Today is

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Profitable Local Businesses Thinking Of Changes Can Only Mean One Thing



Get ready for some new taxpayer paid collectivist hand-outs.

Lately, the Janesville Gazette has been on a tear about how well things are going in Janesville. One local business, whom I'll refer to here for this blog posting as DD, has been doing very well after picking up a VA contract from the federal government. They have also been getting plenty of promotional ink from the newspaper for their "job creation."

Jobs are always welcome and good, and being the pro-business free market guy that I am, businesses that not only survive during tough times but thrive deserve an occasional public pat on the back for their success. Job well done!

For instance, the Gazette pasted DD's business success story as front page headlines in their Wednesday edition. The company they reported, according to Inc. magazine, is the 2nd-largest job creator in Wisconsin over the past 12 months. Over that time frame, the company created 350 jobs. DD officials don't see the growth slowing anytime soon and expect the company's revenue growth to be at least 50 percent ahead of last years. FAN-tastic!

Wow ...jobs! I'm doing a dance!

But wait. There's a pattern here that seems all too familiar to me in Janesville. The local Club-for-Growth low-wage conservative corporatist media monopoly lays down a perky promotional business ad masquerading as a news article only to find out weeks, sometimes months later, that that particular wildly successful business is putting the squeeze on city officials for substantial government aid. Say what?

In a high-stakes high-pressure game I've termed "fear market enterprise," many growing wealthy businesses hold their expected success as a hostage in exchange for substantial capital aid, "incentives" and tax credits from modest and oftentimes broke local tax treasuries. Many of these folks swear they're all about community, but have no qualms about pitting local taxpayers against local taxpayers against local taxpayers in a bidding war to either buy or retain their success. They even consider this as some sort of legitimate competitive free market. "Let the market compete" they've said. Yes, the extortion of taxpayer funded collectivist treasuries is now a high art form and a major part of the American free market system. Wrap your mind around that one if you can and remember, these are mostly so-called small-government conservatives pushing those policies.

So here we are being fed some good news about a local business enjoying some success. Again, that's all well and good, but including that the company is kicking around the idea that changes could be in store for the company's local infrastructure, buildings and people. That's the "set up."

Only time will tell whether DD subjects Janesville to fear market enterprise, but if the pattern holds, look out Janesville taxpayers ...again.

Note: Since this posting is mostly speculative, I've left the business name out to avoid search engine robots.

ADDITIONAL:

RNR - When Big Business Drinks, Everybody Pays

RNR - Paradox? Local Conservatives Demand Large Government Role For Economic Growth

Clinton Herald, (Iowa) - Company celebrates new facility's groundbreaking

RNR - Local Business Expansion With Negative Job Growth Picks Up Taxpayer Funding

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Must See. "As Goes Janesville"


Have you seen "As Goes Janesville" yet? No. Why not?

There's no excuse now. The full version in high quality video has been posted on Youtube since July.

I don't mean to sound snarky, but over the past year I've gotten several emails and have been in conversations where some folks said they won't watch it because it's depressing. Or partisan. Or boring. Or negative. Or don't have the time.

My God.

It's depressing to hear anyone say it's depressing. For one thing, if you're a regular visitor at this blog, chances are you're either involved directly or concerned greatly about local politics, our economy, the media or education. That should mean you're either one who wants to help bring about change by helping others or lead the pack. That's all good and dandy, but I submit that without viewing this film, it's like flailing away against an opponent you know is there. You hear them and can feel them, but refuse to open your eyes or acknowledge them just because of ... ________________________? You can fill in the blank.

Not to take anything away from the former GM employees appearing in the film, but "As Goes Janesville" tells alot more than just the struggles of workers trying to transform their lives or a town trying to pick up the pieces after the GM Plant shutdown.

The filmmaker, unintentionally and without political reservation, captured rare if not disturbing recordings of informal conversations between people who hold the public trust in their hands. You'll hear and see with your own eyes and ears leaders from our local economic development groups annoint Gov. Scott Walker's plan to divide and conquer the state's union worker constituency. They told the Governor, "you’re right on target, that’s what we need," and proceeded to donate over $500,000 to his cause.

You'll hear them giggle and gloat over the suggestion that the newly unemployed workers will be forced to accept lower pay because GM is gone. Because of that they said, "we're almost over the hump." You'll hear a state legislator explain how he's their "tool" and you'll hear a local city official practically complain that Wisconsin workers have had good wages and benefits for "too long," and those conditions, described as "burdens" bring unaffordable costs to government and businesses.

But most important in my view, you'll see how unelected public officials and self-appointed groups of individuals, who for no qualification other than their politics or personal wealth, have distorted the role of government and turned our public tax treasuries into a personal plaything that must compete for private enterprise. Through the act of extortion slyly masquerading as public/private partnerships and community teamwork, they've literally turned the system upside-down. This is not just a local Janesville problem - it's national. There's all that and more in "As Goes Janesville."

So, this is no time to be depressed. Quite to the contrary. This is a time to awaken, rise up, organize and bring truth to power in whatever capacity you can because every little bit helps. Never give up.

Watch it:


Don't just sit there.

Note: This posting is the independent and sole opinion of its author and not affiliated in any way with the production or producers of the documentary.

ADDITIONAL:

Democurmudgeon - Walker's WEDC Inherently Corruptible and Should Be Avoided

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Janesville Residents Expected To Pay Highest Vehicle Tax In State


It was only last year April when I predicted that an $80 local wheel tax wasn't too far down the road for Janesville residents.

Well, according to a Janesville Gazette article, the Janesville city council is proposing to almost quadruple the recently minted $10 Walker vehicle tax to $48!! At $48, Janesville will have the highest municipal vehicle tax in Wisconsin, nearly 2 ½ times that of Marxist commie Milwaukee.

This latest tax proposal however should be dubbed the "Forward Janesville Vehicle Tax" since it was their leaders who fought tooth-and-nail to shift state revenues away from local roads. Remember, state revenues are monies collected from local jurisdictions in the first place. It's not the other way around.

Janesville "leaders" and planners are not entirely innocent in this as the new tax is aimed to make good on all the broken promises an expanding tax base by sprawl building new homes and roads was supposed to bring. The Club for Growth's expanding tax base meme, not sustainability, was and remains the core principle that drives Janesville's so called Comprehensive Growth Plan. If you're familiar with my blog, you'll know this is not a new narrative springing out of political expediency. I've been on this for years.

It's a broken down failure that continues to be foisted upon the population by the area's political elite syndicates such as Forward Janesville and the Rock County 5.0. Not ironically, they all strongly support Gov. Walker's defunding treatment towards local roads.

Of note in the Gazette article is no mention by name of Gov. Walker or cuts and shifts in state aid away from local roads. Nor do they remind anyone of Forward Janesville's public push to short local roads of state revenue. Instead the FJ/RC5 mouthpiece paints the vehicle tax increase as a result of state imposed caps on the operating levy. However, when there were no caps in the years before Walker, the Gazette and their conservative reader base screamed about hikes in local taxes. It's those democrats they said. It's also worth noting that Janesville never had a wheel tax before Scott Walker was elected.

Finally, the Walker supporting Gazette quickly issued an editorial supporting the large hike for the local vehicle tax.

ADDITIONAL:

RNR - Janesville, Is the I39/90 Expansion Worth an $80 Annual Vehicle Tax? (April, 2012)

RNR - If We Can't Afford The Roads We Have Now - Go Bigger and More Expensive (May, 2013)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Influential Wisconsin Conservative Shatters "Government, Get Out Of The Way" Meme


I think this story is worth a second look.

The Janesville Gazette published a couple of puff pieces promoting the notorious red state lobbyist group, Rock County 5.0, in which one of the groups' co-chairs, Diane Hendricks, of "divide and conquer" fame made a few statements that run directly counter to one of conservatism's long-held and revered beliefs about the role of government.

I've referred to Hendricks as Wisconsin's Koch, but to be fair she is in a class by herself. Regardless what we may think, she is considered a significant figure in conservative politics.This is what she recently said about government's role in local economic activity...

JG Excerpt:
“City councils didn't close the door or put up too many barriers,” Hendricks said. “We've seen numerous times where councils took some risk, and I applaud them." “You're not always guaranteed success; sometimes you have to stick your neck out there.”

That is a clear departure from what she wrote back in 2010, titled "Government, get out of the way of business" ...

USA Today Excerpt:
Governments have a role in this economy. They can provide things the private sector cannot, such as national defense and policing. They can also protect private property and arbitrate disputes. But government's role is not stimulus.

Sure, it may sound like just another easily dismissed talking point, but sticking your neck out is a far cry from "getting out of the way." Shoot, it's the exact opposite! Plus, she's applying a "risk" quality that government must either adopt or accept in efforts to effect economic growth. Like there is no other way.

The risk she is referring to is not the regulatory demon of course. It's capital. This in my opinion is fundamentally dangerous to the competitive free markets and something new, at least put into words, that our existing government regulated capitalism isn't enough. That government in and of itself, must expand and start injecting its vast collectivist capital power into the free markets. The statement suggests a displacement if not total failure of the private capital, loan and banking system, at least in the capacity of their original intended purpose. Hendrick's statements can only come if they are no longer functioning, so she turns to government for resolutions I would not expect from a free market capitalist.

It all sounds very ominous.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ryan's "No" Vote Is a Calculated Winning Election Strategy


Wall Street Journal headlines, Paul Ryan Breaks From GOP Leaders, Votes ‘No.’ Yes, that's just the headlines Rep. Paul Ryan wants everyone to see.

WSJ Excerpt:
Mr. Ryan, as it turns out, is sure to help lead a committee created under the legislation to work out a federal budget for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. The House-Senate negotiating committee may also tackle other issues, such as entitlement changes and revisions to budget cuts known as the sequester.

Why the no vote?

"Today’s legislation won’t help us reduce our fast-growing debt," Mr. Ryan said after the vote. “In my judgment, this isn’t a breakthrough. We’re just kicking the can down the road.’’

Don't believe it for a second.

"Lead a committee."

"Tackle other issues."

Don't make me laugh. Ryan doesn't give a shit about any of that, the debt or kicking the can down the road. Those are all just political constructs and talking points to play around with for his entertainment. He offers nothing, can't lead and what he does offer is unworkable.

Believe this or not, whether Paul Ryan has his eye on 2016 is totally irrelevant at this moment. He must get past the next district election to get there, but he is more vulnerable in 2014 for the House seat than in any of his previous elections. He knows it. Wouldn't even hold a hometown town hall during the August recess. Too risky for his injured delicate ego. But whether he wins re-election or not is all hinged on one very, very important key factor. He's not out of the woods yet, but the "no" vote on the senate deal inches him closer to securing re-election.

I hate to sound so parsed and evasive here, but that is as far as I'm willing to go in an open forum.

ADDITIONAL:

All Voices - Ryan votes against reopening government, paying debt

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Newspaper Sells Local Divide and Conquer Group As Community Leaders


The Janesville Gazette carried two articles (combined into one on the Web, pay site) about the local political insiders club, the notorious Rock County 5.0, in Monday's edition. The stories, both obvious puff pieces, completely ignore the group's polarizing duality and political involvement in supporting and laying down a low-wage red state agenda.

The Gazette of course is a contributing supporter of the group, so their staff writer, no fault of his own, remains stuck on describing the group as a community leader and promoting their so-called accomplishments.

Extremely boring and repetitious, the only segment worth noting was Diane Hendrick's praise for local government and city councils. As one of the co-chairs of the RC5, Hendricks said they (local government) "didn't put up too many barriers" or close the door on business. She also said they need to stick their necks out and take some risks too, which is the opposite of the commonly held anti-government meme, get out of the way of business.

Truth is, there are absolutely no barriers (local ordinances) preventing businesses from starting or expanding in Rock County communities. The risk she is referring to however is a different story. Hendrick's statements come in complete contrast to previous statements she made about the role of government...

USA Today Excerpt: (Nov, 2010)
Governments have a role in this economy. They can provide things the private sector cannot, such as national defense and policing. They can also protect private property and arbitrate disputes. But government's role is not stimulus.

That's pretty bare bones government if you ask me. But which is it? Does she want government to stick their necks out or get out of the way? Now I have no idea.

What wasn't mentioned is that the Rock County 5.0 have perfected a highly deceptive format built on an architecture of easy access to key public officials that allows them to eventually leverage local governments with ultimatums of economic decline or business re-location.

This scheme has evolved into a model for a new entitlement society that now expects capital rewards (TIF surplus cash, tax credits, paid leases, loan guarantees, free stuff) from local governments for any plan or slight change in business activity.

So, has business been good and you're planning a modest expansion? Go to city hall and grab some TIF surplus cash. Does a part of your private business require a costly specialized system for toxic waste? Go to your local government and tell them you'll move out unless they assume that job. Economic conditions or demand forcing you to cut your workforce in half? City hall will have something to give you to maintain that half workforce. Those are with little exaggeration folks. That's how bad it is. Quite bizarre. The point is, is they have a plan of capital reward for planned expansion, planned shrinkage or even planned prevention using the power of government collectivism ...for the free markets. They're entitled. Got that?

To add insult to injury, the other co-chair of the RC5, Mary Willmer, gives credit to developers and business people who made the commitment to "not leave" she said, THEY DID IT. It's all THEM. But, why would they leave?

What was mentioned in these articles, believe it or not, is how outstanding the RC5 is, and how its leadership serves as a model for all economic development. If your local city or township treasury isn't already under pressure to pay "incentives" as I have described - it soon will be. It's my hunch that the insiders club of the RC5 will never disband, but the club will change their name OR integrate into a larger regional organization such as MadREP.

Free enterprise profits and attaining vast wealth are not incentive enough for these folks. They want it all.

RELATED:

RNR - Local Dive and Conquer Group pretends Like Nothing Happened

RNR - Polarizing Business Group Looking To Change Image. Not Their Own of Course

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gov. Walker Needs "I Cut Property Taxes" Line In His Campaign Ads, Calls Special Session


This should be filed under you can't make this stuff up, but it's Scott Walker. Soooo.

Coming just days after Mary Burke announced her candidacy for governor, Walker found a new urgency ...

Channel 3000 Excerpt:
Madison -- Gov. Scott Walker is proposing a $100 million property tax cut.

Walker has called a special session for the Legislature to consider the idea next week. Walker announced the plan Thursday. He wants the proposal approved by early November so the tax cut would be effective this year.

You can already see Walker chewing out the words, "And for the first to-ame since 1993, I cut property taxes in the State of Wisconsin," with Politifact's "True" editorial blazing across the headlines.

Never mind Walker also asked for $2.1 billion in new borrowing for the same budget he's property tax cutting, he's found a surplus on the backs of our children.

Walker's property tax proposal is expected to save the average homeowner about $1 a month - that's one dollar. But it provides a talking point that's worth millions to his campaign.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Walker's Assault On The First Amendment Is Set Back, But What Did The People Win?


It certainly looks like the Walker Administration lost it's argument about insisting that people assembling for redress of grievances in the state Capitol rotunda obtain a permit to do so. As part of an agreement with the ACLU, the state must create a notice system which allows groups to gather inside the Capitol without a permit.

OK, that sounds like Walker's running assault on First Amendment rights has suffered a certain blow, but I'm a little skeptical about exactly what the people won.

The settlement allows a permit to reign over a notice, which is not a problem because in the past, those in attendance always yielded the area to permit holders anyway. However, the settlement agreement contains far too many conflicting statements and troubling weasel words for my taste.

Under the agreement:
■ Groups with fewer than 12 participants in most cases would not be required to obtain a permit or provide advance notice for an event.
■ Groups with a dozen or more participants would be required to obtain a permit or provide advance notice of an event to use the Statehouse.
■ To provide advance notice, groups would have to notify the state at least two business days before the planned event and provide details of the event including the date, start and finish times, estimated number of attendees, and contact information for one or more people in the group. The event given advance notice could be canceled if it conflicted with a valid permitted event or a tour group.

Of course what most everyone is concerned about is the so-called "advanced notice" system that would replace the process of formal permits. For one thing, IF a signature is required on the advanced notice, the notice server could become a target for liability claims UNLESS the notice carries a specific disclaimer on any and all liability.

Secondly, they want an awful lot of details in the notice while no one knows just how many people might attend or participate in those events. There could be two or two hundred on any given day. With that, it really doesn't matter whether they want an advanced notice beginning with a minimum of four, twelve or twenty participants because everyone understands that Solidarity Sing Alongs and all assemblies begin with a group of one.

So, as long as there is no liability assumed with the advanced notice system and all notices are accepted with an estimate of ONE attendee, then it's a substantial win for 1st Amendment rights at the State Capitol. Without that however, it becomes a half-baked surrender in my humble opinion. But we won't know for sure until Walker's DOA release the final "rules" regarding the notice system.

The Pro-Walker MacIver Institute predictably spins the advanced notice as a "new permitting process".

ADDITIONAL:

ACLU of Wisconsin - ACLU Announces Settlement in Capitol Free Speech Case

Blue Cheddar - Walker admin. drops permit requirement for Solidarity Sing Along, allows “notices”

Wisconsin Soapbox - Solidarity Sing-Along Wins!

Democurmudgeon - Big Win for Capitol Protesters!!! Proving right wing "get a permit" advocates not real big on "Freedom."

Waukesha Wonk - How much will Gov. Walker’s “Capitol Crackdown” cost Wisconsin taxpayers?

Monday, October 07, 2013

Local Business Expansion With Negative Job Growth Picks Up Taxpayer Funding


INSATIABLE


If you think like I do that the WEDC is wasting taxpayer money trying to create a single job (jobs are created by demand), you might not want to continue reading.

According to this story from the Janesville Gazette, a prominent Janesville business picked up a $1.5 million taxpayer funded “package” to help pay for site improvements of their business expansion. The package, approved by the Janesville City council earlier this year, was hinged to a guarantee that the company keep a minimum of 130 jobs over the next seven years. They currently employ 140.

Of added importance here is that the City of Janesville accepted a check from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for $650,000 (grant) earmarked for work on a frontage road and a railroad spur for the business. The business owner is a donor to Scott Walker and defender of the Rock County 5.0.

Besides the obvious lack of promise for any new long-term jobs in exchange for the taxpayer contribution, there seems to be an expanding and disturbing effort by local media and government officials to act as a surrogate on behalf of business elites to shield them from being accused of accepting government funded largesse.

We are in reverse.

ADDITIONAL:

RNR - Paradox? Local Conservatives Demand Large Government Role For Economic Growth

Friday, October 04, 2013

Thursday, October 03, 2013

New Anonymous Feature "Community Quotes"


For many years, the local Janesville newspaper has been running a completely anonymous comment column twice a week and while I do recall others with local Web blogs and Facebook pages having suggested or considered starting an anonymous feature similar to, or in response to the Gazette's column, I don't recall anyone moving forward with it. So I figured, why not me?

What I aim to do is compile and categorize about a dozen comments or so pulled from area blogs, Facebook, Twitter, newspaper comment sections and other social media sources (the netroots) on local, county and statewide issues for the core and supplement them with comments sent to my email address or through the "contact" link above. Contributing comments in response to anonymous comments posted in the Gazette are obviously desirable for this little project. Remember, all comments will be posted anonymously. If you called the Gazette to post something in their "Sound Off" column and they refused to publish, send it my way. No promises but I'll give it serious consideration.

I also understand Web-connected Rock County/Janesville area residents have the entire social media complex at their disposal. That means everyone with a pseudo-name or anonymous account can post anonymously anywhere anyways. So why bother contributing or posting here? Well, I am hoping visitors will see the convenience and value of reading anonymously posted comments on local issues that are independent from the establishment media filter. Plus the free access.

Just like the Gazette, I'll make sure the comments are clean, coherent and accurately reflect the social/political majority and values of the area and/or provide interest for further discussion. That's important. For now, the next "Community Quotes" will be posted as soon as I gather enough comments together with a goal to post about once every two weeks depending on popularity and contributing comments.

This is Community Quotes #1:

On Gov. Walker's United Sportsmen Scandal:
◘ Every person that took heat covering for Scott Walker's corruption since becoming governor have either been jailed or offered a cushy patronage job. We can now expect the latest scapegoat, the fallen director of United Sportsmen, Andy Pantzlaff, to find himself working somewhere in Walker's administration within the year. Suder got his.

◘ Where a governor rigs a $500K grant with state money for party bosses becomes saving $28M, you're in ScottWalkerstan.

◘ Everyone thought Scott Suder was solely responsible for the rigged Sportsmen grant. But now we find the entire Wisconsin GOP caucus including Gov. Walker was in the know about the grant details. It's very telling how Suder became so expendable early in the scandal timeline because they wanted it to look that way.

On Forbes Billionaires List:
◘ So rich people think giving to charity somehow absolves them for all the lives they've stepped on and ruined. Keep your charity and instead share greater profits with those who actually generated them - laborers, production workers and middle-management employees. This way they'll have enough excess cash left-over to give to charity and relieve you of your burnt offerings for the poor.

◘ Just last week, a major economic study concluded the income gap between the richest 1% and all the rest of us in this country is now larger than it has been since 1928, the year before the stock market crash led to the Great Depression.

◘ With all this "uncertainty" from Obama and the recalls, Diane Hendricks struggled to almost double her wealth over the past year. While most of us lost property value, income or benefits, she obviously works much harder than the rest of us.

◘ You people.

On Local Bids:
◘ Regarding the local business that lost a bid on a supply contract with Janesville to a Madison firm by only $1,500. The city, all cities, could develop a "matching" provision for hometown businesses. If a local business is within 3% of a winning bid from an outside business, the local business should be allowed the opportunity to match the lowest bid including all specs to win the contract. If unable to match within a specified time period, say three days, the contract is cleared to go to the lowest bidder.

On The Giant Crucifix In Janesville:
◘ My youngest son (6 years old) noticed the cross for the first time from a distance and asked me if it marks a haunted cemetery. Without thinking I said "no, it's Janesville."

On Local Public Campaign Financing:
◘ Some of these "activist" council members crack me up. The ones opposed to Citizens United are the same ones that hand out lucrative forgivable loans and other free stuff to local area elites. It's like they're against corporate welfare and influence everywhere else except in their own hometown. None for thee but more for meeeeee.

◘ No way. If you want to run pay for it yourself. It seems the only people spending lots is the one who wants the plan. Nobody else spent nearly as much as Liebert.

◘ I agree. Candidates should pay for it themselves or rely on rich people like Diane Hendricks who are willing to give plenty to candidates to legislate their will on the people. Keep the taxpaying public out of it, it's not like elected officials work for us anyways.

◘ Why does it seem Janesville residents are silent when council members hand out millions of dollars to wealthy special interests but scream bloody murder if someone suggests paying council members a meager stipend for their time? It's like, money is an incentive for everyone except for the poor, government people or school teachers. The poor must live in a vacuum.

On Government Shutdown:
◘ Everything is pointing to local boy Paul Ryan as the leading pawn in the GOP House for the Koch Brothers on the government shutdown hostage crisis. Although Ryan is quiet about Obamacare simply because his budget relies on the #ACA remaining law, he is ideologically attached at the hip with Koch and Grover Norquist on the debt ceiling. They want repeated budget crisis after budget crisis, all resolvable and unnecessary, until they get what they want. As the GOP's go-to numbers guy on the national budget, Ryan is a complete failure.

◘ Paul Ryan isn't being quiet - he's working a long con job called the debt ceiling.

◘ Republicans have shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health care to millions of Americans.

◘ Congressional Republicans don't give a shit about American's health care or the nuts and bolts to the Affordable Care Act. The only thing they worry about is that it will work once the bugs are worked out and that will pound the final nails in the GOP coffin because they've been all-in against it. It's purely political.

On Food Stamps:
◘ While you were bitching about the guy buying a snickers with food stamps, Exxon just pocketed $9000 of your tax dollars.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013