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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tunesday: Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

Monday, October 16, 2017

Forward Janesville Has a Charitable Arm. It's Not What You Think.

It's hard to write about Scott Walker's and Paul Ryan's local booster club, Forward Janesville, and not mention that they endorsed every local tax hike and spending referendum since Walker was elected governor.

Or the fact that among their few public core beliefs, is this statement: If residents are unwilling to accept increased tax obligations, the local economy could death spiral. That's a real whopper of a crap burger considering they lobbied the state for tax cuts for themselves while their membership filed for dark store relief on their property tax statements. But who's watching? Right?

With that out of the way is a story from the Janesville Gazette about Forward Janesville restarting their "charitable arm" after they recently picked up a “seven-figure” donation. The only shocker here is it came from non-government sources.

Now you might be thinking that it's about time Forward Janesville's membership steps up to plate and starts giving something back to the community. Unfortunately, their idea of a charitable arm won't be funding a homeless shelter or restocking local food pantries or paying the costs for a much needed free health care clinic. You'd be wrong thinking that.

No. In this case, Forward Janesville's charitable arm will pay the costs of building a pedestrian bridge and a fountain for their own little business playground in downtown Janesville. Apparently, that's their idea of charity.

At the end of the Gazette article, the president of Forward Janesville comes off sounding bitter toward those who question taxpayers funding the group's plans while other areas of the city are neglected. He's right to be bitter. It's too late to complain, folks.

Janesville municipal government is a wholly owned subsidiary of Forward Janesville. The city manager was hand-picked by a majority Forward Janesville committee. He is beholden to them. Until you (we) decide to take back our local government and restore district democratic rule and mayoral leadership, only TIF Districts will have a voice.

The people's voices will not be heard except by listeners reading the complaint comment section of the local newspaper ...and good luck with that.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Is Resentment Driving Support For The Foxconn Deal?

I was talking with a friend who likes to engage in political discussions about the Foxconn mess, and aware several others nearby can hear bits and pieces of our conversation. One person listening in to the conversation, actually another friend who usually avoids talking politics or religion, unexpectedly interrupted with this, "Hey, screw the Chinese. They took our best manufacturing jobs over the past 40 years, so I appreciate now when somebody (assuming Walker) is willing to bring them back."

When I mentioned the astronomical cost of a new state tax obligation in the billions of dollars including short-circuiting the state justice system in favor of the Taiwanese giant along with Foxconn's goal of full automation, he responded one more time...

"It's a high price to pay, but we can afford it if it puts a half-million Chinese out of work. It's better to have those robots here than there. You know what else? I love the fact that it's one of their own (assuming he meant Terry Gou) putting the screws to their people. They'll know what it feels like to be betrayed and lose those jobs. The shoe is finally on the other foot. Go for it!"

I was totally surprised by his candor and because much of our national politics is resentment driven, I was left thinking that he is not alone.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

Use Janesville's $583K Earmark For Dark Store Relief

The bold-faced hypocrisy never ends.

The Janesville Gazette posted another one of their unbelievably dumb editorials (their editorials have declined intellectually if anyone thought that was possible), this time scolding residents for suggesting a $583,000 earmark from the state budget be used for tax relief on local property bills.

But, why shouldn't it be used for tax relief? Afterall, Janesville taxpayers, both property and city fee payers, have taken hit after hit since Scott Walker was elected governor, particularly more so over the last three years.

But Gazette staffers have some brass balls to scold anyone wanting tax relief after their boss, Skip Bliss, filed for some tax relief of his own and won a dark store styled settlement of about $65K along with lowered future property tax assessments. Nobody at the newspaper called Bliss a cheapskate or lectured him about being shortsighted. Not at all.

Combine the Bliss award with recent dark store refunds given to GOP donor class Farm and Fleet (327K) and Menards (403K) and we have local taxpayers unexpectedly coughing up an extra $795K. Keep in mind their artificially lowered assessments remain in place for future tax bills, but also because those settlements were paid from city, county and school district funds, Janesville taxpayers end up paying roughly two-thirds (city, school) of those three refund amounts, or about $524K.

So yeah, the $583K earmark is a nice fit to offer taxpayers some relief from those dark store transgressions and leave about $60K to spare.

The Gazette staffers also moan about other factors that have "conspired" to shortchange Janesville.

JG Excerpt:
The state “froze” the shared-revenue formula in 2001, meaning the formula churns out payments based on old data. Two factors have conspired against Janesville: its growing population and lagging equalized property value. The result has been to give Janesville state aid of only $81 per capita, while the average municipality takes in $179.

Only 16 years have passed? Just look at Janesville like its a state-based TIF District because that's exactly what TIFs do - they freeze the shared-revenue paid from rising property tax assessments within the district. Janesville's downtown TIF District is especially egregious in that manner and will continue to pay property taxes to the city's general fund based on assessments established in 2016 for the next 27 years. So, you're upset about shared-revenue payments based on "old data" from only 16 years ago?

Lastly, the Gazette brings up the large budget deficit the city administration racked up...

JG Excerpt:
Last year, the city faced a $950,000 shortfall and contemplated making painful budget cuts and considered having neighbors cut the grass at city parks. The city avoided draconian measures only after it discovered savings from the retirements of several longstanding employees. But it wouldn't take much for the city to find itself facing another shortfall—yet another argument against returning the $583,000 to taxpayers.

When dealing with a budget shortfall, municipalities have few options for balancing their budgets except spending cuts.

Except, ...the city eventually balanced last year's $950,000 shortfall NOT with noticeable budget cuts, but with 80 fee increases expected to bring in $2.3 million in new revenue. Kind of forgot that little tidbit - didn't you?

To top that off, the same Janesville Gazette editorial staff then scolded residents for NOT opposing those fee increases ...I kid you not, and now they're scolding residents asking for some crumbs in tax relief.