The first question from the Chamber of Commerce debate on Monday was about Brookfield having the 3rd highest tax base. The answer from Speaker was unexpected.
Kilkenny commented that, We have been sold a myth: that development saves you money. Because of that high tax base, the taxpayers end up supporting other places because of revenue sharing. (We send tax dollars to Wisconsin and get a smaller amount in return to support our schools because we have that high tax base. In other words we are subsidizing other poorer communities' schools with our wealth.) She emphasised we need to control spending from the top down.
Speaker made a point of saying, something about our secure commercial base and ensure our tax base.
And then he went on to say something that I thought had little to do with the question: I have taken money from developers. When you have been a police officer for your career, you don't have a lot of money to put into your own campaign. I am taking that money to get my message out.
The fact that he has accepted so much developer money, yet denies it influences his vote or the setting of the agenda for the plan commission shows how little he understands the process. Money talks; people listen.
There may be no real connection between the donations and the plans coming before the plan commission, but the perception that there is a connection, sure is there.
This is an issue at the Federal level and State level. I recently received a letter from my state senator and in it there was this information. "According to a Jan. 15th Associated Press news article, 'Contributions from road interests to state candidates tripled, from about $150,000 in 1994 to nearly $475,000 in 2002. During that period, legislators boosted state funding to the annual road construction budget by 44%.' There are far too many bills passed in Madison that favor the top campaign contributors."
Many of us in Brookfield think far too many projects passed in Brookfield that favor the top campaign contributors!
Remember VK and associates contributed $750 and mall owners $1,500 to this mayor's campaign. Capitol Heights was passed over vehement neighborhood protests and Calhoun south expansion that will benefit VK is in the works. Don't forget that city staff was looking for ways to assist VK in the Swanson Swap too. The mall is part of TIF 3, which will cause the taxpayers of Brookfield to miss out on additional tax levies for about 20 years.
Even IF there is no real connection between the donors and approvals, the money represents Developer support for the favorable way things have been going for them. So, while it may not have directly bought them influence, it is a measure of their preferential treatment and their wish to see that treatment continue.
Kilkenny's special interest group is the voters.
I have no problem with her being beholding to us! Remember the MJS quote
,"There's one thing I won't do,' Kilkenny said. 'I won't move into the inner circle and dump the voters that brought me to the dance."