My Position On Foxconn

I'm not "holding out"

When I first learned that Foxconn had chosen Mount Pleasant and, more specifically, my backyard, in which to build its 10.5 Generation TFT-LCD manufacturing facility, my first thought was, “Well, we will have to move, but we can rebuild.”  My husband and I never wanted to stand in the way of a $10 Billion investment in our community and the creation of 13,000 “family-supporting jobs.”

All I asked for in my initial conversation with the Village’s consultant was to be made whole  (to be able to rebuild our brand-new house in a similar nearby subdivision with no out of pocket costs to us.) He said, “Our goal is to make you better than whole,” but that was a lie. While the Village turned the farmers into millionaires with your tax dollars, its consultants used fake road plans and blight to bully and threaten me and my neighbors to sell our property on its terms using eminent domain even though it had no authority to use eminent domain for our property.

We have always been willing to sell. We made four offers to sell our property to the Village of Mount Pleasant. Those offers were never shared with the Village Board by its attorney, which is a violation of attorney ethics rules. Instead, the attorney extended only one low-ball offer to us based on the Village’s eminent domain formula which would have left us hundreds of thousands of dollars short from being able to rebuild our brand-new home. We chose to stay.

While I welcomed the prospect of 13,000 manufacturing jobs, as I learned more about Foxconn and its history of making similar commitments only to scale back or abandon its plans altogether, its poor working conditions and treatment of employees, and its poor environmental record, I became increasingly skeptical that our leaders had made a good investment for our community. It turns out I was right.

Foxconn has changed course and now plans to build a smaller facility that will, by its own admission, only require 1,500 research and engineering positions rather than the promised 13,000 manufacturing positions. In fact, it failed to meet its minimum job targets for 2018 and was on track to fall short of its targets for 2019. The company is also far behind schedule to invest $2.1 Billion in capital expenditures for the development by the end of 2019. Economists say this project will never turn out to be a good investment for Wisconsin.

So where do we go from here? I believe we need to immediately suspend further spending on infrastructure for the development and withhold all incentives to Foxconn until it begins to meet its obligations under the contract. Alternatively, we need to renegotiate the contract to better protect Wisconsin taxpayers, and, at the same time, encourage Foxconn to continue investing in Wisconsin as promised.

We don’t need another rubber stamp to push through more spending and overlook the abuse of power by our local municipalities. The “…best interest of the majority” should not include higher property taxes, the erosion of private property rights, risking the health of our residents, and damaging our natural resources.