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Sunday, February 01, 2015

Walker's "Pay Their Way" Jock Tax Is Just Another Gimmick For Special Interests


Not much has been written or challenged about Gov. Scott Walker's so-called proposal to create a "jock tax" on NBA players playing in Milwaukee.

At first blush, his proposal seems somewhat populist in rhetoric, with some even misconstruing it as a new tax on wealthy private interests to pay a larger share for major improvements, such as a new stadium, that they benefit directly from. That would seem like a fair proposal. Except, that does not appear to be the case at all.

Like most everyone, I haven't seen the details of his plan, but what I can gather from news reports is, it does NOT impose a new or additional tax on NBA players or owners. The players will keep on paying the same income tax rates as always. In fact, the players themselves won't even know or feel a difference.

Fox 6 Now Excerpt:
Under Walker’s “Pay Their Way” plan, a Sports and Entertainment District would be created to provide bonding authority to pay back a $220 million grant for a new sports arena. The grant will be in the form of an appropriation bond issuance, paid back by projected growth in income taxes from the Bucks, as well as visiting teams, due to salary increases and new TV contracts. No current base revenues would be used to pay for the bonds, and once the bonds are paid off, the tax growth would return to the state.

Sound a little familiar? It should.

It is exactly the concept used for TIF District financing, but instead of establishing a baseline of tax revenue on unimproved property - Walker is looking to lock in a baseline of revenue, in dollars, on current state income taxes paid by NBA players.

Just like a TIF carves out a separate holding account away from general fund purposes on any tax new revenue growth paid above the base, to pay for infrastructure, Walker's proposal does exactly the same with expected new growth in NBA salaries to purportedly pay for the stadium.

With that said, the only people who will be paying more in taxes than they would have otherwise without Walker's "jock tax" will be the taxpayers of Wisconsin. Because just like a TIF, it is everyone outside the district (in this case NBA salaries) that will pay the steadily increasing bills of our perpetually shortchanged general fund during the life of the bond repayment.

So, two truths stand out. One, NBA players, team owners or their shareholders WILL NOT pay one extra penny in taxes to the state to build their own stadium, despite Walker's seemingly populist slogan, "pay their way." Two, contrary to Walker's claim of "protecting state taxpayers," it is state taxpayers who will be losing $220 million in expected revenue growth, revenue carved away from general fund purposes that instead will be used to pay for a special interest's new stadium.

Just saying.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Janesville School District Insiders Retaliate Against Whistleblower, Scandal Spreads


Get out your biggest box of popcorn and pull up your most comfortable easy chair because the Janesville school administration cover-up exposed by a union representative while performing a routine check of school board candidate petitions just turned deeply political.

According to this posting at the Janesville Community Facebook page, Janesville school District Board Commissioner Bill Sodemann has filed a Freedom of Information Request on Carla Quirk, a candidate for Janesville School Board. Apparently, because Quirk's nomination petition checked out OK, Sodemann views her as the whistleblower's candidate and therefore, the opposition. Whatever opposition he is opposing. It seems.

From my perch, Sodemann's move also breaks the local ice that was beginning to stack up against the union rep, Dennis Hughes, who some have viewed, unfairly I must add, as an outsider looking to cause trouble in Janesville when he discovered two school candidate nomination petitions were improper.

Now, Sodemann has turned Hughes discovery and report inward within Janesville's political power structures in school district and county government, perhaps as a diversion to remove scrutiny from Superintendent Karen Schulte or to further damage the whistleblower's integrity - or both.

As part of his FOIA search request, Sodemann names names that read like the board roster of the Rock County Democratic Party. No known area republicans were on his target list. But because of Sodemann's one-sided partisan approach omitting republicans, any contacts Quirk may have had with republicans will be screened out from his FOIA inquiry. So much for seeking full disclosure.

There is also a small but interesting parallel one could draw from Sodemann's attempt to squelch the whistleblower, to the defense used by the right-wing special interest, Club For Growth, against the state's investigation into Scott Walker's illegal campaign activities.

Sodemann it would appear, is attempting to shut down "conservative" or "liberal" free speech by seeking the private emails of a public sector worker without just cause, as opposed to the mountains of evidence pointing to criminal activity from Walker's first John Doe investigation. No relationship of course, but an interesting note I thought worth mentioning.

Whatever his deeper intentions, Sodemann's actions appear first as a vindictive political retaliatory strike against the union rep's recent discovery of obstruction and possible cover-up at school administrative offices and not as some random citizen's inquiry to keep things honest as written up by the Janesville Gazette.

That's not all. In what appears as the second leg of the district's two-pronged approach to further degrade the whistleblower, the clerk who originally accepted the nomination papers of the four candidates running for the school board, only to have two rejected later after thorough inspection, has filed a restraining order against the representative.

The Janesville school board will hold a regular meeting this Tuesday night. The union representative plans to attend and hopes the board will address Superintendent Schulte's executive involvement and conduct in the apparent cover-up. This could get more interesting.

Personally, I find the school board commissioner's and the clerk's action reflexive of the state's top-down divisiveness and regressive direction set by none other than Gov. Scott Walker. Wisconsin missed a great opportunity in November to turn the page on Scott Walker and rid itself of his cynical punitive style of "collaboration." Instead, we have political cold war tactics digging itself deeper in Wisconsin communities for the long term.

Welcome to the new normal.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gee, Democrats. You Had To Save Republicans From Themselves?


CapTimes Excerpt:
A fundraiser for Wisconsin Assembly Republicans scheduled for Wednesday evening was canceled Wednesday afternoon after Democrats noted the event violated the lawmaking body's rules.

The Republican Assembly Campaign Committee was set to hold a "speed networking" fundraiser scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at the Madison Concourse hotel, during which donors would be given brief one-on-one time to chat with lawmakers. Think speed dating, but with lobbyists and politicians.

Knowing in advance state Republicans would be in violation of ethics rules had they proceeded, you had to play cop and couldn't keep it to yourselves until after 5 p.m. and then let the social media world know of your findings and filing with an actionable GAB complaint?

You just know republicans would have done the same for you, especially since they threatened you with arrest when you went missing during the Act 10 ramming session in 2011.

Whose side are you on?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Reminder: Janesville Forum With Sly On Right To Work For Less


The Rock County Progressives present an educational forum:

Sly Sylvester on the "The Right to Work For Less"

How so-called "Right to Work" Laws hurt unions and all working people.

Speaker:
"Sly" Sylvester, talk radio host 3-6:30 PM M-F on WEKZ 93.7 FM/ 1380 AM podcasting at Sly's Office: http://www.slysoffice.com/

When:
*Wednesday, January 21, 2015
6 PM-6:30 PM cheese & cracker reception (nonalcoholic potluck)
6:30 PM- 7:45 PM, speaker & discussion

* NOTE: This is the 3rd Wednesday NOT 2nd Wed as we usually schedule!!

Where:
**Basics Food Cooperative
1711 Lodge Drive
Janesville, Wisconsin

** This is an independent event not affiliated with Basics

Directions: from Madison route 90 until 1st Janesville exit, south on Route 26 past route 14, look for Toys R Us on the right, right on Lodge Drive, on right across from Toys R Us.

The Community Room is to the left when you come in. RockCountyProgressives.org, also on Facebook

Monday, January 19, 2015

School Board Candidates Insufficient Petitions Are Minor Compared To Activity That Ensued


The Janesville Gazette posted what I refer to as their editorial "follow-up" in their campaign to marginalize the AFSCME representative who recently discovered potentially disqualifying errors on school board candidates nominating petitions.

JG Editorial Excerpt:
This disturbing situation arose after an AFSCME Council 40 representative challenged the paperwork. That the union, which represents not teachers but support staff, sought to oust both candidates suggests it didn’t share their views on issues.

They are correct that a disturbing situation arose "after" discovery of insufficient paperwork, but there's no proof the union sought to oust both candidates.

But since when is making sure everyone is following the same rules become so scorned or labeled as politically motivated? What about the folks who follow the rules? Is it fair to them that their opponents nearly qualified without following the same standards?

JG Editorial Excerpt:
Absent formal challenges, might insufficient paperwork have been accepted in past elections? Schulte told us she would have no way of knowing but added, “The assistant board clerks I have worked with are very precise and detail oriented.”

So why was the assistant board clerks "precision" different this time around? And, why was the union's reps apparent attention to details so scorned and rejected?

JG Editorial Excerpt:
“It’s an unfortunate incident for two good people trying to do good things for their community—and yet the union has a clear interest in keeping them off the ballot,” Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler told us by email. “I hate to call it a game of ‘gotcha,’ but for lack of better words … ”

Here they go again. They paint this as a problem started by the union. Apparently, it's the union rep's discovery and report of doctored and/or insufficient nomination petitions that is the problem - not the suspect petitions or the bizarre activity that followed to clean them up.

The fact that the Gazette views the union rep's motivation as political conversely implies the strong possibility that they (the Gazette) are projecting political motivations of their own to shield those involved.

At this point, it's not wrong to believe that the nominating petition infractions discovered and reported by the AFSCME Rep are indeed disqualifying, but minor and possibly even forgivable compared to the activity that followed from both the superintendent to block his effort and the Gazette's to marginalize his character, followed by a second effort by the Gazette to whitewash the superintendent's involvement in this story.

To them, it's as if they did no wrong and it's this politically motivated absence-of-truth-in-reporting that is something we've seen in Janesville far too often. For people who continually refer to themselves as professionals, their role in this episode was unacceptable.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Union Rep Uncovers Web Of Deceit In Janesville School District/Media


When I first read the story about a union rep checking Janesville school board candidate nomination petitions and finding two petitions not meeting state statute requirements for the ballot, I was impressed. For one, it's good to know that someone is paying attention to candidate signature petitions for local elective offices. With the establishment press (Janesville Gazette) constantly running cover for the status norm, much is taken for granted and there are far too many unchecked unknowns going on in Janesville city government, school administration and county offices.

But then a bomb fell. The Gazette posted an online story title the next day reporting that the union rep caused a big enough disturbance at school administration offices that police had to be called in to remove him. Then I thought, it figures. Why does it seem that after a union rep scores a touchdown ...he then spikes the ball, causes a commotion and gets kicked out of the game. But wait ...that is not what happened at all.

According to the story as told by the Union Rep, Dennis Hughes, what began as a routine review of Janesville school board candidate petitions turned into an active conspiracy to deceive him with doctored documents and false statements, then malign him as a "safety" precaution and finally intimidate him with arrest. Whew! All THAT from checking a few local school board petitions? Well, unfortunately. Yes.

I admit I was skeptical at first, but when I heard Hughes excitedly articulate his story during an interview with Yuri Rashkin and explain his observations with sound reasoning and a timeline, it all fell into place.

In conclusion, the Union Rep believes that if Janesville School Superintendent Dr. Karen Schulte doesn't resign, she should be fired.

Although the Hughes interview below is 45 minutes long, it is fast-moving and cram-packed with all sorts of interesting bits of information. So if you're concerned about what's going on with the folks running our school district - this one is for you.

Listen in:



Check Out News Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Janesville Community Radio 2

Monday, January 12, 2015