Thursday, February 23, 2012

Letter to JT Editor

Yours truly has written a letter that appears in today's Journal Times. Here it is:

Is that really a ‘right?'
State Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, recently argued that Gov. Scott Walker deserves to be recalled because he has taken away people's rights.
Mason is not referring to the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the Declaration of Independence or of the rights delineated in the United States Constitution and the amendments.
Rather, he is bemoaning the curtailing of the privilege of collective bargaining granted to government employees unions.
These privileges included the power to compel membership among government employees, to forcibly remove money from their paychecks, and to have special powers to shape employment contracts in their favor. Note that the rest of us do not enjoy such "rights."
One wonders if Rep. Mason would vigorously defend my right to form a taxpayers union. Would he support legislation enabling me to compel membership upon all taxpayers, accepting without proof my assertion that all taxpayers would benefit from my representation? Would I enjoy the "right" to take money from the taxpayers with help from Mason? Would Mason casually accept the distorted political environment that resulted in me using the forcibly extracted money to remove him from office?
Denis Navratil

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cranley Discovers Use For Founders

I reprint Sean Cranley's letter to the Journal Times here in its entirety as it merits a few points for discussion:

Citizens, Burlington schools are under Tea Party assault with four TPs challenging incumbents John Anderson and Susan Kessler in the Feb. 21 board primary.
TPs are “taxpayers,” money-focused victims. “Citizens” pay dues for a civilized society. Public education provided by people of goodwill who built this country facilitated our success. They would have one requirement: Pass it on.
John Adams: “Laws for the liberal education of the youth, especially of the lower class of the people, are so extremely wise and useful, that to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.”
Thomas Jefferson: “I have indeed two great measures at heart, without which no republic can maintain itself in strength: 1. That of general education, to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom. 2. To divide every county into hundreds, of such size that all the children of each will be within reach of a central school in it.”
James Madison: “The liberal appropriations made by the Legislature of Kentucky for a general system of Education cannot be too much applauded. A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
Citizens, vote Tuesday for rational balance, not the extremist selfishness of the TP taxpayers.
Sean Cranley

Note that if you run for office with an agenda that differs from Sean's, it is now an assault. Is anyone actually fooled by such a nonsense argument? Sean makes no actual claims or arguments about their agenda. They are simply dismissed because of an alleged association with the Tea Party. Weak Sean, very weak.

Let's use Sean's playbook. Why would anyone be persuaded by the ranting of slave-owning, slave-raping, old, white, one percenters? Sean apparently yearns for the good old days on the plantation and the joys of raping slaves. Talk about extreme selfishness!

Even mimicking Sean's methods leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so I will take on his apparent argument. Everybody from the founders quoted to parties on either side of our present political divide recognize the importance of education for all children who desire an education. To suggest otherwise is simply dishonest. Certainly there are huge differences of opinion as to the best means to ensure an educated populace. My guess is that the founders quoted where not championing an increasingly federalized education system, overtly hostile towards Christianity, and run by unionized government employees. If Sean really thinks our founders would applaud our current public education system, well, he is even more deluded than I thought he was.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rights restored

Representative Cory Mason recently argued that the recall of Governor Walker is necessary because he took away people's rights, namely those belonging to government unions.

A stronger case can be made that Governor Walker has in fact restored rights. For example, people have a right to associate with whomever they wish, or, to not associate with whom they would rather not. But government workers were forced to be dues paying union members. Their rights have been restored.

Or how about the right to equal protection of the laws? In what sense are we protected equally in the political process when one and only one favored constituency - that is, government unions - gets a special seat at the table when negotiating with government? There are times I wish I could be part of a taxpayers union that forcibly withdrew money from the accounts of all taxpayers, that in turn funneled said money to promote conservative policies and politicians, that gained power to uniquely influence government in our favor etc.... and then I realize that that would be wrong. Governor Walker has restored an equal ability to petition government to all concerned parties.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tax Breaks for Thee but not for Me, or You

This post may not win me any popularity contests in downtown Racine and perhaps I shouldn't blog with steam coming out of my ears, but here goes.

The Journal Times has a story about a $5.5 million redevelopment of the Porters building that you can read here.

As Free Racine readers may know, I have noted numerous times over the years that the tax burden is so great in Racine that redevelopment is a very risky proposition without some tax breaks. I have advocated an incentive plan that would reduce the tax burden on property improvements for anyone wishing to improve their property, suggesting a tax break of five years or so. I called it a microTIF (TIF standing for tax incremental financing).

Here is the problem with the proposed Porters redevelopment. They are getting a 20 year break on taxes. Assuming our current tax of $25.47 (per thousand of property value) and the assessment of the Porters improvement of $5.5 million doesn't change over 20 years, the developers will save $2.8 million over twenty years (5500 X 25.47 X 20 = $2,801,700).

Now that is all well and good for the developers of Porters. For the record, I know and like Micah Waters and I hope my opposition to this sweetheart deal is not considered personal as I can assure you it is not.

As it happens, I have a ready comparison of redevelopment projects, the Porters project with my own that does not include a twenty year tax break. The bulk of the improvements at my property at 416 Main Street were for two residential units. After my improvements my property value increase was deemed to be about $300,000. That adds about $7,600 annually to my tax burden. Had I gotten the same deal and property tax rates and my property assessment remained constant, I would save over $150,000 over twenty years.

The Porters folks and building owners like me will be in the same business, competing for tenants. Because Porters won't have to pay property taxes on their $5.5 million improvement, they will save roughly $140,000 per year, or an average of about $3,255 per their 43 residential and retail units. This amounts to a $271 monthly advantage for Porters over the rest of us who are required to pay our taxes. This is a huge difference that will enable them to offer deals to renters while maintaining a healthy profit margin. By comparison again, had I the same deal with the city, I could lower my rent or pocket $317 per month per rental unit.

The bottom line is that taxes are too high for development to occur in Racine. While the city apparently recognizes that fact sporadically, the result is that well connected developers get great deals that virtually ensure financial success, while the rest of us get to pay the taxes.

I feel like a sucker.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Melding of Church and State

Separation of church and state is a cherished principle for progressives except when President Obama wants to dictate to the Catholic Church.

Brandt Discovers Right Wing Recall Plot

Former Journal Times Editor and current treasurer of the Committee to Recall Wangaard, Randolph Brandt, has discovered our vast right wing conspiracy to discredit the recall effort. Read all about it here.

Brandt is referring to the felony shenanigans of one Mark Demet. Demet was discovered by one Ken Brown (full disclosure:friend and co-right-wing-conspiritor) to have forged the signature of his own brother, multiple times, as well as his own mother, and some neighbors etc.... on recall Wangaard petitions. Brandt claims never to have heard of Demet but his committee nonetheless accepted his fraudulent petitions. But now it seems Brandt has discovered our plot.

According to the JT article, "Brandt questioned if possibly the man was intentionally trying to discredit the recall process by having relatives come forward and say they didn't sign."

Thank you Mark Demet for taking one for the conservative team! Well done on posing as a loopy liberal for all these years! You almost had me fooled. The cash we have promised can be found in the prearranged location and per your instructions. No doubt this will more than compensate for the hit you will take to your reputation, your record, and your pocketbook. I doubt you will see jail time, but if so we will surely see that you have ample supply of cigarettes. It was a heroic and selfless act Mark that will greatly help our cause. Thank you sincerely from me and from all your friends at the Committee to Discredit the Committee to Recall Wangaard.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


Remember global warming? Why aren't liberals constantly bringing up the subject anymore, especially as the whole country is enjoying a mild, or shall we say, warm, winter?

OK, there are still true believers out there, but the sane among the left are probably a bit embarrassed for having bit on that issue. But they are not about to publicly announce a change of view, as that would be too embarrassing for most. Rather, they are just going to ignore the "issue" and hope it goes away. Kind of like those people who fell for the hopey changey Obama stuff the first go around.

A Wall Street Journal letter writer, one Irwin Romaner, makes an excellent point. The true believers argue that global warming is real and therefor their policy preferences must be followed. Romaner disagrees as follows:

Even if climate change is real and human caused, the global-warming argument rests and falls on a much broader set of assumptions:quantitatively serious global warming is in fact taking place and will continue to take place; global warming is a bad thing; it is entirely or mostly human caused; it is within "our" (the U.S. and Western Europe but not India and China's) technological capability to substantially fix the problem; and, it can be fixed cost-effectively. Every one of these assumptions is very much open to question, and if any one of them is answered in the negative, the whole global warming enterprise falls apart.

As I contemplate assumption #2 - global warming is all bad - and a vigorous bike ride in February in Wisconsin, well, a part of me wishes the lukewarmers were right.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

On Proof and Election Fraud

Sean Cranley seems to think I am dodging him on the voter ID issue. Not so Sean. The thing is, like most issues, we see them very differently. You would like to believe that voter fraud is virtually non-existant, hasn't been proven to be a problem to your satisfaction and is therefore unnecessary. I on the other hand don't view "proof to Sean's satisfaction" as the standard before proceeding with legislation. As a lifelong observer of human nature, I find it incredible that anyone would believe that voter fraud wouldn't occur. So the same people willing to slash the tires of vans lined up to take Republicans to the polls wouldn't vouch for the identity of someone willing to vote for a Democrat? The dead never voted in Chicago? Republicans, whom you otherwise regard with unconcealed scorn, are greedy power hungry sob's, no, they won't cheat will they Sean? Look at the article in today's Journal Times Sean. It appears as though a Dem is in a bit of trouble for forging the signature of his own brother and mother in the recall Wangaard effort. But he wouldn't cheat in an actual election, right Sean?

So Sean and I disagree. How do we resolve such issues in a representative government? We elect representatives who in turn vote for legislative changes. We have done so and now we have a reasonable law that requires a valid ID for voting purposes. The law makes it as easy as possible to comply with the law. Similar laws have survived legal challenges. So there you have it.

But Sean wants proof of a problem. Though I doubt he has the same standard for other legislation. For example, despite liberals protestations, man made global warming hasn't been proven, nor has it been proven to be a problem on balance if true, but somehow I doubt Sean required proof before jumping on that bandwagon.

And finally, why must we adopt your standard Sean? Why don't you prove that voter fraud doesn't occur? Prove that Dem operatives throughout the state are not rounding up volunteers to drive around to various polling stations to vote multiple times. Prove it ain't so Sean.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Rampant Racism Indeed

Random thoughts on the Parkside hate crime stories and the JT coverage of said stories.

For those of you who have missed the stories, check out the JT on line for the last few days. In a nutshell, the JT reported hate crimes at Parkside, including two noose incidents and a list of black people who were going to die in a day or two. Oops, it turns out that the incidents were perpetrated by a black female student at Parkside reportedly wanting to bring attention to the problem of racism.

Kind of like raping someone to bring attention to the problem of rape. Or selling guns to violent drug lords to bring attention to the problem of gun violence.

The Journal Times had a collective leg tingle at the prospect of writing a story about threats to black people. If you want attention, there is no better way to get it unless you stop giving money to Planned Parenthood.

Watch the JT slowly slink away from this story now that the perpetrator has been found to be black. The slinking began today with a below-the-fold story that claims racism is still a problem at Parkside, despite the "hoax."

About that hoax thing. Is a threat suddenly transformed into a "hoax" if committed by a black person? Does a threat remain a hate crime if the perpetrator is white? The underlying crime, threatening black people, is still the same.

Would the police, the university, and the media be so careful in withholding the name of the perpetrator if he/she were white? They want to protect her they say. Wow, if someone threatened to kill me and the police knew who it was, I think I ought to have that information, you know, for my own protection.

If someone is arrested, it is public information, is it not? Can we conclude that the perpetrator has not been arrested? Are there two standards of justice depending on race? What is it called when officials treat one race better than another? I think that is called institutional racism.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Beer Summit

The fourth annual Free Racine beer summit will be held at the Ivanhoe in downtown Racine next Wed, Feb 8th, at 7 pm until whenever. All are welcome.