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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

City Taps Empty Slush Fund For Privileged Group

On Monday night, the Janesville city council approved of giving over $11,000 to a Janesville business group so they could erect a monument as a entry way sign for their business district on the west side of Janesville. The group, calling themselves the Westgate Corridor Group, will have their name emblazoned on the twelve-foot-long brick pillared structure to be planted in a public right-of-way.

We can assume that they should have their name on it, afterall they're paying for it, right? Wrong.

Taxpayers will pay for group's monument.
Agenda Excerpt:
...the Westgate Group has requested that the Common Council authorize funding for the project in the amount of $11,113.00 as a TIF District 28 expenditure.
The money is expected to be pulled from the TIF, but since the district hasn't generated any slush money yet, the city must borrow to pay for the sign.

Okay, let's forget about that part for now.

The Westgate Corridor Group touts itself as a caring “coalition of residents, businesses, property owners and community leaders interacting with the city to provide for opportunities and positive action. Certainly then, we'd at least expect to have the basic cooperation and interaction present to fund the monument with a public private partnership, right? Wrong. Noticeably absent from the presentation and council discussion was the term "public private partnership." No council members bothered to ask why this caring group of business people and "community leaders" could not pitch in to pay for a sign that will have their name on it. Pitch in 50%? 40%? 30%? Nope ...not one penny. The business group, completely aware that the city will likely have to borrow to pay for their sign, doesn't even blink.

But let's forget about that part for now.

Certainly the business group will at least make the council presentation and request for the money themselves. Afterall they're business people, they're in business to sell themselves, right? Sorry, wrong again.

City Administration Working On Behalf Of Business Group
Agenda Excerpt:
... the City of Janesville is acting as the applicant on behalf of the Westgate Group for the privilege to allow placement of the sign in the public right-of-way
No representative from the business group spoke at the council meeting, instead the city administration presented the private group's request.

Okay, let's forget about that part for now.

At least the project, design and construction will be competitively bid upon with community members offering free materials and a possible slogan and design contest for school kids or residents, right? You'd be wrong again.

Business group contracts for its own no-bid deal
Agenda Excerpt:
1. That the sign be constructed in accordance with design plans submitted by the Westgate Group, acting as general contractor for the project.
You gotta' love it! It really doesn't matter whether it's only $11,000 or $11 million that's at stake. With crony capitalist government picking the winners and the losers and a compliant media with no obligation to ask the right questions, it's best to just forget about it all.

Worth mentioning: I don't know what came over them, but Council members McDonald and Brunner voted against the request.


Anonymous said...

Holy crap! You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. There has to be a crime in this somewhere.

Lou Kaye said...

Sorry, not in Janesville. This is all normal legal procedure.

Anonymous said...

Let me see if I get this.

1)The Group is developing another "business district". They want a sign. They go to the city and ask for taxpayer money to fund this sign. Or did the city just say, "Here is $11,000, build a nice sign.", without even having to ask?

2) The city does all the work for them, money-wise. And the board gleefully signs off on this.

3) The group gets to build said sign no questions asked, no bids taken.

And people say we are bad to business in Wisconsin. This makes me ill.

Lou Kaye said...

From all accounts the group approached the city and gave the city a list of expectations. They did not offer any land (to place the sign), money, planning, labor or material. According to the agreement in fact, it appears that the group will be paid for the design of the monument and also collect monies for being the general contractor. Its got kickback, favors, crony capitalism and a general abuse of tax revenue written all over it.

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