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Author Archive for JOHN ADAMS

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‘Innovation Center’ as Empty Rhetoric: “As a general term, innovation center doesn’t say anything specific to us, so we were from the start trying to understand what they meant by that” — Matt Jewell, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, writing of Foxconn’s chimerical ‘innovation’ centers.

Spot-on.

 

Daily Bread for 1.14.20

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy, with a high of thirty-nine.  Sunrise is 7:22 AM and sunset 4:45 PM, for 9h 22m 32s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 82.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred sixty-second day.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 6 PM

On this day in 1784, United States Congress of the Confederation ratifies the Treaty of Paris.

Recommended for reading in full —

David J. Lynch reports Trump’s trade deal with China won’t give many U.S. companies relief, as most tariffs will remain:

Nearly two-thirds of everything Americans buy from China will face tariffs, compared with less than 1 percent before the president began his anti-China campaign, according to an analysis.

Riccardo Torres reports Millions paid to advisers on Foxconn project:

Some consulting firms have already received thousands — and in one case, millions —of dollars working on the project for the state, Racine County and Mount Pleasant.

In total, among the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Racine County and the Village of Mount Pleasant, consultants and other firms have been paid more than $5.3 million from 2017 to October 2019.

Mount Pleasant has paid out the most, more than $3.6 million during that time period. Much of that money is related to work done to secure the land and infrastructure needed for the project.

….

According to documents obtained through open-records requests, in 2017 Kapur and Associates received $86,700 from Mount Pleasant. In 2018, it received $240,000; in 2019, through October, the firm had received $208,000.

That is a total of $534,700 from Mount Pleasant, and the total is growing.

….

Besides Kapur and Associates, Mount Pleasant has paid the law firm of von Briesen and Roper, S.C., $2.26 million in total since 2017. Alan Marcuvitz, attorney with von Briesen, has been working with the village on land acquisition for the village and other legal matters with Foxconn.

Mueller Communications LLC, communication consultant for the village on Foxconn, has received more than $684,000 since 2017.

Ehlers, Inc., financial adviser to the village on Foxconn, has received more than $114,000 from the village since 2017.

Since 2017, the county has paid Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, S.C., more than $575,000 for legal services; PFM received more than $259,000 for financial services; Quarles and Brady, LLP, received more than $138,000 for legal services; and Moody’s Corp., received $18,500 for financial services.

The county also paid more than $545,000 toward an underwriter discount related to bonding the county did on the project.

Since 2017, the state has paid Foley and Lardner, LLP, more than $177,000 for legal services; Baker, Tilly, Vircho, Krause, LLP received $16,500 for “third-party analysis;” and Display Supply Chain Consultants, LLC received $2,500 for a “display industry tutorial.”

Corrine Hess reports Foxconn Promised Wisconsin ‘Innovation Centers,’ But Hasn’t Yet Delivered:

Foxconn bought buildings in the cities’ downtowns, promising to employ hundreds of workers at each site. The company said it would recruit from nearby colleges.

Two years later, nothing has opened. And none of the 1,200 jobs have been filled.

The innovation centers themselves were vaguely explained as a place to foster entrepreneurship.

Matt Jewell, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, said he hoped his students could work at Foxconn. But he’s unclear what the company is doing.

“As a general term, innovation center doesn’t say anything specific to us, so we were from the start trying to understand what they meant by that,” Jewell said.

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Aside

Low unemployment isn’t worth much if the jobs barely pay: Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman highlight one of the failures of public subsidies for businesses in places like Whitewater — Low unemployment isn’t worth much if the jobs barely pay (article linked in today’s Daily Bread post). Subsidized job-creation in those circumstances is more political point than practical achievement.

Daily Bread for 1.13.20

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy, with a high of thirty-three.  Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:44 PM, for 9h 20m 56s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 90.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred sixty-first day.

Whitewater’s school board meets tonight at 5:45 PM

On this day in 1922, radio station WHA is first licensed as a broadcasting station, to the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison

Recommended for reading in full —

Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman write Low unemployment isn’t worth much if the jobs barely pay:

Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its Employment Situation report (better known as the “jobs report”) to outline latest state of the nation’s economy. And with it, of late, have been plenty of positive headlines—with unemployment hovering around 3.5%, a decade of job growth, and recent upticks in wages, the report’s numbers have mostly been good news.

But those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Are these jobs any good? How much do they pay? Do workers make enough to live on?

….

In a recent analysis, we found that 53 million workers ages 18 to 64—or 44% of all workers—earn barely enough to live on. Their median earnings are $10.22 per hour, and about $18,000 per year. These low-wage workers are concentrated in a relatively small number of occupations, including retail sales, cooks, food and beverage servers, janitors and housekeepers, personal care and service workers (such as child care workers and patient care assistants), and various administrative positions.

….

Two-thirds (64%) of low-wage workers are in their prime working years of 25 to 54.

More than half (57%) work full-time year-round, the customary schedule for employment intended to provide financial security.

About half (51%) are primary earners or contribute substantially to family living expenses.

Thirty-seven percent have children. Of this group, 23% live below the federal poverty line.

Less than half (45%) of low-wage workers ages 18 to 24 are in school or already have a college degree.

These statistics tell an important story: Millions of hardworking American adults struggle to eke out a living and support their families on very low wages.

Anna Wolfe and Michelle Liu report Think Debtors Prisons Are a Thing of the Past? Not in Mississippi:

Mississippi appears to be the only state where judges lock people up for an indefinite time while they work to earn money to pay off court-ordered debts. While there is no comprehensive data, legal experts who study fines, fees and restitution say Mississippi is unusual at the very least.

….

A handful of states experimented with restitution programs starting in the 1970s, but abandoned them as expensive and ineffective.

Not Mississippi. Judges have sentenced hundreds of people a year to four restitution centers around the state, almost always ordering them to stay until they pay off court fees, fines and restitution to victims, according to four years of government records analyzed by Mississippi Today and The Marshall Project.

People sent to the centers had been sentenced for felonies but didn’t commit violent crimes, according to the program rules. When we tracked down the cases of more than 200 people confined there on Jan. 1, 2019, we found that most originally got suspended sentences, meaning they did not have to go to prison.

Nearly 700,00 Set to Lose Food Stamps:

Film: Tuesday, January 14th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park, The Art of Racing in the Rain

This Tuesday, January 14th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of The Art of Racing in the Rain @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

(Comedy/Drama/Romance)
Rated PG; 1 hour, 49 minutes. (2019)

Dog lovers believe their canine family members understand language, comprehend events, have opinions, and can exude loyalty. Through his bond with his owner, a Formula 1 race car driver, golden retriever Enzo learns that the techniques needed on a racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life. Stars Milo Ventimiglia (of “This Is Us” TV series), Kevin Costner, and Amanda Seyfried.

One can find more information about The Art of Racing in the Rain at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.

Daily Bread for 1.12.20

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a high of thirty.  Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:43 PM, for 9h 19m 22s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 95.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred sixtieth day.

On this day in 1864, the 20th Wisconsin Infantry takes part in a battle in Matamoras, Mexico.

Recommended for reading in full —

The Lincoln Project rightly rejects a ‘MAGA Church’ as heretical:

  Conservative evangelical Michael Gerson writes Evangelicals need to follow Christianity’s morals, not Trump’s:

It is in this context [of Fox News as a combination of “social Darwinism and the Playboy philosophy, resulting in the survival of the scummiest”] that the recent commentary by Mark Galli in Christianity Today calling for President Trump’s removal from office should be read. Here, in contrast to Fox News, is an institution trying to use a specifically Christian lens to examine the president’s conduct in office. Galli argues that cheating to influence a presidential election is not merely a threat to the Constitution but also “profoundly immoral.” Trump’s lies and slanders on Twitter are “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.” The corruption and cruelty of the president and those around him have “rendered this administration morally unable to lead.”

….

From the perspective of Trump partisans, a less carnal version of the Ailes arrangement still applies. Evangelical Christians will be given rhetorical deference, White House access and judges and regulations of their liking. All they need to do is set aside their criticisms of cruelty, deception, misogyny, racism and contempt for the vulnerable. All they need to do is forget decency and moral consistency.

From the standpoint of committed evangelical Christians, the calculus should be more complex. Christians are called to be representatives of God’s kingdom in the life of this world. Betraying that role not only hurts the reputation of evangelicalism; it does a nasty disservice to the reputation of the Gospel. It is time, and past time, for Christian believers to listen to Christian sources on Christian social ethics, including the small, clear voice of Christianity Today.

See also from Gerson, Some white evangelicals are difficult to recognize as Christians at all.

Gavin Evans writes of The unwelcome revival of ‘race science’:

One of the strangest ironies of our time is that a body of thoroughly debunked “science” is being revived by people who claim to be defending truth against a rising tide of ignorance. The idea that certain races are inherently more intelligent than others is being trumpeted by a small group of anthropologists, IQ researchers, psychologists and pundits who portray themselves as noble dissidents, standing up for inconvenient facts. Through a surprising mix of fringe and mainstream media sources, these ideas are reaching a new audience, which regards them as proof of the superiority of certain races.

….

Although race science has been repeatedly debunked by scholarly research, in recent years it has made a comeback. Many of the keenest promoters of race science today are stars of the “alt-right”, who like to use pseudoscience to lend intellectual justification to ethno-nationalist politics. If you believe that poor people are poor because they are inherently less intelligent, then it is easy to leap to the conclusion that liberal remedies, such as affirmative action or foreign aid, are doomed to fail.

Protecting Pangolins From Poachers in South Africa:

Daily Bread for 1.11.20

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will see snow and sleet, with a daytime high of twenty-eight.  Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:41 PM, for 9h 17m 53s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 99.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred fifty-ninth day.

On this day in 1887, Aldo Leopold, environmentalist, professor at the University of Wisconsin, and author of A Sand County Almanac, is born.

Recommended for reading in full —

Katelyn Ferral reports Evers hires ombudsman to oversee sexual assault investigations in Wisconsin National Guard:

Gov. Tony Evers has hired a Georgia Army National Guard officer for a new position to assist survivors of sexual assault in the Wisconsin National Guard.

Evers announced Friday that Lt. Col. Brian Bischoff will serve as ombudsman for the Wisconsin Air and Army Guard. In this independent position, Bischoff will field concerns and facilitate communication regarding sexual assault investigations between the governor’s office and the National Guard.

The position is a federal one, and is being created for Wisconsin by the National Guard Bureau, a federal administrative agency that oversees Guard units nationwide. Bischoff will report to the state beginning next week, according to Evers’ office.

  Cori Hess reports Foxconn Scraps $5 Billion Plant in India:

Foxconn has scrapped plans for a $5 billion manufacturing plant in India, citing multiple economic factors.

Industries minister Subhash Desai confirmed to media outlets in India on Monday that the deal was dead. Foxconn signed a memorandum of understanding in 2015 to build the plant to make mobile phones and components and help create up to 50,000 jobs by 2020, according to the Times of India.

Analyst Alberto Moel, who until recently covered the Asian flat panel display industry from Hong Kong for a research firm, Sanford C. Bernstein, said he’s not surprised Foxconn pulled out of India.

“This is not the first time they’ve done this and the reasons they are giving are sensible,” Moel said. “They are in a tight spot and would rather not spend $5 billion in India.”

A proposed $1 billion manufacturing plant in Indonesia and a $30 million plant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, never materialized.

Patrick Marley reports Wisconsin Republicans block Trump’s primary opponents from the ballot:

Wisconsin Republicans blocked President Donald Trump’s GOP opponents Tuesday from appearing on the state’s primary ballot.

The move comes after Trump’s backers in other states have canceled their primaries, even though Trump has an easy path to winning his party’s nomination for a second term.

Two Republicans are mounting long-shot campaigns against Trump — former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld. Those candidates can go around Republican leaders to get on the Wisconsin ballot if they can gather thousands of signatures over the next three weeks.

Taeggan Goddard writes of Trump’s Middle Name:

Standing near the bar, Sherman ran into Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster, and the two started chatting. Sherman asked Luntz when he last saw the President. “Last week, at the White House Christmas party,” Luntz said. Sherman asked what the two men talked about, to which Luntz replied that he had asked Trump what his middle initial “J” stands for. “Genius,” Trump responded.

The Hype Over Quantum Computers, Explained:

Market-Hating Republicans Have Been a Local Problem for Years

George Will, writing in the Washington Post, observes that Josh Hawley sounds like he has far too much faith in government:

The sails of [Republican] Sen. Josh Hawley’s political skiff are filled with winds gusting from the right. They come from conservatives who think that an array of — perhaps most of — America’s social injuries, from addiction to loneliness — have been inflicted by America’s economy. Individualism, tendentiously defined, is the Missouri Republican’s named target. Inevitably, however, the culprit becomes capitalism, which is what individual freedom is in a market society’s spontaneous order.

In a November speech to like-minded social conservatives of the American Principles Project, Hawley said: “We live in a troubled age.” Not pausing to identify a prior, untroubled age, he elaborated: “Across age groups and regions, across races and income, the decline in community is undeniable. But it is not accidental.” Well.

Time was, Marxists’ characteristic rhetorical trope was “it is no accident” that this or that happened. As economic determinists, they believed that everything is explained by iron laws of economic development.

Josh Hawley is late to this anti-market orientation. Local and state Republicans (especially in Wisconsin) are veterans of intervening in the marketplace and directing public resources to their preferred private business recipients. The WEDC, Foxconn, and the Whitewater Community Development Authority have engaged in years of arrogant (and ineffectual) marketplace intervention. A local community development authority should have looked, this last decade, like more than a landlord’s ramshackle clubhouse. 

Long before the national GOP lost its way, local Republicans in places like Whitewater had abandoned sound theory for their own ludicrously unjustified sense of entitlement.

Daily Bread for 1.10.20

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy, with snow beginning in the evening, and a daytime high of thirty-eight.  Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:40 PM, for 9h 15m 04s of daytime.  The moon is full with 99.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred fifty-eighth day.

On this day in 49 BC, Caesar crosses the Rubicon (the frontier boundary of Italy) with only a single legion, the Legio XIII Gemina, and ignites a civil war.

Recommended for reading in full —

Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky report Justice Dept. winds down Clinton-related inquiry once championed by Trump. It found nothing of consequence:

A Justice Department inquiry launched more than two years ago to mollify conservatives clamoring for more investigations of Hillary Clinton has effectively ended with no tangible results, and current and former law enforcement officials said they never expected the effort to produce much of anything.

John Huber, the U.S. attorney in Utah, was tapped in November 2017 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to look into concerns raised by President Trump and his allies in Congress that the FBI had not fully pursued cases of possible corruption at the Clinton Foundation and during Clinton’s time as secretary of state, when the U.S. government decided not to block the sale of a company called Uranium One.

As a part of his review, Huber examined documents and conferred with federal law enforcement officials in Little Rock who were handling a meandering probe into the Clinton Foundation, people familiar with the matter said. Current and former officials said that Huber has largely finished and found nothing worth pursuing — though the assignment has not formally ended and no official notice has been sent to the Justice Department or to lawmakers, these people said.

The effective conclusion of his investigation, with no criminal charges or other known impacts, is likely to roil some in the GOP who had hoped the prosecutor would vindicate their long-held suspicions about a political rival.

Patrick Marley reports Three Lincoln Hills nurses reprimanded for giving inadequate care to 14-year-old inmate:

State officials have reprimanded three prison nurses for failing to provide adequate care to a 14-year-old boy who was given crackers and soda for days when his appendix was at risk of bursting.

A doctor who performed emergency surgery on the boy in 2016 called the actions by the nurses at Lincoln Hills School for Boys inexcusable. She told investigators at the time they should have known to get the boy to the doctor three days earlier.

Reacting to the 3-year-old incident, the state Board of Nursing in November formally reprimanded three nurses who treated the boy — Kurt Dieter BartzCorey Brandenburg and Kitty Hasse. In deals with the board, the three agreed to pay about $450 each and take courses on assessing patients.

The board acted only recently because the state Department of Corrections waited more than two years to tell regulators about what happened.

The Truth About Self-Driving Cars:

On the Dissolution of the Palmyra-Eagle School District, Reason Carries the Day

Earlier today, a School District Boundary Appeal Board (Wis. Stat. §15.375) voted by a margin of 6-1 against the dissolution of the Palmyra-Eagle School District. The possible dissolution of that school district loomed for many months. Dissolving that district would have led to a significant reallocation of students, faculty, resources, and obligations to Whitewater or other nearby communities.

Dissolution was always a bad idea – bad for many students of Palmyra-Eagle, bad for Whitewater and other districts, and bad as a Wisconsin precedent. I’ve written about dissolution before – including in opposition to a presumptuous, truly ill-conceived plan to split the Palmyra-Eagle District between the Whitewater and Mukwonago School Districts. (As the work of the School District Boundary Appeal Board progressed, Whitewater sensibly retreated from her earlier petition to the Wisconsin Legislature insisting on dividing the Palmyra-Eagle District between Whitewater and Mukwonago.)

See Educational (Among Other) Uncertainties in Rural Communities, School Board, 10.28.19: 3 Points, and Dissolving a School District.

There is much yet to write about the Whitewater Unified School District, as there are significant, debilitating challenges to be addressed.

For now, it is reassuring to know that on Thursday, 1.9.2020, in one small part of the world very near Whitewater, reason carried the day.