As the man behind the curtain at goJefferson.com, my latest quest is launching the public access channels on the Charter cable system in Jefferson.
Religion and society
- Muscular Christianity in the schools? - In March 2007, the school districts of Jefferson, Fort Atkinson, Whitewater, Palmyra and Milton decided to hold assemblies of The Power Team, a group of Christian evangelical athletes, in conjunction with a five-day revival meeting in Fort Atkinson. I explain why the events should be cancelled.
- Countryside's Cross and Altar - A cross and altar bought with public funds? In February 2004, I was surprised to see a cross and altar at the front of the multi-purpose room at the new Countryside Home, our county's public nursing home. I asked the Board of Trustees to develop a new policy for religious meetings at the Home.
Jefferson City Council
- Olsen's Propaganda - David Olsen, expelled from his Chamber and City economic development positions in 2001, is now running for City Council. Read this to find out why he's not right for Jefferson, and to see my choices for Mayor and Council.
- Failed Coup - David Olsen, freshman City Council member, made his first motion on a topic not on the agenda of his second Council meeting. The motion challenged the Mayor's appointments.
- In Defense of Ald. Olsen - On the heels of his vote against the annexation of property intended for a Wal-Mart, pro-Wal-Mart citizens circulate a petition for a recall election to remove Olsen from office.
When will Fort change?
- All these years, Fort Atkinson's City Council has never allowed a "public comment" agenda item to let the public speak. In July 2010, I wrote about why this is important.
- St. Joseph's Industrial Revenue Bonds - The City of Fort Atkinson blesses industrial revenue bonds to let a church save a few percent in interest on a new building project on the edge of town, all propelled by the fiction that the school is separate from the church. Here's my opinion about the industrial revenue bond process and how, as in the words of a Fort Atkinson Council member, this is another fine example of good-ol'-boy politics.
- My letter above was soundly attacked by two letters-to-the-editor, so here's my response. In the first half, I challenge the writer to defend the closed-door method of economic development. In the second, I point out why the writer is attacking me - I can't do much more, because they said nothing about economic development.
Public access channels in Jefferson
- Public Access Television - Jefferson doesn't know what it's missing! It's missing something that you'll find in Fort Atkinson, Watertown, Whitewater, Lake Mills and even Cambridge: its own public access television channels on the cable system.
Jefferson County Economic Development
Earlier, my quest for useful public information for this web site led to an investigation of economic development organizations in our area... and they all seem to want to avoid public scrutiny but they're happy to spend your tax dollars.
- On the JCEDC - Like the Jefferson CIA and JDC, the County's economic development group is clearly opposed to any sort of public examination or participation. They're the ones trying to lure big businesses to Jefferson County, like gaming casinos, using about $120,000 of public tax money a year.
- More JCEDC - Apparently, the demands of economic development in Jefferson County are so light that it's possible to work a second job during the day while being an Executive Director. Also, while it's cool to talk about web sites in a County Board report, meanwhile the JCEDC web site has been in a state of disrepair for years.
- Biting the Hand - It seemed simple: there's a contract between the County and the JCEDC, saying the JCEDC will do X, Y and Z. But the JCEDC refuses to supply X, Y or Z, and the County Board continues to fund them. Updated to include Waukesha District Attorney Paul Bucher's response to my open records complaint, the JCEDC's proposed revisions to the contract, and my January 2002 open records request.
- JCEDC Disbands - Rather than surrender its records, and after many months of fruitless bargaining to restore their contract, the JCEDC decides to dissolve its corporation in November 2002. Also, the Wisconsin Attorney General's office responds to my appeal against Bucher's opinion - in short, the records should have been turned over all along.
- Sifting through the garbage - The County maintenance workers were instructed to snatch the garbage that was thrown out by the collapsing JCEDC. Here's what was found, and what wasn't found. Why does Marilyn Haroldson get to keep the records and even the office equipment of the now-dead JCEDC?
- Local DA doesn't want to hear about it - Jefferson County District Attorney took great offense at the "unwelcome and unwanted intrusions" of hearing about this issue.
How To Hide From The Public
- A Guide To Hiding Records - My "how to" guide for obstinate bureaucrats, to better learn how to avoid complying with Wisconsin's Open Records Law.
County Ethics Questions Go Unanswered
- No Ethics Administrator? - In April 2002, I began to wonder about the County's ethics guidelines. The County's ordinances state that District Attorney David Wambach is the County's Ethics Administrator, but he refused to respond to my question.
City of Jefferson Economic Development
- Negotiate with Wal-Mart in Secret?
Or How Jefferson Avoided Big Trouble - Do you think it would be unthinkable if the City decided to negotiate in secret with Wal-Mart? Think again. Here's how Beaver Dam did it, and how Jefferson came very close to doing it, too.
- Opening the JDC and CIA - After being told a key Jefferson economic development group isn't open to the public, Foust asks "Why?" and unravels branches of the City that wanted to stay hidden from the public eye.
- Charles Atlas Economic Development - Faced with insufficient funds and a demand from the Council to reorganize, the JDC spends $10,000 on professional development for its part-time Executive Director, and decides to disband the CIA.
- On the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce - Most people think the Chamber is an organization run by City Hall. It's actually a private corporation with a lot of secrets, little regard for its members, no public accountability, and its full-time director is paid entirely with tax dollars. Against its own by-laws, it meddles in public affairs with impunity.
- Two Sets of Books at the Chamber? - In December 2001 while the Jefferson City Council debated whether to release $8,500 to the Chamber of Commerce, it slipped out that the Chamber has a reserve fund of $30,000. Who knew about it? Apparently not even the Chamber of Commerce Board, and certainly not the City Council.
- The End of the CIA and JDC - Local media coverage has been scant. In the span of two months in the summer of 2001, the City of Jefferson abolishes the Commerce and Industry Association and the Jefferson Development Corporation closes its doors. How did this happen?
- Awkward Teen or Overfed Tot? - The masthead editorial of the January 31, 2002 edition of the Daily Jefferson County Union newspaper gives an understanding smile in the direction of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. Here's my answer.
- The Cruller - A discussion of the various doughnuts known as "cruller".