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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

City Council Approves Industrial Base Expansion

JG Excerpt:
At least that's the opinion of Brad Cantrell, the city's community development director. And it appeared good enough for the city council, which voted unanimously to add 185 acres to TIF No. 26.
Just in case someone didn’t think that the GM industrial corridor in Janesville was unemployed enough at over 300 acres – and for good measure.

A TIF DISTRICT PRIMER (Tax Increment Financing District)

Janesville TIF Policy Excerpt:
Thus, the TIF law provides that all property taxes levied on increased property value within a TIF district are retained by the community to finance the public expenditures made within the TIF district.
Instead of “retained by the community,” it should have read property taxes... “withheld from the community.” A large portion of the property taxes paid within the boundaries of the district do not all go to service the same community (schools, police, fire, public works, etc.) as property taxes paid by everyone else. As the property values in the district incrementally improve, so does the costs to service the area. While the properties in the TIF district enjoy all the amenities provided for by the "community" general fund, someone else is shouldering the cost. That someone else is you and I. This tax shift can go on for as long as 23 years.
Janesville TIF Policy Excerpt:
The base value (the assessed value of the property that existed at the time the TIF district is created), however, continues to provide the same level of revenues to other taxing jurisdictions.
Because most of the 185 acres is being farmed, the land probably meets Wisconsin’s land-use value provisions. This means while the private land is being improved under TIF provisions with new added value (streets, infrastructure etc.) the only taxes being paid into the general fund is the same amount the property was paying at the time the TIF district was created. In the case of working farmland, the taxes paid are very, very low. Usually pennies on the dollar compared to non-farm assessments. Generally, the lower the base value of TIF district properties - the greater the burden the district places on taxpayers outside of its boundaries.
Janesville TIF Policy Excerpt:
Once all of the public expenditures have been repaid, all taxing jurisdictions can collect taxes levied on the new property value.
Keep in mind the 23 year time frame. If the TIF is successful, its property taxes will provide a surplus revenue over the costs incurred to improve. New state TIF rules allow local jurisdictions to "port" or divert the incremental tax surplus away from the taxpayer general fund and use it for other private business ventures within the 1/2 mile radius of the TIF boundaries. When anyone implies money coming from TIF surplus revenues does not effect our taxes - they are wrong. The money is still being withheld from the general fund. Just because taxpayers aren't made aware that tax revenue is being withheld, doesn't mean no one has to make up the difference.
Janesville TIF Policy Excerpt:
Total TIF incremental revenues over the maximum 23-year life of TIF No.26 equal $6.62 million, compared to total TIF costs of $5.78 million.
The cost to incentivize the privately owned land with infrastructure improvements is projected to cost $5.78 million. Once the $5.78 million for the improvements has been repaid by taxes collected in the district (remember, most of the taxes collected do not go to the general fund), then and only then will the district begin paying into the general fund. BUT if it's paid before the TIF expires (in this case 23 years!), the local jurisdiction (city government) can continue to withhold the incremental monies or surplus from the general fund to instead pay for other capital improvements within the 1/2 mile radius until the TIF finally expires.
Janesville TIF Policy Excerpt:
Since TIF revenues are projected to exceed TIF costs by $0.84 million, the TIF district should be economically viable.
If, after 23 years have passed and all goes as planned, this TIF district is expected to generate $840,000 more or less in surplus tax revenue. Remember, this may or may not be diverted away from the general fund.

So how will taxpayers wind up losing? While we are allowing the property taxes being paid by the improved properties to be used to pay down the debt for all the infrastructure, pipes, streets, curbs, etc. - someone else is shouldering the incrementally higher added costs for schools, fire, police, library, public works, snowplowing, street sweeping, etc., the TIF district has shifted onto the community...for a span of up to 23 years. When you figure that Janesville has over 25 active TIF districts, the tax shift is substantial.

Put another way, while the taxes paid by the property owners inside the TIF boundaries are being spent on improvements that return higher property values and increased speculative prospects, those outside the district are shouldering the incrementally higher tax burden to service the district. It’s a circular motion of revenue made in the name of progress that has only one loser – the local taxpayers outside the TIF boundaries.

The TIF District tool can be a great boost for economic development when used to remove blight or lift economically depressed areas. But it is also easily abused. When its drawn around working farmland to increase the supply of industrial buildings in an area with a glut of vacant industrial buildings - there's something seriously wrong with our policies.

Obviously, there is no way I can cover all aspects of TIF District agreements and the consequences they bring in this blog posting. While those with the loudest megaphone tout the advantages of new amendments to Wisconsin TIF law and keep the general public off balance with loosely constructed rhetoric, probably the best way to think of TIF Districts is as nothing more than a good old fashioned tax shift.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Return To Roots In Health Care Battle

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

Declaration Of Independence

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Economic Directors Quietly Withdraw From Positions

Over the past two weeks, two high profile officials from Rock County’s economic development governmental agencies have announced they will be withdrawing from their respective jobs.
JG Excerpt: (July 25, 2009)
JANESVILLE – The director of the Rock County Planning, Economic and Community Development Agency has resigned, County Administrator Craig Knutson announced late Friday. No reason was given for the resignation of Scott Heinig.

JG Excerpt: (July 14, 2009)
Doug Venable, the city's economic development director, plans to retire at the end of the year. Venable said Monday that he likely will leave his office for good in either November or December, depending upon how much vacation time he has to use by the end of the year.
Venable’s announcement came only weeks after a short series of complimentary articles were published by the Janesville Gazette and the Wisconsin State Journal.

Both of the decisions to leave however, came less than one month after GM makes it official, Janesville to stay closed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Janesville Considers Expanding Industrial Base Into Farmland

When it comes to city growth plans, this has to be the worst of the worst.
JG Excerpt:
The Janesville City Council on Monday will consider adding 185 acres of vacant land to TIF No. 26 for industrial development. The land is being farmed but is zoned for industrial and residential.
Is it farmland? Well....uh...its zoned for industrial and residential development. But it's being farmed.'s vacant land. That's's vacant land! Is the owner paying property taxes based on typical city lot vacant land or is the owner paying pennies on the dollar in property tax taking advantage of Wisconsin's land-use assessment by paving it with crops? Huh...what business is this of yours? Why does this matter to you? It does matter because this is farmland, and the Gazette went to great lengths to avoid the term and the relationship in today's article misleadingly titled, "TIF district expansion would include GM plant." (The actual TIF boundaries does not include GM) Instead, the newspaper ran with comments from pro-sprawl city administrators spinning the request into a positive for the nearby and vacant industrial complex.

Not only is the city willing to expand its industrial base (or residential) into farmland, they are eager to accomodate the farmland owner(s) by drawing a tax incentive TIF district around it.

But it gets even worse. This farmland/industrial expansion is within 1/2 mile from the sprawling GM plant. And instead of taking a step back and looking at the folly of their position, the proximity of the farmland to over 300 acres of a wide assortment of existing prime, classic and vacant industrial buildings and supporting structures, including the GM plant itself - they call the passage of this breach against all common sense as an "opportunity."
JG Excerpt:
"The proposed TIF No.26 boundary amendment will add additional industrial lands that can be improved with municipal utilities and services to attract continued industrial industrial development."
Well, hardee-har and har. And to make sure no one should question the outcome of this request, particularly any snarky bloggers, environmentalists, genuine farmers, concerned citizens or other activists......
JG Excerpt:
If the council approves the amendment, it will be forwarded to the Joint Review Board made up of representatives from the city, school district, county and vocational school district.
So there!

The Gazette article also stated no public hearing is scheduled, and it's just as well. It probably wouldn't make any difference. In the past some guy (or gal) from Forward Janesville, the Fourth Ward neighborhood or the city's far NE side would step up and Kumbaya the same line, "I support our city leaders and visionaries who refuse to stand by and watch our city deteriorate. This TIF district and expansion over farm vacant land is just what we need to bring in jobs and increase our tax base."

It never fails.

"It's consistent with the city's Comprehensive Growth plan."

The TIF proposal on the city's agenda rambles on for 46 pages and builds a case for it by jumbling Wisconsin TIF laws in with various numbers showing the expected effects of the expanded tax base.

Well, that's good enough for me.

Agenda Excerpt:
City staff is proposing a third amendment to TIF No. 26 to add
approximately 185 acres of vacant farmland planned for industrial development.
City Staff is proposing? Did the landowner request the TIF inclusion? Or does the city just haphazardly draw TIF districts around working farmland without any regard to the owner? Or the farmers? Why isn't the landowner making the presentation requesting the amendment? Why aren't the landowners names, along with their preliminary plans, goals, intentions and interactions with the city documented in the proposal? Instead we get state statutes, historical charts and projections?Boundaries not exact - for demonstration only.

The irony: Had the owner(s) of the farmland approached the city or county requesting to change the residential and commercial zoning back to AG, the city administration would have vehemently protested stating something like, "That's a non-compliant request because its inconsistent with the city's comprehensive growth plan."

Note: This posting is not a position or attack against the farmland owners or their plans. They obviously have the right (within the law) to do as they please with their land.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Will GM-less Janesville Usher In Government Reforms?

For the past two years, the Janesville city councils have been shifting gears in various attempts to pacify a growing vocal minority of residents who want change.

There have been rumors of nepotism along with suspicions of a city government run by a clique of bureaucrats and insiders. The city is experiencing a greater economic divide and despite the Internet, a general disconnect and a lack of cohesiveness among neighbors and neighborhoods persists among the battered silent majority. To usurp any dissent and squelch their voices, the city council created more citizen run committees and new rules while pushing for more transparency.

But things continue to evolve. The GM plant will not be turning on the lights any time soon. Tempers are starting to rise. More people are feeling left out. The at-large city council is beginning to exert as much power as they can within their bounds. Instead of representing the will of the people, they created a set of guidelines (goals) to help form a "will" among themselves. Put another way, there would be no need to surround the wagons if there is no threat. Janesville officials are operating in a leaderless vacuum.

This type of at-large council/manager form of government has roots coinciding with the inception of the GM plant during the 1920's. It made sense back then so the city would not be influenced by the huge labor pool, the factory paychecks or the political affiliations they cater to... the power players gambled and dropped district representation and the mayor.

In a city the size of Janesville, the mayor most likely would have been either the shop foreman or the union president or their brother. The alderman with the GM plant would have wielded the most clout. Now, GM is practically gone. The plant is still there, but the perceived threat from a single giant employer and all the power, money and clout they brought has disappeared. The local economy is sputtering and sparking unrest. Unemployment is at 13% and rising. The Janesville Gazette has expanded their grip on the struggling community and is publishing special interest articles and political activism now more than ever.

With a serious loss of economic stability, some people are beginning to feel more comfortable to do something different, especially now that a weighted demographic has dispersed. Economically, there is less to lose and more to gain. After 90 years under false choices in Janesville government, a window is finally beginning to open for reformers. But does anyone have the will to take advantage of it?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

$100-or-less Donors A New Experience For Ryan?

Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan's campaign news release boasted that 82 percent of his donors since the beginning of this year gave $100 or less. This latest revelation he felt, proves how average Wisconsinites are supporting his "efforts to stop across-the-board tax increases, runaway government spending and unsustainable borrowing."

Obviously, a claim stating 82% of your donors gave $100-or-less is a highly desirable self-edict for any politician to offer during this time of rampant special interest influence and dubious fund raising tactics. Of course Ryan was only counting heads while conveniently leaving out the dollar amount and it's relationship to the total amount of contributions.

After reading this blog posting at One Wisconsin doubting Ryan's claims that he got all but 10 percent of his campaign cash from inside the Badger State, I decided to take a second look at those $100 donors and to see how many were from Ryan's district.

Ryan reported a total of $374,884 in contributions for this period. $146,905 or 39% came from PAC's. The rest, $227,911 came from individuals and entities other than PAC's. Approximately $167,975 of the non-PAC money was categorized as itemized contributions. That is where a good cross section of those $100 contributions were reported.

Since Ryan is a representative of a district with borders, it's only fair to count only those $100 donations coming from inside his district to get a clear perspective of constituent support. After flipping through the report and checking a map, it turns out approximately $4,625 or 2.7% of the $167,975 were $100 donations from within his district - and that figure included $100 donors from the city of Milwaukee. 97.3% were donations of either more than $100 or from outside his district. Why target $100-or-less donors? You'd have to ask Rep. Paul Ryan, he's the one who brought them up.

Sure, an argument could be made for the locations of the hundred dollar donors of the nearly $60,000 in non-itemized non-PAC contributions, but more than likely, the itemized category offers a reasonably accurate profile for all non-PAC contributors.

The final point is these recent figures are apparently different enough from past contributions for Ryan now to boast how they represent Wisconsinites support for his efforts. If these percentages are an improvement, exactly who and from where have been supporting his campaign for the past ten years?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Racine Health Care Community Invites Ryan To Forum

During a listening session in Racine six months ago, a Community for Change member described a non‐partisan health care event being planned for Racine in the summer and asked Rep. Paul Ryan if he would attend. The response from Ryan was a form letter stating prior commitments and eventually it turned out there were no convenient times in July or early August for the congressman to attend. In disappointment, the group posted an open letter to Ryan at the Racine Post.
Racine Post Excerpt: (July 15, 2009)
Our pursuit of your presence stems from your appearances on national media discussing the Independent Health Record Trust Act, however, virtually no time in Wisconsin to talk locally about these issues. There is no better opportunity for you to learn and listen to the people in your district than by attending our forum on July 26, 2009 from 1 to 4pm at the Racine Masonic Center, 1012 Main Street.
Two weeks ago, Wisconsin health care advocate Paulette Garin held two informational events here in the congressional district's western front. About the closest Janesville ever came to having the honor of Ryan's presence in a health care discussion was when his local surrogate, the Janesville Gazette, injected Ryan's personal health care talking points into an announcement article for Garin's public engagements. That's about the extent of the debate!

How Paul Ryan can occupy our district's house chair and ignore the health care positions of his constituents is something only he can explain.

The best advice I can offer to the folks in Racine holding the health care forum is this: Have a cushioned chair, a jug of bottled water and a large table placard ready with Rep. Paul Ryan's name on it. You never know when he might show up - keep the cameras rolling.

Ryan Recovered

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ryan Well Compensated By Big Money

Today's Janesville Gazette contains an article titled,”Ryan’s war chest is practically bursting.” Here are two excerpts.
JG Excerpt:
The campaign reports that 2,620 Wisconsin residents have donated to Ryan’s campaign since Jan.1.
A few paragraphs down…

JG Excerpt:
Ryan’s press release boasts that Wisconsin residents account for 95 percent of his contributors over the past year and that 82 percent of his donors since the beginning of this year gave $100 or less.
Okay. Let’s assume they gave exactly $100 each. 82 percent of 2,620 comes out to 2,148 contributors donating $214,800. Subtract that from $1.28 million and that leaves 472 that gave slightly over $1 million. Only 17% of the $1.28m came from regular folks ($100 or less). Who do you think Ryan works for? Click here to find out.

Detailed financial report here.

Article not available on Web at posting time.

Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Faster Than Direct Capital Injection?

In this article, Dean Baker explains the difference between the two different types of economic stimulus – spending versus tax cuts.
Excerpt: (July 13, 2009)
One dollar of additional spending is generally estimated to have a multiplier effect in the neighborhood of 1.5, meaning that for every dollar we spend on a government project, we increase GDP by $1.50 as the people we hire go out and spend their paychecks, creating new demand.

The multiplier effect on tax cuts is generally estimated as being in the neighborhood of 0.9, or less. This means that $1 of tax cuts will end up increasing GDP by about 90 cents. Unlike spending on things like road construction or health care, a tax cut does not directly generate demand.
In this video, Rep. Paul Ryan and Greg Mankiw (former WH counsel) generally agree that the multiplier for spending is about 1.5, but predictably hold tax cuts at a much higher multiplier benefit of 3.0, although Mankiw admits the evidence on the multipliers is inconsistent and inconclusive.

Baker concludes that the current spending stimulus is not large enough.
Excerpt: (July 13, 2009)
In short, we badly need another very big dose of stimulus. Unfortunately, the politicians and pundits in Washington are either too ignorant, dishonest, or scared to talk about the $2 plus trillion stimulus that this economy needs.
Obviously, Ryan doesn't see things the same way.
Video Excerpt: (Jan. 26, 2009)
Ryan: We are worried that all we are going to do here is this huge spending package that won't really spend out very fast. The spending in and of itself won't create jobs. The tax cuts aren't the right kind of tax cuts to actually create jobs. This is the wrong fiscal response.
Apparently, Ryan has a problem with the speed of the spending stimulus. It's not fast enough. So his plan to create economic stimulus that would “spend out” sufficiently fast enough to have an impact involves tax cuts and credits to the wealthiest (again) that will lift their expectations for the future so greatly, that at some point sooner or later they will invest the tax savings eventually into new plants, equipment, etc., while demand remains unstimulated, flat or in decline. Ryan has referred to his tax cuts as "fast-acting."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Janesville City Council Developing Their Own Agenda

At the last Janesville city council meeting (June 22), a local small business owner approached the city for a $15,000 loan to start a new business recycling laser printer cartridges for office supply businesses. The council approved of the loan, but two council members objected to it based on fundamental free market principles - it would seem.
JG Excerpt:
"I don't understand why this would have to be forgivable," Perrotto said. "If he went to a bank, he'd certainly have to repay his loan."
Council members Kathy Voskuil and Frank Perrotto voted no.

As a regular council watcher I was very surprised by the two council members position, particularly Voskuil's, who in the past has developed a steady record in support of trading away taxpayer dollars and other perks to convince or accommodate wealthy entrepreneurs and other business elites into expanding their fortunes under the guise of public/private partnerships. I can only hope that this new and welcome position (against city funded business welfare) was justified at least by a new grasp on the reality of our current state of declining tax revenues and not by this particular businessman's rather modest request. (Was he denied by banks?) Let alone the damage these "incentives" have done to free market capitalism. But what was even more interesting was a short exchange of statements that followed from other council members explaining their support for the hand-outs.
JG Excerpt:
Steeber said it is not uncommon for the city to help businesses starting up or relocating. McDonald said the city has given out forgivable loans in the past and mentioned a large company that just got a TIF loan. That company could have gone to a bank, too. The city should help the little guys as well as the big guys, he said.
One council member implied that because the $15,000 came from TIF funds, it would not reflect on tax bills. Hey - free money! These hand-outs are just like Jays potato chips, you "can't stop eat'n em."

But now it seems that someone is bothered by this kind of healthy verbal exchange between council members. The truth is, these ideological differences among council members pose an internal conflict within Janesville's form of government. Some council members are beginning to think for themselves and on behalf of their constituents, and that's not a good sign.

So the council developed a list of goals at a recent retreat and will consider adopting them at today's meeting. To put this another way, certain council members must have felt the "at-large" council was being unintentionally challenged by one of their peers. So let's create "goals" to keep us speaking with one voice.
JG Goals Excerpt:
-- Initiate long-term economic/community development strategies for job growth. Do this by supporting the central business district, downtown/riverfront plans, public/private partnerships; continuing revitalization of central city neighborhoods; planning for new redevelopment projects such as the Monterey Hotel and parking structures, including buying property; looking for small/medium investment opportunities.
This strategy is not new and because Janesville's economy is very different than it was one year ago, the way forward will be determined by the city's ability to adapt to economic conditions that are changing by the day, not to rigidly adhere to rules extrapolated from now defunct conditions. Yet they are giving an order on how council members should stay the course with ..."do this by." This sets the stage to keep all council members in between the rails. These aren't just broad statements to form a consensus. THIS is an agenda, and it appears designed to help pre-determine the direction of council debates and the outcome of votes. The "main" goal of course is to make sure all council members are in lockstep when it comes time to vote.

But wait a second. Should a city council develop a set of goals or guidelines at all? Doesn't this run contrary to their purpose to represent the people's wishes and not their own personal, political or moral "agenda" no matter how well intentioned they sound? Should council members conform to the wishes of other council members?How will committee goals fit in? Or the administration?

It appears to me, the last thing they want is for individual council members to represent the residents wishes of their district...oops, I almost forgot, Janesville city council is not a district representative form of government. It therefore poses a moral and institutional conflict if one council member's vote reflects something other than the vote of their council peers. How could one council member vote any different than another? Each council member (there are seven) represents the same constituency, the same district - the district of Janesville. So all vote tallies should be unanimous. These "goals" appear to help maintain that control. The question then becomes: Who is running the city council?

People can brag about the benefits of government speaking as one voice, but that is not what democratic representation stands for or means. But if that is the city council's goal, why should Janesville have seven council members when just one will do.


In Janesville, less leadership is more

Growth plans flexibility tested - fails

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tubers Sold Down The River By Newspaper

The Janesville Gazette was apparently "investigating" some noise and littering complaints from a few land owners along the Sugar River in Rock County when they unfairly depicted a group of tuber enthusiasts who happened to be rafting down the river. The article titled Landowners upset about behavior of people on the river was obviously complaint driven against the unsuspecting group and painted tubers enjoying the river as a problem.

One of the subjects interviewed for the article felt betrayed by the reporter and left a few sharp remarks in the comment area of the Web Page article.
JG Comment Excerpt:
I thought when the reporter was taking our names I thought he was just wrighting a story on how people were spending there 4th of july. Not on litter and loud behavior on a river, I live no where near. But then open this artical to find my group and myself lumped right along with local underage children... I'm very angery with the Janesville Gazett For putting me in the position. I was commenting about how nice the area was and thanking people for the great time we had. They twisted this story to make conflict And put us in the middle. Sad story, Sad reporting, and apparently sad hot headed locals. I'm sorry too. for ever talking to that reporter, or even wasting my time going tubing down that god awful river.
I don't blame this person one bit for the frustration. Yet, I don't know if they happened to have seen the hardcopy edition on Sunday. It was brutal. The river activity participants were generally described as beer swilling and an obnoxious "group of people" as opposed to "family" whose comments were taken and warped into a sloppy defense for the actions of the real perpetrators. The photo taken of the river enthusiasts along with the complaint driven story was unfairly if not deliberately contrasted against another photo/article titled "Fabulous fun for the family on the Fourth," on the same page.

I asked two friends to check out and read the entire page and then please give me their first thoughts about the river rafters. One said of the folks in the picture "they look like trouble-makers" while the other said, "those people have the nerve to come here and trash our land." Yeah, I know this is far from scientific, but those appear to be the exact sentiments the Gazette wanted to instill.

In a completely unrelated article three days later about a motorcycle club scheduled to roll into Edgerton for a charitable cause, the Gazette did a bang-up job presenting the event in as good a light as possible. This outdoor event (much like the river tubers) also has its detractors and legitimate complaints of noise and public disruption. But this time, the Gazette chose to ignore all the typical biker negatives and stereotyping ...the loud pipes, the booze, the broken cue sticks and all the foul language, etc.

And that is just as well. At least not all bikers are alike.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Instead Of A Recovery - We Have Paul Ryan

USA Today Excerpt:
That aid — about $17 billion — is the first piece of the administration's massive stimulus package that can be tracked locally. Much of it has followed a well-worn path to places that regularly collect a bigger share of federal grants and contracts, guided by formulas that have been in place for decades and leave little room for manipulation.
If there’s any truth to that statement, it would explain why Janesville along with much of the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin may not experience the stimulus bubble we might expect even though the district voted for Obama.
USA Today Excerpt:
The imbalance didn't start with the stimulus. From 2005 through 2007, the counties that later voted for Obama collected about 50% more government aid than those that supported McCain, according to spending reports from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Here is the problem...
Rock Netroots Excerpt:
Beginning in 2005 and running into 2007 (2008 figures not available yet) Ryan has shorted his district by nearly $1 billion a year for a total of over $3 billion!! This figure was arrived as a weighted average of all congressional districts in Wisconsin and clearly shows a precipitous drop differential of federal funds appropriated by Ryan after 2004. The result? Ryan’s district is now in shambles. It boasts two of the top three areas in the state for unemployment and things are only beginning to get worse.
Ryan cut grants to the district by nearly 40% compared to previous years (2001 - 2004) and adjusted for inflation, the percentage in real value lost by Ryan's failed economic policies could be closer to 60%.

If they indeed use formulas, historical grant and contract trends and not politics to help guide the distribution of stimulus funds, breaking even now won't make up for the lost years under Ryan.

Companion piece to this posting.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Business Group Gets Bridge To Tax Credits

Boehner Asks After Five Months: Where Are The Jobs?

“In North Carolina, they used stimulus money to hire one new state worker. His job? To apply for more stimulus funds from the taxpayers by the way of the Federal government.” – Rep. John Boehner
What's the big deal? Maybe it's a "strategy."

Rep. Paul Ryan earmarked $450,000 in federal “jobs” stimulus for his tightly knit base of hometown supporters.
(Sept. 22 - 26, 2008)
$450,000 to Rock County and Forward Janesville, Inc., Janesville, Wisconsin, for a joint investment to support implementation of a strategy to recover from their recent loss of thousands of automotive jobs in the region.
After six months, Forward Janesville and J.P. Cullen & Sons sponsored a junket of about 50 people and trekked off to the Wisconsin state capital in Madison where they lobbied state legislators for more "jobs" stimulus funding in the form of business tax credits. They did this with a straight face while state legislators were grappling with a $6.6 billion deficit.

Now, ten months have passed since the EDA grant was announced and all I've seen they have to show for are tax credits for businesses, while jobs keep disappearing. Rock County (Alliance?) and Forward Janesville should step up and show taxpayers either where the money went or better yet - where the jobs are.

Note: Bridge to Rusty’s Backwater Saloon Rusty’s saloon is in Rep. David Obey’s district.

Companion Post

Monday, July 06, 2009

Newspaper Running Amok - Selling Out Op-Ed Pages

Friday’s July 3rd edition (a July 4th edition was not published) of the Janesville Gazette contained a full page religio-political ad titled "In God We Trust" on what normally is the second page of the newspaper's Op-Ed section.

The ad was basically a compilation of cherry-picked quotes from our country's founding fathers, Presidents, Supreme Court rulings and a few lesser known people. The ad had a stars and stripes background and was presented as someone's unequivocal proof of our country's perceived ties with Divine Providence and Christianity. At the bottom of the ad was full disclosure of its origin. It came from Hobby Lobby Ministry Projects.

Just for the sake of perspective here, the newspaper's primary op-ed page carried the "Declaration of Independence" under a sub-title referring to the document as a "timeless call to action." Apparently, with a democratic majority, the list of greivances is running high and fast once again. Next to that was an op-ed column by Wisconsin State Rep. Mike Sheridan describing his work on the state budget. This was all packaged neatly together in tandem opposite of the Hobby Lobby Ministry page.

So, what could be the best time and place for a newspaper to displace their readers celebration of freedom, discourse and expression? On Independence Day of course! And with a bought message on their op-ed pages no less.

On the flip-side, if the Gazette wanted to accurately portray the public's broken trust and declining state of traditional media, they could not have done better than by selling out a full op-ed page to a private interest group with a socio-political message. Of course, the newspaper's intentions was not meant to hold any such deep meanings or lessons for their readers.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, my observation here has nothing to do with the religiosity behind the ad, the content or its disclosure. That's a whole 'nother debate. The Hobby Lobby message, just like any other paid message from a political party, religious group, Mosque or Synagogue, had no place residing on the op-ed page of a newspaper on any day. At least not in any self-respecting newspaper.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Palin Unable To Finish Term - Will Quit

Swamp Excerpt:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is stepping down, announcing suddenly today that she will pursue other means of having an impact in the public arena, fueling speculation about her intentions for another bid for national office.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Next Question: Is Janesville Part Of "Old" Or "New" GM?

Chicago Tribune Excerpt:
Under a government-backed deal, GM will sell most of its assets to a newly created company, 60 percent owned by the U.S. government. The Canadian government will get a 12.5 percent stake while the United Auto Workers union will take a 17.5 percent share to fund its health care obligations. Unsecured bondholders receive the remaining 10 percent.

Existing GM shareholders are expected to be wiped out.

The remaining pieces of the company, including some closed plants, will become the "Old GM" and be liquidated.