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School Board, 8.26.19: Insatiable

School Board Meeting 08/26/19 from Whitewater Community TV on Vimeo. Update, evening of 9.9.19: Although this discussion of tax incremental financing (TIF) took place at a school board meeting, a program like this is (obviously) very much an initiative of city government and special interests. School districts like Whitewater’s have a role on a joint…

The Rural Condition: Life expectancy for Wisconsin babies falls

Boosters’ ceaseless distortions to ‘accentuate the positive’ – so common across the state and in Whitewater before, during, and after the Great Recession – meet their tragic refutation in life expectancy declines for Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Public Policy Forum reports on Troubling trends in Wisconsin: Life expectancy down; alcohol, drug and suicide deaths up: The…

Junk Reasoning Isn’t Simply a Problem at the Top

Helena Bottemiller Evich reports ‘It feels like something out of a bad sci-fi movie’ (‘A top climate scientist quit USDA, following others who say Trump has politicized science’): One of the nation’s leading climate change scientists is quitting the Agriculture Department in protest over the Trump administration’s efforts to bury his groundbreaking study about how…

Fact-Checking is an Active, Ongoing Effort

Laura Hazard Cohen explains that “First-generation fact-checking” is no longer good enough. Here’s what comes next: “Fact checkers need to move from ‘publish and pray’ to ‘publish and act.’” “The idea that fact checking can work by correcting the public’s inaccurate beliefs on a mass scale alone doesn’t stack up,” write representatives from Full Fact…

Three Fundamental Failures: Employment, Income, and Poverty

An earlier post addressed Walker’s Fundamental Failure to meet his jobs pledge even after eight years. The record is much worse: years of corporate subsidies and meddling in the marketplace for preferred businesses & political cronies have produced failures of employment, income, and poverty. (Small town officials who copied this approach on the local level, as…

Public Money for Unskilled Manufacturing Jobs is Money Wasted

In times of historically low unemployment, communities are simply wasting public money when they subsidize unskilled manufacturing jobs.  The jobs, jobs, jobs mantra only makes sense in conditions of unemployment, unemployment, unemployment. Despite relatively low unemployment, ‘community development men’ in places like Whitewater still push business subsidies for companies using unskilled labor.  Pretending that dead-end…

What Can Be Done About Rural Newspapers (Even Though It Probably Won’t Be)?

Yesterday I wrote that Another Local Paper Changes Hands. With the failure of legacy publishing, what are rural communities to do? (Obvious point: FREE WHITEWATER is not an online newspaper – never aspired to be, never will be. This is a website of independent commentary: aligned with no faction, beholden to no faction.) A few…

Rural Population Drain

Thirteen years ago, local notables in small-town Whitewater, Wisconsin insisted that Whitewater was the very center of the universe.  When that claim didn’t entice newcomers, these same men began to claim the very opposite, that Whitewater wasn’t doing better because no one knew where the city was. (Both of these claims are silly: billions of…

Coming & Going Depend on Doing

Originally posted 5.3.19, updated 5.17.19. Although another candidate has withdrawn from the final pool of applicants for a new UW-Whitewater chancellor, conditions that led to the present (stretching over the last two chancellors’ tenure) matter more than the immediate and futile hope that a single appointment will overcome years of the wrong direction.  Genuine change…

Despite Denials, Foxconn’s Empty Buildings Are Still Empty

This morning, Joe sent along a comment mentioning a story about Foxconn from the national technology website The Verge. (Many thanks for the pointer.) Josh Dzieza reports One month ago, Foxconn said its innovation centers weren’t empty — they still are (“Foxconn still hasn’t done anything with the buildings it bought in Wisconsin”): Last summer,…

America’s Best Know Better

A story from the Wall Street Journal‘s Valerie Bauerlein explains the damage that the Foxconn scheme has done to ordinary people in Foxconn Tore Up a Small Town to Build a Big Factory—Then Retreated (“The iPhone maker got fat incentives to build a $10 billion LCD plant that largely hasn’t materialized on land where Mount…