Low Standards

Daily Bread for 5.9.24: A Reminder on Whitewater’s Fumbling & Stumbling Old Guard

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will see morning showers with a high of 59. Sunrise is 5:36 and sunset 8:05 for 14h 28m 43s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 2.9 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1662, the figure who later became Mr. Punch makes his first recorded appearance in England.

FREE WHITEWATER has chronicled and critiqued the failed corporate welfare scheme that was the Wisconsin Foxconn project (links to many of those posts at the bottom of this post). Now, with Foxconn nothing more than a shell project vanished into the fog, there’s a genuine, private, multi-billion dollar Microsoft investment on that Wisconsin site: Microsoft AI center on site of Trump’s failed Foxconn deal? (‘The multibillion-dollar [private!] investment is expected to create 2,000 permanent jobs and 2,300 temporary union construction jobs’).

In Whitewater, an old guard of bankers, landlords, lobbyists, public relations men, etc., pushed Foxconn more than once. Any ordinary person of normal reasoning and sound basic knowledge would have seen Foxconn was a political scheme masquerading as a legitimate project. And yet, somehow, these same Whitewater types hold themselves out as experts on development policy. They backed a joke plan because they were — and are — unsuited to serious policy. See A Sham News Story on Foxconn. (The local business group was the ‘Greater’ Whitewater Committee.)

Trickle-down sloganeering is the best these local types have ever produced. It’s not a free market they want; small-town boosterism and cronyism haven’t uplifted household and individual incomes in this city. See A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA.

Some of these men, when at the Community Development Authority, let this city languish while promoting themselves. Even at the tail end of an economic boom, these gentlemen were walking around trying to figure out which end was up. See Whitewater’s Still Waiting for That Boom.

Whitewater deserves better than this ilk. These men deserve an ongoing critique, and detailed review of their record, if they capture that institution again.

Here is the Foxconn scheme, that these local, old-guard Whitewater men touted, as succinctly described in a national story:

In 2018, when Foxconn, at Trump’s urging, announced plans to create 13,000 good-paying jobs in Mount Pleasant, Wis., he celebrated the company’s $10 billion venture as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Wielding a golden shovel, Trump touted the Foxconn flat-panel display factory as evidence of a broad manufacturing revival stirred by his 2017 tax cuts and tariffs on imported steel. “You know, 18 months ago, this was a field, and now it’s one of the most advanced places of any kind you’ll see anywhere in the world. It’s incredible,” Trump crowed.

The Foxconn facility was to have included dozens of buildings dotting a giant plot of land three times the size of New York’s Central Park. But the project accomplished little more than the destruction of 100 local homes and farms before the company drastically scaled back its ambitions.

In 2020, Wisconsin state officials denied the Taiwanese company special tax credits, saying it had abandoned its original commitment, employed fewer than 520 people and spent just $300 million. Local taxpayers were left with a tab of more than $500 million for site preparation.

By last summer, Foxconn had built four structures on one corner of the site, which were in sporadic use, according to locals. One large building that was originally billed as a manufacturing facility was being used as a warehouse, one former employee said. Foxconn at the time said it employed 1,000 people in Mount Pleasant building computer servers. The flat-panel display factory never materialized.

On Foxconn previously10 Key Articles About FoxconnFoxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers,  Foxconn Destroys Single-Family HomesFoxconn Devours Tens of Millions from State’s Road Repair BudgetThe Man Behind the Foxconn ProjectA Sham News Story on Foxconn, Another Pig at the TroughEven Foxconn’s Projections Show a Vulnerable (Replaceable) WorkforceFoxconn in Wisconsin: Not So High Tech After AllFoxconn’s Ambition is Automation, While Appeasing the Politically Ambitious, Foxconn’s Shabby Workplace ConditionsFoxconn’s Bait & SwitchFoxconn’s (Overwhelmingly) Low-Paying JobsThe Next Guest SpeakerTrump, Ryan, and Walker Want to Seize Wisconsin Homes to Build Foxconn PlantFoxconn Deal Melts Away“Later This Year,” Foxconn’s Secret Deal with UW-Madison, Foxconn’s Predatory Reliance on Eminent DomainFoxconn: Failure & FraudFoxconn Roundup: Desperately Ill Edition,  Foxconn Roundup: Indiana Layoffs & Automation Everywhere, Foxconn Roundup: Outside Work and Local Land, Foxconn Couldn’t Even Meet Its Low First-Year Goal, Foxconn Talks of Folding Wisconsin Manufacturing PlansWISGOP Assembly Speaker Vos Hopes You’re StupidLost Homes and Land, All Over a Foxconn Fantasy, Laughable Spin as Industrial Policy, Foxconn: The ‘State Visit Project,’ ‘Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn,’ Foxconn: When the Going Gets Tough…The Amazon-New York Deal, Like the Foxconn Deal, Was Bad PolicyFoxconn RoundupFoxconn: The Roads to NowhereFoxconn: Evidence of Bad Policy Judgment, Foxconn: Behind Those HeadlinesFoxconn: On Shaky Ground, LiterallyFoxconn: Heckuva Supply Chain They Have There…Foxconn: Still Empty, and the Chairman of the Board Needs a NapFoxconn: Cleanup on Aisle 4Foxconn: The Closer One Gets, The Worse It Is, Foxconn Confirm Gov. Evers’s Claim of a Renegotiation DiscussionAmerica’s Best Know BetterDespite Denials, Foxconn’s Empty Buildings Are Still EmptyRight on Schedule – A Foxconn DelayFoxconn: Reality as a (Predictable) Disappointment, Town Residents Claim Trump’s Foxconn Factory Deal Failed ThemFoxconn: Independent Study Confirms Project is Beyond Repair, It Shouldn’tFoxconn: Wrecking Ordinary Lives for NothingHey, Wisconsin, How About an Airport-Coffee Robot?Be Patient, UW-Madison: Only $99,300,000.00 to Go!Foxconn: First In, Now OutFoxconn on the Same Day: Yes…um, just kidding, we mean noFoxconn: ‘Innovation Centers’ Gone in a Puff of SmokeFoxconn: Worse Than NothingFoxconn: State of Wisconsin Demands Accountability, Foreign Corporation Stalls, Foxconn Notices the NoticeableJournal Sentinel’s Rick Romell Reports the Obvious about Foxconn Project, Foxconn’s ‘Innovation’ Centers: Still Empty a Year LaterFoxconn & UW-Madison: Two Yearsand Less Than One Percent Later…Accountability Comes Calling at FoxconnHighlight’s from The Verge’s Foxconn AssessmentAfter Years of Promises, Foxconn Will Think of Something…by JulyFoxconn’s Venture Capital FundNew, More Realistic Deal Means 90% Reduction in Goals, Seth Meyers on One of Trump’s (and Walker’s) Biggest Scams, the Foxconn Deal, and Adding the Amounts Spent for Foxconn (So Far).

Daily Bread for 5.8.24: The Special-Interest Hierarchy of a Small Town (Adjacent Support)

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 75. Sunrise is 5:38 and sunset 8:04 for 14h 26m 27s of daytime. The moon is new with 0.2 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1877, at Gilmore’s Gardens in New York City, the first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opens.

In September, I wrote of The Special-Interest Hierarchy of a Small Town:

In a small town, and perhaps elsewhere, there are four tiers within a special-interest hierarchy: principals, operatives, catspaws, and residents. Only the first three serve, reliably, the special interest; the fourth is a large group of unaffiliated people that the special interests must persuade or dissuade repeatedly. 

A special-interest faction, or in the case of the Whitewater Schools an unresponsive board and superintendent, depends on the reliable service of the first three groups (principals, operatives, and catspaws). Some residents, however, may be counted on now and again to support special-interest or insider-group actions. These kinds of residents offer hit-or-miss support. I’ll list a few of them, readily recognizable in Whitewater and towns across the world.

Boosterism and Toxic Positivity. There are always a few residents who feel that criticism is a crime, an offense against man and God, and so must not be tolerated. The boosters feel that accentuating the positive, and burying the negative, is a legitimate (indeed necessary) pursuit. You’ll see them patrol social media looking to rebuke others who offer sincere criticism.

The delusional are sufferers of toxic positivity; the most acute cases are simply lickspittles.

Many of these types are a few moments away from screaming ‘love it or leave it.’ All of those who would do so are ignorant of their own country’s proud history of robust criticism. Even the most degraded hovel in medieval Europe, flea and lice-infested, had apologists of someone’s special schemes. Centuries later, in an America that is a world-historical state, there are still a few locals who live as though American liberties meant nothing, carrying on as though vulgar locals in a rat-dominated hamlet of 1300s Bavaria.

The indictment and conviction of the boosters: narrow of mind and small of heart.

These types, however, are useful as apologists and enforcers of special-interest schemes.

(A better outlook: Tragic Optimism as an Alternative to Toxic Positivity.)

The Concerned Passerby. When faced with a challenge to their position, special interest men cannot always count on themselves as principals, or their operatives and reliable catspaws. Cronyism and entitlement do not run themselves! They’ll look around, and find someone who seems unaffiliated, but is willing to do their work now and again. Although not reliable all the time, these types can be persuaded for a specific task.

They’ll seem like concerned passersby, simply trying to help, but no! They’re truly working to advance a special-interest or closed-government perspective. They’re harder to spot than boosters, sufferers of toxic positivity, or lickspittles, but still identifiable to ordinary residents. They’ll show up and profess simple concern, as ‘adults in the room,’ but after listening to them, it’s clear they’re rationalizing a nefarious cause (e.g., advancing a self-dealer’s plan, or shutting down a discussion).

Scoundrels. Special-interest men want to win, and that means bending public policy to their own ends. Closed-government types want to control public policy without public consent. In both cases, they pervert public life. They create a corrupted, degenerate form of government.

When faced with a difficult challenge, and when smearing challengers is too much even for principals, operatives, and catspaws, they’ll turn to scoundrels. The Oxford American Dictionary offers a plentiful list of synonyms that describe the type (e.g., rogue, rascal, good-for-nothing, reprobate, unprincipled person; cheat, swindler, fraudster, trickster, charlatan; informal villain, beast, son of a bitch, SOB, rat, louse, cur, hound, skunk, heel, snake, snake in the grass, wretch, scumbag, bad egg, stinker).

Scoundrels will say anything to aid a special-interest or closed-government cause, while the principals, operatives, and catspaws delight from a distance. (These main types know what’s happening, hoping it will benefit them, yet hoping it won’t be identified back to them.)

In all of this, however, the overwhelming majority of ordinary residents are normal & well-adjusted. It’s a only few, entitled and avaricious, or entitled and autocratic, who beset and bedevil a community.

NASA Simulation’s Plunge Into the Whitewater School District’s Central Office a Black Hole:

Daily Bread for 12.17.23: The Empty Case Against School-District Competitive Bidding

 Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 43. Sunrise is 7:20 and sunset 4:22 for 9h 02m 09s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 26.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1903, the Wright brothers make the first controlled powered, heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

By John T. Daniels – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppprs.00626.

Corrinne Hess reports Wisconsin school districts would have to comply with competitive bidding requirements under new proposal (‘Wisconsin is only one of three states that doesn’t require schools to go out for bid on construction projects’):

School districts in Wisconsin would have to comply with competitive bidding requirements for construction projects costing more than $150,000 under a new legislative proposal.

Wisconsin is one of only three states that allows a project of any size to be awarded on a no-bid basis, according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Municipalities, meanwhile, have to seek a competitive bid for any project over $25,000. The same proposed legislation would increase that threshold for municipalities to $50,000.  

During a public hearing Thursday before the Assembly Committee on Local Government, Chris Kulow, government relations director for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, testified against the bill. He argued that requiring a competitive bidding process would take away local control.

Kulow said most school boards are already using competitive bidding. He said having to choose the lowest bidder could mean having to sacrifice the best quality. 

“Currently, districts that have long-standing relationships with local contractors have the opportunity to work with them to negotiate deals that include spending resources locally, keeping those dollars in the community,” Kulow said. “They result in the hiring of parents whose children attend the schools. They want to do a good job, and they’re less likely to ask for extra charges.”  

All school boards, not merely most, should use competitive bidding for large projects. Kulow’s argument about districts with long-standing relationships with local contractors is unsupported by his testimony. He’s telling a story about local, but his story offers not measurement but instead only unsubstantiated-yet-beguiling claims: “spending resources locally,” “dollars in the community,” “hiring of parents whose children attend the schools,” etc. 

Sounds great, right? How often, how much, how many?

Kulow — who asserted his points as a representative of educational boards — offered in his testimony no evidence whatever. Not a shred. See testimony of Chris Kulow, Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Local Government, 12.14.23, video @ 1:17:23. A former superintendent, now part of the school board association’s staff, followed Kulow’s presentation with his own singular experiences in one school district.     

Honest to goodness. A knowledgeable or educated person should expect more than this. A student who turned in a term paper so vacuous would deserve a poor grade (or a chance at a re-write); an adult representative of school boards doing the equivalent deserves the intellectual scorn of his fellow Wisconsinites. Our millions of fellow Wisconsin adults did not, each of them, fall off of turnip trucks yesterday. 

These men represent school boards; many more men and women are on school boards. There are thousands of superintendents and other administrators in over four hundred school districts in this state. Anyone — any single one — who was graduated from high school, college, or a graduate program with a presentation as light as Kulow’s either learned too little or has forgotten too much. 

Those who wish to argue against required competitive bidding — a practice adopted in 47 of 50 states — need to do better than this. 

See a massive galaxy cluster evolve in simulation:

Daily Bread for 10.1.23: The Shamelessness of the Special-Interest Men

 Good morning. Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 84. Sunrise is 6:52AM and sunset 6:35 PM for 11h 42m 48s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 93.3% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 331 BC, Alexander the Great defeats Darius III of Persia in the…

Daily Bread for 9.30.23: Fierce or Bust

 Good morning. Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 82. Sunrise is 6:51AM and sunset 6:31 PM for 11h 45m 41s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 98.2% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1954, the U.S. Navy submarine USS Nautilus is commissioned as the world’s first…

Daily Bread for 9.25.23: The Special-Interest Hierarchy of a Small Town

 Good morning. Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 73. Sunrise is 6:46 AM and sunset 6:46 PM for 12h 00m 06s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 78.7% of its visible disk illuminated. The Whitewater School Board goes into closed session shortly after 6:30 PM and returns…

Daily Bread for 9.22.23: A Dog-Bite Story (That’s Not Only About Dogs)

 Good morning. Friday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of 76. Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 6:51 PM for 12h 08m 45s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 47.2% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1862, a preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation is released…

Daily Bread for 9.21.23: What’s Left of Old Whitewater’s Politicians Put Past Practice Ahead of Principle or Reason

 Good morning. Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 77. Sunrise is 6:41 AM and sunset 6:53 PM for 12h 11m 37s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 36.5% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1780, Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.…

Daily Bread for 9.19.23: There’s a Reason Some Local Politicians Have No Platform

 Good morning. Tuesday in Whitewater will see morning rain with a high of 69. Sunrise is 6:39 AM and sunset 6:57 PM for 12h 17m 24s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 18% of its visible disk illuminated. The Whitewater Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.  On this day in 1982, Scott…

Daily Bread for 9.13.23: Who Holds the Leash?

 Good morning. Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 66. Sunrise is 6:33 AM and sunset 7:07 PM for 12h 34m 37s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 2.2% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1948, Margaret Chase Smith is elected United States senator, and…

Daily Bread for 2.14.23: Nothing Upsets the Populists Like Contrary Speech (esp. from Blacks or Gays)

Good morning. Valentine’s Day in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of 50. Sunrise is 6:52 AM and sunset 5:25 PM for 10h 33m 36s  of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 40.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Now, Whitewater — don’t let showers dampen your spirits. There’s romance in the rain.  Whitewater’s…

Daily Bread for 1.29.23: Trump’s Social Network Littered with Ads for Miracle Cures, Scams, Fake Merchandise

Good morning. Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of 19. Sunrise is 7:11 AM and sunset 5:04 PM for 9h 53m 05s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 59.5% of its visible disk illuminated.  On this day in 1845, “The Raven” is published in The Evening Mirror in New…