Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Clarity Needed

Mayoral candidate John Dickert has a letter to the Racine JT editor today wherein he seeks to clarify his position about inpecting Racine properties when they sell. Dickert states that the proposed ordinance would not be aimed at residential properties. Instead, his plan "deals with the multifamily slum properties that seem to be growing in Racine." However, Dickert adds "I have made it very clear that if you are a good landlord or tenant, you will not be affected by my proposal."

I want more clarity. Who will decide which landlords are good and which are bad? I want to see the ordinance that tries to define a "good" landlord or a "slumlord."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On Advancing a Freedom Agenda

What is the best approach to take in advancing a freedom agenda in Racine? Is it to elect leaders who will protect and expand the freedoms that have been gradually taken from us? Or is grass roots issue driven activism a better idea?

I am beginning to think that the latter is a better idea. For starters, let us face the facts. We have elected exactly zero individuals who are looking out for the freedom of individuals in Racine. Our alderman respond to political pressure only with little if any regard for the rights of individuals. It is easy, politically, to disregard the rights of individuals, one victim at a time.

An active and committed group could provide political support, one issue at a time, to those individual victims of government excess. If a group, looking out for the rights of individuals, began to have success here and there, it could be a force to be reckoned with. Additionally, members of such a group could then run for office and point to actual achievements. And the electorate, seeing exactly what a candidate has pursued and accomplished, will have a better idea of how a candidate may perform in office.

Or, to put this all another way, I am beginning to think that we have to create the demand for better representation, one issue at a time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Community Organizer Needed

In my last thread I wrote that at some point we will need to fight for our freedom here in Racine. And Colt has invited me to do just that, regarding Racine's new liquor license policy. I have had a few days to mull this over.

My concern with a political fight in Racine is that the Racine aldermen respond only to political pressure. Forget about reasoned arguments, appeals for property rights, individual rights, the constitution etc.... it is all about pressure. On the alcohol licensing issue it seems that we would be facing the seemingly odd alliance of Focus on the Family and the Tavern League, both of whom apparently supported this ordinance. Can we get a large enough mob - remember this has nothing to do with sound arguments - to influence the city council? If we can't get a big enough, angry enough mob organized, we will just embarass ourselves.

What we need is a first rate community organizer. Any volunteers?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Liquor Lunacy

Racine's new liquor ordinance requires license applicants to prove that their establishment will "substantially improve the tax base."

Yes, the city has outlawed moderate and incremental improvements to the tax base. If you aren't going to sell a *!%#load of liquor, don't waste their time.

Rather than have would-be business owners prove that they will generate enough taxes to sate the insatiable, our aldermen should have to prove that vacant commercial properties generate more in taxes than those buildings housing viable businesses.

And a slightly tangential point. Note that the purpose of business, as evidenced by this ordinance, is to generate funds for the city. For all you saps like me that thought you were self employed, hah! You work for them now.

At some point we will need to fight for our freedom in this city.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

City Council Power Grab

I don't even know where to begin in criticizing Racine's new liquor ordinance. But let us start with the facts. The ordinance, which passed last night with only aldermen Shields and Coe dissenting, pertains only to establishments that sell liquor for off premises consumption. In other words, it does not apply to bars and restaurants. New establisments would need to be at least 1000 feet from another establishment and 300 feet from any place predominantly attended by those under the age of 21, including schools and churches. The total number of such establishments shall not exceed 60, though there are presently 66 in the city. And finally, license applicants "will have to show that they will substantially improve the city's tax base and have a greater impact than simply adding another convenience store" according to the JT article on the subject. A two thirds vote of the city council would be needed to circumvent the new rules.

Or, in other words, do not even think about opening a convenience store or grocery store in the city of Racine without seriously sucking up to the city council.

The first casualty of the new ordinance is one Caroline Chun who had wanted to open a convenience/liquor store on 6th Street. Start grovelling Ms Chun.

6th Street was at one time the recipient, or victim, of the city's attempt to create an arts district. The city's micromanagement of 6th Street as the Heart of the Arts has been an obvious failure. But their latest venture, called the Vacant Building Initiative, is off to a great start.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Free Campaign Advice

John Dickert has a plan. Like most people, I suspect, I don't know what it is nor am I inclined to find out. But I know it is a ten year plan.

If I were Bob Turner, I would immediately announce an eleven year plan. I would then denounce Dickerts short term strategies while stressing the importance and superiority of a long term vision for Racine.

On Racine's Tea Party

In my ten or so years living in Racine as an adult, I have been to countless rallies, town hall meetings, council meetings, listening sessions, public hearings etc... but Saturday, at Racine's Tea Party, was the first time I felt a connection to and general agreement with the fellow attendees. It was a good feeling.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Downward Spirals

I was listening to a pro-KRM/RTA radio program the other day on WRJN. One of the interviewees argued that local transit is in a downward spiral. Costs have gone up and local revenue is down. This is followed by service cuts and fare increases, which results in fewer riders and less revenue, which is followed by service cuts and fare increases etc...

OK, if liberals can understand this spiral, why can't they understand the tax increase spiral. Government takes our money to provide services that we don't need. Because they take so much, we have little left to spend or invest. With less investment, we have less growth, less jobs and more "need" for government "help". So government comes to the rescue, taking more and more from the productive and rediricting the money to the people in need. The productive become less so, tthey either create less wealth to tax or they get frustrated with diminishing opportunity and they leave for a friendlier economic climate. Meanwhile, word gets out that Racine government will take care of your needs. More needy people show up. More productive people head out, less tax revenue is generated etc...

I agree that there is a downward spiral with respect to transit. I think it reflects the fact that the vast majority of people don't want it. But there is also a downward spiral in Racine with respect to taxes. Why don't liberals seem to understand the downward spiral caused by high taxes?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Informed Decisions

The Regional Transit Authority wants you to make an informed decision about transit, or at least that is what their flyer says. You be the judge.

According to the RTA, KRM will raise property values and create 4,700 construction jobs with a $560 million impact on the local community. KRM will reduce traffic congestion and reduce pollution. Furthermore, the RTA suggests that KRM will provide property tax relief.

This sounds great I have to admit.

Now I invite you to make an informed decision about smoking crack. When you smoke crack, you are the life of the party. You will feel energized and euphoric. Crack smokers tend to lose weight. Smoking crack is an environmentally friendly activity compared to eating hamburgers. Crack smoking creates jobs and valuable business experience for young entrepreneurs. And recent studies suggest that sustained crack usage will often completely eliminate problems associated with old age.

Make an informed decision and enjoy some crack today!

Closing Gaps

The easiest way to close achievement or wealth gaps is to discourage achievement and wealth.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Tim Sullivan, chief executive of Bucyrus (Milwaukee Journal commentary, Sunday, April 12) wants to hire "the best talent from within our communities" to help his growing company. His problem though, is that "a large portion of the region's employable population are unable to work in South Milwaukee because they can't get to work."

I am not buying the claim that a large percentage of the best talent in our communities can't get to South Milwaukee for a job. Perhaps they are just not that interested in a job that doesn't pay well enough for them to afford a car.


Racine Mayor Tom Friedel has made the preposterous claim that KRM will "connect our residents with the nearly one million jobs that currently exist within one mile of the proposed KRM stations."

Here is the problem. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (via Milwaukee 7 web site) there were only 640,000 jobs in all of Racine, Kenosha and Milwaukee counties in 2007.

To KRM supporters: Does the end, a train, justify the means, lying?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Turner vs Dickert

What is the difference between Democrat John Dickert and Democrat Robert Turner?

The most obvious difference is that Dickert is white and Turner black. And based on the election returns from the primary, it sure seems as though Dickert won the white vote while Turner won the black vote.

But besides race, what separates these two in the minds of voters?

I don't know, but I will suggest some possibilities and I hope others will chime in with their ideas.

Turner has held elected office for a long time. This can be an asset or a liability depending on what he did or didn't do in office. My guess is that Turner has done some things for some constituents or he wouldn't keep getting reelected. But who are they and what has he done for them? One vague clue is the rumor that unions will be plowing a sizeable amount of cash into the Turner campaign.

As for John Dickert. First, full diclosure. I have known John since grade school. I like John Dickert personally and so far as I am aware he is a good and decent person. My issues with Dickert are purely ideological, as they would be with Turner. Dickert has embraced just about every big government and big private sector scheme mentioned in Racine over the past few decades. Examples: Imaginarium, KRM, Point Blue, and some may recall the effort to turn the YMCA into a college for animation that would produce 20,000 jobs with a trillion dollar economic impact etc... OK, lets just say that Dickert can get caught up in grandiose schemes to save Racine. On the plus side for me at least, Dickert has had to earn some of his keep in business so he is not reflexively anti-business like so many on the left.

If I could, I would vote for John Dickert. And then I would hope that he would fail to grow the size of government.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Natural Born Tyrants

Several local second graders have all the answers to Racine's problems. The following are a sampling of their proposals, if they were mayor of Racine.

"If I was mayor, I would take all the smokes away from the stores and say no more smoking."

"If I was the mayor, I would make sure the gas prices were low..."

"If I were mayor, I would help people with problems and give free ice cream. Chuck E. Cheese will be free, and no smoking or you are going to jail."

"I would ban people from smoking in Racine. I don't want anyone to die if I was mayor. I want to take care of people."

Now my point here is not to poke fun at second graders. Rather, it is to poke fun at grown up liberals, if there is such a thing, because their political philosophy hasn't matured from the well intentioned, utopian thinking common among children. No wonder liberals keep wanting to lower the voting age.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Collusion or Partnership

A friend was telling me recently about an article that he read about the failure of the free market. To bolster his case perhaps, he noted that Henry Ford was once working with legislators to undermine the efforts to build railroads. If true, Ford was not engaging in free market activity. Rather he was colluding with government to protect his industry from competition. Or, to use more modern lingo, Ford and government officials were forming a public-private partnership.

Prediction for Mayoral Race

Certain to be wrong, but here it is anyway:

1) Dickert
2) Harding
3) Turner
4) Karas
5) Helding
6) Plache
7) Spangenberg
8) Shakoor
9) Hill-Driver
10) Fay
11) Charon

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Campaign Fun

I love local politics and I support Jody Harding for Mayor of Racine. Yesterday I ventured out for the first time, knocking on doors for Jody. I didn't even do this when I ran for Racine County Executive a few years back. So I was a bit apprehensive.

Some observations. The people were very nice, mostly. One lady admitted that she was confused as there were so many choices. I set out to help her. I asked what part of the political spectrum she was on. She said that she was a public school teacher and therefore liberal. I noted that she had many options, ten in fact, and that JH was probably not for her. I suggested John Dickert.

I met a retired city employee who seemed to enjoy talking. He indicated that it made little sense financially to continue working for the city. I suspect that he will get another job elsewhere and really rake it in for a while, enjoying a salary and a pension.

Not everyone was nice. One man congratulated me, sarcastically, when I introduced myself and indicated my support for Jody. He wouldn't take the informational flyer but he did take the time to tell me that I had interrupted a dinner, that he had guests, and that he was voting for Pete Karas. Another member of the tolerant left.

Media Lovefest for Obama

I caught a bit of Larry King and Chris Matthews last night as they and their guests discussed the Obama trip to London. All of them couldn't stop themselves from gushing at how beautiful Michelle Obama was, how brilliant were her fashion choices, how heartwarming it was to see a couple so obviously in love etc... and Chris Matthews couldn't quite catch himself in time... yes, he was starting to get that tingling sensation running up his leg again.

I wanted to puke. These people should be embarrassed to present this lovefest as news. And MO is not that good looking. BO is handsome, but MO, not so much. It would be fascinating to show and contrast the TV coverage of BO's first European trip with GW's first trip. Did they gush about how much the Bushes love one another, the attractiveness of Laura, her brilliant fashion decisions etc? Somehow I doubt it, but their must be some explanation other than media bias.