Meet The Defendants Part II

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF WISCONSIN,

Case No.: 14-CV-208-JPS, Filed: August 21, 2014

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Read the Entire Complaint HERE

From The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Racine tavern owners re-file discrimination suit

Just weeks after their first effort was thrown out of court, several minority bar owners have filed a new lawsuit that accuses Racine city officials and the tavern league of violating their civil rights by corruptly conspiring to run them out of business.

The new suit sharpens its accusations that white tavern owners bribed the Racine mayor to tilt the city’s enforcement efforts in their favor.

A federal judge just last month dismissed the plaintiffs’ first lawsuit, calling it so broad and vague as to be “virtually functionless.” But U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller said their underlying claims may have merit, and should be investigated further through the discovery process. He allowed them to amend, narrow and clarify their complaint.

At 119 pages, the new complaint would not appear much narrower or more focused, though it has fewer plaintiffs and fewer defendants. The length comes from the extra detail that purports to show a conspiracy among some Racine officials and area business owners to make it harder for minority-owned bars to make it in the city, including claimed cash bribes and false campaign finance reports.

The suit contends that since 2006, the city has “waged war” on downtown businesses owned or patronized by minorities, purportedly over crime issues, while turning a blind eye to similar conduct at white-owned and patronized bars. In notes that by the end of 2013, there were no minority-owned bars downtown.

Pattern Or Practice:

 

50 years ago, Racine, Wisconsin was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. But times change, and so do cities. This is the story of change for one upper Midwest town that took away the welcome mat and hung out the “no vacancy” sign for Blacks and Hispanics.

Pattern or Practice peels the veneer off that shoddy pretense and provides a stark view of what institutionalized racism looks like. Racine, Wisconsin, once a manufacturing powerhouse, is a backsliding, post-industrial community with a race problem so pervasive that disbelief is nearly always the observer’s first reaction. By the time the final credits are rolling, that disbelief is replaced by anger, disgust, perhaps shame and hopefully a desire for change.

 

Meet The Clowns of Racine’s Non-Stop Three Ring Circus – Mayor John Dickert and Alderman Greg Helding

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First up is Racine Mayor John Dickert – who says he is secretly recording conversations and has Alderman Sandy Weidner on tape negotiating with a Mound Avenue Property Owner.

From The Journal Times:

In an Aug. 1 radio interview on WRJN, Dickert said Weidner and other aldermen who raised concerns were “creating more problems than what the initial problem was … to the point where they were infusing their conversations into the negotiations, which could cost the taxpayers more money.”

The mayor said he recorded Alderman Sandy Weidner negotiating with a Mound Avenue property owner.

Alderman Sandy Weidner called out Mayor John Dickert and demanded he produce the tape. According to Alderman Weidner:

Weidner said she was not engaged in any negotiations and said the idea of Dickert secretly recording conversations should be a warning sign for other aldermen.

“All of the aldermen should be concerned that John Dickert is privately and secretly recording conversations,” she said.

Racine Exposed agrees. There is something terribly wrong with the behavior and actions of Mayor John Dickert. It was only a few years back when John Dickert claimed he fired an Embezzler! See the post, Racine Mayor John Dickert’s First Lie On WRJN.

Weidner said that while the city attorney’s office couldn’t find a recording, Dickert could have a private recording, which she said he should make public or “apologize to the citizens of Racine for lying.

So now it’s time for Racine Mayor John Dickert to Put Up or Shut Up! Name the Embezzler and play the recording! Racine Exposed advises against holding any breath!

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The Journal Times also stated:

Dickert said the council would discuss the issue in its meeting tonight and declined further comment.

Racine Exposed can imagine what the John Dickert will be like at the Council Meeting:

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Meanwhile, Racine’s paranoid, delusional, armed, and potentially unstable Alderman Greg Helding believes that Residents are secretly plotting to “get him” and that they lie in wait to call the Police on him.

From The Journal Times:

In a letter to the commission, Helding said “extended family” sought his help after a situation they encountered after they returned from a camping trip late one afternoon in July. They intended to leave the camper parked overnight and unpack it the next morning. But city police received a complaint.

Responding officers were willing to allow Helding’s relatives to park the camper overnight. But when the complainant pursued the matter to the police shift commander, he ordered the camper moved. Helding said his understanding is that the complaint came from a person who has had his own code enforcement disputes with the city and that may have been the motivation for the complaint; it did not come from a neighbor, Helding said.

Can you imagine the NERVE of some taxpaying resident asshole who, after experiencing code enforcement disputes with the City, would expect the same standard be applied to Alderman Greg Helding and his extended family?

It wasn’t that long ago when Alderman Greg Helding, “explained at past meetings that elected officials could be easy targets for violence and that being allowed to carry concealed weapons in a city building could help them protect themselves.

While Alderman Jim Kaplan talked about ELIMINATING ISSUES….

See: City of Racine Officials Go NUTZ!

Has it come to this? That a Racine Alderman and his extended family are expected to obey City Ordinances? That Racine Residents spy on an Alderman, and report his every move to the Police? That Residents expect the Police to apply City Ordinances EQUALLY? It’s unbelievable! IT”S OUTRAGEOUS! What else can Alderman Helding do, except prepare to defend his-self!

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WHOOPS! Sorry – Wrong Picture!

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WELCOME TO BEAUTIFUL RACINE, WISCONSIN!

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Racine Mayor John Dickert cuts Police and Bus Service Yet Funds a Seasonal Lift Bridge for over $.5M

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The Dickert Disaster continues on in the City of Racine – which, for a City of it’s size,  doesn’t have a revenue problem, but instead a spending problem. In fact, many would argue that the City is taxing the residents out of their Homes, Businesses and Jobs, simply so that special interest wants can be funded over what is the legitimate function of government – to provide limited essential services to a Community at an affordable cost.

john hostage

The City of Racine, with a shrinking population under 78,700 has a massive and bloated 2014 budget of $81,628,921 yet claims it must cut Police and the BUS, because once again, Mayor Dickert says he is broke! So far, in a City with the highest unemployment rate in Wisconsin and a serious crime problem,  Mayor Dickert has reduced the Racine Police Department from 202 Sworn Officers to 194, with plans to cut 2 more.  Mayor Dickert continues on with his pattern of manipulating perception through deception while The Journal Times provided him with cover in this deceptively worded story:

Money for cops: City wants to fill vacancies

July 9, 2014: RACINE — With retirements looming and another tough budget year on the horizon, city officials are once again hoping to net a Community Oriented Policing Services grant to help them pay for new officers.

This time, however, they are hoping that if they are awarded the grant, officials with the Department of Justice will give them a little leeway when it comes to the grant’s requirements.

Speaking to the City Council, which approved the application at its meeting earlier this month, City Administrator Tom Friedel said that if and when they city learned it was approved for the grant it would be talking with DOJ officials.

“We are going to try to apply for a hardship provision and ask for some leniency,” Friedel said. “Given the nature of our fiscal situation, and we are going to ask for a dispensation in some of those areas the fourth year.”

Mayor John Dickert added that he had spoken with a national administrator for the COPS program, who said the city should “put in the application” and the department would see if they “can get the numbers to work.”

In addition to cutting the Racine Police Force, Mayor Dickert plans on cutting BUS service.

Bus service in peril, continued cuts likely

August 17,2014: RACINE Alderman Ray DeHahn didn’t mince words last week when he told his fellow Transit and Parking Commissioners that he couldn’t support any more cuts to city bus service.

“If you are going to have a city that survives economically, you have to have a viable bus system,” DeHahn said, backing a recommendation calling for zero service cuts and an increase in city funding.

The BUS is facing a projected deficit of between $250,000 and $350,000. The main reason for that projected shortfall is a lack of revenue, Stanek has said. Although expenditures are down and ridership is up, the system simply isn’t generating as much revenue this year as was expected. With local costs continuing to rise, and local governments unable to raise taxes, one of the few ways to address such shortfalls is cutting service, Stanek has said. 

YET – not one word had been mentioned about cutting the funding for the unnecessary and seasonal Lift Bridge operation that the City funds for the benefit of a few pleasure boaters – 3 months out of the year!

With plenty of vacant space at the County’s ReefPoint Marina which has a vacancy rate of  58% , with additional space available in other privately owned marina’s – all outside the confines of Racine’s  Industrial Canal, formerly known as The Root River; and with enough clearance under the two Lift Bridges for the majority of regular motor boats – why does The City continue to fund a 3 month seasonal Lift Bridge operation at a yearly cost that exceeds $.5M Dollars?

From Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig’s 2014 Budget – ReefPoint Marina has a 58% Vacancy Rate. It’s no wonder that Skipper Bud’s cut it’s losses and fled Racine dumping Reefpoint Marina and Belle Harbor Marina into Jim Ladwig’s lap. Then Jim Ladwig overpaid. Where is Common Sense?

Reefpoint Marina

Let’s take a look at a budget item which is NEVER discussed at Racine City Hall by the Common Council or the Mayor. The Lift Bridge Operation.

From the 2014 City of Racine Budget:

Click on image for BIG2014 General Budget 1

The 2014 Budget shows Lift Bridge revenues of $650,000 with expenses budgeted at $518,919. Where did that $650,000 in revenue come from? It came from the General Fund, which is property taxes! That fund is deceptively labeled “Bridge Maintenance” – but the majority of the fund pays salaries, wages and benefits to the 3 month seasonal Bridge Tenders who open and close the Lift Bridges for a handful of Tall Ships that anchor on Racine’s Industrial Canal, while the Harbor, outside of the Industrial Canal, has ample vacant space!

Racine DPW Revenues

$650,000 from the General Fund  for “Bridge Maintenance” in fund 101.520.6970, pays for the the Lift Bridge expenses, which include $382,459 just for salaries and benefits to operate these unnecessary Lift Bridges for 3 months of the year for a small number of Tall Ships which could harbor outside of Racine’s Industrial Canal.

Drawbridge cost

With $48,000 for utilities? Wouldn’t that mainly be electricity? Electricity that was so expensive that Mayor Dickert cut over 500 streetlights because it was breaking the budget?

Budget Cut Leaves Racine Residents In Dark

City Cuts 500 Street Lights In Effort To Fill Budget Gap

RACINE, Wis. —The city of Racine will soon be seeing some dark times as leaders start to turn off the lights.

 

Nearly 500 street lights are being turned off in an effort to save dollars in a very tight budget.  Racine Mayor John Dickert said  reducing the number of street lights can help bridge that gap.

Turning off Residents streetlights continues to fund the 3 month seasonal Lift Bridge operations! When does Racine City Hall talk about that?

So why isn’t Mayor Dickert or the Common Council ending the operation of the seasonal Lift Bridges and re-directing the funds to BUS service and Police Personnel? Why is the priority of Racine’s government so misplaced?

And why does the City of Racine have both a Mayor and City Administrator whose duties overlap in the same office – at the outrageous cost of $389,333? Is Common Sense lacking at Racine’s Common Council? It certainly appears to be the case. And over $1M for the City Attorney’s Office? What sort of corrupt operation is the City of Racine running that would require a budget of that size? And over-budget to boot!

2014 General Budget Mayor and City Attorney

And The City of Kenosha, with nearly 30,000 more people, and a 2014 budget of only  $73,923,249 versus Racine’s bloated budget which is almost $10M higher, has multiple harbors and doesn’t operate Lift Bridges. Kenosha simply requires tall Ships to harbor outside of it’s Industrial Canal.

Kenosha

Racine – Where Common Sense and Fiscal Responsibility is missing!

Racine Marinas

Concerned Racine Residents should call their Alderman and ask why Police and Bus Service is being cut, while an unnecessary 3 month Seasonal Lift Bridge Operation is being funded at over $.5M annually.

City of Racine Aldermen

Guide to The Games Of Racine!

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Sailing Ships!

Three Loose Cannons in Racine – John Dickert, Mark Gleason, and Marty DeFatte

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The roller-coaster ride for the overtaxed People of Racine County continues, as the Culture of Corruption rears it’s ugly head once again.

The TOP STORY goes to Racine Mayor John Dickert, who in an interview on WRJN, misrepresents Alderman Sandy Weidner’s position on Root Works, and then is called out, LIVE! and on the air  by Alderman Weidner as a liar!

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From Racine Community Media:

RACINE- ALDERWOMAN SANDY WEIDNER STANDS TALL AND CALLS OUT RACINE MAYOR JOHN DICKERT FOR LYING TO THE PUBLIC ON LOCAL RADIO STATION WRJN,  ALD. WEIDNER ASKS THE MAYOR, “HOW MUCH HAVE YOUR LIES COST THE RESIDENTS OF RACINE THUS FAR????!!!!”

ALDERWOMAN WEIDNER ECHOES THE THOUGHTS AND CONCERNS OF OTHER ELECTED OFFICIALS AND MANY RACINE FAMILIES AND RESIDENTS, IN REGARDS TO QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES WITH MAYOR DICKERT AND OTHERS AT CITY HALL.  QUESTIONS REGARDING MONEY, STAFFING AND SOME OF THE PROCESSES USED TO OBTAIN CITY CONTRACTS, REMAIN UNANSWERED AND SOME DOLLARS MIGHT NOT BE ADDING UP. THINGS SUCH AS,  ROOTWORKS, CAR25, PORTERS, CITY HALL REAL ESTATE DEALS, ETC.

RESIDENTS AND ALDERMEN HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR INFORMATION AND REQUESTING OPEN RECORDS REGARDING THE PRACTICES AND METHODS USED BY MAYOR DICKERT AND CITY HALL, AND HAVING TREMENDOUS DIFFICULTY GETTING ANSWERS TO SIMPLE QUESTIONS. ALDERWOMAN SANDY WEIDNER HAS HAD ENOUGH.

ALSO, CLAIMS OF CITY HALL TAKING MONTHS TO DEAL WITH THE MOST SIMPLE OF REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION ON BEHALF OF RESIDENTS, CONTINUES, AND A FEW ALDERMEN HAVE PUBLICLY CLAIMED THEIR FRUSTRATIONS WITH THE MAYOR AND CITY HALL, WITH PROVIDING INFORMATION THAT THEY HAVE REQUESTED.

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND LACK OF INFORMATION FOR ELECTED OFFICIALS AND RESIDENTS ALIKE, SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED. ALDERMEN AND RESIDENTS ARE STANDING UP AND SAYING ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. STAND TOGETHER & SAVE RACINE!

YOU CAN LISTEN TO A BRIEF CLIP FROM THE WRJN RADIO SHOW AT THE LINK PROVIDED BELOW. ENJOY & SAVE RACINE!

http://podcast.wrjn.com/wrjn2/4501047.mp3

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Coming in at second position is Mount Pleasant Village President Mark Gleason, whose ethics are questionable at best, and chooses to make decisions without the Village Board’s approval.

From the Root River Siren:

Did Mark Gleason Screw The Pooch On Mt. Pleasant Land Deal?

King Mark Gleason

Mark Gleason fancies himself to be “King of Mount Pleasant” and he answers to no one.

Taxes? He don’t pay no stinking taxes!

Allowing the public to ask questions during board meetings? Not Gleason, even if it is a village ordinance. Silencio!

Gleason’s royal ways have ticked off a whole bunch of people – he doesn’t care.

However HRH may have just screwed the pooch on a land swap deal with Sturtevant for water and sewer for a development just west of UNFI.

See, Sturtevant held official meetings on the deal. Jim Ladwig and RCEDC had blessed the deal and there is some speculation a developer may have been in the wings.

So what’s wrong?

Well, Mark Gleason apparently doesn’t think he needs to meet or consult with the rest of the Mount Pleasant board of trustees – because he, Whalen, Sturtevant, RCEDC and Jim Ladwig all sat down and Gleason said he had no deal, it was dead.

This “news” to Sturtevant (and the county) who had been meeting on the deal for months was a real kick in the can. Not to mention putting the development in jeopardy.

Not so much of a surprise for anyone who knows Gleason and his sidekick, Kurt Whalen, who pretty much do what they want. Whalen was quick to comment to the Racine County Eye:

“The Sturtevant Village Board voted and approved an agreement that the Village of Mt. Pleasant considered a work in progress,”

Sturtevant Trustee, Chris Wright, is having none of it. He quickly posted a comment which read:

“With all due respect to Mr. Wahlen, we would not have voted on something that was considered a “work in progress”. It was communicated to us by Mr. Wahlen and Mr. Gleason that the terms in the agreement that we approved were the ones Mt Pleasant agreed to also. These negotiations have been going on for months and our board has been updated after every meeting by our Administrator, President, and legal counsel. If that has not been happening in Mt. Pleasant it is not our fault.”

It seems that is news to Mount Pleasant Village trustees who can’t recall meeting, not to mention voting, on the deal. Whoopsie, that’s kind of a problem.

It seems almost impossible to imagine the previous Mount Pleasant administration, with its sex scandals and crazy cast of oddball characters was actually a step up from Gleason’s regime – but the Siren would take that lot back in second.

Naturally, Gleason is not answering his phone. Wonder how long that will last?

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In Third Position is retired Racine Police Officer, Shorewest Realtor, and Root River Council Board Member, Marty DeFatte, who makes the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s list of Delinquent Taxpayers - currently owing the State $5,318.73 in Income Taxes.

Marty Defatte Shorewest

From the Wisconsin DOR:

Click on image to enlarge:WI DOR

Looks like Racine Mayor John Dickert better hurry up with that Root Works/mound Avenue Bluff purchase, as Marty needs the $$$.

1251 Mound Avenue

The Culture of Corruption is alive and well in Racine County!

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Miracle on Racine’s Sixth and Water Streets Part II

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Who knew what and when. It’s always the key to making a killing on Real Estate through an Insider Knowledge deal. Is there a small group of Racine City Hall Insiders who have managed to score a few buys of the century? Who had Insider knowledge of future projects that would greatly increase their sales price and commissions? Why else did Mayor John Dickert and the Redevelopment Authority violate numerous Ordinances, make deals in secret, and maintain silence behind the scenes, only to suddenly spring the results on the Common Council and Residents AFTER the Grants and Loans had been approved?  Then, when honest and decent Aldermen pointed out that the process was in violation of Democratic principles as well as the law, certain other Aldermen demanded that the project go ahead anyways, AND in a rush!

Strangely enough, in the City of Racine 2014 CIP, which was adopted on November 19, 2013, there is an entry for TID 18, Machinery Row.  Yet TID 18 does not officially exist, and a TID is not something which is casually approved with just a vote from the Common Council. The creation of a TID requires certain Notices being sent, the creation of a Joint Review Board, Public Hearings, an approved Project Plan, a specific Timeline, and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue must determine certain property assessment values. While Racine Exposed has heard from various sources making claims that the TID is in the approval process, that is NOT what the Wisconsin Department of Revenue claims. In fact, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue has no knowledge of ANY current activities involving the City of Racine in creating TID 18. Neither does Racine County or RUSD. So why is TID 18 there, and was placing this item in the CIP and projecting future budgeting for the TID even legal? And under what Authority was that done? Is this part of the continuing pattern, or practice of Racine City Hall ignoring proper procedures, violating due process, and exceeding the limits of authority to act? Has Racine City Hall been turned into a Realty Office? Is speculation and blowing realty bubbles the name of the game? Only time will tell.

Proposed TIDs

It is the Wisconsin Department of Revenue that administers and regulates TIF’s, aka TID’s. For those who want more information on how TIF’s work, there is an entire WI DOR  webpage devoted to the issue. Click HERE to access the webpage and find answers to your questions. A current list of active TID’s from the WI. DOR may be accessed by clicking HERE.

Reproduced below is page 30 of the 2014 CIP, showing an entry for TID 18:

Click on image to Enlarge2014 CIP

The Wisconsin DOR has no current knowledge of a TID 18 in Racine, WI.

TID 18 Request

Which really brings into question the purpose and motive of suddenly announcing a $65M project on a rushed time table, and, according to Jim Bowman, direct involvement from Governor Scott Walker in approving  WEDC tax credits.  From the Milwaukee Business Journal:

Machinery Row Story

And not everyone understands the importance and value of the Historic Tax Credits – As Jim Bowman succinctly stated, “Without the tax credits, it would have been marginally economically viable at best”; and from WEDC:

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Of course, with the sudden announcement of a potential $65M development and the approval of Historic Tax Credits, many properties that were previously undesirable and that had been on and off  the market for a long period of time suddenly became salable.  Some of those properties were discussed in the post, Miracle on Racine’s Water and Sixth Street. Are other long time property owners looking to sell? It appears to be so.

Retired RPD Police Officer, Shore West Realtor and Root River Council INC. Board Member Marty DeFatte is looking for $$ Top Dollar $$ for 1251 Mound Avenue, which also, coincidentally, is the business address of fellow Root River Council INC. Registered Agent and Racine County Supervisor Monte Osterman. Currently assessed by The City of Racine at $150,000, Civic Minded Marty DeFatte is only asking a premium of nearly $40,000 for the property.

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Meanwhile, with only 31 days on the market, 1336 Mound Avenue is quite the bargain! Assessed at $90,000 by The City of Racine, the ad does admit that the property needs a fair amount of work and that no repairs or warranties are offered with the purchase. The Root River Project is just down the street!

1336 Mound Ave-bmp

Another price cut on 1101 Mound Avenue.  Assessed by The City of Racine at $585,000 and with only the third floor fully leased, this property can be bought for $798,000 – was $850,000.

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Meanwhile, scuttlebutt around City Hall says that an unnamed person has been hired for $15,000 to facilitate the purchase of the 1287 Mound Avenue property, whose owners may be reluctant to sell. The City has even talked about using eminent domain to take the property from the owners. That is NOT the story that Matt Sadowski told the DNR in his UNAUTHORIZED application for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship grant. Did Matt Sadowski just get caught lying on an application to the DNR?

1287 Mound Avenue:

1287 Mound Avenue

From The Journal Times:

The Council will not be asked to approve the acquisition and relocation plan for the five properties, Assistant Director of City Development Matt Sadowski explained Monday. By voting to support the redevelopment plan, aldermen will be voting to give the city or Redevelopment Authority permission to either purchase the properties or, if necessary, acquire them by eminent domain.

Sadowski said if the city could not come to a purchase agreement with any of the property owners, it would decide then whether to use eminent domain — based on how crucial to the overall redevelopment the property was. If the city did use eminent domain to acquire any of the parcels, Sadowski said, it couldn’t use the DNR grant money to pay for the acquisition of that particular parcel.

Why is Matt Sadowski, in a Journal Times article, threatening a potentially reluctant property owner into selling with the claim that he may use eminent domain to take what won’t be willingly sold? Why is The City of Racine allegedly employing a Negotiator for $15,000? For a bike trail? To remove 5 properties from the tax roles and shift almost $13,000 in taxes to other homeowners? Here is what Matt Sadowski told the DNR:

Mound Avenue ProblemsMatt Sadowski Statement

*UPDATED* Did Matt Sadowski also lie when he told the DNR, on his unauthorized application that the properties have been primarily residential, except for 1251 Mound Avenue? Did Matt Sadowski actually investigate the area or check the City of Racine property records?

Matt Sadowskis Claim

Property Zoning

There is also scuttlebutt around Racine City Hall that the owners of certain properties had been approached, potentially illegally, with questions about selling their properties, or if they would sell to certain individuals, prior to the announcement of the awarding of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant. It was told to Racine Exposed that City of Racine Attorney Rob Weber may have advised certain individuals  not to approach the owners – but they chose to do so anyway. If true, this demands an investigation.

When the evidence is examined, Root Works has the appearance of an ill-conceived and rushed plan, lacking proper planning and based upon speculation and lies. Announcements and plans are discussed, yet they have not been properly imnplemented or approved. Mayor Dickert seems to be attempting to blow a huge real estate bubble without any substance backing the plan. Lies and baseless speculation have been the foundation. The taxpayers need to watch out as the profits will be privatized while the taxpayers will pay all the costs along with the losses. There is no solid evidence anywhere that Root Works is nothing more than  SCAM-O-RAMA Racine!

Root Works Ripping Off The Taxpayer Again

When reviewing the many questionable actions that have been EXPOSED in this real estate scheme, the Reader should keep in mind that many of the government officials involved in Root Works are also currently involved in a RICO lawsuit which alleges that the Defendants engaged in:

• Extortion in violation of the federal extortion statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1951(b);
• Extortion in violation of the Wisconsin extortion statute, Wis. Stat. 943.30;
• Bribery in violation of the federal bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. § 201(b);
• Bribery in violation of the Wisconsin bribery statute, Wis. Stat. 946.10;
• Receiving an unlawful gratuity in violation of federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 201(c);
• Receiving an unlawful gratuity in violation of Wisconsin law, Wis. Stat. 11.25(1);
• Official misconduct in violation of Wisconsin law, Wis. Stat. 946.12;
• False swearing in violation of Wisconsin law, Wis. Stat. 946.32(1)(a);
• Honest services fraud in violation of federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 1346; and
• Money laundering in violation of federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i)

Further, Racine County Supervisor Monte Osterman is facing a Complaint that he, as The Registered Agent for the Root River Council INC. has fraudulently claimed it to be a Non-Profit Organization, failed to disclose his economic interests as required by law, and committed Misconduct In Office by misusing his position and authority in lobbying for Root Works and the Mound Avenue Bluff purchase.

In their Links to Other Partners and Programs, the Wisconsin Coastal Management does NOT list the Root River Council, INC. So where are the funds coming from? Below is a partial list, but Root River Council, INC. never appears on the list!

List of Non-Profits

Who knew what and when? Why it is the Root River Council INC. that has employed Vanderwalle and Associates since 2012!

Root Works Background

And did Mayor Dickert use his position to steer funds from the Costal Zone Management Act Grant #NA12NOS4190091 to Monte Osterman’s Root River Council INC., to retain Vanderwalle and Associates? From: Wisconsin Coastal Management Program:

2014 Management Council Listing

And if the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program doesn’t recognize the Root River Council INC. as  Partner or a Program that they administer, where is Monte Osterman getting the funds to retain Vanderwalle and Associates? Are Root River Council INC. employees and Board Members being paid? Where are the funds coming from?

 

Racine Equality Project Wins Racines Best 4th. Of July Float!

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REP Visual

The Racine Equality Project and The entire City of Racine celebrates Transparency, Truth, Trust and Justice for all on this Fourth of July, 2014!

Click on image to enlarge. These are huge images that need to be clicked on to enjoy the vibrant color and details!IMG_1217

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Brought to you by the Racine Equality Project!

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The Racine Equality Project!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Celebrating Justice for all as the Plaintiffs Continue to Seek Justice in Racine Lawsuit.

And The Racine Equality Project Files an Ethics Complaint!

Miracle On Racine’s Water and Sixth Streets

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Who knew what and when. It’s always the key to making a killing on Real Estate through an Insider Knowledge deal. Is there a small group of Racine City Hall Insiders who have managed to score a few buys of the century? Who had Insider knowledge of future projects that would greatly increase their sales price and commissions? Why else did Mayor John Dickert and the Redevelopment Authority violate numerous Ordinances, make deals in secret, and maintain silence behind the scenes, only to suddenly spring the results on the Common Council and Residents AFTER the Grants and Loans had been approved?  Then, when honest and decent Aldermen pointed out that the process was in violation of Democratic principles as well as the law, certain other Aldermen demanded that the project go ahead anyways, AND in a rush!

Cui Bono?

On April 3, 2014, The Journal Times ran an article, City council members’ question RootWorks grant, project (Exhibit 14); in which City of Racine Alderman Eddie Diehl is quoted as saying:

“He also has raised concerns about connections two members of the Root River Council — Monte Osterman and Marty Defatte — have to one of the buildings the city plans to purchase through the grant: an industrial warehouse at 1251 Mound Ave.

Osterman’s business, Osterman Granite & Marble, leases space in the building. Defatte, a real estate agent for Shorewest, is listed as a real estate agent on the property.

Diehl has said he is troubled that both men might unfairly benefit from the city’s acquisition of the property. He said Osterman, the only tenant at 1251 Mound Ave., might unfairly benefit from the estimated $25,000 the city could end up paying the property owner or tenant to relocate.

As for Defatte, Diehl pointed out that the real estate agent could have known ahead of time that the property was going to be purchased by the city and stands to receive a commission when the property is sold.”

Racine Exposed has already exposed the schemes and lies that surround the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant and the Mound Avenue West Bluff purchase. Posts which covered that topic include:

Root Works- Cui Bono?

Is Monte Osterman’s Lobbying Organization, (the) Root River Council Fraudulently Claiming to be Non-Profit?

Mayor Dickert’s Shady Deal and Stealth Property Tax Increase

With the rushed and sudden announcement by Mayor John Dickert that a $65M Project might take place in Racine, and with the sudden appearance of Rodney Blackwell, who owns the Davenport Quad Cities offices of Lee Enterprises and purchased the Lee Enterprises plane, along with Financial District Properties,  scuttlebutt abounded that City Hall Insiders were set to make a killing on Real Estate. Somehow Historic Tax Credits had already been applied for (and received, just under the wire), while the Milwaukee Business Journal erroneously reported that the Properties had already been purchased by FDP. Meanwhile, rumors abounded that someone was attempting to purchase Water Street properties that were in arrears on their property taxes.

Click on Images to ENLARGE.Machinery Row Purchase

From The Milwaukee Business Journal, June 25, 2014:

Machinery Row development project in Racine receives $9 million tax credit

Helping Blackwell get the tax credit is just one of several steps that the city is working on to help finance the project, said Racine Mayor John Dickert. The city also plans to go after New Market tax credits and brownfield grants to help get the project financed.

“Obviously this is a big step that was accomplished today, but it’s one of many steps that need to happen to make this project work,” Dickert said. “We’d like to get an announcement done in the next 60 days.”

No one’s sure under what authority Dickert is offering the City’s services, or how much it’s going to cost taxpayers, so let’s take a look at the properties and see if any City Hall scuttlebutt has the ring of truth. Maybe Dickert needs to roll out his Cousin, City Administrator Tom Friedel, to  once again explain to overtaxed City Residents the difference between the two types of money at Racine City Hall, Hard, and Soft.

Racine Exposed took a look at the Water Street Properties and checked all publicly available records and discovered that 3 of the properties were in arrears for property taxes, 2 properties were publicly for sale, while two properties had been purchased by SW Income Investment Properties LLC under “unusual circumstances”. Below is the current City of Racine listing of Water Street Properties along with the owners:

Water St. Search

900 Water Street, owned by Richard C. Olson, is in arrears for $82,826.11 worth of property taxes, according to Racine County:

900 Water St

900 water st pic

Next on the list is 800 and 1010 Water street, properties that are part of the Azarian Marina properties. Over the years, Azarian Marina has come on and off the Real Estate market and has been behind in property taxes, as documented many times in Racine Exposed. Below is an expired realty listing from 2012. Note the list of properties that came with the purchase of 800 Water St; 470, 712, 512, 702, and 308 Fourth St, along with the price of $995,000.

azarian marina

NOW, with announcement of a potential $65M Machinery Row project by  Mayor Dickert, 800 Water St. is suddenly a valuable property, but due to unpaid paid property taxes, it is vulnerable to the tax foreclosure process by Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig. And, like magic, it is being offered for sale, by itself. Someone knows the value of this land, and intends to profit!

800 water street pic

Zillow History

800 Water St.

1010 Water St. is also behind in taxes, and is now a hot property. Why hasn’t Racine County Executive  Jim Ladwig taken the property? WIth unpaid taxes in 2010, the process should have started in 2013, or was there another plan?

1010 water st pic

1010 water st. Zillow

1010 Water St.

Strangely enough, 702 Water St. had been for sale including 1010 Water St. earlier in the year. While the listing for 702 Water St. has been changed to remove 1010 Water St. from it, the picture remains! OOPS! The price remained the same, it just has one property less! See below:

702 Water St. For sale listing

702 W St.

702 Water St. Zillow

The correct picture for the main listing should be about where Mayor Dickert has his press conference announcing the Machinery Row Project.

702 Water St. Pic

And who is handling these realty transactions? It’s Re/Max Newport Realty, owned by Saint Catherine’s Alumni Raymond Leffler, who also owns Newport Development Group, and is part of the Leffler’s Real Estate corporation, Platinum Venture Group. It also involves his brother, Attorney Michael Leffler, who is also a 1981 St. Catherine’s graduate along side John Dickert, which makes the WAY in which this project has been handled by Racine City Hall, very interesting, to say the least.

Newport Realty

 

Cui Bono?   

The wise words of Alderman Words of Sandy Weidner concerning the Knowles-Nelson Grant fiasco will turn out to be prescient.

 

Alderman Sandy Weidner: “On the motion to refer to Committee. There are a couple of reasons why I think it is appropriate to send it back to Committee for a discussion by the full body. There are two issues that I think are important enough to be discussed at length. One is the logistics of this grant and the process in which, um, the City used to apply for it. Um. This never came to Council. There was money spent out of the Intergovernmental fund to pay for the appraisals. That money was never approved by the Council. And if we have one function, it’s, we control the purse strings. If we sit back and allow staff to spend money out of the IG fund, or apply for grants without our approval we’re heading on a slippery slope. The other thing, the full Council needs to be aware exactly what it is we are doing with that grant. I think the Knowles-Nelson grant would be a very important thing for the property that is already owned by The City of Racine. Part of what that grant is going to do once it tears down privately owned property is going to put in new lights, new benches, new garbage cans, along with what amounts to half a block strip along Mound Avenue. I get calls to this day from people in my neighborhoods that have lost their streetlights. Yet we can afford to take this grant money and money out of the IG fund to put into the equivalent of a half a block of bike trail. If you look at the plan itself it says you’re going to get the rural and the urban feel. They’re going to tear down five properties. We have no idea what the demolition costs are going to be. That’s never been discussed. Ever. We have no idea what the total cost of this project was going to be. Um. I understand that we’ll be losing $12,000 a year worth of property tax. To some people it’s not a big thing. To the people that I represent that are struggling to pay their property taxes right now it is a big thing. So it’s things that we need to be cognizant of when we move forward with this. The Staff has done a very poor job defining what the problem is along that River. Very good at proposing what the solution is. But I never, as much as I ride that bike trail. I ride it on a weekly basis. I have…”

Mayor John Dickert: (talking in background, interrupts) “Let’s wrap it up and try to keep it on point. Alderman Weidner.”

Alderman Sandy Weidner: “I don’t think that my discussion is any different than the speakers before me. But if you’d like me to save my comments to speaking to the motion, we can vote up or down sending it to the Committee of the Whole. Once that’s done I’ll speak all over again and finish my comments when we vote on the item. One way or the other.”

Have Racine taxpayers already forgotten the promise by Racine County and City of Racine elected officials that Reef Point Marina would bring prosperity to Racine? Twenty-Eight years later, and the taxpayers are now subsidizing the businesses at Reef Point Marina and there are still NO profits. The Marina is a liability with no actual real-world market value.

Meanwhile, the Belle Harbor Boondoggle still continues to cost Racine County taxpayers, who will now pay to fill in and redevelop what Racine County officials once proclaimed as:

“All in all, I think we’ve got a great deal,” Kornwolf said.

“I’m very pleased we could put it together so that it won’t affect the taxpayers one bit,”

The land seemed so attractive that county officials said they were extremely concerned that another buyer would outbid them. “It was a very big fear,” Janiuk said, noting the county, being a governmental body, couldn’t keep the talks secret. “When there’s a marina on the market, there’s always a threat somebody could step in,” he said.

Next week will be part 2 of this look inside some of the strange circumstances surrounding Root Works.

Flow-of-funds-5a

Bryan Albrecht And Gateway’s Unelected Board Add Another $7M In Debt

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On 13 June, 2014 Moody’s reported that Gateway Technical College was preparing to issue $7,000,000 in bonds to finance equipment purchases and various building improvement projects.

Click on Image to enlarge.June 13, 2014 Moodys

Note that the debt of Gateway, which is paid by property owners in the District and appears on property tax bills, will be $55.2M after the bonds are issued. Of course, The Journal Times failed to report the new borrowing and that the notes would be secured by the District’s unlimited tax pledge – which means it is to be added to District Taxpayers Property Tax bills.

In an April 18, 2014 Article,  The Journal Times did make a note to report that Gateway had managed, thanks to Act 145, to shift half of it’s tax burden from District Taxpayers to State Taxpayers.

“Under Act 145, the property tax relief act passed this year, the state will pick up a large portion of what local property taxpayers usually pay for technical colleges throughout the state, explained Conor Smyth, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Technical College System. It doesn’t mean a new pool of money for technical colleges, he said. It means local taxpayers will pay less, while statewide taxpayer dollars, now part of the state surplus, will be more heavily relied upon.”

Part of the smoke and mirrors game plan of State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos who claimed that tax shifting was actually tax relief. Good Grief Robin Vos!

“Vos, the Assembly speaker, said the biggest complaint he hears from constituents is about taxes and this provides relief.”

Tax Shifting

What’s more important is that The Journal Times played it’s part in fooling the People with the headline, Gateway property taxes cut in half. While it is true that on April 18, 2014, Bryan Albrecht and his unelected Board could claim, “The total amount taxpayers are budgeted to pay next year for Gateway is $28.98 million, down from $60 million this year”; it only took Gateway one month to add another $7M in debt, meaning that the amount District Taxpayers have to pay is now $36.98M and this figure will continue to grow every time Gateway borrows more. And borrow more they will!

Ever since April 2, 2013, when District voters turned down Gateway’s referendum to borrow $49M, Bryan Albrecht and his unelected Board have been making steady progress to turn their failed referendum into a reality through back-door borrowing that goes unreported in local media channels.

Gateway Vote April  2, 2013

RACINE — On Tuesday, residents across three counties voted down a $49 million funding request from Gateway Technical College for a package of construction projects.

The $49 million package would have funded seven renovation and expansion projects at the college, including a $15.6 million public safety training facility and a $13.5 million expansion and renovation at the Elkhorn campus.

Albrecht said that the referendum’s defeat means those projects are no longer a reality for Gateway, which can only approve projects worth $1.5 million without placing an item in front of voters.

So what Bryan Albrecht has chosen to do, because  Gateway can only approve projects worth $1.5M without a referendum , is to defy District Voters by breaking up construction projects into smaller bites and building it one piece at a time, just like Johnny Cash!

albrecht_165x214

One day I devised myself a plan
That should be the envy of most any man
I’d sneak it out of there in a lunchbox in my hand
Now gettin’ caught meant gettin’ fired
But I figured I’d have it all by the time I retired
I’d have me a car worth at least a hundred grand.

I’d get it one piece at a time
And it wouldn’t cost me a dime
You’ll know it’s me when I come through your town
I’m gonna ride around in style
I’m gonna drive everybody wild
‘Cause I’ll have the only one there is a round.

Since the defeat of Gateway’s $49M referendum on April 2, 2013, Bryan Albrecht’s “one piece at a time” strategy has managed to borrow $19.1M without District Taxpayers approval to fund equipment purchases and various construction projects. From Moody’s:

Gateway Borrowing

For orchestrating this “one piece at a time” borrowing strategy, and make no mistake about it’s importance to local union contractors and Gateway Board Member Roger Zacharias, who  is currently a Business Representative for the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters,  Bryan Albrecht has been amply rewarded with lavish pay and benefit increases in spite of the continuing high unemployment and economic misery for the working People that he taxes out of their homes and businesses.

ROger Zacharias

June 20, 2013, from The JT: Gateway board approves president salary increase

BURLINGTON — Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht is getting a raise and a bonus, the college’s Board of Trustees unanimously decided Thursday.

Albrecht will receive a 2 percent raise, bringing his salary from $210,000 to $214,200 annually. Albrecht will receive a $7,500 performance bonus as well.

YET, only eleven months later, the Unelected and Unaccountable Gateway Board would offer another huge bonus to Bryan Albrecht!

May 15, 2014, from The JT: Albrecht to remain at Gateway – offered $100K incentive for five-year stay

The incentive package gives Albrecht an extra $10,000 in salary and an extra $10,000 in a tax-sheltered annuity account annually. The package also allows Albrecht to “cash out” any unused vacation days at the end of each fiscal year, Bhatia said.

Currently Albrecht makes $229,500 annually and gets $35,000 put into a tax-sheltered annuity account annually, according to Bill Whyte, Gateway’s vice president of human resources and facilities.

The incentive package will only kick in if Albrecht stays at Gateway at least five years; it would then be applied retroactively, giving him $100,000 at that time, Bhatia said.

The package could be extended for an additional three years, and Albrecht will continue being eligible for regular salary increases during the duration of the package, Bhatia said.

Is it then any wonder why South East Wisconsin can’t compete in the Global Marketplace for  Businesses and Employment Opportunities?  Businesses continue to close while brain drain continues as People whose jobs are taxed out of existence move to more desirable and affordable areas of the Globe. Meanhile Gateway trains People for non-existent jobs and continues to loot businesses and property owners to pay lavish salaries and benefits to a chosen few. They are no different than the Robber-Barons of the Nineteenth Century -

Gateway Robber Barons

Meet the Unelected, Unaccountable, Irresponsible, and Ethically Challenged Robber-Barons of the Twenty-First Century:

Gateway 21C Robber Barons

Their Irresponsible Tax, Spend and Borrow schemes will only create more abandoned and closed Businesses and Homes in South East Wisconsin. From:Ruins of the Rust Belt: Haunting Photos of Abandoned Buildings by Seph Lawless

Milwaukee Abandoned Factory

 

 

 

VenuWorks Contract is to be Extended Two Years – Civic Centre to Cost Taxpayers $611,750 In Subsidies

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On Tuesday June 17, the Racine Common Council will refer the recommendation by City Administrator Tom Friedel to extend the contract of  VenuWorks of Racine, LLC by two years, to the Finance and Personnel Committee for consideration.

Click on Images to ENLARGE.Tom Friedel Letter

Is this in the best interest of City taxpayers and has Venu-Works turned the Civic Centre Enterprise into a profit center for the City; or it a profit center for Venu-Works of Racine LLC Registered Agent Rik Edgar and the multitude of vendors and contractors who service the Civic Centre and collect taxpayer funds?

From the 2014 City of Racine Budget, and you can download a copy to view by clicking HERE:

2014 Budget Enterprise

Enterprise is defined as:

Enterprise Defined

So is the City of Racine engaged in profitable business activity, or running at a loss?

Civic Centre Operation 2014 Budget

The 2014 Budget makes it clear that the Civic Centre has Expenditures of $889,750 and Revenues of $611,750, for a staggering loss of $278,000. Worse yet is the fact that the majority of the Revenue is from property taxes paid by residents, $326,750;  borrowing through the issuance of Bonds, $250,000, which must be repaid by taxpayers with debt; and the Room Tax, $35,000 which increases the cost of visiting and staying in Racine, thus discouraging Tourism.

Civic Centre Revenue

While Mayor John Dickert turns off and removes streetlights, cuts services, increases Recycling Fees (which were supposed to have gone away), seeks a Water and Sewer rate increase, and increases property taxes every year, in 2014 The Civic Centre Commission is planning on spending $50,000 on an interior redesign of Festival Hall, $45,000 on vinyl tent side spans, $25,000 on picnic tables, and $20,000 on pipe & drapes, tables, and carts.

Civic Centre Bonded Projects

Over the past several years, while Mayor John Dickert has cut services, raised taxes and fees, and even declared that the City is broke, funds have flowed to buy items such as: In 2012 – $11,029 on Tables, Booths and Chairs; $4,383 on stage upgrades, $3,821 on carpet, $200 for concession bars, $5,623 for grounds equipment, $11,938 for catering equipment, along with other items (see complete list below). In 2013 – $13,477 on stage power, $4,715 on carpet cleaner, $21,875 on kitchen equipment, $6,928 on landscaping, and $25,000 for a dance floor (see complete list below).

Civic Centre Expenses

The money flows, but not to City coffers or tax relief; it flows to service and equipment providers, and in large amounts. Of concern, is there an accurate account of this City property, and is old equipment being disposed of as required by City of Racine Ordinance Sec. 46-32?

Disposal of personal property.
(a) Any personal property no longer usable in or suited to a particular department shall be turned over to the purchasing department to be disposed of in the manner provided in this section. The purchasing agent may assign any such property not exceeding $1,000.00 in value to any city department for further use, or may sell such property and pay the proceeds into the city treasury. No such property having a value in excess of $1,000.00 shall be assigned or sold without the approval of the mayor.
(b) The purchasing agent shall hold an annual auction sale to dispose of all surplus personal property not otherwise disposed of during the year.

Below is a list of the Civic Centre Commission members, taken from The City of Racine listing.

Civic Centre Commission Members

Residents who may be concerned with the spending and losses incurred at the Civic Centre can contact their Alderman at:

City of Racine Aldermen

john hostage

 Venu-Works of Racine LLC Venu-Works of Racine LLC a

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Question: Any Idea what happened in 2012 to give them a profitable year?

Answer: Any report of a profit in 2012 was in error. The 2012 Audited Financial Report evidences that the Civic Centre lost $705,528. Financial reports can be found by clicking HERE.

2012 Civic Centre Audit

Racine Exposed put together a compilation of the numbers used in the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Budgets for the 2012 Civic Centre Budget to document the changes in the numbers over time. The numbers reported in the 2014 Budget are not consistent with the 2012 Audit, and were likely reported in error.

2012a

The Parking Enterprise. The Mayor reported the 2012 loss as $450,764, while the Audited Financial Report recorded the loss as $460,433, and the loss was estimated at $371,211. The estimated loss for 2013 is $662,390, however the actual is not in yet. The 2014 estimated loss of $330,379 will likely turn out to be fanciful at  best when the actual numbers come in.

Parking Enterprise Budget

Transcript:

Alderman Sandy Weidner: Thank you Mr. President, I have 3 questions related to this amendment.  My first question would be, I believe for Dave Brown, regarding the Mayor’s statement in regards to Sister Cities and the change of its focus from being relationship building to more of a business building. Would it be more appropriate for the funding for the Sister Cities to come from – rather than levy to come from the shared revenue funds, if the mission of the Sister Cities has changed?

Dave Brown: Well, that is a philosophical question I guess that I am not in a position to answer. That would be the decision of the Mayor when he’s putting the budget together, and this body as to what you feel is best.

 Alderman Sandy Weidner: Well, then I…

Dave Brown:  Either, either could be used

Alderman Sandy Weidner: I guess I’ll redirect that same question then to the Mayor.

Mayor John Dickert: If we should be taking this out of shared, er, the IGA fund?

Alderman Sandy Weidner: Correct, yes.

Mayor John Dickert: Is that what you’re talking about? The interdepartmental government affairs fund? Uh, where that fund is right now, and the sheer volume of organizations and developers that we’re talking to I wouldn’t want to take an additional dime out of that fund. It is getting extremely thin and the amount of work that we’re doing currently with the number of investors and developers we’re talking to I don’t think that we have, uh, I think actually that we’re going to run short on those funds soon.

Elections have consequences.

College Application

Alderman Sandy Weidner: Dave, what is the balance on that IGA fund?

Dave Brown: That is something I do not have right now. I can get it, get it for you, but I do not have that available at this moment.

Alderman Sandy Weidner: Do you have a ballpark?

Dave Brown: No Ma’am.

Alderman Sandy Weidner: OK.

Why was the City of Racine Finance Director Dave Brown at a meeting to discuss the budget if he wasn’t prepared to discuss the budget? What do the taxpayers pay him to do?

DB

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