Thursday, January 31, 2019

Foxconn changes the channel, raising more questions

One bit of Day Two spin about the Foxconn project caught my eye:

It was in company executive Louis Woo's discussion of what Foxconn now says it will be doing at the Racine County project:
Questions remain about what kind of product Foxconn would be making. The original plan included large LCD panels for TVs, but that has been changing. 
Woo said the exact product is still to be determined: "We are referring to making end devices having the LCD panels as a component. We are still considering if, when and which panel technology to build which will best suit the customers' demands and the state of Wisconsin."
Now roll back the clock to 2017 when Walker, Vos, Fitzgerald, Schimel and others had quickly lined up behind handing billions in public subsidies to Foxconn - - but for a specific purpose.

Reported in stories and details like this:

Trump announces that Apple's top supplier, Foxconn, is building a $10 billion TV factory in Wisconsin
The planned Wisconsin factory will make flat-panel LCD screens for televisions and other electronics. Bloomberg previously reported that the screens could be used to make Sharp-branded televisions
Like these:

But suppose the company sought billions in Wisconsin public subsidies but had said it was "still considering if, when and which panel technology to build..."

Because 'questions remain?'

Can you imagine the Legislative Reference Bureau putting together a fiscal note based on something that speculative, or being used by consultants for analyses that were done to support the deal?

Like this glowing report, which, by the way, pointed to 400 jobs projected at a flat screen supplier's facility that was never begun because the Walker administration, having already over-committed to Foxconn, couldn't gin up the enthusiasm, let alone the cash for another handout.

And when Foxconn didn't take Walker up on the idea that it should pay for locating its own supplier nearby, we all should have understood that the great unwinding or whatever it is that is happening now had begun.

And certainly this May, 2018 blog post contained all sorts of information about changes Foxconn was anticipating back then and which are contributing to the 'if, when and which...'.

Additional questions linked to that "if, when and which panel technology" issue should be also be asked of the DNR because it approved a Lake Michigan daily diversion of about seven million gallons to service a flat-panel TV screen plant.

Have the need and demand for water now changed? Has the level and type of discharge changed, too?

Same questions about the air permits the DNR had similarly greenlit. See this post for information about both the air and water approvals.

Same questions about the grant of tax-free status to the company.

And the special highway construction begun when the company was going to be assemble and ship big-screen TVs.

We're nowhere near the end of this story, let alone understanding its true beginning.

I have maintained and updated an archive on this blog about the Foxconn deal since its announcement. Here is a link to that archive to which this post has been added.

Here's a new way to assess Scott Walker's Foxconn boondoggle

A major bond-rating agency warns investors that Racine County and the Village of Mount Pleasant are spending heavily on the project and are on the hook for a boatload of borrowing. 
Credit rating agency Moody's issues cautionary note on local Foxconn debt
The "negative" description indicates the presence of downward pressure that places the ratings at higher risk of being downgraded over the next 12 to 24 months...The village and county have borrowed $355 million so far in support of Foxconn. They have spent about $190 million of that, with most of the money going for land acquisition.
Don't bother asking if ex-Governor Cheese Sandwich


is concerned. He's too busy Tweet-auditioning for Trump:

Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax is like telling a straight A student in high school that she has to give up some of her grades to the other students. Instead of stealing from her, why don’t we just help everyone else do better!

WI Sup. Ct. hopeful/ex-Walker staffer: gay life tempts bestiality

Ex- Walker legal counsel Brian Hagedorn 
Image of Brian Hagedorn
sure had some bizarre notions for a possible Wisconsin Supreme Court justice:
Hagedorn, who is running for the state Supreme Court, wrote a blog beginning in 2005 in which he addressed readers as "fellow soldiers in the culture wars" while posting sometimes provocative comments on homosexuality and abortion. 
For example, Hagedorn twice wrote that a landmark gay rights ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law could lead to the legalization of bestiality, sex with animals, in America. 
What's with these Walkerites, anyway
Lt. Gov. candidate Rebecca Kleefisch has apologized for remarks she made regarding gay marriage and domestic partner benefits during an interview on a Christian radio program in January. 
In response to a question about the extension of benefits to domestic partners, the Republican from Oconomowoc said: "We can’t at this point afford to just be handing out money to anyone. This is a slippery slope in addition to that -- at what point are we going to OK marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table, or this, you know, clock? Can we marry dogs? This is ridiculous.”

Foxconn to scrap WI manufacturing; does it still need duty-free status?

If there isn't going to be a Foxconn manufacturing facility in SE WI that builds and ships TVs like these

then what's the point?
The Foreign Trade Zone Board notified AFE Inc. in late March that its application had been approved. AFE is the subsidiary responsible for the assembly televisions and displays in Wisconsin, according to state records. The company, through the Port of Milwaukee, sought approval for the designation in December. 
The FTZ designation exempts Foxconn from customs duty payments on components used in products that are eventually exported.

Should WI still finance special I-94 Foxconn-airport delivery lane?

If Foxconn isn't going to build big-screen TVs at its Racine County project, does the State of Wisconsin really have to build that special driverless trucking lane to Mitchell Field? 
...the upgrade will help Foxconn Technology Group automate the shipping of goods and people for its Mount Pleasant campus, and move freight from Mitchell International Airport to operations in Racine County. 
The tech upgrades being built into the freeway were a key selling point when Wisconsin received a $160 million grant for the project from the U.S. Department of Transportation in June... 
A DOT PowerPoint by Brett Wallace, the DOT’s Foxconn project director, shows options the agency is thinking about: The right shoulder could be converted to a truck lane, or one of I-94’s four lanes in one direction would be converted to truck use.
WisDOT photo. If Foxconn doesn't build a manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant, does the state need to pay for high-tech highway upgrades to accommodate driverless trucks?

    Remembering when Kenosha Co. passed on 'winning' Foxconn

    With anxiety replacing manufacturing in Racine County where Foxconn has bulldozed land, homes and maybe local budgets, too, it's worth remembering that Kenosha officials chose not to bite on the Foxconn lure when it was dangled in 2017:

    Kenosha happy with no-risk proximity to Foxconn, Racine

    For some time I've been thinking that Kenosha authorities made the right move in September by balking at the local costs and impacts which came with inviting and siting Foxconn and letting Racine jurisdictions the the plunge: 
    Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian wrote Gov. Scott Walker a letter dated Monday that pulled the city out of the running for a Foxconn manufacturing plant that is expected to employ as many as 13,000 people.
    “Throughout this planning process, we have been consistent in our belief that without significant adjustments to specific current state laws impacting local municipalities, we would be unable to support and/or absorb the development of the project,” Antaramian wrote.
    Kenosha jurisdictions won't lose control of so much land and water and landscape as will Racine County just next door
    but, like Milwaukee and Northern Illinois, could reap plenty of location-location-location benefits without catching Walker's Foxconn Fever

    Today I saw this story, and an observation to a recent meeting about Foxconn by Mayor Antaramian that hot the nail on the head:

    Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian told the group of about 150 people he is “thrilled to have Foxconn in Racine.” 
    “I think it works very well for us,” Antaramian said. “It’s 11 miles to the north, and I don’t have the risk that everyone else has to take.”
    Time will tell, but I can see Kenosha gaining without having to give up anything.

    Like the Village of Mount Pleasant, population 26,000, on the hook for $764 million. 

    Wednesday, January 30, 2019

    No Foxconn factory, so no need for air permits, Great Lakes diversion

    Foxconn says it isn't going to build a factory in SE Wisconsin, so it shouldn't retain various water diversion and air pollution permits and permissions which the factory was said to require.

    Last spring the WI DNR rushed through permissions for Foxconn to emit nearly 800 tons of air pollution annually and divert about seven million gallons of Lake Michigan water daily. 
    Lake Michigan 
    And the Walker administration got the Trump administration to relax air pollution enforcement over a swath 0f SE Wisconsin to permit Foxconn's air pollution to comply with the weakened standard.

    While those various permits are under a host of challenges from environmental groups and jurisdictions downstream and downwind in Illinois, it seems as if all those permitted exceptions are not longer needed if Foxconn is not going to be operating a manufacturing facility that would have needed the water diversion and air emission permits.

    Will the DNR suspend, withdraw or otherwise shelve these permits and permissions?

    And will the legislature rethink the special wetland-filling stream-altering, lake-bed-filling exemptions to state law it also gave the company for a massive factory complex now in doubt?

    Walker reveling in climate science ignorance

    For your 'Why Walker will never win another election' file.

    If he had read what his DNR tool had deleted, or had a single synapse of curiosity about the world beyond burgers & fries, he'd never have tweeted something so Trumpingly and profoundly ignorant:
    5 hours agoMoreWas out this morning at an eye doctor appointment. What I wouldn’t give for some global warming today!
    Makes one wonder if this is Walker auditioning shilling for a Trump appointment, as did Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, and various Trump attorneys.

    Walker has also been tweeting support for greater border security and against Democratic Congress. Alexandria Octavio-Cortez and her 'socialism' - - tweets sure to please Trump.





    Short roadmap to today's Foxconn news

    Here's a bit of a guide to the news today:









    Just click the headlines.


    Let me begin with a scene-setter from August 23, 2018.


    This is important, because it shows that Foxconn was pulling away from its early plan - - the one Wisconsin and the local communities are funding - - and laying the foundation for what happened today:
    Foxconn spins away from commitment; conned, outfoxed Walker should quit 
    That thud just registering on political seismographs statewide is the sound of Walker's Foxconn con crashing to earth.
    Confirming the essence of fourteen months of posts on this blog, Foxconn is backing away from the futuristic factory-building pledge for which gullible Walkerites and their gang of fake conservatives pledged billions of state and local taxpayer dollars, all to shore up Walker's failed job-creating record as he runs for a third term.
    Foxconn now declines to say it plans to build type of factory named in state, local contracts
    ...the company on Wednesday did not offer assurances that it still plans to build the type of liquid crystal display panel plant the contracts cite..
    Known as “Generation 10.5” fabrication facilities, or fabs, such plants are the largest and most expensive in the display industry... 
    Foxconn’s original plans last year called for building a Generation 10.5 plant, and both the state and local agreements reached with the company define the project that way. 
    Sound familiar: Here's a 2017 post about how Foxconn stiffed Pennsylvania
    So while the nicely-timed-for-Walker's-re-election giddiness over some job growth here finally after six failed years in office, as well as a race between neighboring states to throw corporate welfare/public inducements Foxconn's way are on - - remember that Pennsylvania put big money on the table for a Foxconn plant that never happened there.
    Details.
    How Foxconn’s broken pledges in Pennsylvania cast doubt on Trump’s jobs plan
    Conned and scammed, every public official from Walker on down who spouted a single Foxconn-driven talking point and voted to front the company a single dollar from 'the hard-working taxpayers' Walker is so fond of invoking should hand in their resignations.
    Then, this today:
    Breaking news: Foxconn says "not building a factory in Wisconsin"
    And now a few more: 
    Let's correct Walker tweet about doing us Foxconn favor 
    Walker's WI looking conned and outfoxed 
    With state $, Lake MI water, Foxconn sending super sprawl to Mt. Pleasant (Watch the video!)
    And an archive of Foxconn posts over the last 18+ months:
    Foxconn Fever: A primer
    [Updated continuously from June, 2017] This frequently-updated archive with more than 265 posts and even more links and references which explain, document and unmask Wisconsin's award of $4.5 billion in state and local funds to Foxconn.
    Plus waivers of routine judicial and environmental reviews for a promised Foxconn factory development requiring a massive daily diversion of Lake Michigan water and leading to nearly 800 tons of air pollution emissions annually over Racine County open space, farm and wetlands.------------------------------------- 

    Let's correct Walker tweet about doing us Foxconn favor

    This self-serving, change-the-subject tweet about his Foxconn deal that just lost its promised factory is exactly why Walker was defeated and will never win another election:
    54 min, Foxconn earns state tax credits based on actual investment and job creation. No jobs/investment? No credits. Period.
    Walker also failed to disclose that if it hadn't been caught and repaired at the last minute by others, the original plan for Foxconn he fast-tracked would have left taxpayers exposed. 
    A key vote on the pending Foxconn contract was delayed last week because the state wouldn’t have been able to recoup taxpayer funds if the Taiwanese company didn’t fulfill its end of the deal, according to a member of the board overseeing the negotiation...
    WEDC board member Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee. [said] the issue was a “nuclear bomb” that would have left taxpayers exposed...
    “We could have given them all this money and we wouldn’t have been able to get it back,” Carpenter said.
    Stop rewriting history! 
      

    Vos said he wouldn't let Evers 'screw up' Foxconn deal

    What he meant 
    Robin Vos speaks at Racine Tea Party event (8378614585).jpg
    was that Foxconn would do that on its own:
    "We're not building a factory in Wisconsin," Foxconn told Reuters.

    Walker says US has no entry controls 'by land.' Wrong, 167 times.

    Doing Trump's bidding on Twitter, Walker again flashed his ignorance about the country yesterday:
    Are those who don’t want a secure border also calling for an end to airport security? If not, why do we control entry to America by air and water, but not by land?
    But the US has scores of land entry control stations, as has been repeatedly referenced in recent reports, like this one in USA Today on January 15:
    Fact-checking Trump officials: Most drugs enter US through legal ports of entry, not vast, open border
    The US through Homeland Security and the General Services Administration operate 167 so-called "ports of entry" on the borders, including 47 on the US-Mexico line, according to official US data:

    Land Ports of Entry Overview

    A Land Port Of Entry, also known as a border station, is the facility that provides controlled entry into or departure from the United States for persons or materials. It houses the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other federal inspection agencies responsible for the enforcement of federal laws pertaining to such activities. 
    Currently, there are 167 LPOEs at America’s borders counting both Canada and Mexico. The General Services Administration owns and operates 102 of these Land Ports of Entry. The balance are either owned and operated by Homeland Security’s CBP or are leased to the government by municipalities, other local governments or private entities such as toll bridges. 
    Within the GSA’s Office of Design and Construction, the LPOE Subject Matter Experts support regional offices and project managers on the design, development and construction of individual LPOEs. The LPOE SMEs act as GSA’s national liaison with other LPOE program stakeholders facilitating the program’s successful delivery. SMEs come from both the Expert Resources Division and the Special Programs Office. They also coordinate the long-range space requirements of CBP protection programs, the rolling five year plan within GSA’s annual budget request, and project approval processes in partnership with CBP.
    External stakeholders include: CBP, Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, state, local and municipal transportation organizations, the U.S. Department of State, Congress, Office of Mexican Border Affairs, Office of Canadian Border Affairs, additional various departments of the Mexican and Canadian governments, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, International Boundary and Water Commission, International Business Council, citizen advocacy groups, and U.S. taxpayers. 
    The Northern Border Program Office oversees land ports in GSA Regions 1,2,5,8 and 10 covering ME, VT, NY, MI, MN, ND, MT, ID, WA, AK. 
    The Southern Border Program Office oversees land ports in GSA Regions 7 and 9 covering CA, AZ, NM, TX. 

    Current Land Port Statistics: 
    102 GSA Owned LPOEs 
    19 GSA Leased LPOEs
    3 Partially Owned nad Leased LPOEs
    77 Northern GSA LPOEs (including leased)
    47 Southern LPOEs 
    43 CBP/Other LPOEs with GSA involvement 
    167 Total LPOEs

     

    Breaking news: Foxconn says "not building a factory in Wisconsin"

    You know the TV screen factory for which Foxconn said thousands of acres and scores of homes and farms had to be bulldozed in Mount Pleasant?
    Mt. Pleasant cabbage fields on Foxconn site, 2017
    Forget it: "We're not building a factory in Wisconsin," Foxconn told Reuters.

    And all those thousands of assembly jobs for blue-collar workers, including people leaving prisons looking for good, entry-level wages?

    Forget that, too. 

    Foxconn now tells Reuters things have changed:
     Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn Chief Executive Terry Gou, told Reuters...[Foxconn] was still evaluating options for Wisconsin, but cited the steep cost of making advanced TV screens in the United States, where labor expenses are comparatively high. 
    “In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S.,” he said in an interview. “We can’t compete.
    Initially - - Foxconn had said the hiring would be so concentrated on assembly and packaging that only 763 would be engineers.

    Remember that Foxconn has done this before.
    WI Foxconn plant, election-talk? Remember it stiffed Penn.
    So while the nicely-timed-for-Walker's-re-election giddiness over some job growth here finally after six failed years in office, as well as a race between neighboring states to throw corporate welfare/public inducements Foxconn's way are on - - remember that Pennsylvania put big money on the table for a Foxconn plant that never happened there. 
    Details.
    How Foxconn’s broken pledges in Pennsylvania cast doubt on Trump’s jobs plan 
    So I guess Foxconn won't need that controversial Great Lakes diversion, right? Are the wetlands torn up already?

    See the Foxconn archive I have been posting since Day One for more than 275 items tracing this project's disgusting history for more details.

    Remember that the GOP's lame-duck power grab retained a partisan, legislative glory hold on the WEDC - - lead Wisconsin agency overseeing the billions in taxpayer aid to be shoveled to the company - - to prevent incoming Gov. Tony Evers from tampering with the deal and especially Walker's legacy, as he tweeted:
     Dec 8
    More OUR LEGACY - We began work on the largest economic development project in state history - Foxconn’s $10 billion investment that will employee [Sic] 13,000 people - and one of the largest in America.


    Well, Donald Trump, Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald, and the political ghost of Scott Walker who promised eleventy-thousand times that 13,000 jobs were coming - - it's all yours now.

    Politically.

    But financially - - look at all the state, Mount Pleasant and Racine County money and land and homeowners rights' and worker dreams that have been thrown away.

    And hundreds of millions of precious transportation dollars dumped into new lanes and interchanges to nowhere except more sprawl and subsidy to developers.

    For what?

    To re-elect a governor whose signature achievement had been and remains a two-term failure to create promised jobs.

    Hang your heads, all.

    Tuesday, January 29, 2019

    More Walker legacy: WI school workers' pay drop led the nation

    We know that through his Act 10 sneak attack, Walker damaged WI public employment and workers' budgets, especially among educators and school staffers

    He was out to bury these professionals and professions - - yet campaigned calling himself "the education governor," among other faked identities.


    Now The Washington Post has some numbers about the depth and breadth of what Walker stripped from teachers and school support staffs - - all to weaken public employee unions, undermine collective bargaining and fuel some blue-collar resentment at the ballot box for partisan, GOP advantage
    .
    By 2017, [educators'] earnings topped the average in just one state, Rhode Island. Over that time, public-school teacher and staff earnings fell relative to the average worker in all 42 of those states. 
    The biggest relative drop came in Wisconsin. 
    In the early nineties, Wisconsin public-school teachers and staff earned about 1.2 times average workers' pay. 
    In recent years, that number has fallen to about nine tenths of the statewide average. The smallest drops came in Alabama, West Virginia and Mississippi. In those states, teacher pay was already below average.
     

    Looks like we have a laughingstock sighting

    Walker retweeted on Saturday an op-ed slam at Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Octavio-Cortez which said media would portray her as "a laughingstock for her frequent misstatements" were she a conservative. 

     Jan 26
     “If Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were a conservative.” This column nails the bias of the media.
    OK: Below is Walker's PolitiFact record. 

    And since the op-ed endorsed in Walker's tweet was written by Marc Thiessen, co-author with Walker on the ex-Governor's bio, "Unintimidated," I'd say we have a laughingstock sighting documented without having to review a gallery of images, earlier posts - - 
    Image result for scott walker photo fishing

    - - other recent tweets or even say "Molotov."