Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pabst Farms: The Road To Sprawlville Chapter XXXV

The Journal Sentinel does not distinguish itself with a thin piece about Pabst Farms for the Sunday paper.

Pabst Farms is the struggling planned community on farmland in Western Waukesha County that was supposed to be a centerpiece regional development.

And yes, the recession has something to do with suspended housing and a dead upscale mall there, but the article glosses over or omits any probing look at whether the entire project - - set so far from Milwaukee and the true heart of the regional economy - - had deep flaws from the get-go.

There's no one in the story raising basic questions about land use or transportation issues, and the Town Center business focus is propped up in the story with the good news that among the business open include a cell phone store and a sandwich shop.


That is not why Oconomowoc put in $24 million in public subsidies.

The newspaper has a solid investigative team still intact: Pabst Farms and the real costs of sprawl development in Waukesha County and elsewhere in the region - - subdivisions and gated communities galore, but virtually no affordable housing outside of Milwaukee - - would be a great use of investigative journalistic talent than feature writing about a giant planned community barely above water.

Final point: the story says Pabst Farms is now the second-largest property taxpayer in Waukesha County.

That's interesting, but who's #1?

No answer.

Withholding the name of the largest taxpayer violates a basic rule of reporting: Don't raise questions and leave them unanswered.

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