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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Madison, LAIC Get $190K Earmark

At least I'm honest about my beliefs on the proper role of government... unlike the local GOP!

Madison's Lake Area Improvement Corporation and Chamber of Commerce Republicans just lost any authority to gripe about all those earmarks President Obama signed into law yesterday. Why? Well, because one of those earmarks sends $190,000 straight to Madison to add streets, curb, and gutter in the LAIC's crown-jewel Lakeview Industrial Park.

Madison's little earmark is one of the least among several bits of bacon brought home by our Congressional delegation. Senator Johnson earmarked a similar amount for downtown waterfront redevelopment in Pierre; Senator Thune (you know, one of those guys who will toot his 2010 GOP horn for voting against the omnibus spending bill) won an equivalent earmark for the Rural Learning Center in Howard. Both senators and Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin finagled millions more for roads, water projects, and research that will benefit South Dakota and look really good on future campaign flyers.

Ah, South Dakota, the welfare state. I will continue to chuckle at the Madison business crowd who pour their money mostly into Republican coffers but continue to enjoy economic growth thanks to big government largesse from Washington.

So tell me again: who's the socialist advocating redistribution of wealth:
  1. Madville Times
  2. Chamber of Commerce
  3. Lake Area Improvement Corporation
  4. All of the above?
Update 16:55 CDT: Kevin Woster captures this seeming local hypocrisy quite aptly. How do you tell a good earmark from a bad one? "The good ones come to South Dakota. The bad ones go elsewhere."


  1. I don't mean to be a pessimist, but if towns across the country similarly are getting money to enlarge industrial parks, who is going to go in there? Why wouldn't industry continue to choose cheaper labor locations like Mexico and China?

  2. I'm not sure of the definition of "earmark", but it seems you are implying it is unnecessary spending.

    The Industrial Park expansion south of Madison is exactly what we need for creating more jobs. If you went through the list of the thousands of so-called earmarks, and applied a standard of job creation potential to each one, the real screwy ones would float to the top in a hurry.

    This is good news, and when the Heartland Building, ICAP Building, East River's remodel and the new John Deere dealership start construction, Madison may just look like something "Unexpected" has been Discovered.

    My advice to those who have a dream is to get the land now 'cause Chapel's got it and he wants to move it.

  3. "This is good news, and when the Heartland Building, ICAP Building, East River's remodel and the new John Deere dealership start construction, Madison may just look like something "Unexpected" has been Discovered."

    While I think these new building projects are significant and laudable, I have to disagree with Anon that they indicate anything much to visitors to and potential new residents of Madison.

    With all due respect to those behind these good projects, the people who will return again and again as visitors to Madison or young professionals who might relocate here don’t give a hoot about these kinds of building projects. What they do care about is amenities. That means quality retail/restaurants, good parks and recreation, and cultural events.

    In these terms, the biggest bang for our buck by far would be a concentrated downtown revitalization program. Because frankly, I don’t care how fancy the new Heartland building is, when visitors head downtown and see the abysmal state of our formerly beautiful historic buildings (think Loopy’s—that poor building is an absolute shambles), that’s the lasting impression we will make. In fact, if we limit new building to industrial park projects, that could even work against us. When visitors see all of our funding going to that but none evidently going to improving the aesthetics and quality of downtown, that communicates a bad message. I realize that the new ICAP building is going to be downtown and will definitely improve the looks a little bit, but it’s off of Main (Egan) and it does nothing to improve retail. Oh, and are there plans for the old Heartland building? Because if they’re just going to leave another empty shell of a building in the downtown area, that doesn’t improve things much.

    We already do pretty well on recreation with the lakes, and parks/rec in town steadily improving (bike trail—which I hope continues to grow—and aquatic center are good examples). But if we’re really interested in attracting people, we need to work on downtown. This isn’t just an opinion; there’s gobs of research to back it up (http://www.mainstreet.org/ is a good place to start).

    What ever happened to our Main Street program anyway? The LAIC newsletter last spring had an article saying we were starting one here. What happened?

  4. [Thanks for stopping by again, Julie! ;-)]

    No, I'm not implying "earmark" is "unnecessary spending." I'm saying that the McCain/Thune Republicans that Madison's GOP so loves will try to make political hay against President Obama and the Dems out of those earmarks when in fact thousands of communities can benefit in exactly the ways you described. I'm saying, quite simply, that any local Republican who criticizes President Obama for signing the omnibus spending bill is a hypocrite.

    (By the way, how does ICAP apply here? They're not moving to the industrial park.)

    And Erin: indeed, is Dwaine so busy selling land in the industrial park that he's forgotten about Main Street?

  5. Why do the feds have to pay for curbs, gutter, etc for an industrial park anyway. Don't homeowners pay for their own? Why can't businesses. And why tout a new industrial park when we have businesses that are failing or have closed completely in the last few years? I don't think a new location complete with free gutters and curbs would have kept those jobs in Madison? I think the powers that be are focusing on the wrong end of the problem. Madison needs jobs. It has the workers. And it has the buildings.
    Just an example of fed bailout money earmarks that are a waste of my taxpayer dollars. I don't care if they get spent in Madison or timbuktoo. It isn't the fed govt's job to pay for this.

    But of course this is Obama's policy of "change," isn't it? Actually no change, just business as usual in DC.

  6. Just read the complete post here. I am also against Thune's earmark for Howard's learning center. A nice idea but IMO will be a complete waste of money. Who is going to come to Howard for a convention? If I'm wrong in about ten years, I will accept that, but I anticipate a big empty building in a small town in the middle of nowhere and a complete waste of taxpayer money.

  7. Boy Cory, for someone not in business, you sure seem to be the expert. Like any other topic you present. I like how you call this package a benefit. Define benefit. It will have to be paid for some how, some way, some day. Remember the little debit and credit section in Accounting 101. Apparently not. Again, I say spending money you do not have whether Republican or Democrat is a bad idea. If you can't afford it, you do without. Why do you consider this such a crazy idea. I know one thing for sure, I pay my way and now I am being asked to pay for those who misbehaved. You are asking me to accept this, I will not. Just like in nature, the strong survive, GOOD LUCK!

  8. Hey, Anon 11:08, don't tell it to me. Go talk to Republican Dwaine Chapel, who's smiling in the newspaper and taking this welfare check. Go tell James River Equipment, Heartland, and the other good businesspeople taking this money that they should send it back. See how they respond (and then report back here with quotes!).

  9. If you mean Anon 10:51, NO, you go tell them. I said Repulicans and Democrats alike. You are a long way from being off the hook on this one. It is very evident who is your saviour. The problem is, he can't take you through eternity.

  10. Anon 11:58, take off your ideological filters. they are causing you to really, really miss the point.

  11. Quite the contrary. You missed the point along time ago. Somewhere a liberal arts Professor painted 666 on your forehead and you bought in. You have lost the meaning of life and now feel threatened when your ideology is challenged. You are now governed by the world and will always be disappointed. There is peace, you just have to man up to find it. Just as I'm praying for grace for myself, I'm praying for grace for you.

  12. [Um, for those of you who actually live in this world and are interested in discussing the original topic of this post, big government assistance for local economic development and the hypocrisy of local Republicans, feel free to carry on. Never mind Anon, who keeps wanting to turn everything personal.]

  13. Um, When you call somebody a hypocrite, you make it personal. I hope your ill defined ego will allow you to see that there may be more than one way to solve a problem. I'm sure you will respond.

  14. If we can get the improvements we might as well take them, but clearly the point should be job growth. The LAIC should be given that goal to focus.

    And of course Erin asks a good question: What happened to Main Street Development? The LAIC doesn't have to answer to the taxpayer. Some think the city uses them to hide behind, and some think they use the city to help the big players with their projects.

    On a bad day I think we are a crappy, two bit stinking little town. On a better day one with some charm that too few appreciate. Do you want your kids to stay here???

  15. Erin has some good points, and as a young mom, I tend to listen to her emotional and recreational needs of our community. Madison would be so smart to encourage a downtown TIF District to get buildings tuckpointed, roofed, painted and energy efficient windows, insulation, etc. That would set up downtown for another 50 years. Madison has so much potential if the pieces start falling into place at the same time instead of taking one step forward and two steps back.

  16. Last two Anons: indeed! Downtown needs some serious attention. If the LAIC and other powers listened to the general public rather than just their good old boys network, they might realize that.

    [And Anon 3:09: I'm slightly flattered but more annoyed that you find me more interesting than public policy. I do not share your conversation priorities.]

    [Instead of changing the subject, let's address the original question of hypocrisy. Suppose I'm chatting with a local Republican who spouts the standard McCain/GOP line that earmarks are bad and that Obama is bad for signing these earmarks. Yet that Republican happily accepts some of that earmark money for local economic development. Is that not hypocrisy? And that's not personal: that's an honest criticism of contradictory behavior.]

    [You could spend all weekend proving that I have fleas and pimples (and proving
    anything would be a step up from your preceding rhetoric), but those efforts would not negate the hypocrisy of Republicans on this specific issue.]


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