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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Epic Fail: Janesville City Government Enters The Abyss

At Monday night's Janesville City Council meeting, council members approved in a 4 to 1 decision to use their governmental power and tax revenue collectivism to leverage an advantage for a single private-for-profit business, SHINE Medical Technologies, with over 80 acres of free land, free capital and a taxpayer backed loan guarantee valued at $4 million. This is an outrage! The $9 million "incentive" package pledged to this single small business venture is almost one-quarter of the city's annual operating budget. By comparison, this deal was greater than the TARP bail-out was in proportion with the annual federal budget.

But first and foremost, this is about elected officials using government power and collectivism to leverage an advantage for a single private-for-profit special interest. That cannot be overstated.

Secondly, Janesville officials follow a notoriously backward status quo growth model that promotes the plowing under of our surrounding "Napa Valley." Rock County is home to some the deepest and most fertile topsoils on Earth, but no one would ever know it around here judging by the low value, priority and low esteem many area officials and residents show for the land. They view the level well-drained glacial-driven six-foot thick topsoil as the perfect substrate to lay curb, gutter and asphalt.

Make no mistake, local governments, mayors, city managers and councils all over the state and country are grappling with wrong-headed anti-competitive anti-market "incentive" packages and economic development guidelines written by corporate lobbyists and legalized in statehouses to lure existing businesses and start-ups away from one community to another.

These policies deliberately place a false onus on local officials for job creation and economic growth when in truth, there was absolutely nothing, city ordinances or other laws, stopping SHINE from starting up their business in Janesville on their own free will like other businesses have. In the end, these deals have a zero sum effect on the state economy while accomplishing their one true goal very effectively - redistributing wealth upward through elaborate capital shifting tax credits.

The other truth is, many of these business entrepreneurs have either strong investor backing or are wealthy venture capitalists themselves who comb state maps for Qualified New Business Venture Credits and Enterprise Zone Credits and mark economically distressed communities with pliable special interest controlled leadership like Janesville as an opportunity to exploit even further through intricately woven TIF District agreements and other financing derivatives. Economic tools offering access to government and tax treasury have become counter-productive and do little more than expand an entitlement mentality for the well-connected and other freeloading opportunists.

As a political blogger on my own soapbox, I have spoken out against tax credits for jobs, even roasting Sen. Russ Feingold for proposing them, and criticized the Janeville City Council when they endorsed the sprawl expansion pro-tax legislative agenda of the local WMC satellite, Forward Janesville. These closed loop trickle-down policies including TIF District modifications have successfully shifted taxes for the benefit of their membership while leaving the average taxpaying wage earner footing the bill. It's easy to spend someone else's money. Let me be clear. I ain't no tea party.

Lastly, at a time when I thought the public’s awareness of a captured government working deals to advantage private special interests was at it’s highest, I never thought this “incentive” package deal in Janesville would have ever gotten this far, but I was dead wrong. I never thought four members of our city council, in Fitzwalkerstan style, would ram through one of the most absurd and abusive uses of local government and collective revenue power I have ever thought possible on this scale. Regardless of your politics, Janesville and/or Rock County does not have a grassroots voting bloc actively working on local issues at all and it's beginning to take it's toll on our quality of life and trust in government. We are headed into the abyss.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King,
Robert La Follette, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Gaylord Nelson and Ronald Reagan must be all turning over in their graves after this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Recall City Council....

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