Saturday, September 14, 2019

We keep paying for the big Fox-con, while the project keeps getting smaller

There have been a lot of confusion and bad headlines regarding the ongoing Foxconn boondoggle in Wisconsin, and I just wanted to run through a few of them on this Saturday.

The first involved a comical display from the company at a Mount Pleasant Village Board meeting, where the afternoon before the meeting, we were hearing about a Foxconn headquarters that looked like this.

According to plans submitted to the village, the network operations center will be a central location where administrators will "manage, control and monitor one or more networks."

"The overall function is to maintain optimal network operations across a variety of platforms, mediums and communication channels. This Network Operations Center will feature a visual representation of the networks being monitored and workstations where detailed network statuses are monitored. Software is employed to help manage the networks," the plans read.

Foxconn’s plans also call for an approximately 34,000-square-foot building at the site....
And then later Thursday, Foxconn said...."Nevermind."
Documents show the Fii Smart Manufacturing Center being constructed directly east of the manufacturing building now under construction. It would be a one-story building with 219,311 square feet on that floor — but with a mezzanine of an additional 42,342 square feet.

Just south of that building, plans show parts of two more buildings, both labeled “by others.”

Before [Mount Pleasant Community Development Coordinator Sam] Schultz announced the Fii SMC building Thursday afternoon, it appeared Fii would bring an entirely different building project before village officials next week. The company had filed plans to construct a spherical, nine-story office building at the same address listed for the Smart Manufacturing Center....

Foxconn had submitted initial plans for the Fii data center for consideration at Zoning, Plan Commission and Village Board meetings this month, but has asked that they not yet be considered as they explore additional design options,” Schultz wrote.

A 260,000 square foot building? Not bad, but don't forget that the original Foxconn plans were for 20 million square feet. And remember, if Foxconn has 520 people working in Wisconsin by the end of this year, taxpayers will take up 15% of the cost of this and other structures, and 17% of the salaries of people working in it. Cool deal, eh?

It was the promise of that 20 million square feet that was part of the reason for speeding the expansion of I-94 in Racine County. And now that it isn't happening, even the Racine Journal-Times was questioning why the interstate had to be hurried through.
The shifting lanes, dramatic spike in crashes and all around frustration have been brought about because of the aggressive “blitz construction” schedule the Department of Transportation instituted for the project.

That approach has basically eliminated all shoulders and emergency lanes in the construction zone. And while the work will get done faster thanks to this approach, it certainly hasn’t made it safer.
And it was sped up for the benefit of a company that won’t do anything near what it promised, which means that we’ve unnecessarily caused a lot of stress and added crashes over the last 2 years. Riight?

You’d think that would be the next part of this editorial. But no. Instead, the Journal_Times complains about how the project to make I-94 4 lanes south of Milwaukee was delayed after starting in Kenosha County in 2009.
However, in 2011, the Legislature reprioritized its roadwork budget, letting the I-94 project languish until it eventually stopped.

The project remained dormant while legislators continued to haggle about roadwork, including how it should be funded and where the funds should be directed.

Then, when the Foxconn development was announced, the Legislature found new urgency in renewing the project, thus creating the “blitz construction” we’re in now — and all the problems it has created.
Which “legislators” are we talking about, J-T? Oh, you mean THE REPUBLICANS WHO RAN ALL OF STATE GOVERNMENT AT THE TIME? Nice use of the passive voice, you dicks!

And how convenient that this Freeway of Death (and many other local roads) were upgraded in the district of Assembly Speaker Robbin’ Vos! Funny how the J-T doesn’t want to mention that part, either.

“But Jake, isn’t Foxconn going to be partnering with UW-Madison as a training ground for future high-tech advancements?”

Here's more on that.
Citing changes in Foxconn’s executive leadership and business priorities, UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas described “no significant progress in discussions” relating to the $100 million investment, which was heralded at the time as “the largest research partnership in the university’s history.”

Foxconn announced last week that Louis Woo, who has often represented the company in Wisconsin and served as a special assistant to Foxconn founder Terry Gou, stepped down for personal reasons. Earlier this year Gou resigned as Foxconn chairman to pursue political office.

Foxconn’s master agreement with UW-Madison does not say how much it plans to provide the university or when, although the agreement is for five years. In fact, the 12-page document does not even mention a dollar figure and instead notes the company “intends to make a substantial investment in research and other activities” with UW-Madison, despite public statements in August 2018 referencing $100 million.

“UW-Madison is hopeful that discussions will move forward in the coming months,” Lucas said in a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal, adding that the $700,000 has gone toward a sponsored engineering research project.
Oh, but don’t worry. Once UW-Madison comes up with their $100 million, I’m sure Foxconn will follow with their agreed-to match. Just you wait!

In the meantime, Foxconn is glad to get the inside track from UW-Milwaukee and other UW schools as a ways to attract talent.
UWM officials said in 2018 that five students would participate in the 2018-19 school year.

“But then Foxconn realized they need to expand their talent pipeline pool and asked us to expand to 15 (students),” said David Yu, UWM’s faculty lead for the Foxconn internship.
Yu is then quoted in the article that Foxconn is hiring and taking on some of those students as interns.

So what have locally grown Wisconsin companies gotten out of this one-sided partnership, as potential employees are funneled to Foxconn and all of this infrastructure was sent to one region of the state? They're put as a disadvantage while we give all of this infrastructure and PR to a Fox-con that seems to have little direction, and isn't going to be close to the scale that was sold to people 2 years ago.

There's a lot over the last 2 weeks that I have left out, but the bottom line is this. You can't trust a word that comes out of the mouths of Foxconn, or the weak-minded hacks in the GOP and in Racine County that still claim this scam is worth anything close to what has been sunk into it. Get us out from under this albatross before the fiscal, environmental and social damage is even worse.


  1. I, for one, am so disappointed (but not surprised) that the media coverage of this fiasco never connects the awful accidents in that construction zone -- all dangerous road work done on-the-cheap and without proper safety precautions.

    Scott Walker's "Scott Holes" kill and so does this Foxconn scam. When you write about this, can you please be sure to tell the truth -- this is not just about crashed -- people are being seriously maimed and killed.

    Tony Evers is such a putz to just go along with this. My biggest fear is that a tRump/Walker-like candidate will come in and beat him just like Walker beat that putz Doyle.

    1. I've noticed mention of Foxconn's Freeway of Death, and it looks like they're crossing over to the other (newly completed) side this week. It might be a smoother ride, but I bet it wont be much less stressful otherwise.

      And I agree, the sooner Evers cuts the cord on this white elephant, the better.

  2. The closer you look at any aspect of this Fox-Con, the more empty space you see between the lies.

    Expect Vos, AM-Talk radio sociopaths and the other GOP-liars and puppets to send up an ideological smokescreen around this cluster-f*ck of a "project," and to perform incredible verbal spins to rationalize a continued shoveling of gobs of taxpayer money at these lying parasites.

    This sh*tshow will, of course, mask the ongoing economic apartheid our GOP-dominated legislature seeks to perpetuate and expand. Their masters, the Old-Money crowd, a cabal overstuffed with trust fund babies and other parasites, compensate the GOP Reps well for selling out.