Thursday, June 7, 2018

About Foxconn, Walker goes oxymoronic

When he was Milwaukee's Mayor, John O. Norquist frequently gave a slide show about sprawl where new things were named after what bulldozers had taken.

"Brookfield - - no brook, no field," usually got a laugh.

I mentioned the phenomenon a few years ago in a blog post with pictures of houses on Dairy Avenue in a fresh Waukesha subdivision. 

Which brings me to this Wisconsin State Journal account of GOP Governor and King of Corporate Welfare Scott Walker's remarks about Foxconn Wednesday at an annual start-up business conference in Madison.

(A complete archive of blog posts about Foxconn is here.

I won't dwell on the way Walker used his campaign-season appearance there to again try and sell doubting people out-state that his routing of tax dollars, precious transportation funds, and special environmental exemptions worth billions of dollars isn't just a development plan for the SE corner of the state.

And I will simply mention that Walker also suggested there that Foxconn would resolve some of his more persistent and glaring gubernatorial shortcomings, like stagnant job creation and bottom level rankings among the states for entrepreneurial opportunities.

What caught my eye was the way Walker morphs the Foxconn development into an "ecosystem," and though it was not the first time Walker has pounded that square peg into his round rhetorical hole, these graphs from the State Journal article bear some comment: 

Both Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn’s Alan Yeung spoke before hundreds of investors, CEOs and entrepreneurs at Union South on Wednesday for the conference’s keynote luncheon. They asserted that Foxconn’s plans to build a $10 billion manufacturing campus in Racine County would create a hub of tech and entrepreneurship activity in the region. 
“There's a whole ecosystem that will draw people in not only to work for Foxconn, not only to work for the suppliers there, but (there will be) larger groups of people here and in Wausau and in Green Bay who will say, ‘We want to be close to something like this,’” said Walker.
Now I don't know about you, but to me, with its green, organic and life-giving implications, "ecosystem" and three-thousand ripped up rural acres where landowners are in line to be kicked out of their homes and off their farms
Cabbage fields on the Foxconn site, 2017
is about the clumsiest, misleading mismatch of words since "jumbo shrimp."

Go back to John Norquist's remark about developers naming their handiwork after what they have destroyed and hold on to that word "ecosystem."

Now read what former Milwaukee Journal science writer and regional planning historian Paul G. Hayes said in a recent Facebook post about what adopted plans had in mind for the Foxconn site and the area's prime agricultural land:

Mount Pleasant and western Racine County was identified, along with northern Ozaukee County, virtually all of Walworth County, and much of Waukesha and Washington Counties as having the best remaining contiguous farmland remaining in southeastern Wisconsin, according to SEWRPC's regional plan. We have already lost Waukesha county's once great dairy farming industry to urban sprawl. Now you can kiss western Racine County's goodbye as well. 
And ask yourself which ecosystem is more likely to save these Mount Pleasant bur oaks which are 300-to-400 years old - - the one that is there or Walker and Foxconn's replacement.

We shouldn't let Walker get away with saying that what he and Foxconn are creating is an ecosystem, unless they want to admit they're destroying an ecosystem to save it.

No comments: