Ryan or big money in politics. It was a shrewdly written stringer of red herrings to take down democratic challenger David Yankovich, balanced by their faux support for overturning Citizens United while excusing Ryan's big money machine with "they all do it" and perfectly legal. In short, they equalize any blame among the political parties - not at Paul Ryan.

As of now, the chance the Gazette will endorse "Mr. Money" Paul Ryan for re-election in 2018 stands at 99.999367%, so their hollow criticism of him was a very small price to pay to take a clean shot at Yankovich and democrats in general.

If anything, the Gazette sees Ryan as a victim of circumstance.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Janesville Continues To Lose What Little Good Government It Has Left

The current Janesville city council led by authoritarian activist Council President Doug Marklein voted on Wednesday to protect the council's performance review process of city manager, Mark Freitag, from public scrutiny.

After getting some mild push back earlier when the council rejected Marklein's campaign to dismantle the city's "just cause" standard for city employees, Marklein is back with more proposals to chip away at open government and consolidate power.

JG Excerpt:
JANESVILLE—Going forward, performance evaluations of the city manager should be more consistent but less public, the city council decided Wednesday.

More accurately, "performance evaluations of the city manager will be more consistently less public."

Once again only one member of the city council, Jens Jorgensen, voted on the side of good government insisting to keep documented review forms open to public records. City Manager Freitag of course, was in favor of dropping form evaluations and making his performance review an oral feedback session.

The Gazette wrote of Jorgensen, "In the interest of transparency, he argued the council should continue to use them so individual council members' evaluations can remain public."

Sorry, but transparency lost.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Janesville Council President Shuts Off Council Member’s Mic

During a discussion on the city’s property tax settlement with Menards at Monday’s council meeting, Council President Doug Marklein shut off Council Member Jens Jorgensen’s microphone when he wanted to respond to a statement directed at him from Council Member Tom Wolfe.

Moments earlier, Jorgensen was generalizing about his position on the issue. He said he thought it was fundamentally wrong to settle and that he is opposed to settling the case with Menards. Jorgensen said he wanted to let others know that not everyone thinks the settlement “is a good deal” and that companies do it because they know cities will roll over. Jorgensen was not pointing his remarks at anyone by name or specifically. He was making a broad general statement on his position.

Council Member Wolfe seemed to have taken Jorgensen’s criticism of ”it’s a good deal” logic personally and said he was responding to Jorgensen’s remarks. Wolfe, in an orderly and measured response, wanted Jorgensen to know he does not think settling is a good deal either, but that it’s the responsible appropriate thing to do at this time (in his view). It was moments after Wolfe finished speaking when Jorgensen signaled his intention to respond to Wolfe when Marklein cut off his mic.

When Jorgensen asked why he was cut off, Marklein said it was because he was being "argumentative." Yet their conversation was not loud, was not escalating or heated by any measure, and seemed very “normal” and necessary to clear up any misunderstanding between the two.

Fact is, Jorgensen’s reply to Wolfe could have been a friendly apology of sorts or an acknowledgment that he now understands what he (Wolfe) meant earlier, OR anything to clarify his statement. But we’ll never know because Marklein cut him off.

Just plain wrong and disrespectful.

Later in the meeting, Jorgensen made an official statement that he is registering a complaint with the city in that council rules are not being followed.

NOTE: The Janesville City Council approved the settlement refunding Menards $403,007.90 with Jorgensen opposed.

Tunesday: INXS - Never Tear Us Apart

Friday, June 09, 2017

After Five Years Of SHINE, Only Its Shadow Has Grown

Most of my local readers probably think I'm not a fan of the upstart medical isotope company SHINE. But that's not right. To be clear, I give the SHINE CEO much credit for ambition and innovation and hope his idea succeeds.

My problem from the beginning with the SHINE mess in Janesville, and it is a giant mess, was more with the city's trickle-down corporate welfare policies that, by design, give property tax revenue for the next 10 to 20 years from the city's most promising economic developments to well-connected city hall interlopers and Fortune 500 companies.

However, my view of SHINE has changed after recent newspaper reports about SHINE and Janesville corporate welfare officials engaging in new talks to give SHINE more TIF increment money ($1.5 million) because, and get this, because some how, some way, the city is responsible for making sure SHINE recovers costs SHINE did not anticipate in their original prospectus. Believe it or not, THAT'S the city's take on it.

The articles by the Janesville Gazette about the talks for the TIF amendment appear to be unusually forthright ...for the Gazette. The newspaper, in the order of three separate articles about the development, shows city officials and SHINE officials turning, twisting and spinning against each other by the day.

In the first article that broke the story, city officials tied the $1.5M to help pay for the prototype facility. That all changed in the second article when SHINE's VP insisted SHINE -- not the city -- would pay the costs for building the prototype facility.

Both parties now claim the $1.5M TIF increment would NOT fund the construction of SHINE's isotope garage (despite contradictory language in the city's memorandum on the TIF amendment), but will be used instead to pay the costs for moving "relocating" prototype machinery a few hundred feet into the proposed full scale facility.

That's even better because the city is then in no rush now to do anything with the amendment until after the full scale facility is up and running. Right? There is no urgency. Well, that would be true if this proposal was a square deal. Problem is; it's not.

But wait a second. One-point-five million dollars?? To move a future non-productive museum piece across a road? According to the third Gazette article, SHINE now considers the smaller garage type isotope facility to be nothing more than a marketing tool.

Those articles on the SHINE debacle were broken by a confusing if not somewhat disingenuous letter to the newspaper by SHINE CEO Greg Piefer. In it he wrote about how the TIF amendment (as opposed without the amendment?) would bring additional guaranteed revenue to the city and that the amendment came about because the city did not want SHINE to build the prototype on the main site in order to protect the value of city property. The main site is city property until SHINE's full-scale production facility is completed.

In short then, SHINE is telling the city, "it's reasonable to ask us to protect the value of your property according to your wishes, but that will cost you an additional $1.5 million." Bingo. And there it is.

But there's more.

You see, after five long years, SHINE has developed no attachments or bought no property of/on its own in Janesville.

Everything ...and I mean EVERYTHING, from the first seed of venture capital including a city-backed $4 million guarantee; to 80 acres of "free" land; to the city's purchase of another 8 acres of land to yet another sweetheart TIF deal for a city hall "connected" developer that appears to be a gimmick designed to pay SHINE's lease of the building; is all paid for with other people's money. Even the land they want to build their prototype facility on, will not be purchased or owned by SHINE. They intend on leasing it.

So, for all practical purposes, SHINE has no risk in Janesville and could pack up its bags tomorrow and not lose or owe a single dime to anybody.

Now I can understand some people saying, "So what?" SHINE is playing it smart. True, I guess. Why risk your own money when you have a willing hostage encouraging the ransom?

But it was Piefer's letter that convinced me SHINE is playing fast and loose with Janesville when he stated the city has "contributed" $600,000 toward their project "so far" while, in an effort to show SHINE has a lot more skin in game, has "invested" $60 million so far. In that case, Piefer should provide an itemized list showing where he spent "contributed" $60 million in Janesville. Of course "spending" and "investing" are not the same, but it was Piefer who connected the two when he tried to make the comparison in his letter.

Sorry to say, but the only commitment I've seen from SHINE is their commitment to hold Janesville hostage.

Unfortunately, as all of Janesville's trickle-down corporate welfare city council votes go, I fully expect SHINE to win the $1.5M TIF agreement handout with anywhere from a 5 to 2 vote to a unanimous decision.