Marc Eisen has already pointed this out in his column in the September 24 Isthmus but I don't know if there was enough outrage.
We've been reading about the proposed Edgewater Hotel expansion fueled by $16 million in tax incremental financing that the mayor and the biz community are advocating. As Eisen points out, the proposed roof garden duplicates what's already available at James Madison Park and the UW Memorial Student Union - great access to Lake Mendota. And what kind of extra jobs would the hotel expansion provide? Largely, table busing jobs and parlor maids.
For one-fiftieth of that TIF subsidy - $300,000 - Madison could get 30 new biotech jobs paying up to $23 an hour? Seems like a no-brainer but then, you're dealing with the no-brain Madison Common Council.
Yet that was the proposal of a company called Danisco USA, which is the Danish-owned proprietor of the old Marschall dairy lab.
"It seems pretty lunatic to me, but the council wasn't satisfied the company met the 'but for' requirement," Eisen tells me. The "but for" thing exists when a project would not happen but for the TIF.
"My take is that the city was exceedingly wrongheaded," Eisen says. "How smart is it to spend $16 million on TIF to create housekeeping and table-bussing jobs at a hotel versus $300,000 on a tech company originally founded in Madison that employs professionals and has blue collar jobs paying hourly wages of $16 to $23? I don't get it. The city has to stop hitting itself in the head with a hammer."
According to an analysis by Madison economic development director Tim Cooley, the economic impact of the Danisco project for Madison over the next several years is $43- to $52 million, including 20 to 40 new jobs during the first phase.
"The issue is that the company doesn't have to do it here. It's considering a number of sites around the country," Cooley writes.
The Edgewater currently employees 100 people and would add maybe 50 more with the expansion.
Do not think this is an idle threat:
Cooley explains, in a memo to the Madison Common Council : "An expansion of operations took place earlier this year. Danisco USA had wanted to make this investment in Madison but chose, instead, to make it in Rochester after concluding that the implementation timeframe and permitting process in Madison would take longer and be more arduous from a management time-perspective impacting its production schedule."
Iowa's governor broke ground on a Danisco facility in Cedar Rapids on September 16.
Here's the irony: Madison has 5 to 6 industrial, job-producing TIF loans and 68 housing project TIFs.
It's also worth understanding what tax incremental financing does. Cooley explains it: "A common misconception is that TIF is 'taxpayer money being paid out.' That's not accurate. The way TIF works is that a loan is made for the investment and is paid off by additional property tax (the increment) from new building and assessed additions (real and personal property) within the Tax Incremental District (TID). Without the new development, the taxpayer would be getting nothing additional and would be net neutral. TIF, used correctly, adds additional benefits (financial, jobs, and strategic).
Do Unions make you stupid?
My friends at the Wisconsin Club for Growth have this:
You have to hand it to public employee unions. They know how to stay focused. They know how to pay attention to their objectives and put aside any distraction. Of course, single-minded concentration can have its downside: You might not see what's coming your way.
Take, for instance, Dane County, where public employee unions have taken to the airwaves with an advertising campaign to rally public support for the union cause. Trouble is the union cause might be a tough sell even for the liberal denizens of Madison.
Union radio ads, run by my old friends at the Sheriff's Deputies union are telling Dane County residents to contact their elected officials and ask them to reject a proposed five percent pay cut for county workers. Club for Growth continues:
It seems even arch-liberal county executive Kathleen Falk can recognize the reality that there's a limit to how hard government can squeeze taxpayers. The alternative to pay reductions is said to be layoffs of as many as 100 of the county's 2,200 workers.
But the unions are having none of this reactionary nonsense, helpfully explaining that the only reason pay reductions are being proposed is that the Falk administration-are you ready for this?-has kept the county tax levy too low!
The Kathleen isn't that much different from Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who proposed a budget that:
- Reduces base pay by 3 percent across the board;
- Eliminates salary step increases for all employees;
- Requires employee contributions to pension costs equivalent to 5 percent of each employee's salary; and,
- Increases employee contributions for health-care coverage to 15 percent of the premium equivalent.
Walker noted in his budget address last Thursday that the county workforce has been trimmed by more than 20 percent since 2002.
I note this because on Thursday, the first day of October, is a rally for more spending featuring all the usual suspects: Arlene Silveira (Madison School Board), John Hendrick (Dane Co. Supervisor), Peter Rickman (President of the TAA) and Jim Cavanaugh from the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL). It's at the State Street corner of the State Capitol at 5 p.m.
I will be very surprised if it attracts even a fraction of the tea party protests. Rallying for higher taxes is so yesterday, even for Madison.
I've got a better deal for you! Americans for Prosperity is sponsoring its 3rd Annual Defending the American Dream Summit in Washington, DC this Friday, October 2nd and Saturday, October 3rd. For details on program and registration click here.
ACTUAL CRAIG'S LIST PERSONALS AD
To the Guy Who Tried to Mug Me in Downtown Savannah night before last. Date: 2009-05-27, 1:43 a.m. E.S.T.
I was the guy wearing the black Burberry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives. You also asked for my girlfriend's purse and earrings. I can only hope that you somehow come across this rather important message.
First, I'd like to apologize for your embarrassment; I didn't expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket. The evening was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason.
My girlfriend had just bought me that Kimber Model 1911 .45 ACP pistol for my birthday, and we had picked up a shoulder holster for it that very evening. Obviously you agree that it is a very intimidating weapon when pointed at your head ... isn't it?!
I know it probably wasn't fun walking back to wherever you'd come from with that brown sludge in your pants. I'm sure it was even worse walking bare-footed since I made you leave your shoes, cell phone, and wallet with me. [That prevented you from calling or running to your buddies to come help mug us again]. After I called your mother, or "Momma" as you had her listed in your cell, I explained the entire episode of what you'd done. Then I went and filled up my gas tank as well as those of four other people in the gas station, -- on your credit card. The guy with the big motor home took 150 gallons and was extremely grateful!
I gave your shoes to a homeless guy outside Vinnie Van Go Go's, along with all the cash in your wallet. [That made his day!] I then threw your wallet into the big pink "pimp mobile" that was parked at the curb ... after I broke the windshield and side window and keyed the entire driver's side of the car.
Later, I called a bunch of phone sex numbers from your cell phone. Ma Bell just now shut down the line, although I only used the phone for a little over a day now, so what 's going on with that? Earlier, I managed to get in two threatening phone calls to the DA's office and one to the FBI, while mentioning President Obama as my possible target. The FBI guy seemed really intense and we had a nice long chat (I guess while he traced your number etc.).
In a way, perhaps I should apologize for not killing you ... but I feel this type of retribution is a far more appropriate punishment for your threatened crime. I wish you well as you try to sort through some of these rather immediate pressing issues, and can only hope that you have the opportunity to reflect upon, and perhaps reconsider, the career path you've chosen to pursue in life. Remember, next time you might not be so lucky. Have a good day!
Thoughtfully yours, Alex
P.S. Remember this motto ... An armed society makes for a more civil society!