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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fox Not News

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None of the opin-you-tainment shows on the "other" cable channels have a "news" logo on the screen during airtime. Lou Dobbs, Campbell Brown and Larry King's show have a CNN logo only - not news. Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and the Ed Show have a MSNBC logo only - not news. But turn to Fox and Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and the rest of them all have the Fox "News" logo revolving in the corner 24/7.

Yet, Jon Stewart is the most trusted name in news. So why not drop the comedy logo?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Four Wisconsin Justices Embarrass State Judicial System

The State Supreme Court adopted a rule Wednesday that says campaign contributions and independently run ads in themselves cannot force a judge off of a case. Voting for the WMC-sponsored rule were Justices Patience Roggensack, Annette Ziegler, David Prosser and Michael Gableman. In effect, they have laid out the welcome mat for big money contributions and third party advocates to spend as much money as they can on their re-election campaigns.
Wisconsin Law Journal Excerpt:
“People give money to someone they think will be fair and impartial,” said Gableman. “I don’t think there is any weird motive or agenda for judges if they get $1,000 or $10,000.”
Luckily I'm not a big gambling man because I would have lost big numbers betting that justice would prevail.

JS Online Excerpt:
"It rejects this almost implicit assumption that I hear . . . that somehow candidates would somehow be tempted to make improper decisions based on something as low as $1,000," he said.
Hear that? It'll cost more than a grand to tempt Gableman.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Media Effort Underway To Destabilize Majority On Ice Arena Boondoggle

After reading the Gazette's Tuesday article about the Janesville ice arena boondoggle, I found the newspaper's ramped up story-line reminiscent of past publishing activities the newspaper undertook to pass the school referendum or to sell the wealthy investor's county land-swap deal to an unsuspecting public.
In addition, the Gazette published two major editorials on their arena position in four days.

In Tuesday's city council article, the paper makes no reference to Council member Yuri Rashkin’s well contrived blizzard of common sense he displayed for explaining his opposition vote of the administration’s arena plan. Not one word. I don't want to make too much of it, but his position was not only unique from the others, it was built on startlingly profound judgement. Now, if you're a regular visitor here, you'd know that doesn't come easy for me to say, particularly about someone who I have had very little to agree with on. So please don't think I'm in the tank here. Rashkin did mention the word “grassroots” somewhere in his logic and that alone could be enough to get excommunicated from the country club set here in Janesville. For obvious reasons, the Gazette so far has shut down all opposition talk in their so-called objectively written articles on the ice arena.

But it really hit home when I watched the short 6PM news report on Channel 15-WMTV out of Madison (Channel 5 Charter) about the Janesville Ice Arena on Wednesday. They described the ice arena debate as a controversy but proceeded to televise a very one-sided account absent of any real controversy! Rashkin was not given any face time to respond for the 6PM newscast and had a short uneventful moment at 10PM. Instead they put a pro-hockey spokesperson on camera and proceeded to oversimplify the deal as a positive development and about sending a message that Janesville is looking out for it's kids.

In a related article in today's (Thursday) Gazette titled, "We need to pull together" is another timely piece by the newspaper to sway public opinion towards the socialized losses incurred from public-private partnerships. The article contains an interesting list of local people from what can be viewed as the area's Bilderburg group."

For small town politics, this is big-time stagecraft.

Read WMTV's report and view video here. The video broadcast on television was 1 min. 28 sec. long.

Some additional Boondoggle notes

* The two sheet ice arena is now being marketed as a regional facility primarily to attract non-Janesville users from Beloit and Walworth County. In exchange, Janesville will lose its public-use community centered ice rink.

* The land site of the new arena has an approximate value at least equivalent to the price thrown around for land acquisition for the fire station - around $1 million dollars. The land value puts the city's share at $3.5 million instead of the reported $2.5 million and it will not generate property taxes over the lifespan of the arena.

* The old ice arena has a replacement cost value of at least $2 million in its current condition. The structure is expected to be bull-dozed.

* The date (March 1st) is arbitrarily set by the city administration. It holds little power or importance to the actual deal and will be changed or extended anytime to fit the requirements of the private investment group. My guess is they will be given all the way to 2011 or 2012 to raise the money.

* The plan to move the ice arena to the southern edge of the city will remove another community facility from the city's central core and will help steer more traffic away from the downtown district. In other words, it is consistent with the city's comprehensive growth plan.

* During the WHP contract discussions, the handful of previous ice arena user groups were promised little disruption of their use schedules - according to the media. Now they've suddenly become a group that's clamoring for ice time and in need of a home - according to the media.

* The current ice arena subsidies and attendance figures have been unfairly compared to other public use facilities in Janesville such as the Senior Center and the Hedberg Library. The ice arena is the only one that has been privatized for profits while socializing the capital investment, operating losses and maintenance onto the taxpayers.

* The next inner-city facility expected to fall at the hands of the country club set are the batting cages on Jackson Street.

* The astro-turf group behind the regional two sheet ice arena are the same folks who succeeded to foist (with help from the Gazette) a $70.5 million tax hike upon Janesville school district taxpayers.

This list will be expanded and reposted as more information becomes available.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WMC Aiming To Get Their Money's Worth

In what probably is one of the most obscene proposals ever to be submitted to the state's high court, the morally bankrupt group known as the WMC is requesting that...
Daily Press Excerpt:
...judges would not be required to step aside from cases involving groups or individuals no matter how much they spent to help their campaigns.
Daily Press Excerpt:
"Individuals and organizations spend money to help elect a judicial candidate precisely because they want that candidate to be a judge — that is, to preside over cases, including their own," WMC attorney Mike Wittenwyler said in the petition. "There is nothing corrupt about that. That is democracy."
That's not democracy - that's bold-faced corruption. In that case, why bother with campaign contributions? Why not just pay the judges directly for each court case?

Obviously, the high court should strike their proposal down. But does that mean if the WMC or other special interests can't buy judges, they will no longer contribute to their election campaigns? Yeeeeaaah!

Feingold, Kohl Invoke Fiscal Restraint - GOP Whines

Last week, Wisconsin Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl voted against the Medicare Physician Fairness Act of 2009.
Examiner Excerpt:
The bill, which failed to pass in the Senate by a 53-47 vote, would have repealed the current Medicare physician payment formula. The formula has been much criticized because it, in effect, reduces reimbursement payments to physicians each year.
The senators felt the proposal lacked the necessary safeguards to avoid blowing a larger hole in the deficit and it was eventually shut down when they stood up with a bi-partisan majority for fiscal restraint. In the meantime, Feingold is proposing a series of spending cuts and other provisions that he said would reduce the deficit by $500 billion in 10 years.
JG Excerpt:
(Titled: Kohl, Feingold buck party on Medicare payments)
Republicans seized on Feingold’s proposal, saying the senator was masquerading as a “deficit hawk” despite his support for the $787 billion stimulus measure this year.
In the mix of these related budget dealings, instead of embracing the move as an opportunity to relight whatever remnants remain of bi-partisanship, Republicans had a conniption fit while members of the right-side media paint Feingold and Kohl as "defectors."

Republicans will find a way to say no even when you might agree with them.

On the Medicare Physician Fairness Act, it appears Democrats (not Republicans) who voted no with Feingold generally felt the bill was not PAYGO friendly because it would have added to the national deficit without creating a way to pay for it first.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

City Council Gives Cold Shoulder To Public Opinion

As expected, the ice arena funding involving a taxpayer commitment of $2.5 million was fast-tracked through the Janesville city council during yesterday's meeting. It passed by a vote of 5-2 with Councilman Rashkin and Frank Perrotto voting against.

It is worth noting that Councilman Yuri Rashkin made an unusual (unusual for a JVL council member), but very reasonable if not convincing argument on behalf of the silent majority of Janesville taxpayers. Well, convincing for everyone except those already in the tank. Judging from polls, emails, reactions and comments against the greasy deal, why on Earth would the majority of the city council ignore public opinion?

While several council members agreed to disagree with Rashkin, they thought it important to prove that the new arena was not being pursued for the for-profit Janesville Jets junior hockey organization. Since the Jets are the furthest reason to commit millions (as one council member claimed) for improvements, why then would Janesville need 2 sheets without the Janesville Jets? Why would the Janesville Gazette spend a quarter-barrel of ink promoting the Jets as the fundamental reason to go forward with a new arena? And most importantly, why would the private sector arena group, you know the guys who are only looking out for the best wishes of the community, make it clear that they want no part of a single sheet community ice arena built near the center of the community? Remember, without the Jets making an appearance, this entire debate began with a centrally located community ice arena with an aging ice-maker and a leaky roof - there were no millionaires involved.

I hate to say it but it's clear Janesville taxpayers have been played for fools. And the sad truth is this: Without the Jets, who would this council be willing to put millions in improvements into the ice arena for? The general public they chose to ignore? Please - don't make me laugh.

Suggested slogan for the WHP and private ice arena group.

"We're only here for you. But if we don't get everything - we have nothing to give."
And when did we hear that before?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gazette Readers Overwhelmingly Against Ice Arena Plan

Gazette Poll #1

Should the Janesville City Council support construction of a new ice arena or spend money on the existing arena?

Support new arena --- 34% --- 369 votes
Renovate existing arena --- 65% --- 696 votes

Gazette Poll #2

Would you support a junior A hockey team in Janesville?

Yes --- 26% --- 496 votes
No --- 73% --- 1348 votes

In Janesville, democracy ends right after the election.

Newspaper Burning Taxpayers At Both Ends

It's the same old story being presented by our monopolized media. On the front page of Sunday's Janesville Gazette, their paid writers show they are fully capable of digging into the underbelly of local fiscal finances when it comes to school teachers wages. They'll selectively turn over just the right stones to present a salary chart loaded with circled talking points and sharpened arrows picking out all the details to promote their point of view. Next to the article in the hard copy, they re-enforced their point of objectivity with another story titled, "City Employee Pay frozen, but many still get raises." Got that? When it comes to the public sector or school teachers getting a raise - it's practically scandalous.

The trouble is, the ideologues at the newspaper have been doing this to the school teachers even during the roaring GM years - budget crisis or not. History tells me their chronic opposition is politically driven.

Yet, who can argue these are very different and much tougher economic times, so the paper implying city budget managers tighten the numbers on public service sector wages actually has some merit for the first time in decades. So you know they're going to eat that up and run with it. But flip over to their editorial and the newspaper writes generously about the reasons why the devastated taxpaying community should consider forking over $2 million+ to build a new ice arena for a for-profit group of wealthy investors junior hockey team.

City management with help from the Gazette also have been working over public opinion by presenting a false set of benefits and assumptions to justify tearing down and moving the current ice arena. In their view, the nearby downtown and residential riverfront properties will gain an economic boost by arbitrarily moving the ice arena even further away and building a new fire station at the current arena's site.

I'm thoroughly convinced these plans are a continuation of the "old growth" plans that have played a leading role in devaluing and depopulating Janesville's central core, but they'll say whatever they can to make it fit - and they'll make it fit. It is business as usual.
Sporting Event Impact Studies Excerpt:
The best recommendation is simply for cities to view with extreme caution any economic impact estimates provided by sports franchises, sponsoring leagues, or event-organizing committees.

Read different story - same conclusion. Milwaukee Bucks Stadium Swindle.

Should cities pay for sports facilities?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beck Issues "Ink By The Barrel" Warning To President

In case you may have missed it Friday. During one of his whack-a-thon circus acts on the Fox ...hee-hee..News Channel, Glenn Beck was ranting on how irrational or calculating Obama and his administration must be to dare take on someone who buys ink by the barrel. As you probably know here in Janesville, we recently had our own little ink by the barrel warning issued from the local media monopoly to the city council.

But who would have thunk it, huh? The uncanny coincidence of a local talk-radio host here in Janesville daring the city council to oppose someone who buys ink by the barrel, and Glenn Beck issueing a nearly identical statement to the President of the United States?! I now wonder if Beck is getting material for his show from my little blog. that you? Are you there? Hah!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Newspaper Downplays Friend's Comments

Part 2 of an earlier post. During his WCLO talk show last week, Janesville radiowinger Stan Milam made a series of tattling statements daring any Janesville city council member to vote against the wishes of the Janesville Gazette.
WCLO Radio Excerpts:
"That will pass without one no vote... Why would you pick a fight you didn't need to pick or why would you even risk it? ... Why would you oppose that? ... But I am eagerly awaiting the council member who does oppose it... I'm just waiting for that one. Heh, heh... When you're in the business of having to be elected, what's the point with starting a fight with someone who buys ink by the truckload... it's not something the Gazette takes lightly... But I'm EAGERLY awaiting the council member who votes no and tells us why." -- Stan Milam
Milam is a well-seasoned journeyman at the mic. So it wasn’t a mere slip of the tongue by an amateur or an accidental soundbite that got away from the talk radio host. He kept on it, made an issue of it and drove his point home by repeating his veiled threat with emphasis against any councilman who dare vote against the newspaper's request. He also knows the office banter that goes on at the Gazette.

So, is Stan Milam credible? Should he be taken seriously?

This past Sunday, the Janesville Gazette finally issued an editorial statement about Milam's comments.
Gazette Explanation:
My good friend Stan Milam suggested on his WCLO radio show that the council would be foolish to vote against a request from a company that buys its ink by the barrel. Thanks Stan, but I wouldn’t go nearly that far. We’re not vindictive and we would never hold such a decision against well-meaning council members.-- Gazette Editor
Not quite a denunciation but just enough to keep everyone guessing. The newspaper had another opportunity to set the record straight the next day in their weekly “thumbs up or down” editorial. Had they genuinely felt Milam was out of line they would have condemned his comments with a big “thumbs down.”

Make no mistake, had anyone else made those intimidating comments, the Gazette would have made it the dirt of the town and demanded a public explanation or retraction. With Stan Milam, they did not. They would not. They're friends.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lawyers: Gableman Unfit To Hear Their Cases

Criminal defense attorneys have asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to force Justice Michael Gableman from their cases.

However on Wednesday, the WMC-backed Gableman participated in arguments in a case he was asked to recuse from because of comments he made in his campaign that showed bias against criminal defendants. During the campaign Gableman accused his opponent, Justice Louis Butler, of using "loopholes" to help determine his rulings in criminal cases.

Justice Louis Butler's loophole revealed! Click here to view.

Janesville Residents Petition For Public Option

Channel 3000 Excerpt:
JANESVILLE, Wis. -- The organization Citizen Action of Wisconsin led an effort to deliver a petition signed by more than 2,600 area residents to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's Janesville office on Tuesday.
It's too bad they didn't present their petition to the Janesville city council last week.

In a decision unrelated to CAW's petition drive, the Janesville city council entertained a symbolic resolution in support of universal access to health care. That didn’t last long. Oddly, some members of the council did not want to project a political or partisan bias on the health care issue and demanded the word "universal" be stricken from the resolution. The final diluted endorsement passed but mattered little since there is a wide concensus in favor of some type of generic health care reform.

However in January of this year, the council not only passed a similar endorsement style resolution supporting the widening of the I39/90 expressway, they unanimously endorsed the legislative agenda of the politically active lobbyist group known as “Forward Janesville.” Had they shared the same partisanship as indiscriminately with the recent health care resolution, the council would have endorsed the legislative mission of a politically active organization like HealthCare Now or USaction or Citizen Action Of Wisconsin.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today's Health Care Insurance Are Like Big 3 Before Competition Arrived

In an editorial on Sunday, the Janesville Gazette wrote that they are looking forward to the time when Dean's will open a new hospital to compete with Mercy.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
We also recall the words of Congressman Paul Ryan, long a student of the health care industry. He looked forward to the new hospital in his hometown and told us that the health care system is broken because it is built "for price increases because it lacks true competition based on quality and prices."
Ryan’s compartmentalized view on health care competition is the same one U.S. automakers held for decades among themselves before foreign brands were introduced. Offering multiple lines of corporate models based on quality and price was little more than an exercise to fabricate a sense of competition among the Big 3. Consumers caught on quickly to that charade and gravitated towards the foreign makers despite knowing they held a huge material/labor/legacy cost advantage over the American industry. While the American auto industry was nearly crushed, consumers felt they got a better bargain. That's all that mattered.

Those tough lessons taught me that true competition can only best be created with the introduction of a completely different brand – not more of the same. But we are talking about insurance here and regardless of the number of hospitals, there is really only one brand of health care insurance selling multiple lines of health care models in America. The charade is over. The problem now is the insurance industry is fighting to shut down any introduction of competition. Who could blame them?

But that's a mighty novel way to describe someone (as a student) who has received nearly a half-million dollars in campaign contributions from the insurance industry Oh, I get it. It’s a scholarship in progress!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why Do Power Line Companies Need Ads?

Have you noticed the uptick in local television ads recently from American Transmission Line (ATC)? Where can I shop for a competing power line?
JG Excerpt:
The line will give utility companies such as Alliant Energy access to cheaper power, company spokeswoman Luella Dooley said. The savings will be passed on to electricity customers, she said.
Corporate media sells corporate power lines to the public. Is there a downside? Whoo-why no. Will your electric rates go down? Suuurrre.

You’ll be able to start budgeting right away for next year’s vacation from the windfall savings.

Additional observations from 2007.

Janesville City Council - It's Time For Change

Council Agenda Excerpt:
The Janesville Gazette has requested that the City Council meetings be regularly scheduled to start at 6:30 pm rather than 7:00 pm.
Gazette Editors Explanation: (newspaper excerpt)
Our request lost Monday night, even though the council voted 4 - 2 to support it. The issue isn't dead, though. Councilman Tom McDonald appears to favor an even earlier start - 6 p.m. - and he voted against our proposal so he could bring the issue back in two weeks.
(I inserted the emphasis.) Yet it was a different council member, Yuri Rashkin, who suddenly felt it necessary to propose the motion to exceed the Gazette's request.


Appearing to come out of the blue, Rashkin made the motion for 6PM - and it failed with or without the vote from absent council member Russ Steeber. I bring that up because the councilman's motion for 6PM seemed like a effort to divert attention away from McDonald's previous tactical efforts on behalf of the Gazette. This I admit is a hunch on my part, but a strong one based upon these observations.

The other point here being, in an even greater maneuver, was the vote by Councilman Tom McDonald on the 6:30 vote. While the rest of the city council appeared to have debated in good faith and eventually voted directly on the Gazette's request, he was voting on something a little different. Without making a motion to do so, McDonald was casting a vote meant to manipulate the outcome just enough to afford (himself?!) the opportunity to bring everything back on another date, but in order to do so, he officially denied the Gazette's request. This of course not only smacks of collusion, it also adds to a growing mountain of questionable council decisions and interactions that have succeeded only when others have willfully allowed the process to fail.

As an citizen observer and taxpayer, I would maintain that the outcome from Monday's council vote be officially official, but I'm not a spiteful guy. My opinion on this particular episode isn't about opposing the Gazette or their time change request, and this isn't about opposing an elected office holder. This is about maintaining some semblance of good government - period. Just for perspective, had I been on the council (don't worry I'm not running), I would have voted in favor of the Gazette's request. At the same time I would have blown a gasket knowing a couple of my fellow council members appear to be "operating," to put it nicely.

But if this is a normal and acceptable procedure, then I would suggest every council action decided during the absence of a council member be brought back for an "official" full council ballot, or repeated until the outcome pleases at least one or two special individuals. Of course that is a ridiculous notion, but it is what is the Janesville City Council as it now stands.

In yesterday's paper, the Gazette editor spends the greater part of his editorial explaining why the newspaper requested the time change. I think everyone gets that. What I don't get are the political stunts being pulled at city hall while the newspaper seems to slough it off as a mere exercise between well-meaning council members. Perhaps that explains it among friends.

Another city council election will be ramping up again giving the people yet another chance to bring good clean government to Janesville. But if it's all between friends looking to advance their friends, and friends keep winning, don't count on good and clean.

Part 2 coming soon: THE FEAR

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Feingold's Wrong To Create Tax Credit Jobs

Let me start this off by saying that I agree with Sen. Russ Feingold a heckuva' lot more than I disagree. There could be 50 issues at hand and I might find disagreement with him on one, possibly two issues. The last time I felt he went the wrong way was over his position on expanding executive branch veto powers dubbed the "Janesville Veto." Just for perspective, with Rep. Paul Ryan for instance, I have trouble finding agreement with him on more than one or two issues out of 50.

So now I find it very disturbing to hear Feingold is proposing a Federal corporate tax credit. Whether they can actually create jobs is anyone's guess. Now, before you heave up onto your monitor screen consider this; the job losses effecting nearly every state in the union is more a direct result from wrongheaded Federal policy than it is states. But that only tells me Feingold is right to consider a national prescription.

Unfortunately, I believe no amount of corporate or business tax credits can offset or repair the damage caused by 30 years of class war capitalism, corrupted free markets and severely imbalanced global economics. More likely, these tax credits seem like an appeasement of the GOP's corporate populism and will only prolong our agony. They are no less obscene when a good Democrat proposes them.

As long as we keep trying to create jobs with tax credits, we will never learn what it takes to create jobs without them.
CT Excerpt:
"I've discussed the idea of a jobs tax credit with a number of Wisconsin businesses and generally got a positive reaction." -- Sen. Feingold
No surprise there.

Yes, a surprise here. The Capital Times wrote Feingold's right to consider Jobs Tax Credit.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Janesville Homeowners May Have Won A Battle, But It's Not Over Yet

In a rare split decision, the Janesville city council voted to honor the concerns of a small group of residents who fought to defend whatever little tranquility they have left in a mixed residential/light business area of the city. Afterwards, the Janesville Gazette decided to take on an activist role in opposition to the homeowners.
JG Excerpt:
The Janesville City Council on Monday listened to neighbors who said they feared noise and drunken patrons, then rejected a request to open a bar with connected volleyball courts.
To their credit, the council did listen to the tavern's nearby residents and neighbors, but only half of the them acted responsibly. One council member was absent. Still, that was enough to deny the request. But for how long? The petitioners might come back and do it all over again with a full seven member council. If that happens, the deciding vote could be cast by a council member who has a long history of voting with developer interests. In that case, the good folks defending their neck of the woods better savor the moment – it may be fleeting. Even more so now that the Janesville Gazette was willing to help muscle their way in with their intimidating and shameless editorial posted in Thursday’s paper.
JG Editorial Excerpt:
The Janesville City Council sent the wrong message to the business community and idled General Motors workers in rejecting a proposed bar and restaurant on Woodsman Road.
That is what they think? When three members of the council stand up with nearby property owners and taxpayers – there can't possibly be no other conclusion to draw to except to claim it’s the wrong message to the business community?
JG Editorial Excerpt:
It’s no wonder. DeWitt is a former GM worker and he and his partners have spent a year working on the project.
This coming from a newspaper that has allowed its printing presses to be used as a battering ram against 2,000 GM union workers over the past ten years, somehow finds a way to distort a city council vote into an act of aggression against GM workers? Simply because the business entrepreneur happens to, gasp, be a former GM worker? Talk about hypocritical demogoguery. But one has to wonder how slow-witted do they think their readers are?

Clearly, this is not about business. The council members who sided with the homeowners also supported the core business plan of the entrepreneurs. And it’s not about jobs. And it certainly is not personal. It’s about the city council’s number one responsibility and duty to the people of that particular neighborhood in this particular case. Three council members got this one right.

And it's about location, location, location.
JG Excerpt:
"The people came out to voice their opinion, and we listened," he said, adding he believes there are locations that would accommodate the venture better.
You bet there are. In the comment area of this Web Page is a list of at least 40 people who apparently want the tavern and volley ball court in one of their own back yards. That’s a good start. One neighborhood already said thanks but no thanks. I respect that.

But it now opens a tremendous opportunity for the 40 or so posters, the Gazette editorial staff and the three council members to pro-actively engage the business entrepreneurs to discuss the possibility of opening up a bar/volley court within a hundred feet of one of their homes. They could call their economic development group YIMBY for “Yes in my back yard.” I certainly would not join YIMBY but would blog favorably in support of their efforts and patronize the business. Just think of the endless possibilities.

I’m pro-business, pro-property rights and pro-citizen. I’d stand with any citizen who would sacrifice their property, peace and enjoyment so someone else can draw a profit. At the same time, I’d stand with any citizen who refuses to surrender those rights.
JG Excerpt:
Yuri Rashkin is a member of the Alcohol License Advisory Committee and said the police had no concerns about the venture. "If the police department has no concerns, that's usually something that the ALAC respects," he said.
By voting in favor of the tavern/volley ball business, Councilman Rashkin put the perceived lack of concerns from the police department over a bevy of serious concerns from the taxpayers, residents and nearby homeowners who felt strongly they would be adversely effected by the business venture. Councilman Frank Perrotto deemed the concerns of the nearby homeowners “legitimate” and then proceeded to graciously vote against them. Kathy Voskuil much like the other two, also put greater stock into the plan commission's recommendations than the nearby homeowners.

But it ain't over yet. From the rumbling noises coming from the newspaper's community, those homeowners had better prepare for another line of defense to protect whatever it is they believe in. Live united.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Role Reversal Granted To Janesville Rotary Gardens

Now that there may be a reversal of fortunes for Janesville's Rotary Gardens, the current Gardens management decided to request new lease provisions redefining the city's responsibility and role in fiscal policy and management operations. Keep in mind the Gardens are the lessee.

As a supporter of Rotary Gardens, I have seen how much sweat equity the volunteers and management at the Gardens have put in over the years. And I also know the Gardens are a positive asset for the city. They deserve a standing ovation. However...

Probably taking their cue from the obnoxious lease the Janesville city council granted to the WHP for the city's ice arena, I find myself at a loss with the general theme of their request for more control and placing the city and its' taxpayers in an even greater subservient role. For whatever their reasons, they appear to be building a fiscal firewall between themselves and the city.
Lease Changes Excerpts:
1. The Gardens would be able to make capital improvements and changes to City property without prior Common Council review or consent...

2. The Gardens would operate under self-control, with the Board and Director able to establish rules and procedures for the Gardens...

3. This lease has allowed the City the opportunity to assist with renovating/repairing garden buildings at our discretion; this section has been updated to include the Horticultural Building as one of the sites we may wish to improve. (section 4B)

4. The lease requires the City to use insurance proceeds to make repairs/replacements to the Gardens...

5. The Gardens may charge a fee to enter.

6. The City will no longer tell the Gardens how much fire insurance they need to purchase; rather, this decision will be left to the Gardens...
I particularly like No. 3 - taxpayers have been allowed the opportunity to assist...and we would like to grant them further opportunities with another building.

The trends are clear. Janesville taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill more and more for existing city structures and maintenance, while independent and private user entities reap direct benefits. At the same time, local residents are being shut out from utilizing the buildings their taxes built and maintained unless they pay an additional fee at the door. Sure, fees at the door are not uncommon, but the lessee is not repaying the city back for even minor services such as snow plowing. Any direct capital return to the city from many of these so-called public/private partnerships could not even pay the fair market property taxes on the parcel. Also, through extremely poor contract negotiations, general fund city trustees have been stripped of authority to recoup any capital outlays or share in the success and financial rewards.

During the city council meeting Monday discussing this lease change request, Councilman Bill Truman wryly asked, "Why does the city continue to snow plow the gardens parking lot?" The Gardens representative responded "because it's city property." That just about said it all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Local Elected's Risk Drowning In Barrels Of Ink

Posted in Sunday's paper, the Janesville Gazette made a request to the city of Janesville asking the city council to approve of changing city council meetings starting time from 7PM to 6:30PM.
JG Sidebar Excerpt:
--A public hearing on a request from the Gazette to start regularly scheduled council meetings at 6:30 p.m. rather than 7 p.m. The newspaper recently started publishing a morning paper, and an earlier start could give reporters more time to file more complete stories for the next day's paper.
A relatively harmless request - no? Well, what should have been a cut and dried reasonable request from the city's monopolized news media turned out to be a complete exercise in fear and farce.

Bear with me here for a moment...this gets a little long winded. Earlier Monday morning, Stan Milam, the Janesville Gazette's radiowinger talk show host practically threatens with mocking ridicule the possibility of any Janesville city council member who dare vote against the request from the all mighty, ever-lasting, supreme master of the local media universe, the Janesville Gazette.
WCLO Radio Excerpts:
"That will pass without one no vote... Why would you pick a fight you didn't need to pick or why would you even risk it? ... Why would you oppose that? ... But I am eagerly awaiting the council member who does oppose it... I'm just waiting for that one. Heh, heh... When you're in the business of having to be elected, what's the point with starting a fight with someone who buys ink by the truckload... it's not something the Gazette takes lightly... But I'm EAGERLY awaiting the council member who votes no and tells us why." -- Stan Milam
The truth - loosely parsed and spoken.

But Stan's comments must have worked because not only did a couple council members bow down and kiss the Gazette's feet, they actually made a motion to exceed the newspaper's request. During Monday night's Janesville city council meeting, Councilman Yuri Rashkin made a motion to change the newspaper's request from 6:30 to an even earlier starting time at 6PM!! Even the Gazette editor thought the 6PM starting time was pushing it. However, Rashkin's motion for 6PM was defeated by a 3 to 3 vote. Keep in mind council member Russ Steeber was absent from the meeting.

Based on the council's earlier discussion on the issue, it was clear they were ready to grant the newspaper's 6:30PM request. Only Council member Bill Truman was willing to risk the newspaper's wrath. With no offense to the newspaper, he explained why he cannot support changing the council's starting time. So it looked like the Gazette was going to get what it wanted because they had five members on board (required supermajority) for their request. But when the 6:30PM starting time came up for a vote, council member Tom McDonald, who earlier voted for the 6PM time and spoke in favor of granting the newpaper's request, deliberately voted against the 6:30 time. The 6:30 starting time failed by a vote of 4-2. His reasoning seemed to be that he wanted Steeber present for a vote. But that doesn't hold water for the 6:30 vote because no matter how Steeber would have voted, the request had the supermajority it needed to pass with McDonald's promised vote. It then appears that McDonald wants to revisit the 6PM issue again on behalf of the newspaper when Steeber is present.

This is the second time in less than two months Council member Tom McDonald appeared to use his position on the council to extend extraneous privileges to the Janesville Gazette.

The question then becomes: Why threaten elected officials with barrels of ink when you have them this deeply in your hip-pocket. It doesn't make sense.

Don't worry though. In Janesville, they'll get awards for this.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ryan Wants To "Fix" Free Market Failures

Getting Rep. Paul Ryan to admit the GOP failed on health care during the twelve years they were in majority seemed like a small victory of sorts. But if you've been following the congressman at all, you'd know that he holds himself harmless for all the consequences of his 90% majority party-line vote during that time.

In the above video, Barney Frank drives it home on Paul Ryan and all he gets back is a squinty-eyed smirk to admit that at least they failed under Bush. Of course, when Ryan says "we" should have fixed health care under our watch, he is not including himself. Ryan pre-empted himself from the failure when he previously said, "First of all, I introduced on this subject about six years ago."

Still, even though Ryan admits his majority failed to fix health care, he is one of the most outspoken Republicans who refuses to help the majority fix it now. He is a partisan obstructionist of the highest degree.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Alan Grayson Tears Down Snowe Mirage For Reform

Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida continued his pointed truthiness on the House floor again, this time taking on fellow Democrats for their bizarre pursuit of Sen. Olympia Snowe's vote on health care reform. His latest statement provides for the possible consideration that Snowe, a moderate Republican, is being set up as either the hero or the scapegoat on the reform bill.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Peace Prize Should Have Gone To Voters

Not to take anything away from President Obama, but if the absence of Bush and his war-mongering party affiliates from leadership positions has changed the global atmosphere and outlook for the better, shouldn’t the Nobel Peace prize have gone to the voters of the United States of America?
Chicago Tribune Excerpt:
“I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but a recognition of the role of American leadership” in the world, Obama said. “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures. I will accept this award as a call to action, a call to all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st Century.”

Feingold Explains Vote On Patriot Act Redo

Sen. Feingold's Perspective:

Four notable excerpts

Bad news today from the Judiciary Committee. At the beginning of the year, I had high hopes for the Patriot Act reauthorization process. We had just elected a President with a strong civil liberties record in the Senate....

Over the course of two business meetings, Sen. Leahy’s bill was diluted to the point that I had to vote against it. It falls well short of what the Congress must do to correct the problems with the Patriot Act....

Today particularly, I started to feel as if too many members of the committee from both parties are willing to accept uncritically whatever the executive branch says about even the most reasonable proposed changes in the law....

I am also very troubled that administration officials have been taking positions behind closed doors that they are not taking publicly....
Read the Senator's entire statement here.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Flu Shot? Experience The Power Of Community

In an internal memo passed along as a "News Release" most likely for the free publicity, the politically active private group of local government insiders known as "Forward Janesville" want you to know they will be offering free flu shots to the communi...oops sorry, it's for members only.
JG Excerpt Titled "Forward Janesville set to offer flu shots":

Flu shots will not be given to the public.
And what better recruitment tool is there than the prospect of catching a good ol' fashioned flu...huh?
Wheeler Report Excerpt:
The FJI / United Healthcare Flu Shot Clinic is another great reason to belong to Forward Janesville!
This is where the "public" ends and the "private" begins in this community partnership.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Wisconsin GOP Want No Part Of Clean Elections

The Wisconsin Republican party never cease to amaze me.
Common Cause Excerpt:
Rep. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire), the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, announced last week that his committee would be holding a series of public hearings focused on public financing of Wisconsin elections for statewide and legislative candidates--beyond just State Supreme Court candidates.

Wisconsin GOP Excerpt:
Assembly Democrats know their miserable record on jobs will make it hard to win elections next fall, so now they’re asking the public to chip in to pay for their reelection campaigns.
You might have to read that line twice - slowly, and then think for a moment that if there was any truth to the statement, why would Republicans try to belittle the effort?

But as far as the issue of public financing is concerned, we can take that as a "no." Republicans are not interested in severing the ties to third party special interest money. They practically created it.
Common Cause Excerpt:
The current campaign finance system is completely outdated, ineffective, full of loop-holes, and not worth the paper the law is printed on. It has been thirty years since Wisconsin last addressed its public financing system in any meaningful way and significant reform is long overdue.
Not according to Republicans. Forever stuck in 24/7 campaign mode, they would rather reframe the public financing issue by attacking the legislator in hyper-partisan style.
Wisconsin GOP Excerpt:
“Smith’s claims to be ‘pro-reform’ are empty promises from someone who has cashed in on special interest cash,” Priebus said. “If Jeff Smith really wants to limit the influence of special interests in campaigns, he’ll have some checks to return.”
If state Republicans really believe Smith's clean election hearings are a sham, wouldn't it work to the GOP's benefit to call his "bluff" by participating in the hearings and champion the cause they claim Smith is unqualified to lead? Keeping Smith and the hearings honest so to speak?

Instead of a positive exchange among decent and respectful statesmen, we get a sanctimonious party leader spin shift statements meant to deride an opponent while diverting attention away from their own absence on this one single important issue.

But who could blame politicians for refusing to engage in debate about public financing when they have wheel barrows of cash flowing in from third party special interests? So far, one Democrat is willing to take a chance against the odds and the only thing state Republicans can think of are reasons not to. The Republican statement actually bolsters the need for campaign finance reform while proving to us again how needless Republicans are. So what else is new?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Rip Rap

Corruption has nothing on the Culture Of Conservatism

In this video, conservative pundits and cable news hosts refer to a city with a crime rate ten times that of Chicago as "awesome," warn of gangster politics that'll make Al Capone so happy if the Olympics comes to Chicago, and insult American women as "fat people eating." Dennis Miller tries to channel his own racism onto the IOC. Michelle Malkin said the push for the Olympics is a "great way to white wash all of Chicago's ills." Lou Dobbs says, "Michelle Obama talking smack with the first lady of Brazil." The last time I heard such insulting anti-American rhetoric and cheering on for an American loss was from an enemy crashing airplanes into our buildings. And then these America haters wonder out loud about whether President Obama is pro-American?

Video: Glenn Beck Laughing All The Way To The Bank
More America Haters Trying To Cover Their Tracks

Besides Newsmax who recently deleted an article laying out plans for a military coup against the President, Weekly Standard deletes reference to "cheers" in their offices after Chicago lost bid for Olympics.

Americans For ProsperityDuplicity Cheer for Olympic Loss

Stand Up With Rep. Alan Grayson

The more I read about this guy – the more I like. In this Huff posting, Grayson kept a cool head while Fox stooge Neil Cavuto became unhinged defending huge executive bonuses for performance failure. Grayson, "You should not get rich off public money, and you should not get rich off of abject failure." He argued in an op-ed on the Huffington Post that Congress must put an end to "theft" on Wall Street, "which is apparently the only place in the world where you can steal from the taxpayers and then bill them for services rendered."
Rep. Alan Grayson on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
"I wish they would take their talent and practice their talent in Russia or China and bankrupt them instead of us."
More on Grayson by John Nichols.

Let Rep. Alan Grayson know you support him for having the backbone to stand up against the GOP machine. You can "heart" Rep. Grayson on Facebook here.
According to professional hypocrite and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner - Losing in a Crooked Election Should Condemn a person for life.

Traditional News Congressman Angry Over Judicial Appointment

One Wisconsin Sensenbrenner's Phony Outrage Over Appointment

Perhaps the most upsetting to Republicans about Louie Butler is he will now be in a position where the GOP's local anti-Wisconsin group, the WMC, will be unable to smear him off the bench.
Illegal Immigrants Then: Good People Just Coming Here To Work.
Illegal Immigrants Now: Don't Deserve Health Care.
Washington Times Excerpt:
Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, said proposals that include government coverage for illegal immigrants leave him incredulous.

"If anybody can, with a straight face, advocate that we should provide health insurance for people who broke into our country, broke our law and for the most part are criminals, I don't know where they ever would draw the line," he said.
How about drawing the line on every American business that allows an illegal immigrant to break into a job?
Tommy Thompson Defines Emergency Rooms As Universal Health Care
Seattle Times Excerpt:
March 03, 2004 -- Congressional Democrats have criticized the administration for helping Iraq to establish universal health care without doing the same for U.S. citizens.

"Even if you don't have health insurance," said Thompson, who toured medical facilities in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Tikrit on Saturday and Sunday, "you are still taken care of in America. That certainly could be defined as universal coverage.

Video: Fox News is a political organization.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Limbaugh, GOP and Fox Win The Gold

The vast right-wing conspiracy against America succeeded. Chicago has been eliminated from hosting the 2016 Olympics.

At the end of this "Thomas Friedman is a nutjob" video from yesterday, the GOP czar demonstrated once again that nothing is worthy of respect if it can be used as a weapon in a partisan attack. He could not even bring himself up to plug for his countrymen's efforts to acquire the Olympic games. Steele hasn't reached that "Michelle moment" yet in his life where he can unequivocally say how proud he is of America. Sadly, he probably never ever will reach that point.

Conservatives attack Chicago as unsuitable for Olympics.

Chicago Tribune Chicago stunned.

Rooting against America Excerpt:
Glenn Beck called the news that Chicago's bid had failed "so sweet," Rush Limbaugh declared himself "happy" and "gleeful" with the results, and Matt Drudge proclaimed: "World rejects Obama.

Wing Nut Radio Spins Both Ways

Last week, Janesville talk radio host Stan Milam reeled off a series of baffling comments poking at the Left after he repeated James Carville's Clintoneque "It's the economy stupid" quote in his newspaper column as the basis for his plead for more government interference in the private jobs sector. Afterwards, a newspaper caller forgivingly aligned Milam with the left-wing.
Sound Off (anonymous column in the Gazette)
On Milam:
Although I usually don’t agree with Stan Milam’s left of center views, he’s dead on in his article about jobs. Without jobs, nothing else the government is doing is helping our country and especially our state. In fact, everything they’re doing is causing job loss. They all need to be voted out.
Can (or should) state governments afford trying to reverse the damage inflicted on the their local economies from the GOP's "Contract on America" followed by eight years of Bush tax cut wealth re-distribution voodoo economics by offering the wealthiest entities among us hundreds of millions in tax and wage concessions? So far 43 of 50 states have experienced noticeably deep job losses. Is it the state's fault? I'm not implying that something should not be done stateside. However, in Wisconsin, we had a state government and a labor union join forces to offer a global corporation over $400 million in local tax and wage concessions. And that was just one corporation! Can we afford to stay on that course? Milam and his "not left-wing" fans think we can.
Milam's Column Excerpt:
It's jobs, stupid...Although a $409 million bid for production at the Janesville plant fell short of Michigan's $1 billion bid, the exercise was used to help retain thousands of jobs related to Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac.
Milam obviously approves of deep taxpayer (government) involvement for job creation, but only to the ownership side of the so-called free markets.
Milam Show Audio: (Excerpt)
"We are going to see concerned people passionate about causes, and taking matters into their own hands trying to find some funding trying to make changes to make our life a better place…we can’t always rely on the government to solve all our problems…Now do I sound like some left-wing wimp…as they call me in the paper." -- Milam
On his radio show, Milam seemed almost shaken for being considered politically left of center by the anonymous newspaper comment.
Milam Show Audio: (Excerpt)
”I would want you to talk to some of the people I deal with before you accuse me of being a left-wing..ah, nut. I’m in support of any efforts folks want to take that allows them to take hold of situations without involving government. Because I pay taxes, and I don’t mind paying taxes for the essential things that we need, clean water, sewage treatment, decent roads and …recreational activities.
Well, THAT convinced (eyeroll) me. But what about education, health care or the environment? Apparently those are all merely trivial sideshows that can be dealt with while government coddles the corporate sector for jobs.

According to his "jobs" column in last week's Saturday Gazette (Sept. 19), Milam stated "no single issue in America trumps employment" and approved of heavy corporate tax incentive packages while completely avoiding the consequences this relationship will have on non-incentivized taxpayers. Like a politician in campaign mode, he's clearly spinning both ways.

Exactly how is the government supposed to create the demand absolutely necessary and crucial for job creation? I don't think Milam or the anonymous caller had "cash for clunkers" in mind. From their comments, they both support the re-distribution of wealth from the taxpaying masses to the wealthiest at the top, and insist government should play the interferer, decider and job maker. Milam's column referenced here was titled, "Where is the focus on jobs?" It was not directed at the business community, entrepreneurs, investment bankers, venture capitalists, honest-to-goodness developers or the free market at-large. He was pointing to government, and let's be clear - he's NOT a left-winger.

Here's stripped-threads nutism number two: The workers, under the latest definition of global economic progress, were never intended to be the recipients of the hundreds of millions in tax incentive dollars bundled together. In fact, with both GM and Mercury Marine, the workers are the ones whose wages and benefits were slashed or frozen even further, with new hires starting wages cut as much as 40%. We're promoting corporate tax incentives while simultaneously cutting worker wages. The disparity between richest and poorest Americans widened in the wake of job losses and will widen even further under these wrong-headed incentives to fabricate job gains. Do you have to be a left-wing nut to see the death spiral here? And what of the CEO's and their money managers in the meantime? They're not happy like the workers are expected to be just to have a job - instead, they'll collect performance bonuses while the flow of stockholder dividends remains uninterrupted. Obviously then, the tax credits and hand-outs were never meant to support the incidentals (demand, wages, benefits) of job creation (left-wing). They're for lining the pockets of the profit-takers. This is far gone right-wing corporatist nutism well beyond the point of no return.
Milam Show Audio: (Excerpt)
But when we start whining about every single thing that isn’t going our way, and we want government to solve it. Talk to guys like Dean (a volunteer)… For all you listeners who like to call me left-wing Louie and all that sort of thing, perhaps you hadn’t been listening.” – Milam
Just like the folks who occasionally accuse the Janesville Gazette of being a Liberal newspaper, I worry about how far to the right or confused someone must be to lovingly call Stan "left-wing Louie." You got me there, I've never felt so insulted.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Edgerton Company Begins Move With Blame Game

JG Excerpt:
“It’s important for people to understand that Jim Grafft is entirely responsible for this move.”
Does it really matter how unreasonable one side may or may not be in a private business transaction? When two parties cannot agree on a contract for whatever reason – it's time to just move on. So why lob firebombs?

No question, this whole thing stinks.
JG Excerpt:
“The objective from Day One, given the problems between the company and its landlord, was to do everything we could to resolve the real estate issue in Edgerton, and if they couldn’t stay there then at least keep them in the county,” Otterstein said.
Once again Rock County tax payers are left in the informational dark ages regarding the level of county government's interactions and influence into these private transactions. It would be very interesting to see an honest timeline of all the landlord/renter negotiations including the effort to view and purchase the Lear Building. Of course if our local government played no part in this, then the entire deal is private and should remain so.

But whatever part of our taxes if any, played in this, (marketing, tax incentives, TIFs, DOZ, etc.) that information should be made public without request. Also, whatever part the county played "to do everything we could" in the marketing and sale of the Lear building should be no less the effort to do the same for the soon to be vacant former Dorsey Trailer building in Edgerton.