Blaska's Blog: double wrapped for your protection.
Years ago, a Belleville civic club would drag an old Plymouth onto the lake in town and sell guesses as to when the hunk-a-junk would fall through the ice.
Blaska's Blog offers this contest: when will Brenda Konkel and, thus, Progressive Dane fall out of love with Paul Soglin? I predict it will be soon.
I don't mean to queer the man with his normal constituency but my old adversary is starting to make sense. Blue dress shirt open at the collar and sleeves rolled to just below the elbows, Hizzoner spoke in a room full of business people at the Dane County Council on Public Affairs. It was early Wednesday morning at the Brink Lounge and Paul Soglin looked tired.
He started out by promising to smile once and I think he did, briefly. He allowed as to how "I enjoy the work" but that the city's fiscal house in disorder.
Heads nodded when Soglin said the City has "an attitude" toward development. His case in point; T.Wall's Commerce and Industry Center. The City put a floor under what Wall can sell the land for that a depressed real estate market cannot support. Paul will ask the Council to lower that floor; he wants taxable improvements sooner rather than later.
Will a common council shorn of common-sense Alds. Shoemacher, Sanborn, Brandon and Compton spite the outspoken Terrence Wall who, after all, was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate? Soglin didn't say, he hinted his fears.
Soglin opened the door a crack to joint services like police and fire with suburbs. He admitted his previous policy of annexation or nothing has yielded the latter not the former.
He marveled that the City would buy a shopping mall (the Villager) for double its $4.5 million appraised value. He said the capital borrowing budget will consume one of every five dollars in five years as those loans come due.
He said the City will be "unwavering" in fighting street violence; growing jobs, he said, will help.
More union concessions?
Except that the City of Madison is looking at laying off 38 police and 27 firefighters. That does not compute.
Soglin defended public sector workers as underpaid, when compared to the national average. That -- and the fairness or unfairness of Scott Walker's Act 10 union reforms -- is beside the point. A new Kia costs less than the average used Porsche 911 but I can't afford to buy either, right now.
The fact is that the City of Madison under Dave Cieslewicz rushed, literally, to throw money at its unionized employees during the Siege of the Capitol before getting their shared revenue figures from the state but knowing well and good that those numbers would be lower, not higher.
Soglin hinted that he has made overtures to the unions for further concessions. Will they throw their union brothers and sisters under the bus or will they share the pain?
Long-term, Madison may get a taste of Beloit. That's my phraseology, not his. The mayor was talking about the decreased earning power of Madison's public sector-heavy workforce due to the increased health insurance and pension contributions. He put the average decrease at 8% and those smaller electronic deposits hit the banks for the first time this Thursday (in state government, at least). That will translate into lower sales tax collections as buying power diminishes over the next few years.
I don't have the average decrease for City of Madison employees but it has got to be less than 8 percent. The City rush job on February 17 gave city unions a 3 percent pay increase this year and another 2 percent next year -- with NO health insurance or pension givebacks. No wonder the unions sang happy birthday to Mayor Dave.
Cieslewicz later renegotiated that to a 2% at the end of this year and requiring a 50% contribution to retirement benefits starting only next January. Only in 2013 would employees be required to contribute toward their health benefits, as state employees already are.
As then Council President Mark Clear told this blogge after the February 17 extension: "Labor peace is expensive."
So is capitulation.
A moratorium on common sense
County Board chairman Scott McDonell is a decent fellow but, I swear, he is getting goofier by the month. A while back he proposed a two-year moratorium on development (unless it is in-fill). This is pure Sierra Club-style Falk-ism at work. Speaking of "work," do you want to tell the construction trades that their recession just got worse?
In any event, the Capital Area Regional Planning Committee (aka CARPC) would have none of it. A motion proposing a moratorium on urban service agreements at the August 11 meeting went nowhere.
Platinum subscriber bonus grab bag:
- Harvard econprof Robert J. Barro looks for evidence that Keynesian economics work (Hat tip to Ann of Althouse):
"There are two ways to view Keynesian stimulus through transfer programs. It's either a divine miracle - where one gets back more than one puts in - or else it's the macroeconomic equivalent of bloodletting. Obviously, I lean toward the latter position, but I am still hoping for more empirical evidence." -- Wall Street Journal 8-23-2011.May I suggest another possibility? It's like Churchill's man in a bucket trying to lift himself up.
- Darn! I did not originate this quote and I can't find the link but some wag said of former Enron adviser and NY Times scold Paul Krugman that Tuesday's earthquake was a start but wasn't big enough.
- This just in: Seven self-indulgent liberals decide to throw a tantrum for a few hours at U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's office to the delight of hyperbolic Lefty bloggers.
The Ryan Seven will continue occupation as long as necessary -- Post by Jesse Russell on 8/18/2011 at 4:10pm
Ryan Seven end occupation out of respect for police -- Post by Jesse Russell on 8/18/2011 at 5:17pm