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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Janesville Council Sells Out Taxpayers - Share In WHP Losses

Well, it wasn’t unanimous, so I can’t post my city council rubber stamp graphic hoisting a beer to cheer on the council, but nevertheless, the damage is done. Absent from the Monday night's council meeting were members Amy Loasching and George Brunner. No matter, the Janesville City council basically glad handed the Wisconsin Hockey Partners and awarded them primary control of the city’s ice arena.

At first, several council members seemed apprehensive but eventually asked some very good questions of the WHP spokesman Bill McCoshen, but it was too late. Anything McCoshen said in consideration of their questions is unenforceable, unless of course it was entered into the contract - which they were not. At one point, Councilman McDonald created an opportunity to negotiate a binding change in the agreement during the meeting of which Councilman Steeber suggested was inappropriate during an open meeting. Councilman Yuri Rashkin seemed upset that other members were scrutinizing the contract at all, and accused them of attempting to "micro-manage" the agreement.

Although the entire contract is a complete sham and a disgrace to city taxpayers and the public interest, this particular passage received some attention, even from council members who normally have no qualms about throwing tax dollars to private enterprise.
Contract Excerpt Excerpt:

4)WHP agrees to pay a monthly rental fee of Three Hundred Fifty Dollars ($350)for the exclusive use of non-ice facilities, to include the office, locker room area(to include restroom and showers), and storage space. If the average attendance (total games played divided by total attendance) falls below six hundred (600)fans per game, the City agrees to waive the office rental fees.
In defense of that contract provision, McCoshen said, "if it doesn't work out, we're asking the city council to waive that rental for that period of time, but the rent would kick in as soon as we start making money." Wow, how many renters get kissed with that kind of luck?

Of honorable mention here were several residents who spoke out against the agreement including three candidates for city council. Bill McCoy expressed concerns about the contract, the rent provisions and the cost of future repairs. Write-in candidate Julie Backenkeller opposed the proposal and felt the contract was seriously flawed and absent of reasonable sharing between the city and the WHP. Frank Perrotto also was fundamentally opposed to the agreement including the alcohol sales. He felt the the proposal was shortsighted regarding repairs and future use of the ice arena. Strangely missing from speaking on this issue was city hall activist and council candidate K. Andeah Briarmoon.

In the end, Bill Truman got it right and was the only council member to defend the taxpayers and maintain the Ice Arena as a public-use facility. Council member George Brunner is up for re-election and should make his position known on the ice arena. Same with the rest of the challengers.


Anonymous said...

A new low point in Janesville governmental affairs and economic development.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about the city losing money. As soon as GM returns to Janesville, attendance at junior league games will shoot through the roof!

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