The first came as residents in and around the Village of Mount Pleasant organized opposition to the local Community Development Authority's plans to blight the remaining parcels of land in the community, in order to speed the building of the Foxconn facility, even if people still live on those parcels.
The group cites Wisconsin State Statute 32.03(6), which says that condemnation through blighting can only be used if the property is not occupied by the owner of the property or a relative of the owner or the crime rate in, on, or adjacent to the property is at least three times the crime rate in the remainder of the municipality in which the property is located....So in addition to running people off of the land, those remaining holdouts stand almost no chance of getting fair land values, because their community is literally considered a blight.
The area approved by the CDA is largely bounded by 90th Street to the east, Highway KR to the south, Highway 11 to the north and Interstate 94 to the west. According to Alan Marcuvitz, Mount Pleasant’s property acquisition attorney and expert, the village already owns two-thirds of that land. The initial Foxconn development is planned for the far southwest corner of the area designated on March 20 — from I-94 to Highway H and from Braun Road to Highway KR.
During the March 20 meeting Marcuvitz read a subsection of the law, which says that a blighted area can be “an area which is predominantly open, and which because of obsolete planning, diversity of ownership, deterioration of structures or of site improvements or otherwise substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of the community.”
Village officials believe this definition allows them to define the area as blighted. Therefore, they believe they can use eminent domain to acquire additional land from holdouts in the area.
“Even though there may not be a single blighted property, the area may still be determined as a blighted area, which allows the acquisition of non-blighted properties,” Marcuvitz said at the meeting.
In addition, as of 2 months ago, the Village of Mount Pleasant had spent $22 to $23 million more than Foxconn had given it for land acquisition, so that debt will have to be repaid over the next several years. So the local homeowners of Mount Pleasant and southern Racine County are paying big money and facing a large amount of displacement due to the Fox-con, and those that are left are looking at higher taxes and congestion. Worth it?
We also found out this week that Wisconsin 's largest city wasn't likely to benefit much from this scam either. The Milwaukee Common Council held a committee meeting this week with Walker Administration officials to discuss connecting the city with the Foxconn campus 25 miles away, and as Jeremy Jannene reported in Urban Milwaukee, the general contractor for the construction of the Foxconn facility said they had some hiring goals for local workers and workers from specific racial and demographic groups.
Gilbane Vice President Adam R. Jelen told members of the Common Council’s powerful Steering and Rules Committee this morning that the lead contractors, in partnership with Foxconn, are hoping to hire Wisconsin-based contractors for 60 percent of the work, Racine County businesses for 10 percent of the work and a combined 10 percent of the work is expected to go to firms owned by minorities, women or military veterans.Note the words "hoping to", '"intended to". There is no "WE GUARANTEE AT LEAST" in those statements, is there? And that's what Milwaukee Alder Bob Bauman noticed as well, and he wasn't happy to hear about it. He asked Walker Admin flack Matt Maroney why there weren't requirements or set-asides for Wisconsinites, similar to how there were certain requirements attached to the Bucks arena project.
As for project work hours, 70 percent of the hours are intended to go to Wisconsin residents, with an emphasis on Racine County residents. Ten percent of the work hours are intended to go to the combined group of minorities, women and military veterans. Vendors interested in working on the project’s construction or supply chain are encouraged to go the Wisconn Valley website.
Calling the presentation by Maroney “propaganda,” Bauman asked him why the state didn’t include mandatory hiring levels in their deal with the company. “Doesn’t $4 billion worth of subsidy give the state more than a little leverage to mandate certain things?” asked the alderman.Of course, Democrats such as State Rep. David Crowley demanded that transit funding be as part of the Foxconn package when it was debated last Summer, and Republicans blocked it. Now, it's a long-term issue that will
Maroney responded: “you can look at it like you can mandate everything, or you can look at it like a partner and try to achieve something greater.”...
Maroney also confirmed the state has no current plans for public transportation as part of the project, and would prefer any solution to come forward from local government. “Transit, housing, those are all long-term issues. We are early,” said Maroney.
But at least the Walker Administration sent one of their reps to this meeting in Milwaukee. Foxconn didn't even send anybody, and that's not the first time that the corporation has ducked public meetings to discuss the project that they are receiving billions of public subsidies to complete.
Given the details that keep coming to light on just how messy, disruptive and and costly this Fox-con is, does anyone think it would have gone through if these issues and the rest of the Fox-con had been discussed in detail in then State Legislature? Which explains exactly why Walker and the Legislature jammed this through before these details could be identified and dealt with, because they preferred headlines and PR stunts to an economic development strategy that actually leads to sustainable growth.