June 1, 2009

SC Johnson, city emails offer intimate look
at how company secured tax exemption

Foster+Partners rendering of Project Honor's Fortaleza Hall being built on SC Johnson's Racine campus.

SC Johnson used considerable influence, resources and ingenuity to convince former Mayor Gary Becker and Gov. Jim Doyle to approve a property tax exemption for the company's Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and the new Fortaleza Hall, according to company emails obtained by RacinePost.

The collection of emails from 2007 and 2008 provide an intimate look at SC Johnson's top executives orchestrating the deal that one email from an SCJ vice president suggests could save the company $400,000 a year in property taxes. SC Johnson Spokeswoman Kelly Semrau verified that the emails were authentic, but said some of the emails provided to RacinePost were taken out of context.

We've reviewed the emails and and are reprinting select quotes from them as they relate to Becker's deal with the company to trade the property tax exemption for money for the Uptown arts district.

The emails show SC Johnson sought the exemption to limit the amount of taxes it's required to pay on the new building under construction on the company's Racine campus. They also show a close tie between Becker's plans for Uptown and a property tax exemption, and SCJ's ability to successfully lobby the governor for the exemption.

All told, it was a remarkable effort by SC Johnson to minimize the company's taxes, and a questionable decision by Becker to support the exemption -- which ultimately will cost the city, county and RUSD a fortune -- without making it public.

For its part, Semrau said SC Johnson was upfront with Becker about its intention to seek the property tax exemption for its Wright buildings and Project Honor. State law allows the governor to issue executive orders to exempt architecturally significant buildings from property taxes. It also allows educational tourist centers adjacent to the historic buildings to be tax exempt.

SCJ used the law to secure an executive order from Doyle to exempt its Administration Building and Research Tower, and the new Fortaleza Hall next to the Administration Building, from property taxes.

"There is nothing the company did that was wrong," Semrau said. "It was a legitimate tax situation."

The Tax Exemption

The leaked emails begin in March 2007 with company officials pondering ways to limit property taxes on the new Project Honor, which was looking at a $52 million price tag (see below).

On Wednesday, March 28, 2007, Robert Randleman, vice president-corporate tax counsel, wrote an email to Jane Hutterly, executive vice president of worldwide corporate and environmental affairs, seeking guidance on "the company's desire to save property taxes on the Project Honor building additions."

Randleman wrote:
Alternatively, if we were to reduce the annual tax tax cost but agree to provide the city with a one time contribution to develop Uptown, the overall savings would be significant. Also, there is a significant possibility that once the Fortaleza Hall is completed and the plane is in place, the city could assess personal property tax on the aircraft. This would not be the case if the building received a state exemption.
Hutterly responded on April 9, 2007:
My perspective, Bob, is we should take the tax exemption that is appropriate under the law. I also will have some discomfort if this means we are really pushing the regs; while not adding any new jobs; as it could appear that the "rich (Fisk / family) only get richer" when Racine needs the tax revenue. Under the current scenario, I would assume that that would mean the community building is not tax exempt. That portion could be TIF'ed and we could also supplement that with contributions as needed.
Semrau said the tax exemption was not a requirement for Project Honor. SC Johnson would have built the buildings without the exemption, she said.

But the exemption paid off for the company. While Semrau estimated the exemption would save the company between $190,000 and $240,000 per year, one email suggested the number could be closer to $400,000 per year.

Randleman wrote to Fisk Johnson on Jan. 7, 2008:
Attached is a copy of the Executive Order - to be signed by Governor Dole (sic) ... As a result of this designation, we anticipate that the FLW buildings and Fortaleza Hall will be exempt from real estate tax resulting in an annual savings of approximately $400,000.
Racine Unified

Early on, SC Johnson was sensitive to the Racine Unified School District losing tax revenue, according to emails. SC Johnson's Brian Anderson, program manager for community development, responded to a question from Scott Frey, SCJ's director of corporate services and facilities, about Unified losing tax revenue if the Administration Building and Research Tower are tax exempt.

Anderson wrote on May 17, 2007:
The schools lose $8,234 per year if the FLW buildings are excluded. In the total scheme of things at Unifies (sic) this is not a significant amount of money. I am not sure what the district would do with 10,000 annually that is off the tax rolls. One potential idea for the schools is to provide updated technology to them annually in some amount.
Semrau said SCJ does not have a plan to reimburse Unified for tax revenue lost to the exemption of the FLW buildings.

Project Honor's Fortaleza Hall will serve as an educational tourist center for people visiting SC Johnson. This rendering from Foster+Partners shows Fortaleza Hall with Frank Lloyd Wright's Research Tower in the background.

Educational Tourist Center

SCJ carefully considered how Fortaleza Hall could be included in Doyle's executive order. State law allows an educational tourist center adjoining a historic building to be included in the property tax exemption.

Frey wrote Anderson on May 17, 2007 asking:
Is the tax exemption provision written specifically for FLW or simply any historical landmark? Will we have some requirements around displays, messages, etc in Fortaleza Hall in order to assure we are meeting the intent of the exemption?
Anderson responded: "???" But subsequent emails show the company making changes to Project Honor to secure the tax exemption.

The company did not initially call for the Project Honor buildings to be open to the public, Semrau said. But the tax exemption for Fortaleza Hall required public access, she said. (Note: Semrau contacted RacinePost after this story was published to clarify that if SCJ had not received the tax exemption it would have still built Fortaleza Hall. "But maybe we wouldn't have opened it to the public as one example since keeping buildings open to the public are expensive due to upkeep, security, tour guides, etc.," Semrau wrote in an email.)

SCJ will hire tour guides and allow visitors into the building, which will pay tribute to the story of how HF Johnson flew the Carnauba airplane to Brazil to study the carnauba palm tree that launched the company's fortune. Sam Johnson and his sons retraced the trip in 1998.

Initial plans for Fortaleza Hall did not include educational exhibits for tourists.

Randleman wrote to Kristine Banan, title unknown, on June 1, 2007 (Note: MEA is an internal SCJ acronym that Semrau declined to define):
There is little doubt that the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings are architectural landmarks. I would like to see the MEA emphasize the fact that the adjacent Fortaleza Hall will be used as an educational tourist center. This could be accomplished by changing the fifth sentence in the fifth paragraph to read:

"The Hall will provide an area for employees to informally meet and will be used as an educational tourist center for visitors to the Frank Lloyd Wright administration building, Golden Rondelle and other areas of the SCJ campus."
Randleman wrote on June 6, 2007:
Had a brief conversation with Fisk today - he emphasized the fact that he wants us to proceed with the property tax exemptions for Project Honor. He said that we could include specific displays in the exhibit if it would assist us in proving that the exhibit is indeed an educational tourist center. Next step is for Jane to send the presentation deck to Fisk and she and I will meet with him to answer any questions.
Public Relations

SCJ officials carefully considered the ramifications of the tax exemption becoming public - something that didn't happen until RacinePost broke the story on May 7. (See a summary of our coverage on this story here.) The company was particularly concerned about a planned Journal Times story on Project Honor's groundbreaking. Hutterly didn't want taxes mentioned with the story, which was given as an "exclusive" to the JT.

Hutterly wrote to Randleman on Aug. 29, 2007:
I'm confident we can weather the storm on this and any outcry over the FLW / FH application to the state, and ultimately, the time of all of this would be connected by those who are doing their homework and would want to say that SCJ is trying to avoid taxes and doing their part. That said, it would be helpful to us on the public side if we could stagger the actions on all of this.
She added: "It would be very disappointing to all of us if a side bar article on the new building was "SCJ avoids taxes."

Fisk Johnson wrote Sept. 4, 2007 to Randleman:
"... if we want to delay the action (actual filing that may become public?) in this exemption process to avoid something ending up in the papers at the same time as the ground breaking article I leave that to Jane and you to decide. I assume if it is easy enough to make a short delay of the filing (?) and not incur any financial risk and avoid the risk of this ending up in the paper at the same time... then that sounds like a good thing. I would assume the PR to be manageable either way."
Cost of Project Honor

The actual cost of Project Honor is expected to reach $52 million, according to an email. That far exceeds the $36 million figure SC Johnson had shared in the past. Semrau said the $36 million number is the cost of construction of the building. The $52 million figure is the total cost of the project, including landscaping, furnishings and items other than construction, she said.

Hutterly wrote on Aug. 31, 2007, to Scott Frey and others with the subject line, "Fisk's $$ on PH with the Press":
What number are you comfortable sharing with the press? I'm not comfortable with $52MM. How about the construction number of $36.5MM?
Lobbying for the exemption

SC Johnson lobbied the governor for the tax exemption in the summer of 2007, according to emails.

Randleman wrote to Fisk Johnson on Aug. 31, 2007:
"The Pricewaterhouse Coopers representative that will be meeting with Secretary Berk on behalf of SCJ will also be accompanying the Commerce Secretary and Governor Dole (sic) on an Asian trade mission starting September 10. The PwC representative hopes to be able to take advantage of this time with Ms. Berk and the governor to informally pursue the topics discussed during the September 5 meeting and further advocate SCJ's position. This is a fortunate opportunity."
The company also worked Becker for his support, which was secured in November 2007, according to emails. Chip Brewer, director of worldwide government relations, wrote to Michael DeGuelle, SCJ's former state tax manager, on Nov. 12, 2007:
Mike - I spoke to Gary Becker and he is prepared to support SCJ if he gets a call from the Gov's office.
Brewer also wrote on Nov. 20, 2007:
Good news. I just spoke to the Mayor. He happened to be in the Governor's office today with a group of mayors on other business. Susan pulled him aside and asked him about Project Honor and he gave his strong OK.
Becker actually pushed former assessor Tom Kienbaum to sign a letter of support for the exemption. Anderson wrote on Feb. 13, 2008, to Jane Hutterly, Chip Brewer and Theresie Bode:
The assessor has to send a letter to Mike declaring the property tax exempt which is then forwarded to State to finalize this process. The meeting went very well and the mayor was very supportive and kept asking where does Tom sign. The city assessor is retiring at the end of the month so could put this off for his replacement to do, which the mayor assures me wouldn't happen.
Kienbaum didn't actually sign the letter. His successor Ray Anderson signed it on June 2, 2008. The letter, written to DeGuelle, reads:
We have no objection to you submitting the exemption application and our Office confirms its support for the full and timely implementation of the Executive Order's intentions.
Uptown TID

SC Johnson and the city worked closely together to create the Uptown TID, which will use an estimated $166,000 in property tax revenue from Project Honor's Community Building - it's not exempt from property taxes - to make improvements to the area, according to emails.

Semrau said the city approached SC Johnson about the Uptown TID. Emails among top executives indicate SC Johnson knew about the TID in June 2007 - six months before the idea was made public.

Fisk Johnson wrote an email June 7, 2007 to Hutterly stating:
I would like to push for as low an appraised value on the community building as possible (but I am fine agreeing to putting whatever that tax might end up being, based on that lowest appraised value, into a tif).
Hutterly responded on June 7, 2007:
We will put the final plans in place to do that and further make sure that your planned meeting with the Mayor next month coincides at the right time with our approach to the State for the tax exemption. We will also prepare appropriate key messages for the Becker meeting.
On Jan. 4, 2008, Brewer wrote to Brian Anderson, Jane Hutterly and Kelly Semrau:
Mike reports that this has gone to the Governor's desk for signature, probably within the week. We do not expect any press announcement about this. After this is signed, we can let the Mayor know and he can begin the TIF process. That is a public process and it is my understanding there would be publicity surrounding the TIF and the City's plans for Uptown development. We will need to work with the Mayor on those announcements and any announcements about SCJ contributions.
Brian Anderson wrote to Brewer and DeGuelle on Jan. 10, 2008:
I believe that these are two next steps, first a meeting with the city assessor to have the FLW properties taken off the tax roll and to inform him that Fortaleza Hall is not taxable and second, inform the city that we are ready to create a spot TIF to benefit Uptown.
Becker appeared to carefully consider the value of Project Honor in working out plans for the TIF district and the tax exemption, according to emails obtained from the city of Racine. He wrote to Anderson on Aug. 27, 2008:
Brian, just to follow up on our conversation a few days ago. It is my understand that the assessment of the property will be a minimum of $20,000,000. Please confirm if I have this right.
Anderson replied Sept. 2, 2008:
Gary, we have estimated that the construction cost of the taxable portion will be in the area of $20 million, however the actual assessment is determined by the state. We have not stated any amount as a minimum but we will not challenge the assessment that the state assesses.
$500,000 for Uptown

SC Johnson originally wanted to pay the city $30,000 a year for 10 years for Uptown, according to an email. But a series of emails showed the total increase to $500,000 and shifted from a 10-year payout to a five-year payout. The shorter time frame was crafted to maximize the benefit during Becker's second term in office.

Here's Anderson in the May 17, 2007, email (the "he" refers to Gary Becker):
I would go $30,000-over 10 years that is $300,000, which is what he would receive in 20 years under the current tax bill. This grant can be used for what he would like and doesn't go against the general levy or budget.
SC Johnson Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson wrote June 7, 2007 to Hutterly:
I wonder if we have a better chance of getting the mayor's support if we agree to $100,000 over 5 years versus $50,000 over ten years (since it will be more impactful to his term in office). I leave that to you to decide.
SCJ has yet to make its first payment on the five-year, $500,000 plan, according to city emails. That fact seemed to concern Racine Development Director Brian O'Connell in an email he wrote to Brian Anderson on April 16:
The flyer for the next speaker at the Rondelle came in an SCJ envelope. I thought it might be the check for the Uptown grant. But it wasn't. Everything still OK with that?
Anderson replied April 17:
Everything is OK, but some here want to meet with you and the new mayor after the election to make sure everyone is still on the same page. It is harder with some things here than at City Hall. The money is still committed but probably won't get to you until end of June, first of July. Sorry that this has to be so complicated.
SC Johnson reviewed the TIF budget and raised questions about some of the items planned for Uptown. In an email to O'Connell on Nov. 13, 2008, Anderson asked to see marketing materials planned for the TID and raised questions about the city's budget for the district. Anderson wrote to O'Connell:
Not sure why $50,000 would be needed for the Island at 14th as it already exists and it would seem that to put plantings into the island would not cost $50,000, but maybe I am missing something.
O'Connell replied on March 2, 2009:
The Uptown Association has discussed having an "identity feature" (fountain? planter/garden?) at the island. I like the idea but it is very vague at the moment.

The marketing item is for targeted marketing of the Uptown buildings to "artists." Advertising in specialized publications is one use. This is an item that could benefit from your insights and the insights of any SCJ marketing wizards.


  1. Oh Wow, this is some crooked stuff.

    Turn these over to the states Atty Generals Office please.

  2. I absolutely love the fact that SCJ has some (or at least one) disgruntled employee(s). Now, Just how do you find the mole Fisk?? LOL.

  3. Most excellent reporting Dustin. Keep digging, you're putting The Journal Times to shame.

  4. Attica, Attica, Attica, Attica........

  5. Crooked Company6/01/2009 3:47 PM

    "Semrau said the tax exemption was not a requirement for Project Honor. SC Johnson would have built the buildings without the exemption, she said".

    If this is the case, pay taxes on the stupid thing and shut up Semrau/SCJ.

    Prove it, don't just speak it!!

  6. The mayor and the city assessor endorse taking property off the tax rolls and it is all done in secrecy. Wouldn't want to let the council or the public know of this...

    Unfortuantely, this is all too believable.

  7. So the ivory tower does have shag carpeting!

  8. I often see a number of people mentioned in the story at social events. I knew they worked for SCJ but didn't know what they did. Now I do. They work to screw me and my kids.

  9. Great (fearless) reporting you guys! I guess part of that world-class technology that powers a facility with stale landfill farts was paid with tax savings like this. Another noted, wealthy set of liberal owners treading in the dark side of capitalism.

  10. Kelley, good luck whitewashing this one. This is some real low life behavior here. So much for the family company?

  11. Again - excellent reporting.

    Something I find very interesting is the fact that Fortaleza was NOT going to be open to the public until they realized the need to open it up to the peasants if they wanted their tax exemption.

    Almost makes me feel like an unwitting and unwilling accomplice in their scheme.

  12. May all Gods damn those who pulled this stunt,may their guts turn to worms.

    Thank You Post for doing this needed work.When I get some extra cash going to give it to you to help support you

  13. SC Johnson a really "Green Company" mostly in the form of money in their pockets I see!

  14. The sad thing in all of this is that Sam built a home for his airplane when he was alive. It was housed in a museum at the Racine Airport. His children are making a beautiful airplane unairworthy and putting it in a glass building to fade away. It should have stayed where Sam intended it to stay!

  15. My guess is that if Sam was alive and welltoday things would be different.

  16. We need The Lord Protector Cromwell, Fire and Sword.

  17. That's Billion with a "B"6/01/2009 7:54 PM

    The real travesty here is spending $52MM on a hangar for a plane that doesn't fly. No new jobs created and the city continues to crumble. At least I can sleep well at night knowing the state's poor smokers will more than pay for this hand out by the additional 75cent per pack tax that Doyle/Lehman and the democrats pushed through the other night. $6.50 for a pack of smokes. LOL.

  18. Travesty??? Get real. Jobs may not have been created, but certainly many construction workers, companies, etc. are earning a living on this project. But, why would you give SCJ credit for that???

    Oh, those poor smokers!!!

    Whine on!!!

  19. Jwax comes out mega-dollars ahead on this deal and then has the nerve to question the 14th Street island?


  20. The Translator6/01/2009 9:00 PM

    Racine Post, I have reamed you guys on some things, but I have to praise you for reporting this, because I assume you are under some pressure from "The Family Company" to stop. Keep it up and Thank you. And to the people at SCJ that are reading this- time to face the fact that the community is on to you. You are no longer viewed as the company that is saving Racine. You look like the company that wants to make money for the "Family" part of the family company, and to screw the citizens of Racine County, the kids in RUSD and your low level workers. Make this right, refuse the exemption and pay up. And Fisk, that sound you hear is your Dad spinning!

  21. "Travesty??? Get real. Jobs may not have been created, but certainly many construction workers, companies, etc. are earning a living on this project. But, why would you give SCJ credit for that???

    Oh, those poor smokers!!!

    Whine on!!!"

    You are an Idiot.

  22. I don't know if the people of Racine understand the significance of these developments. That company that tauts itself as the second coming is trying to cheat the community that supports them. It's absolutely shameful!

    nNot to mention their spelling.

  23. I have not heard one J-Wax hack on here defending their employer.

    Caught with your goodies in your hands.

    This makes me want to puke.

  24. 10:00 you will J Wax can hire many PR flacks as you will see. IMHO I think the Post is in for a real hard time.
    AS much as I take them to task about not liking Voss in this fight I am with them 1000% to the last man
    Then too Johnson's is just a bit embarrassed about this a few $$ tossed around is what will make this all go away.

  25. Has anyone sent this story to someone like Bill O'Reilly? This would give the Racine Post and Johnson Wax the national spotlight!

  26. Wow, reality check folks...
    Such vitriol remarks for a company that is a pillar to the community and the survival and existence of Racine and the surrounding area. All of your remarks are out of touch with reality. SCJ did what any good business would do, minimize expenses to maintain the company's bottom line all within the law. Take a look at the tax data on what SCJ pays for all of their local property - millions (see Racine County GIS Map Server). If they didn't invest in the property they have in Racine, who would? Where would we be now without that tax revenue? JB building alone pays almost 600K/year. Next door to JB, RAM pays 1K/year. If RAM can get a pass on cultural significance, then why can't SCJ for their significant architectural buildings? Bite the hand that feeds you, soon the hand will stop feeding you. Sorry list of complaints by a limited few that don't get it...
    SCJ - Thanks for all that you do for this community and the people that call it home.

  27. 12:07 -

    If they were such a pillar of the community why did they try and HIDE this?

    I don't care who they are or what they do for the community -- they should be held to community standards and those standards include honesty and openness.

  28. Really superb article. The insight into how these deals go down is a fascinating look at real life corporate politics.
    I am not that angry with SCJ as I am with Becker. After all is said and done the people working on this at SCJ were doing the job they are paid to do and under today's corporate mentality it's not so bad compared with companies that hide health and safety problems and/or are shipping jobs overseas in unbelievable numbers.
    I'm still not quite sure why they would spend so much for the airplane display. I do think that although the honchos saved a lot of tax dollars it could have been put to better use in R&D. Wouldn't more and better products be more profitable than a shiny new building?

  29. Anon 12:52...

    Timing is everything...they did what was in their best interest, aren't we all self serving in things that matter to us? They are a private company that made a request of the city and state and those two entities granted their request. Do you want to ask those same questions of Mr. Becker and Mr. Doyle?

    Would it have been better for the project not to be built? Would it have been better that they requested public assistance through a TIF? No matter what way this project was delivered, exemption or not, uninformed naysayers need something to B&M about. I think it's good for Racine & WI, we should be supporting local businesses & be thankful for their investment and all of the capital that stays in our community. Let's villify big business and send them packing like so many others before SCJ. Open your eyes folks, it's amazing, sometimes you can see the forest through the trees.
    My .02

  30. In a city where 1 in 6 is unemployed, in an area of the city where the majority of the population is in the 23% unemployed bracket this is absolutely shameful. If you think the Johnson's are doing things on the up and up for the benefit of our city and community, just how do you figure it is that they had a copy of the executive order for the governor to sign? It reads to me that they drafted it. Looks like once again business just told the government what to do. Again, at all of our expense? When does it end?

  31. That's Billion with a "B"6/02/2009 6:00 AM

    I'm an idiot? We would have some economy if all we did was spend money to build empty shells and put shrines in them. And if you think Wisconsin's smokers can pay for Unified instead of the property tax base, may God help you. Maybe someday someone will investigate the windfall for the Indian tribes selling their smokes thanks to Doyle and his taxes.

  32. Hey, with all the money they saved they can pay for the train they want so badly! How about leather seats for the executives in the KRM first class section?

  33. I will never look at SCJ or it's employees the same again.

  34. I don't expect Dustin to expose his sources, but normally corporations keep their email systems under very strict controls.

    For emails dating back to March 2007 to have been "leaked" may lead some to suspect that this is part of the information that Michael DeGuelle took from SCJ (especially since he is named in the story as a recipient of emails multiple times and this was directly related to his previous responsibilities as state tax manager). The scanned PDF of the letter (not email) from the City Assessor to DeGuelle supports this.

  35. Knock off the J-Wax bashing! They are vital to Racine's very existence. J-Wax continues to Give Give and Give to this community, and all you people want to do is Take, Take, Take.

    Sometimes it's important to give back... this is one of those times.

    Thank you J-Wax for being the most important business in our community.


  36. Racineonline

    How much they pay you?

  37. Racineonline, who is trying to take take take from anyone here? Sounds like SC just took Racine and the State. IMO. Lotta tax dollars the rest of us will have to make up for.

  38. S.C. Johnson projects to save at least $400,000 A YEAR from the tax exemption of Project Honor plus and additional $40,000 A YEAR on the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. I did not write the comment below, but it warrants being highlighted again.

    This is not coming out in the story, there was indeed a pay to play here between SC Johnson and Becker. The City of Racine lost out on this deal big time and remember how the property tax works. SC Johnson received a tax exemption - that means every other property taxpayer in the City of Racine will be paying more tax to make up for the exemption given to SC Johnson. Why is corporate welfare going to one of the most successful company's in the country when ordinary taxpayers in the City of Racine are lucky to afford to remain in their houses the way it is.

    This is reverse Welfare. Were are those Republican't when everyone complained about Welfare to people to sit around and do nothing? It is ok for all of us to pay more property tax so a big profitable company can make even more profits? When will the Johnon's have enough? They now need to take from the mouths of the working poor so they can make yet even more. Someone has pointed out that SC Johnson then gives "back" to the community. I see, so we pay more tax so SC Johnson can be more profitable and give back 5% of these additional profits in the form of so called charitable contributions. It seems to me that the taxpayers of Racine are still down 95%

  39. racineonline - go back to worrying about your chickens.

  40. Something is not right. It is odd that we only have SCJ left. This town is not doing well. It is like something from a Alfred Hitchcock film. Stepford wives, corporate manipulation. Maybe they are behind the new historic district too. I don't trust them. They like being the only one. That way they can manipulate our leaders like puppets. Shame.

  41. Thank SCJ? You know that used to be the attitude and thoughts about the slave owners. Helping the poor black man giving him the opportunity to work and live on his property saving him from Africa. Blah, Blah, Blah. It is hard to be thankful when they are getting richer and we will all be poorer. I am throwing out my windex I paid full price for. If what they did was right it would have been decided in the council on CAR25 like every other decision made.

  42. Very disappointing that there so many among us who would suggest we should remain silent while SCJ management conspires with the Governor to effectively deprive our local community of badly needed resources.

    It takes an outlandishly foolish person to suggest that silencing dissent as a benefit for social injustices during times like these.

  43. How come none of you ever mentioned the word "boycott"? Seems to me the best way to send a message is to spend your hard-earned dollars on another company's products. Use up what JWax products you have and stop buying them! Another radio show who might take up the controversy is Charlie Sykes on WTMJ.

  44. The Uptown Artist District is a pipedream for the city of Racine and the RCEDC. The city received its funds in a rather slimy fashion and the contact for the RCEDC has no art background what-so-ever.

    We sure have some slim working for, and running the city!

  45. That's the really sad part, SCJ is basically the only big employer in Racine so they get treated with kid gloves, special favors, etc... What the city, county needs to do is get MORE employers in this area, then SCJ wouldn't be the "golden child" and get the breaks and hinky deals and special treatment and hey more people would have jobs too...

  46. Anonymous said...
    The Uptown Artist District is a pipedream for the city of Racine and the RCEDC. The city received its funds in a rather slimy fashion and the contact for the RCEDC has no art background what-so-ever.

    We sure have some slim working for, and running the city!

    I assume from your post that you are also SLIME. as the old saying goes it take one to know one.

  47. All it takes is one National News story about how the rich SCJ is screwing the people of this down on it's luck town. Second most highest employment in the State, Crime is on the rise, thw Mayor gets busted for child enticement and the most prestigious employer in town is wiggling it's way out of paying it's FAIR share of taxes.

    Dustin you need to get National attention.

  48. I have a question. Why is everyone so shocked? This is a business. Part of a business' job is to find ways to save money. That's is what they did. Does it suck for the City of Racine. Maybe a little. What would suck more for Racine is if this company would leave Racine. They do employ quite a few of our Residents. What do you thing would happen if they left? We would have a bunch of citizen's unable to pay their own taxes and the city would be made worse.

    SJC didn't break any law from what I read. They found a tax loophole and used it. Wouldn't you if you had a chance? If you don't like it maybe you should write your State Senators and Representatives to change it.

  49. Anon 4:47 works for SCJ

  50. Once again, I will reiterate a statement that I have said numerous times on these blogs. SCJ has NEVER, I repeat NEVER paid a single red cent for ANY, I repeat ANY of my bills/loans in all of my 59 years of living. They have done squat for me.

    Leave town, I could give a rat's fat *ss!!!!!!

    Crooked politicians, corporations and hypocrites in this town along with that chrome dome Doyle!!!!

  51. How many of SCJ's employees even live in Racine? Not many, they all live in Caledonia or further. So they don't employee me or my neighbors. I think we should have our own boston tea party but with Windex and other cleaning products. I am tired of sniffing glade. I pledge to buy no more.

  52. Well said Jody. I can appreciate that there are others who will speak out and take action against these odd ball things that our city and its committees try to foist on us.

  53. I assume all you SCJ bashers feel the same way about Wild Jim Doyle. It takes two to tango.

  54. Has Fisk ever said anything to this community or does he always go through Kelly Semrau? Shows just how much he cares for all of us. Let him pack up that POS company and take it somewhere else. No one would want his corrupt company in their town.

    I commend Dustin beyond words for having the you know what to report on the true SCJ that has not been reported in this town for years.

  55. It just amazes me that SCJ has taken such a turn since the death of the father. Employees at SCJ think they are the shit. Many of them snub their noses at others. I've heard for a long time that SCJ isn't the company what people think it is.

  56. Urbban Pioneer6/02/2009 8:52 PM

    Sorry SCJ Bashers.. it doesn't look like anything corrupt happened here.. The e-mail discussion was looking into the impact of the decision, much like any conversation would go. I personally would've preferred to take the money and Raze all of the buildings on the North Side of Washington in Uptown, rather than engage in Becker's Folly of yet another "Art's' district. But as has been stated: Businesses look to save money where they can. They invest or make donations where it benefits the most from THEIR point of view. It is after all THEIR business, not ours.

    All of you who propose to boycott or slander, imagine the impact of SCJ leaving the city? How many other High end employers are clogging our Streets to bring the jobs here? I don't see any.

    If the Tax advantages of SCJ are keeping them here..why not propose similar Tax discounts to other companies to move here, or others to Stay here. If lower taxes keeps "Rich" people then let's LOWER everyone's Taxes. More Rich people in Racine would be bad because?????????
    Is Gov Doyle raising or lowering taxes? Is Emperor Obama lowering or raising taxes? What about Mayor Dickert and the Council??

    Simply stated Lower taxes make everyone happier that actually produces wealth. If I'm wrong and we lower your taxes and you don't like it....feel free to send your extra money into the State , local or Federal Govt. of YOUR choice.. I'll keep mine and If I have more than I need, I'll either invest it in the community,or give it to my favorite charity..or give it to my kids...After all it is MINE.

  57. "Anon 4:47 works for SCJ", now that is funny. Because I do not. Nor do I ever want to. Not that I think that they are a bad employer but I don't want to work for a corporation. I guess I just don't understand what everyone's beef is? Are you upset because you didn't get a job there or jealous because they got a tax break and you didn't? I don't know what Racine's problem is. But the negativity is really starting to drive me up the wall. Things are not as bad as "you all" think they are. I'm not complaining about taxes because they are inevitable. They suck non the less but are a necessary evil. I have grown up here my whole live and I love it here. Remember the saying the grass is always greener?

  58. Urban Pioneer

    With respect J Wax is no more the owners of this town and they expect use to be there slaves as the run this town into Hell.
    Gave give us the Grant Writer (their idea)
    The City Adim (their idea)
    take us for 400K a year just because its legal does not make it right
    My Guess is we will find that J Wax is behind the new Historical District too.
    Like I said before May all Gods damn everyone who willing helped do this and may their guts turn to worms

  59. Urban Pioneer, it becomes our business when decisions are made that negatively impact the community. Not all of SC Johnson's activities have been good of the City of Racine and exactly how many people have they hired lately? Many people working at SCJ; especially in the administrative support area are temps working at lower wages and no benefits. The only good thing about SCJ is that the company has not laid off its permanent full time employees

  60. Anon 10:21 - don't be so sure about them not laying off any full-time permanent employees. They have, but SCJ controls the Journal Times so it was never published. They also do it in different ways so not as to draw attention.

    For those who say SCJ is such a great asset to the Racine community - then why is Racine practically in ruins and continuing to deteriorate at a fast pace? They are blocking other business from coming here with their political influence as has been demonstrated in these emails. They want to control everything and will stop at nothing to keep that control.

  61. Urban - I would argue about the lack of corruption because anything that involves the public domain and is done in the shadows is already shady. Even if what you say is correct:

    1. Don't tell me you're a "family company" because what you really mean is your family, not mine
    2. Don't espouse liberal causes and let everyone know how much you give to charity while you create tax breaks for yourselves. I could give a lot more to charity - and tell everyone about it - if I could get a huge tax break!
    3. Corporate accountants are supposed to find tax breaks like this - fine. Every big company does this - fine. Every big company does NOT pretend that they are above doing this sort of thing. Hypocrisy is not a family value.

  62. The Johnson foundation has as its mission environment and quality of life. I think quality of life translates to everything being upper scale and having that appearance. Bull dozing houses and small businesses all around the castle. Requiring a historic district.....That would be pretty and all free to them.

  63. Urban....The problem here is the only ones getting tax breaks are the SCJ people, not me and not you.
    The 10$dollars added to your check on a weekly basis is not a tax cut. It is simply a early refund on next years return.
    The fed. and the State are not holding taxes nor cutting them.

    They are increasing them for all of those who contribute financially.

    The libs spoke of corporate welfare in the Bush administration, yet are silent as we mortgage the futures of all of our childrens lives. At a pace never seen in this country.

    Somehow Doyle is going to tax the oil companies, yet through some impossible miracle prevent them from passing this to us.

    How is that possible.

    Yet at a time when every dollar is important to all of us, he cuts the taxes of a single company and passes the burden on to the most burdened city in the state.

    Makes sense to you maybe, but not to any reasonable person!

  64. Are you trying to tell me you wouldn't personally take advantage of an exemption/credit if it became available to you? The bottom line is this action was legal by SCJ. However, I have to truly question the mayor's morals.

  65. The tax exemption SCJ used was meant specifically for historical buildings that were going to be torn down... not for profitable businesses.

  66. Anon 1:21 Exactly my point it was not offered to the people that would really benefit from it. It was only given to one, and only one "SCJ".
    Corporate welfare!

    The rest of us could use the help, not a group of golden spoon-fed Johnsons! IMHO

    I work my a#* off like many others not born into billions, I have earned all I have can they say the same?

    And someone felt they needed more help?

    Legal or not?

    It shows me nothing but self serving greed at all of our expense.

  67. concrete katie6/03/2009 4:31 PM

    good reporting, thank you.

  68. Anon 8:58 works for SCJ

  69. Anon 8:58 works for SCJ

  70. Ok - everyone wants to bash the big evil corporation for doing something nefarious. Sure, makes sense - absolutely. Let's blame the business that still has significant tax contributions to the city, county and state.

    While we're at it, let's forget that SCJ didn't just decide to do this on their own - they got "formal official LEGAL" approval to do this.

    No, let's not recognize this happened exclusively because it was approved by the executives elected by the residents of the City of Racine and the State of Wisconsin.

    You really want someone to blame for this? Find a mirror and start there. Elections have consequences - pay attention next time!

  71. Anon 6:40 - Yet another SCJ hack.

  72. Yes, that is quite funny. People I never voted for screwing me every chance they get - and it's my fault that they are in office making those decisions.

  73. This story has opened my eyes to SCJ. If I was doubtful before I am not anymore. I see what the agenda is. They get as much if not the most from Racine than any of us. Do you think Chicago would be wiping their noses?

  74. This is really peanuts. Chicago gave Boeing $41 Million dollars in tax breaks and GRANTS{free money} and $21 Million dollars in Property Tax relief, and a $1 Million dollar lease buyout of an exsisting local tennant; to relocate in Illinois.

  75. What law(s) did J-wax break here?

    Is this any different than you or I asking for a reassessment on our home? Or hiring an out-of-town appraisal service to buttress our cases?

  76. The Johnson companies and higher-ups are corrupt, through and through.

  77. Let's see some property tax exemptions for our economically-challenged citizens instead of the elite leeches in Lighthouse Loot Lord and Lucre Lady Land. Tax the Wax!

  78. Imagine the tax that would have come in on a building that cost over $100 million to build. It is a wonderful building but to call it tax exempt for the earlier reasons given is a stretch. Employee rec center, cafeteria and other non-educational things makes this quite a deal between SCJ and Becker. Gary should be locked up longer just for this one.

  79. Johnson Wax has been on a free ride for years. Word on the street is they pay "NO" taxes on their Wax Dale complex in Mt. Pleasant either.

    Things like this is what is killing the average tax payer. WE HAVE TO MAKE UP THE DIFFERENCE!

  80. They should have invited the Racine Post to their grand opening ----Now there is hell to pay!

    Big mistake LORD FISK !!!

    Shame on the gentry of the Wax Kingdom.

  81. Kudos to Pete & Dustin for exposing this scandal. Unfortunately, nothing will be done about this scam.

    Party On J-Wax / Doyle / Becker!!

    PS - I won't shed a tear if you leave this city.

  82. Well Folks at this point there are 83 posts. Many reflecting the sentiment of dislike about the arrogant attitudes of Johnson wax.

    But there are over 180,000 people in Racine County and this small whining session just doesn't cut it.

    I think "PROJECT HONNOR" is awsome -- but the family should be ashamed of the way their agents are doing these things.

    Sam C. Johnson's family may not be perfect -- but they were not brought up to skate on paying there fair share.

    Fisk and the Johnson Kids should take a better look at these fiscal skinflints that are the root of this issue.

    I'm Still praying for the new Johnson Museum/Library Complex.

  83. Dustin. For the benefit of the last post at 7:09 on 1/25/2010 Run the article again on the internal communication at the Wax Company when they went to obtain the tax exemption. J-WAX was just trying to sweeten the pot to get Becker to agree on giving them the tax exemption.

    I do give you credit though, Dustin. The Journal Times never has had the courage to exposure the truth of what is happening in Racine or the dishonesty and lack of morals by some of its corporate citizens. The Journal Times would rather aid the guilty and hide the truth. Just report the truth, let the public decide for themselves. Of course, if you are guilty, you are afraid of the truth. So what is it J-Wax - are you afraid of the truth or should everyone know about your corporate morality.