Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Know Thine Enemy

In the comments section of a Racine Post article on KRM, read it here, author Dustin Block wrote:

"The problem is the people with the loudest voices don't benefit from KRM. They have cars and jobs, don't live off of State Street in Racine, and have little interest in the city's future success. Meanwhile, people with the most to gain can't organize their voice into a cohesive message, or aren't willing to take the risk."

I think Dustin Block is wrong insofar as the loudest voices are calling for KRM, such as the Journal Times, the Johnson Companies, the mayor and most Racine politicians as well as the Racine Post. I also think he is wrong in assuming that the poor in Racine will benefit from KRM.

But what is most striking to me is Block's self proclaimed omniscience about people who have cars and jobs and don't live near State Street. If your one of them, and you oppose KRM, then you obviously - to Block anyway - have little interest in the future success of Racine. You obviously don't care about the people living near State Street, who are, in many cases, black.

It must be wonderful to have the ability to read the thoughts of other people, even massive numbers of people whom you don't even know. I don't have that ability, sadly. But Block does. As a result, he needn't bother confronting their actual concerns and objections to KRM. He knows what is in their hearts; selfishness and racism I can safely infer. Stated concerns about cost overruns, high taxes, inflated ridership and development projections etc... are really just a socially acceptable "code" for "We got ours and we don't care what happens to the poor black people."

I think Dustin Block is well intentioned but mistaken in his KRM advocacy. But Block is not so charitable towards you or I. Not only are we wrong, but we are bad people with sinister motives. You may not know that about yourself, but Block knows you better than you know yourself.


Anonymous said...

I wanted to respond but think I have writer's Block.

Downtown Brown said...

Dustin the reason those with the "loudest voices" Don't want to build you a train is because we know YOU can't and WE can't afford it.

It simply isn't needed in a community our size. I don't see you advocating for Beloit, or LaCrosse or Appleton to get a choo choo, are you somehow not compassionate to them? You also must realize by now that METRA would love to have Wisconsin build this silly little rail line so they can shut down the Waukegan to Kenosha line..and then Wisconsin will be forced to pay to run that stretch too. If we don't run it our KRM line and at least connect it to Chicago it will be even more useless than currently proposed.

In Fact if I was METRA as soon as the KRM was done I would cut services North one station every year and each year the people of Wisconsin would be forced to pay for the extended service, and the huge subsidy.

But for the record I didn't see this n the front page of the J Times, so I thought I should share it: I actually saw a BICYCLE on the front of a bus the other day!!! I see buses go by every day dozens of times..and the was the FIRST time I saw a Bicycle!! Film at eleven!

Dustin said...

Hi Dennis, KRM is an opportunity for Racine to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to extend a commuter rail system that will link the city to its neighboring communities. It will clearly benefit Racine.

The underlying issue is the city's relationship with Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant. The villages don't need KRM and won't directly benefit much from it. The reasoning goes: Why should we pay for a train that we won't use?

It's a fair question, if you're stuck on the idea of "train." This isn't about commuter rail. It's about outside investment that will spur development in Racine and make the city a more attractive place to live.

In retrospect, the city was much to easy on Mount Pleasant and Caledonia when it came to extending utilities outside of its borders. The villages and county now get the ability to grow and develop while paying lower property taxes. They also get to oppose KRM and resist paying for the library, zoo and art museums because, as they claim, they don't benefit.

Well, the city does benefit from those services, just like it would benefit from KRM. So, there are two opposing sides on this issue.

While it's a political talking point to say we need cooperation and consolidated services, we're actually headed to a big intergovernmental war as the city is strangled by its more prosperous neighbors. If the villages and county continue to oppose efforts to help Racine revitalize its inner city, city officials eventually will have to fight back. That won't be good for anyone.

Denis Navratil said...

Thanks for your response Dustin. Unfortunately, you didn't address my main point, that it is a bit unfair to ascribe motives to people who don't think KRM will be good for the community. I am not sure that the city is being strangled by its neighbors. Rather, the city's problems are largely self inflicted IMHO. KRM would only make matters worse for Racine.

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Back up Dustin - We in Caledonia were told the funds we're sending Racine as part of a rather honorous sewer agreement, IMHO, were to be used for the Library, museum, zoo, etc., in fact that stipulation is part of the agreement.

Since Gary Becker days, that money has mysteriously been diverted to other projects - I believe Denis could explain. I have asked on numerous occasions, at both city and county levels, for some accountability for an agreement that's obviously not being honored by the city.

Take you blame game and place it where it belongs - on the mayors you have in Racine who are not honoring their agreement - not the residents of Caledonia that entered an agreement in good faith.

Caledonia Unplugged said...

Sorry, Dustin, but some of your comments are unfounded and require even further rebuttal, now that I've calmed down a bit.

Please refer to a JT article,
Caledonia,City near sewer deal written by a young reporter named Dustin Block, acknowledging that Caledonia was indeed on board with the City's request for a "shared revenue system included in the proposal that would require outlying communities to pay for a portion of city services, such as the Racine Zoo, public library and Wustum Art Museum."

I'd also refer you to text from the actual 2002 Sewer Agreement (sections relating to this shared revenue can be found on pages 68-70.)

c. Payment to Racine with respect to the following subsidized regional cultural services and facilities that benefit the Anticipated Outlying Parties:
(1) The shortfall in Racine County funding for the Racine Public Library relating to the cost of serving the Anticipated Outlying Parties that are a city, village or town, in an amount not more than the amount determined in accordance with Section 8.2 or this Agreement.
(2) A share of the Racine subsidy for the Racine Zoological Gardens, in an amount not more than the amount determined in accordance with Section 8.3 of this Agreement; and
(3) A share of the Racine subsidy for the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, in an amount not more than the amount determined in accordance with Section 8.4 of this Agreement.

Aside from a mutually agreed upon (and IMHO, rather hefty) portion of the shared revenue to fund the sewer expansion, shared revenue for Wustum, the Library and the Zoo, Caledonia held to a development moratorium for quite some time during an economic and housing development boom to accommodate the City's requests. Who's to say what losses the village incurred as a result - losses that, given an economic downtown shortly after that agreement, will take years from which to recover. Have you been paying attention, Dustin, Caledonia isn't exactly rolling in dough.

Yet, you have the nerve to insinuate Caledonia citizens did not want to contribute to those city services. You further insinuate some perverted blame game on Caledonia because some of us (trust me, there are many misguided, mostly J-Wax employees/retirees in Caledonia that do support KRM) are not jumping up and down at the prospect of bending over and paying higher taxes to help fund a financially unsustainable boondoggle that even the proponents refuse to support with their own capital. Are you kidding me?!