October 13, 2009

'Everything is on the table' in tough times, Dickert says

Nine of the city's 14 TIF districts are failing, "and you're paying for them every day." That's one of the reasons behind Mayor John Dickert's approach to development proposals. "I can't afford to have a TIF go belly-up," he told the Racine Taxpayers Association.

He also discussed a such diverse issues as illegal Mexican immigrants, Metra, drug houses and foreclosures, explaining how they're all part of the "firestorm" of economic issues the city must deal with -- a new reality.

Dickert promised that his long-awaited 10-year plan will be incorporated into the city budget, its direction made clearer "in my budget address next Monday." Despite the city's $1.2 million shortfall in its $83 million budget, it can't afford to cut staff, not with the existing "17.2% unemployment rate." ("Nor are the jobless just the people you think; It's people with Ph.D's, master's degrees. They come up to me every day...") One thing Dickert has done is to direct the city's procurement departments to buy locally, "and they have responded very well."

Here are some of the points the mayor made:

Illegal immigrants: "There are only so many fights I can fight." The federal government, he said, "was paying to take people who hadn't committed a crime and putting them in jail. We said, 'why not take those who are selling drugs?' I'm not going to fill my jail with illegal immigrants." In response to a questioner, Dickert agreed that "illegal immigrants are here...they're wrong. I can't have an impact on federal immigration law."

Foreclosures: Forty percent of houses for sale are in foreclosure, he said, estimating that number may grow to 70%. A questioner asked about the property tax bill faced by those of us remaining, whose houses are not being reassessed down to reflect diminished value when the identical $200,000 house next door sells for $150,000."It is a problem; there's no skirting that issue," the mayor said. But rather than lower the property tax bill of nearby houses, the answer, he said is that "we're trying to build the other ones up" -- in other words, get the assessed valuation of that sold-for-pennies foreclosure house back up to what it used to be as quickly as possible.

Development deals: Noting some failed developments -- the Family Dollar store proposed for Uptown, the Sixth Street grocery, a housing development and a music club for State Street, etc. -- a questioner said, "I'm seeing a lot of dead bodies," and Dickert was asked why there were different outcomes. The difference, he said, was that some of the desired land was for sale (West Racine, the Southside Industrial Park) and some was not (State Street). The Family Dollar store deal fell through because the developer couldn't come up with financing. The difficulty the city had finding a developer for the Washington Avenue/West Boulevard site can be traced to the three utility easements on the property, which limit what can be built where.

As for Tom Tousis' gas station and restaurant in West Racine, subject of an RDA hearing last week, Dickert said, "They just gave us the option-to-purchase documents."

City land speculation: Dickert was called out on an earlier statement that "it's not government's business to be a land speculator." When it comes to State Street -- near the proposed rail stations -- the mayor agreed the city is speculating. The two-acre site the city has taken off the market "will be worth ten-fold when the train comes in," he said, maybe half a million dollars compared to the $75,000 it could sell it for now. In addition, the city is "grabbing the three properties across the street" -- drug houses -- and will also hold them for future development.

"In the past, we've dealt irresponsibly with our land," Dickert said. It would be "fiscally irresponsible" to sell the State Street property now, without waiting to see what's going on with KRM. When the Metra does come in, those sites will be hit on my many developers."

"Everything is back on the table," Dickert said, things like joint services with Caledonia and Mt. Pleasant, elimination of police overtime, joint dispatch, squaring up the border with Mt. Pleasant. "I don't care what happened in the past." He said he keeps asking the state, "how much more bone are you going to cut off?"

"I work 12 hours a day, six days a week," the mayor said. "And it's not good enough."

42 comments:

  1. "Nine of the city's 14 TIF districts are failing, "and you're paying for them every day." That's one of the reasons behind Mayor John Dickert's approach to development proposals. "I can't afford to have a TIF go belly-up," he told the Racine Taxpayers Association."

    If this is true why does Brian O'Connell still have a job with the City? Should he not be fired for failing to do his job and costing the city how much? Or perhaps since its tax money who cares?

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  2. Drug houses across the street from the super train weed lot ? Seems to me their is a Mexican grocery store and a Black bar there that operate every day.
    I know its a slum but nice way to describe the joints, almost the last of the State St slum tear down project. The old Houmann's on State looks pretty nasty as well.

    Sixth Street Grocery ?

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  3. Failed developments? TIF districts gone bad? Who was the marketing guy for 2 of the largest developments in recent years- Pointe Blue and Riverbend Lofts. One of the developers is in bankruptcy, the other in foreclosure.

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  4. Nine of 14 TIF districts are failing? That is my tax dollars. Who is responsible for those and why does he still have a job?

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  5. Looks like a successful track record. Whoever that is responsible for such awesome perfomance should be allowed to continue on his path to bankruptcy. Why not, he's just a staff member and staff members don't have to listen to the taxpayer. Tip for Mayor Dickert, pull out the sword and start cutting heads off. Doing nothing about the problem is just as bad as causing the problem. Remember Mayor Dickert, it is better that it's his head and not yours.

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  6. In a city that has a budget short fall of 1.2 million why are we not making cut's? Start with city development and work your way around to other useless department's. How much do we contribute to Kristain N. for her participation on the many different, and worthless committee's? You want to protect my money, than don't talk the talk, walk rhe walk! If you are serious Mr. Mayor, make a decision that counts!

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  7. "I work 12 hours a day, six days a week," the mayor said. "And it's not good enough."

    LMAO. Poor baby. You're the one who wanted this position so bad John, now DEAL WITH IT!!!!!

    Very few have sympathy for you!!

    Maybe resign then??

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  8. Resignation would be to kind! I for one want to see him burn!!

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  9. 'Everything is on the table'

    Except the 10 year plan that nobody has seen.

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  10. 10:34, it's on the table that is locked up in a undisclosed room at city hall

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  11. I am concerned about the tax assessment question. We are being assessed at full value from years back. Presently values are much lower. Rightfully the assessments should reflect what I can sell for. Instead they are going to sink money into a foreclosed home to make the value go up? The houses are not foreclosed on because of appearance. Mortgages were not paid.

    Where is the 10 year plan? This guy has more excuses than most. It will be in the budget? Who does that? Print it out clearly and let us see it. You campaigned loud, long and hard about it. Now show it to us and stand side by side with it.

    Don't be so afraid of your critics. If your doing what is right and your hands are clean you should be able to face anyone.

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  12. He obviously does not understand the principals of effective management and multi-tasking. Smoke screens, delays, crony deals and lies are his forte! Tell us about the clean beach boondoggle for his lady friend, again.

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  13. A pal at City Hall gave me some interesting tip on the budget. Never happen. Thinking the Mayor has little clue. He might be the big Good Old Boy but not even he can dismiss what Racine believes in

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  14. Mayor Dickert has a tough job in this community, as do other communities. He gave a good overview before the Taxpayers Association; now he needs solutions to bring back the economy in Racine. Suggest some good alternatives, not all your whining! Why weren't more community members there; we need more members so that information is distributed evenly. Nonpartisan group is their definition. Like to hear some positive resolutions to these tough times.

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  15. Dustin, should call Dickert and let him know about the west Racine thing. Maybe we can get the dirt pile lot back on the tax roll.

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  16. Dickert is so worried about property around a possible train station but yet today he toured Jacato Drive and there is no 10 year or 10 minute game plan in site. Quoted directly from Dickert "We need to get all of the owners together. We're trying to come up with a game plan (we need to say), 'this is going to be it, how are you going to fit into it?We've got a lot to do in this area. There's about three or four of these areas in this town." But yet he's not addressing part of the problem on Jacato the CRIME rate (same crime rate thats affecting the other 3 or 4 areas) Doesn't look like he was paying alot of attention, just head knodding and sipping his coffee

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  17. Correct me if I am wrong, didn't Treasures seem to be "under the table"?

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  18. I believe that the table is EMPTY

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  19. And now Dickert is on an out of state junket with his secretary. Who paid for it? We did. Way to tighten your belt like the rest of Racine. How many trips is that? Six? Seven?

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  20. Wow. On a trip with his secretary. Maybe him and secretary are on a "fact finding" trip. What is great is that we taxpayers are paying for it.

    Now Mayor Mc Cheese, will say Racine needs to tighten its belt.

    Hypocrite!

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  21. Speaking of belt-tightening, why does the city continue to support a useless zoo and a historical museum? (Don't worry--those white elephants won't disappear. Knowing the rich as I do, I can tell you that they'll continue to cut checks for these follies and status symbols.) Also, if the mayor wants to save money and do a good deed, he could abolish UNIT. That inspection team has been a curse to poor, elderly homeowners for years. They dread receiving letters from municipal Poobahs telling them to pretty up their residences when they can barely survive. I know that a certain corporate crime family owns companies which manufacture home-maintenance products. Is that evil tribe's influence the reason why our city building inspectors are so hyper-zealous in hounding the citizenry? Finally, if the mayor wants to reduce the city budget, he and his pals can cut out their little jaunts and junkets.

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  22. A junket, what more does he need to know about running this town into the ground? Can he not take his own notes on how to destroy a city? He needs his secretary with? Part of his "10 year I don't know what I am really doing unless it has to do with real estate plan"

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  23. His man secretary? HAHA. Look, this mayor needs some serious help. Just listen to how he speaks to others, in my opinion he talks down and speaks with disrespect to the majority, and if you disagree with him, watch out! Not to mention, this mayor is constantly late and not on time for anything! Poor way to represent the citizens...

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  24. Well, Dickert is a democrat. Why else you would bring a secretary to a out of town meeting?

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  25. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Storm-Racine/2009/10/15/Mayor-Dicket-at-Racine-Tax-Payiers

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  26. "Illegal Immigrants" translation: He's not going to do anything about it.

    Then, why should he? He's a liberal and liberals want to give illegal aliens amnesty, free health care, free education, welfare and the vote. What they should be getting is a free ride to the border! Take one goose-step back.

    "Foreclosures" translation: We're not giving anyone a tax break.

    Again, the liberal agenda. Why isn't he asking himself why the other 60% of homes are for sale? He doesn't want to hear the answers about over taxation and complaints about the many ridiculous overregulating ordinances, the unconstitutional UNIT organization and the fact that the unfriendly attitude towards business is chasing people out of town. Take another goose-step back.

    "Development deals" translation: The city council and RDA killed these deals, but I can't say that publicly.

    The truth is that the RDA and city council are a group of selfish, small minded individuals who don't want anything built unless "they" think it's appropriate or can capitalize on it. When 90% of the residents in West Racine that attended the meeting about developing the property at Washington and West Blvd. mandated the approval of Tom's grocery/restaurant/bank/gas station combination, why is the RDA and city council fighting them on it? You guys were elected to represent the people and execute their will. Yet here you are fighting an overwhelming majority that are in favor of it. Take another goose-step back.

    "Land speculation" translation: My real job is real estate and I don't care what the people of Racine want. I'm going to use the city's power to "grab" the three properties that are currently drug houses. I work so long and hard, please pity me.

    Bullhockey! He's going to continue with the same unethical practices he did in the private sector and if the people of Racine don't like it, that's too bad. And grabbing the three properties, to me, sounds like stealing them away from the current owners. Here again, the landlords are being held accountable for the actions of the tenants. Take another goose-step back John.

    I agree with Anon 6:14, quit wasting money on stupid pork projects (i.e. $50 for ugly art sculptures in a vacant lot by the railroad tracks, $550K for a bike trail when you can't pay the police or support the schools, quit trying to give away properties to special interests at the enormous loss of taxpayer dollars, etc.). Re-evaluate the people that heading some of the departments and committees and make the hard cuts that are needed. We don't have bottomless taxpayer pockets! Quit the rape of the property owners!

    Anon 4:53, Dickert has been encouraged time and time again to offer tax incentives and eased regulations for businesses to come to Racine, but he refuses to do it. Whatever the RDA, RAMAC and RCEDC says, he goes along with every time.

    Dickert, you're goose-stepping your way right out of office.

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  27. Sorry, that should have read, "$50K for ugly art sculptures..."

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  28. 9:54 a.m, Isn't his "Man Secretary" kind of funny and I don't mean haha funny! Get my drift?

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  29. I think it's just plain pathetic that he would have to bring his secretary anywhere, does he not know how to take notes or communite with people. He needs his secretary to screen everything for him?

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  30. He's a very big, important man now. Just ask him.

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  31. He's not goose stepping himself out of being mayor, he's cutting his own throat. No amount of current big business owners, no special interest groups is going to save this guy come re-election time. If he had a 10 year plan he would have spoken about his idea, goals, benchmarks etc, during his campaign, he talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. If we don't get someone as mayor who is going to get his/her hands dirty, mingle and care about the common folk and true well being of this city, its going to be a ghost town except for the criminals and the elites

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  32. Jacato drive is not going to be solved by spreading those nutters all over the city.

    The way you get rid of cockroaches is you shut off water sources and get them all to one area, like the kitchen. Then you attack them with poison. It works.

    We have a high concentration of criminals in one area. We need to put tough laws in place and go after them where they are. Pushing them out of the city. Not forcing them to spread out into deeper crevices, multiplying like their lives depend on it.

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  33. Spreading the criminals out would make our job of handling them much harder. At least we know where they are now. Step up enforcement and take a good look at our local laws to see if we can force them to take their no good butt to someplace warmer.

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  34. Anon 8:59 and 12:30, you stop short of the goal. We know where they are, now call in every cop in town, surround the whole apartment project, go in with search warrants and search every apartment in every building. In every one that drugs or illegal firearms are found, arrest everyone over 18 in the place. If they resist, shoot them on the spot. If they try to escape, shoot them down. Send a message to the gang scum of this city that the hay-day is over. Then, arm our police with more fire power than the gangs have and declare war on them city wide.

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  35. Is the mayor back from his liaison with his secretary? The city needs a fixin'.

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  36. Why was the Mayor rude at the KRM meeting? Is that how he plans to handle those who disagree with him?

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  37. That is because the mayor is always rude. He listens to nobody. Your words go in one ear and out the other. If you want to see how big of a pig he is, flash him some leg and he'll pant like a the dog he is.

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  38. Everthing is on the table - great let's eat!

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  39. Looks like the mayor is back in town after his relaxing weekend out of town on our dime, with his secretary.

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  40. What is the over/under on no detailed 10 year plan?

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  41. 3-1 not 4-1 we will hear why he is doing such a great job.

    6-1 that he will also say he bringing more Green jobs

    Given a chance he will be rude to the African -American community

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  42. No 10 year plan mentioned in the budget address like he promised.

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