El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago is headed for Wisconsin on Tuesday for another one of his regularly scheduled wankfests, this one in Milwaukee.
He will deal falsely, the way he always does—on terrorism, on his opponents, and on the thousands and thousands of people who are wandering down Kilbourn Avenue in varying states of invisibility. He also will deal falsely on the economy. Like, for example, the expensive bag of magic beans he and his old buddy Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus whom Koch Industries once chose to manage this particular midwest facility, soaked the state for down in its southeastern corner. From Wisconsin Public Radio:
Seven months earlier [Foxconn] announced it would build a 22-million-square-foot facility in Mount Pleasant in exchange for one of the largest tax incentive deals ever made between a state and private company. Those plans have since changed. Foxconn is currently building a nearly 1 million-square-foot manufacturing building in Mount Pleasant that is expected to be open later this year or in early 2021. And in Milwaukee, Walker was promising much more.
"We see the ever-growing footprint of Wisconn Valley in this state, and we see what we like to call, the 'Foxconn bonus,'" Walker said. Over the next several months that Foxconn bonus included establishing innovation centers in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Eau Claire, Racine and Madison. Foxconn bought buildings in the cities' downtowns, promising to employ hundreds of workers at each site. The company said it would recruit from nearby colleges. Two years later, nothing has opened. And none of the 1,200 jobs have been filled.
So far, the Foxconn deal looks like one of the biggest bunco schemes ever foisted on a single state. It was going to be Walker’s glory train to re-election—and, who knows, maybe to another abortive national campaign. It was going to be a showpiece of the president*’s transformational dealmaking, even though he really had little to do with it; Walker was fully capable of falling down the well on his own.
Right now, Governor Tony Evers, who beat Walker in 2018, is in negotiations with Foxconn because the company has reneged on great portion of the original deal.
Foxconn's original agreement, which was approved by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and GOP state lawmakers, would pay the company up to $2.85 billion by 2032 through a combination of job and capital investment tax credits. The original deal called for the company to build what's known as a Generation 10.5 liquid crystal display plant, meaning it would have built some of the largest, most technologically-advanced screens in the world. When the deal was pitched to the Legislature, it called for 22 million square-foot manufacturing campus. The company has since backed away from those plans and is currently building a 1 million square-foot facility that could eventually build Generation 6 screens, which are smaller.
In a year-end interview from his state Capitol office, Evers said Foxconn's change of plans meant the two sides needed to change their contract. " All the terms of that contract are based upon something that's not happening," Evers said. "To me, it's not rational thinking and I think they agreed with me at that point in time that we need to change what it says because what it says is not happening. And so let's do it. I mean, it's not rocket science.”
If it were rocket science, maybe the whole thing might have been worth it. Or not. This has been a catastrophe ever since the president* showed up to turn some dirt with a shovel. Even in what the company actually is building, Foxconn is arguing for the same kind of worker safety policies that have required it to install “suicide nets” around its plants in China so its employees would stop jumping off the roofs. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Foxconn Technology Group wants permission to omit sprinkler protection in part of its factory — the second fire-related code variance the company has sought. A consultant’s report, prepared for Foxconn’s construction management team and included in a group of planning documents released last week by a state agency, says sprinklers can safely be omitted in the factory’s “stocker” areas if certain recommendations are followed...
The request is still pending...as [Foxconn] builds a nearly 1 million-square-foot flat-screen plant in Mount Pleasant. The company earlier asked that it not be required to treat steel in the factory’s roof with fire-resistant coatings. The state granted that request in September.
But the president* should feel free to pound his chest. Maybe they can give him another shovel.
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