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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In Janesville, The People Are Gerrymandered Into Irrelevancy

Electoral district? Representative democracy? What's that? I'm from Janesmander ahh ...Gerryville ...uh ...I mean, Janesville.

With the installation of three new council members and one incumbent now complete, nothing has changed regarding the absence of district representation on the city council. In short, the people of Janesville have been gerrymandered out of power since 1923. Talk about being stuck in a time capsule.

To be fair to those newly elected, bringing representative democracy to Janesville cannot be accomplished under the current system. Instead, it would require a referendum to repeal the city's current "at-large" council/manager government including top-to-bottom structural reform of the city's by-laws and administrative procedures.

However, none of that is about to happen anytime soon. Oddly, and for reasons I can't explain, it seems a majority in Janesville really like to be powerless and with no voice in city hall.

Go figure.

So, with the "new" seven member Janesville city council seated, it turns out that without the one council member hailing from the city's south side, Jens Jorgensen, there would be NOBODY serving on the council west of Randall Avenue.

When you consider the population density west of Randall and west (and south) of the Rock River, that's more than half of the city. Think about that. If you're from Janesville and care about the city - that should be an outrage.

And, as I bang away on my keyboard, Jorgensen has been targeted by the city's right-wing engineers and administration power strokers. He is under constant personal attack from the Gazette's drive-by media tools.

To top it off, Janesville's so-called democratic majority and whatever remains of its "progressive" community have been completely absent on Janesville's dismembered democracy over the last ten years. Through much careful analysis including a few wake-up calls, I'm now convinced they are responsible for propping it up every time it was on the verge of collapse.

It is for those reasons that I now consider anyone from Janesville urgently complaining about or petitioning the state's gerrymandered legislative districts - a complete joke.

Oh. So you think the state's legislative districts are gerrymandered and need reform - and you're from Janesville??

Delete your account.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Activist Janesville Council President Becomes Poster Child For The Bureaucracy

There has been so much "political theft" to report on in Janesville, it's really hard to keep up and stay focused on just one item. I must have about 20 drafts in two weeks that will likely be deleted because they are now old news.

One of the more recent stories I couldn't drop is about Janesville's new council president Douglas Marklein. According to a Gazette article, Marklein, in his new role, will work actively to overturn several recent council decisions. On the surface, that is welcome news.

Because of the city's broken style of "progressive" "at-large" government, I've always thought each "new" council should advise and consent to revisit EVERYTHING passed by previous councils.

Not too long ago, council members would object to that suggestion, saying it is counter-productive, divisive and disrespects previous council decisions and opens the door for the next council to do the same and reverse it yet again. But there's a big difference now from then. It's acceptable now because the decisions Marklein wants to repeal are those that dared to run against the will of city staff.

JG Excerpt:
Marklein said he'd like to examine issues in which the council voted against the will of city staff. Those include the council's decision to create an ordinance establishing just cause and progressive discipline policies for city employees, which staff thought was unnecessary.

Sure. Repeal an ordinance that hasn't had a chance to work or prove itself yet. But God forbid. Elected counselors should never go against the will of city staff. Not in Janesville anyways.

On another issue the deeply partisan Marklein wants to shut down, he's not shy about taking an active early stance on it.

JG Excerpt:
Marklein also wants the council to address an idea by Jorgensen that would give the council the ability to approve spending on consultants the city manager wants to hire.

“I think that's a waste of staff time,” Marklein said.

I can already hear some folks saying, "What's up with Duggy? He's become the poster child for reckless city spending on consultants. We're afraid to approach him because he's already made up his mind on consultant spending. He won't listen to us." Ummm. LOL.

And ...after smear attacking another council member for using his cell phone according to Council Policy 88.

Another priority for Marklein is an open, informal council meeting in May where members will discuss—but take no action on—Janesville City Council Policy 88. The policy dictates expectations for council members' conduct, including how they use personal electronic devices during meetings.

Yes, "discuss" but take no action. Why codify the prohibition of electronic devices during council meetings when we can use the existing dubiously worded vague policy at our convenience against council members who don't lockstep with the kleptocracy? For sure.

I've written much about this in the past and the Gazette article and Marklein's statements confirm everything.

Seventy-five percent of a Janesville city council member's mission is to uphold the will of the special interests running the city staff bureaucracy. Janesville's "at-large" city council members do not represent city residents, geographical areas or voters. It is by design meant to take power out of the hands of the people. The remaining 25% of a council member's mission is spent convincing Janesville residents otherwise, and that they want only "what's best for the city."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Newspaper: Awful Legislator Can Redeem Herself With Public Notice Payoff

This story is a few weeks old and almost got away from me, but with the news that state republicans have pulled non-budget items out of the state budget only to be revisited later, the provision to end the public notice mandate is still in play.

You might recall the commotion Wisconsin newspapers made weeks ago when they were editorializing against a proposal to end the requirement that local government bodies post meeting minutes in their local newspaper. The Wisconsin Newspaper Association sees the proposal as an attack on the public's ability to know what their elected representatives and local governments are up to. I can understand some of the concern there if this was 2000, but I don't see the proposed state policy change as that big a problem today.

From my understanding, the bill would only affect the state requirement that meeting minutes be published in a local newspaper. It would not change the requirement that public hearings and meeting agendas be published and the bill does nothing to prevent or prohibit newspapers from publishing the meeting minutes. So what it primarily does is end a state imposed unfunded mandate on local government ...and who would be against that?

Secondly, local governments and school boards could still pay newspapers to publish their meeting minutes if they choose. So nothing would change there either.

Unfortunately, because Gov. Scott Walker and state republicans have a history of ideologically-driven proposals designed to strip away local control, gut open records or legislatively defund targeted voting-blocs, it's easy to knee-jerk against this proposal. Keep in mind most of the newspapers opposing the bill previously endorsed Walker and the legislators supporting it. But this bill isn't one of those and with the internet - its time has come.

Against that backdrop, the Janesville Gazette posted an editorial suggesting a local Republican can redeem herself by keeping the state mandate intact.

Titled "A second chance for Rep. Loudenbeck," the newspaper's editorial staff scolds ALEC Rep. Amy Loudenbeck about her vote two years ago to gut Wisconsin's open record laws and block public access to legislators' emails and other public documents. They're right about all that - Loudenbeck is terrible - all the way up to the day the Gazette's editorial staff endorsed her for re-election in November. I kid you not.

The Gazette then suggests to the awful legislator how she can "redeem" herself in their eyes - as if she needs that to win their endorsement - "by demanding she vote against any budget bill containing the change to publication requirements — we want her to be proactive and persuade others on the Joint Finance Committee to oppose it," they wrote.

Their editorial also insists their opposition to the provision isn't about finances...

JG Excerpt:
Some proponents of eliminating publication requirements have accused newspapers of having ulterior motives, caring more about their pocketbooks than government transparency. But it's worth noting that the type of public notices being targeted by these proposals account for only 0.2 percent of The Gazette's revenue—that's right, two-tenths of 1 percent.

OK. Keep that thought. The Gazette gets paid by government to post notices in a newspaper that readers must buy read. The Gazette then says that's all secondary because their primary concern is the state's anti-transparency culture. Really? Not to sound redundant, but they repeatedly endorse candidates of that culture every November.

But regarding their faux rage of concern about maintaining access to public information ...etc, etc ...the Gazette is in a unique position because Bliss Com (parent company) also distributes a twice weekly free publication that contains none of the public meeting minutes they are paid by government to publish. That's right. The newspaper is so concerned about the public's right to know that they put the information behind the pay wall of their flagship Gazette hard copy.

And, if you needed to look up the minutes of a meeting from two months ago, you better keep bundles of old Gazettes in your attic or garage. Because the Gazette doesn't keep them archived at their Web Site. They do keep some public records archived, but only for traffic violators, arrests and court hearings.

So, the reality is the Gazette actually makes a great case to end the state mandated charade forcing locals to post meeting minutes.

To put it in a free market perspective: If public demand was high for that information, the Gazette would publish those meeting minutes without government payola as a feature to lift subscriptions. Right?

Truth is; no one is taking public notices away from the newspapers - except the newspapers themselves. The First Amendment guarantees that right. I fully expect Rep. Amy Loudenbeck to "redeem" herself in the eyes of the Janesville Gazette by supporting the public notice payoff.

That's what awful legislators do.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Absent Representation, Paul Ryan's District Left With The "Constituent Services" Hustle

As an answer to a question nobody asked, I've seen the "constituent services" hustle in the past from Rep. Paul Ryan. But ever since he became House Speaker, Ryan's staff have ramped it up as their top excuse for Ryan's refusal to attend recent town halls held by district constituents.

Ryan flooded with phone calls Feb. 6, 2017
“Our office has spent 18 years making it our No. 1 goal to provide flawless constituent services to the residents of Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, and that remains a top priority.”

Kenosha "No Show" Town Hall Feb. 26, 2017
"Paul appreciates the frustration, and he has made sure that constituent service remains his number one priority."

Paul Ryan was also a "No Show" at the Janesville town hall held on March 12th. Unironically, the Janesville Gazette did not cover the town hall story but if they did, we can bet they would have reposted the hustle again ...“Our office has spent 18 years making it our No. 1 goal to provide flawless constituent services to the residents of Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, and that remains a top priority.”

And again...

Racine "No Show" Town hall Apr. 1, 2017
“Our office has spent 18 years making it our number one goal to provide flawless constituent services to the residents of Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, and that remains a top priority.”

We're left to believe all of those dates were intentionally set up to be in conflict with Ryan's schedule, yet he easily finds time to hobnob for campaign funds from the one percent in congressional districts all across the country? Yeah, right.

But not only is it condescending to dismiss those attending town halls with the "constituent service" hustle, it adds to the mountain of evidence that our district is in its 19th year without true representation in Congress. Clearly, Ryan is representing somebody else.

Perhaps the next time Ryan runs for office, he should run for constituent services director and let somebody else run for House Representative of the 1st Congressional District Of Wisconsin.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Elusive "On The Lam" Janesville Congressman Spotted In Hollywood

While hometown residents continue to live in fear of what his next move might be, district constituents held yet another "Where's Paul Ryan?" townhall on April 1st, this time in Racine.

The elusive fleebagging Janesville congressman was a no-show of course, but he was spotted in La La Land the next weekend at Universal Studios, according to TMZ.

We reached out to Universal Studios for comment on the visit, but they offered us none. We also reached out to the Hard Rock Cafe on CityWalk (because, let's be honest, when Paul Ryan goes to Universal Studios he probably eats at the Hard Rock Cafe). They, too, offered us no comment.

Following a deep search, we were unable to find any photographic proof on Instagram that Paul Ryan (re: a celebrity) visited Universal yesterday (re: a tourist-heavy destination), which leads us to believe that it is still possible in this day and age to go off the grid.

Watch it:

Remember that time Paul Ryan claimed he gave up "fear" for Lent?

What do you think Ryan gave up this time?

A. Pretending to be who he was.
B. First Growth Bordeaux
C. Texting while his chauffeur drives.
D. Lent
E. Other