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Whitewater Common Council Meeting, 10.20.20: Basics and Buildings

The Whitewater Common Council met briefly last night, 10.20.20. The agenda for the meeting is available, and a recording of the session appears above. Two different topics are worth noting (for different reasons): autumn leaf collection and a building rehabilitation project. A few remarks —  1. Leaf collection. The city has many homes & apartments, the homes…

Highlight’s from The Verge’s Foxconn Assessment

No failure better reveals the bankruptcy of corporate welfare in the Walker and Trump years than the Foxconn project in Wisconsin: exaggeration upon exaggeration, but nothing productive. This was a failure of judgment so obvious and significant that everyone involved should retire from policymaking. Walker Administration, Trump Administration, the WISGOP, the WEDC, down to Whitewater’s Community…

Whitewater Common Council Meeting, 10.6.20: 9 Points

The Whitewater Common Council last met on 10.6.20. The agenda for the meeting is available, and a recording of the early October session appears above. (As always, the best record is a recording.) Council discussed, among other items, Trick or Treating during the pandemic, a preliminary city budget, whether to return to in-person council meetings,…

Accountability Comes Calling at Foxconn

After years of grandiose – ludicrous, truly – claims about Foxconn from Trump to Vos to boosters in Whitewater, Accountability has made her way to Foxconn. If not Accountability personified, then at least Missy Hughes (the new, Evers-appointed leader) of a slightly-reformed WEDC. Josh Dzieza of the national publication The Verge reports Wisconsin denies Foxconn tax…

Whitewater & Walworth County’s Working Poor, 2020 ALICE® Report

The 2020 ALICE® report, on those who are “asset limited, income constrained [yet] employed” is now available.  These latest data were collected before the recent recession – one can be sadly confident that hardship reaches farther now. For Wisconsin, 11% of households were below the poverty level, and 34% (including those below the poverty level) were…

A Key Difference Between Bristol, New Hampshire and Whitewater, Wisconsin

A sad story from April about Bristol, N.H. (population 3,300) reveals key differences between that town and Whitewater. While this new recession affects both communities, the economic hardship will be different.  See David Gelles, ‘This Is Going to Kill Small-Town America.’ Bristol depends on one major, private manufacturer: By the end of March, with just…

Built Against Substantive Change

Over time, no matter how small the city, national conditions and trends make their way to the edge of town. Some towns will address these conditions, but others will be resistant to substantive change. For those towns in the latter category, business as usual and rhetorical feints suffice in response to powerful forces to which…

Consumer Sentiment

Much of the ‘reopening’ advocacy rests on the idea that after allowing a business to reopen, that business will see an adequate return of customers. While some businesses may see adequate customer demand, it’s almost certain that others will not. It has never been true that simply opening a business would assure its survival. If…

On Conflicts of Interest, It’s Not Enough to Ask a Question

The annual meeting of the Whitewater University Tech Park Board was scheduled for this earlier morning, and the second item of the published agenda is a superficial attempt to address potential conflicts of interest among board members: Declaration of Conflict of Interest [Watson] a. Would any member(s) of the board wish to declare any known…

The Reopening Debate Will Turn on Consumer Demand

The push to reopen Wisconsin will only effectively benefit retail businesses if consumer demand returns to pre-pandemic levels.  Consumer demand will only return to pre-pandemic levels if consumers feel safe.  Some retail demand will return as soon as shops and restaurants open; the marketplace question is whether consumer demand returns to something like pre-pandemic levels.…

Foxconn’s ‘Innovation’ Centers: Still Empty a Year Later

 Over at the national tech website The Verge, Nilay Patel reminds that a year later, Foxconn has still done nothing with the ‘innovation’ centers that foreign corporation promised it would open around the state. They’re still empty:    See FOXCONN’S BUILDINGS IN WISCONSIN ARE STILL EMPTY, ONE YEAR LATER. In Whitewater, the ‘Greater Whitewater’ Committee…

Local Public Policy as if Charitable Assistance

Whitewater’s policymakers, and those of other small, rural cities, should – in these times of economic stagnation, a lingering opioid crisis, failed business welfare, and an approaching recession – view their principal obligation as if it were charitable outreach. (It’s not charity, of course, but that’s how policymakers should view it: as both palliative and…

Declines, Recessions, and Rhetoric

While yesterday was a bad day for the financial markets, it’s the underlying – and troubling – fundamental condition of the economy that matters far more. Places like Whitewater, that adopted business special interests’ “if-you-build-it-they-will-come” approach despite increasing poverty and stagnation in household and individual incomes, are especially vulnerable to a downturn. Market Declines. Steven…

Miscellany on Development Policy in Whitewater

There’s a significant difference between local, political calls for urgency and genuine need. Recent discussions about development policy in Whitewater only bolster this view. A few remarks (as I’ve been asked more than once what I think of the last two months’ events) — Independence. The best decision one could make when writing about policy…