Kleptocracy (from Greek: κλεπτοκρατία, klépto- thieves + -kratos rule, literally "rule by thieves") is a government with faceless corrupt rulers (kleptocrats) that use their power to exploit the people and public treasuries in order to extend their personal wealth and political power.
It's that time of a new year again when I scour the archives of Rock Netroots in search of last year's top local stories.
Unfortunately, the top story in Janesville from 2016 is an event that cannot be outlined easily in a single blog post. But in many ways the top story helps put some closure to a long running chapter of a right-wing agenda that began with the election of Scott Walker in 2010.
With that said, it's equally difficult to put the top story for 2016 into a single perspective without rehashing 2014 and 2015.
But the "local" Janesville agenda, propagated by Forward Janesville political operatives, began a few years earlier with the warning of a "death spiral" if locals refuse to accept increased tax obligations. That followed the passage of wealth transfer legislation in Wisconsin state houses geared to shift a greater burden of the state's obligations onto those with less, and short-circuiting local tax treasury growth by opening back door access for the political donor class into TIF District account surpluses. Whew! It's all done and legal.
Of course it's much more complicated and drawn out than that since I won't get into how local kleptocrats have lawyered up to have their own property taxes reduced. But few local officials in Wisconsin played the public better than Janesville officials. It also helps that Janesville officials have a pliable enabling local media willing to sweep pertinent information under the rug and the fact that Janesville and Rock County also happens to be the home of many of the right-wing engineers who designed the wealth transfer (TIF District reforms, income tax cuts and tax credits) scheme to begin with.
Anyways, after Janesville voters rejected a dubiously worded $1.2M "road repair" referendum in 2014, the city council doubled the municipal wheel tax in 2015.
To kick off 2016, the Janesville city manager warned of a $800K projected deficit (blamed it on union negotiated raises of 1% and 2%) that purportedly ballooned to $950K by mid-summer. That 950K deficit was eventually "balanced" with $2.3M when the city council approved doubling municipal fees, licenses, permits and public utility rates. Am I sounding like a tea party conservative?
This whole ball of wax, with roots that began in "roundtable" discussions between local tools of the oligarchs captured in the documentary As Goes Janesville explaining how good wages, benefits and civil rights are burdens on economic development that need to be eliminated, closes a chapter with a TIF District abstract designed to extract about $1M annually from downtown tax payments and placed into the private hands of Forward Janesville "ARISE" beneficiaries for the next 27 years.
And so, a new chapter begins.
That's about all I can jam into this posting about the top local story for 2016.
The "local swamp" or kleptocracy is funded and strong in Janesville. It's a big show and a big club and chances are ...you ain't in it.
Stay tuned for the #2 local story of 2016:
Janesville Stands With Paul Ryan.
RNR - Major City Hall Stories Are Swept Under The Rug
RNR - So Predictable. Soon After Downtown TIF District Approval, Janesville Fees Set To ARISE
RNR - City Hall Janesville: Raging Budget Deficit Dumpster Fire ...Poof! All Gone