1. COUNTY CONSPIRACY - Easily the top story of 2010 if not the big local story of the last decade has been the long-running smear campaign orchestrated by the Janesville Gazette and a group of county political operatives against Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach. In what first began with politically motivated complaints to discredit the coroner, the campaign of false accusations by a handful of misguided and misinformed political pawns has grown into a full-blown personal vendetta misinformation media circus conspiracy designed to defraud county voters out of their right to elect their own coroner and by extension to eventually wrest control of all county offices away from the ballot box. Even to the final day of the year, the Janesville Gazette continues to publish statements and allegations that have been thoroughly debunked by your favorite local blog and other independent sources.
Related reading, Law Firm Mishandled Investigation - Signs Of Conspiracy Abound and After Keach Wins primary, newspaper reveals hate for primaries.
2. SENSELESS MURDERS - I'm not a big fan in making stories about murders, "top stories." I would prefer that the lives of those taken away from us much too early were celebrated to help heal open wounds. But it is with a sense of relief that the two men suspected in Janesville's most notorious murders, James Humphrey and James Koepp, have been caught and are now sitting behind bars. I've made a promise to myself when I started this blog that I would not be commenting on local crime or sex scandals unless it is pertinent to the political, media or educational context of a story. I intend on keeping that promise. A total tragedy for all the families involved.
3. REPUBLICANS WIN - The biggest political news story of the year next to the media conspiracy campaign against Rock county voters has to be the success of republicans sweeping popular democrats out of office at almost every level of government. Despite the "liberals" on the Gazette staff selecting the republican's electoral success as the top third and eight story of the year, they somehow neglected to include pictures of Joe Knilans, Evan Wynn, Ron Johnson or Scott Walker in their "Top Stories of 2010" photo collage they pasted on the front page of Friday's paper. That was strange.
4. ROCK COUNTY ECONOMY - In my book has to be the reality of Rock County's hard hit economy, rapiding declining property values, exploding number of foreclosures and joblessness. 2010 will likely be viewed as the transitional year from hope to the destitution that will settle in, by the end of 2011. The chances for Janesville ever landing a 90-year-long global powerhouse like GM with family supporting union wages are long gone. Unless something major good happens, I fully expect the decline of the local economy and wages to be the number one local story for New Year's Eve 2012.
5. TEACHERS TARGETED AFTER SCHOOL EXPANSION - After helping ramrod a $70 million school expansion down the throats of taxpayers while burying reports of long term enrollment decline, the Janesville Gazette and their drive-by supporters have turned their sights on the districts' school teachers for negotiating modest raises in a 4 year contract. Seven months ago I observed that the Gazette and their political base are closing in on victory after a decades old local "cleansing" campaign against living wages, decent benefits and organized employee unions. The battle is nearly over. In their view, the school teachers collective bargaining power is hopefully the final remnant of any leverage the working and middle class might strive for in Janesville. The more anger they can manufacture against employee wage and benefit leverage - the better. With Walker and republicans now in charge, it's all downhill from here.
6. CHILD POVERTY GROWS - Rock County has the second worst child poverty rate in the state. It stands at 20.2 percent.
7. DEFICIT SPENDING HYPOCRITES - Don't underestimate the power of Paul Ryan's hometown cronies or the ability of the local wealthy business collectives of Forward Janesville or the Rock County 5.0 to push through deficit spending government contracts of up to $1.5 billion for the interstate I39/90 expansion. With all of their corruptible candidates winning office in November, Wisconsin is now essentially a banana republic.
8. LOCAL WAGES DECLINE - Published in August by other news sources but given very little press in the Gazette media monopoly, was the report that the average hourly wage for private sector Janesville employees dropped from $23.27 in 2007 to $18.82 in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics wages.
9. WEALTHY CAPITALISTS TURN TO GOVERMENT WELFARE - As more small towns and other local communities across America face the prospect of having their modest tax revenue treasuries looted by wealthy venture capitalists and stockholder assisted corporations under the guise of job retention or creation, none have hit home as well as the time when W.W. Grainger, with $460 million in cash on hand, requested a forgivable loan of $225,000 for "restructuring" from Janesville TIF surplus funds.
Watch City Gripped By Fear Market Enterprise
10. WCLO STOOGE - I wasn't going to include this at first, but Dan Conry, Bliss Com's political radio stooge who replaced Stan Milam, has recently been making huge strides polarizing the Janesville community by cheap shotting a local candidate for non-partisan office, in Glenn Beck style. Conry regularly labels and demonizes left-wing democrats, progressives and liberals or just about anybody who disagrees with him as a Socialist or Communist and often denigrates himself in weird babbling tirades to justify denigrating his guests or callers. Expect this story to grow in the coming weeks.