Racine County Economic Development Corporation is a Tax-exempt 501(c)(3) Organization which is funded by Taxpayers through solicited local Government Donations’ and brings together Private Corporate interests and Elected Public Officials, to do in secret what might otherwise prove to be unlawful. By Judicial ruling, what happens at RCEDC stays at RCEDC and the public has no access to any of RCEDC’s official business, which goes on behind closed doors. This is Socialist Central Planning, and you can be sure that the Public Officials who are on the Board leave with an agenda to implement the plans with the least public knowledge possible, especially if resistance by the public is anticipated. Where else was the secret Highway V Sewer Plan hatched? The Fox-Conn land grab, the abrupt KR expansion plan, the deeply flawed Scott Walker Foxconn WEDC contract, and so many other sudden and abrupt taxpayer funded schemes hatched? The lair of the beast is the unaccountable taxpayer funded non-profit 501(c)(3) RCEDC.
And if JT Publisher Mark Lewis is retired from the Board – you can bet he stays in touch, and (at least) listens to requests on how the News should be slanted to conform to the Agenda. As the paper of record for City of Racine, he is subject to being held on a leash.
Wisconsin’s open meetings law exists to ensure that government business, the people’s business, is conducted where the people can watch it happening. The exceptions to it, the instances where a governmental body can act in closed session, are generally limited to contract negotiations and personnel matters. That is as it should be.
As fierce advocates for the concept of “government in sunshine,” we were dismayed recently to read of the Madison School Board tiptoeing awfully close to the line between lawful and unlawful government meetings.
Under state law, school boards and other local public bodies must have a quorum — typically a majority or more — of members to take official action, and the action they take must occur in publicly noticed meetings.
“Walking quorums,” by contrast, are a “series of gatherings among separate groups of members of a governmental body, each less than quorum size, who agree, tacitly or explicitly, to act uniformly in sufficient number to reach a quorum,” according to the attorney general’s office.
They’re illegal because they can “render the publicly held meeting a mere formality,” according to the office.
Even if this practice does not violate the letter of the open meetings law, it certainly has the odor of not abiding by the spirit of the law.
Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council president Bill Lueders said the practice in Madison and in the Green Bay case “may not clearly violate the law, but it probably should be avoided, so as to not undercut the purpose of the open meetings law, which is to ensure that the deliberative process is public.”
First – the deeply flawed Judicial Ruling which opened the way to taxpayer funded Secret Government:
Sept. 23, 2014 – A state appeals court has ruled that the Wisconsin Counties Association did not need to produce records requested by the Wisconsin Police Association because the Counties Association is not subject to public records law.
Under Wis. Stat. section 19.32(1), certain “authorities” must produce records for inspection if requested to do so. Authorities include state or local offices, elected officials, agencies, boards, commissions, and other government-related entities.
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association submitted two requests for records from the Counties Association – a nonprofit organization whose members are Wisconsin counties – which refused, arguing that it was not subject to public records law.
In Wisconsin Professional Police Assoc. v. Wisconsin Counties Assoc., 2014AP249 (Sept. 18, 2014), a three-judge panel for the District IV Court of Appeals agreed that the Counties Association does not qualify as an “authority” subject to public records law.
The panel rejected the Police Association’s claim that the Counties Association is a “quasi-governmental corporation” that falls within the statutory definition of “authority.”
The Counties Association is a “corporation,” the Police Association argued, because Black’s Law Dictionary defines a corporation as an entity created under state laws.
And under a prior case, the Police Association argued, the Counties Association was quasi-governmental because it resembled a governmental corporation.
“As the Counties Association notes, “’ to be a quasi-governmental corporation,’ an entity must first be a corporation,’” and the Counties Association is not a corporation,” wrote Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, noting that nonprofits are unincorporated organizations.
The panel also rejected the Police Association’s claim that the Counties Association was considered a “governmental body” as used in the open meetings law. It said the Police Association forfeited that argument by not raising it at the circuit court.
“Moreover, even if we were to address the merits and resolve the issue, the Police Association does not persuade us,” Judge Kloppenburg wrote.
“In particular, the Police Association does not explain why a statute and informal opinions of the Attorney General which address open meetings ‘ought to be instructive’ when the topic here is public records.”
From this deeply flawed Ruling, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, with Judge Kloppenburg commenting, “As the Counties Association notes, “’ to be a quasi-governmental corporation,’ an entity must first be a corporation,’” and the Counties Association is not a corporation,” wrote Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg, noting that nonprofits are unincorporated organizations” the Pandora’s Box to Racine County’s Legal Secret Government was opened.
Second: Taking a look at RCEDC’s 2017 form 990. Concerned taxpayers can download a copy by clicking on: RCEDC 2017 Form 990
First page (part) showing that Non-Profits are indeed VERY profitable, and proving that RCEDC is a 501(c)(3) taxpayer funded organization:
And as the Form 990 shows on page 9, the overwhelming majority of RCEDC’s Revenue is Taxpayer Provided Government Grants – to the tune of $5,307,800 in 2017.
And a loss for a little taxpayer funded “Loan Forgiveness” worth $110,429 – wonder who this was?
Who says Non-Profits are run by unpaid Volunteers? It can be VERY profitable to be involved with a Non-Profit. And note that in 2017, RCEDC granted $38,000 to Cory Mason’s unaccountable Rootworks – and for a further taxpayer *SURPRISE*, Cory Mason just so happened to be a Board Member of RCEDC. And BTW – RCEDC is now up to $706,818 in FORGIVEABLE LOAN EXPENSE. Who’s getting the Forgiveness, because the Taxpayer is getting the shaft!
So just who sits on the Board of the taxpayer funded and unaccountable RCEDC? (2017)
From the 2017 RCEDC Annual Report:
And even though Taxpayers fund 72% of RCEDC’s Revenues, they are denied access to or knowledge of what goes on behind closed doors at Racine County’s Secret Government!
While the American Policy Center decries Public/Private Partnerships
President Trump is calling for a major new investment for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure of highways, bridges and more. There is no question that it needs to be done. However, it’s vitally important that local, state and federal government agencies avoid calls to fund this massive effort through so-called Public/Private Partnerships (PPPs). Local officials must understand that there is a vast difference between calls for a competitive biding process to select private companies for the projects verses an actual partnership with government.
But taxpayer funded RCEDC and the secrecy which surrounds it is probably for your own good.
While A Better Mount Pleasant Notes:
In an act of what can only be viewed as naked desperation, the Journal Times publishes a single commentary in the Sunday newspaper by Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci defending the #Foxconn deal while pillorying Governor Evers.
Set aside that Scaramucci has never lived in Wisconsin, has most likely never met Tony Evers, lasted a total of six days in his job as Communications Director in the Trump administration and later called Trump an “intentional liar.”
The JT Editorial Board seemed to believe this media clown’s opinion was a worthy and valuable voice in the Foxconn discussion. Weren’t the guys from Duck Dynasty available for comment?