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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Forward Janesville – Chip Off The Old Block

Friday’s Janesville Gazette front page headlines titled “What is Forward Janesville?” was little more than a promotional info-commercial masquerading as an investigative news report. The noble sub-title “Whether behind the scenes or in lead role, group puts business first” seemed contradictory to the statement later in the article which identifies the group’s interests specifically for the benefit of its members.
JG Excerpt:
Make no mistake, Forward Janesville’s overriding goal is to advance the interests of its members.
That seems to take away a bit of the selfless community spirit they repeatedly chatter. But the story’s content and tone appeared heavily controlled with softball answers to hard line questions and deliberate omissions while the newspaper haphazardly attempted to defend the organization with poorly contrived reasoning.
JG Excerpt:
About 85 percent of Forward Janesville members have fewer than 20 employees. That seems to contradict the notion that the group is a miniature version of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest and sometimes controversial business interest group.
If that answer works for you – fine. But the number of workers employed by business members of FJ can hardly contradict the notion. But this is exactly what Forward Janesville is. It is a private organization with membership dues. Politically active? You bet! They lobby Janesville City Hall and Rock County public officials the same way the WMC lobbies in the state capital. FJ has/had a local candidate training program to help like-minded citizens gain seats on the Janesville City Council and the Janesville School Board. This aspect of their political activism receives little attention from the newspaper.

Of course it also helps that they regularly ride shot-gun with the local media (Gazette). They have an inside track to local government and write grants for federal tax dollars. If given the choice of one or the other, roads are a higher priority than public education. Their political philosophy is a near carbon-copy of the GOP platform. Its president or leader as the article described him is John Beckord, a seemingly nice guy with good intentions – also happens to be on the WMC Board of Directors. The Gazette article touched on none of this.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand (including myself) is what Forward Janesville is not. They are NOT a neighborhood or downtown business group or area chamber of commerce. They are their own interests, and I'll admit they've done some good things - to help themselves. But right now during this most crucial time in its history, Janesville's business community needs more than Forward Janesville - to help itself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

These are the kind of groups whether on the left or right that are responsible for corrupting government. Nobody should have an inside track to elected officials or our tax dollars and I shudder when I hear or read about public/private partnerships as a tool of cooperation. Until we the people can end the stranglehold from lobbyists, our government will be one of sell-outs.

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