Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

WEDC Shifts on Foxconn Contract

After saying board members could now see contract, they will allow vote only on staff review of it.

By - Nov 8th, 2017 10:27 am
Foxconn chairman Terry Gou and Governor Scott Walker signing a memorandum of understanding. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Foxconn chairman Terry Gou and Governor Scott Walker signing a memorandum of understanding. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Whoops, the deal with Foxconn is shifting yet again.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Agency (WEDC) was supposed to create a final contract with the Taiwanese electronics company, which has promised to create as many as 13,000 jobs at a promised $10 billion, LCD panel manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant in Racine County. In return for that, Foxconn would receive $3.8 billion in subsidies, with $3 billion coming from the state — the largest subsidy in American history given to a foreign company.

But as the Cap Times and then Urban Milwaukee reported, no members of the WEDC board were being allowed to actually see the contract they would vote on. Instead, board members would only be given a summary of the contract by WEDC staff and would be voting on that. “Any contract that WEDC signs is available to the public” only after it is signed, said Mark Hogan, CEO of the WEDC.

And even that contract summary was given at last minute, with little time to understand the details, as WEDC board member and State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) told Urban Milwaukee. “They don’t give you enough time to understand the details,” he complained. “We’re always a hundred steps behind them.”

But in response to this media coverage, Hogan did an about face, announcing that board members would be given a copy of the contract before they voted. “Given we are very close on the contract language, and given the size of the award, now is the appropriate time to make it available to you as board members,” he told board members by email, as the Journal Sentinel reported.

That led everyone to assume board members would be voting on a copy of the contract they were being given at the next meeting of the WEDC. Wrong.

“We’ve now been told we’re not going to vote on the contract, only on the staff review of the contract,” Carpenter tells Urban Milwaukee.

This would mean that no public officials would have voted on the final contract with Foxconn before it is signed.

“I would like us to vote in open session so everyone can explain their vote,” Carpenter says. He also intends to ask if board members can make amendments to the contract, Carpenter says. But given that they aren’t even voting on the actual contract, that seems unlikely.

As for the staff review of the contract, it keeps changing, Carpenter says, and has been given to board members in various pieces, with additional exhibits and amendments, rather than in one complete document. “It becomes very difficult to understand the changes being made,” he complains.

The vote is expected to be taken toward the end of today’s meeting, which takes place this afternoon.

4 thoughts on “Back in the News: WEDC Shifts on Foxconn Contract”

  1. Terry says:

    Made in America..yeah right…by low pay wage slave Americans subsidized by the tax payers with all the profits going to a Taiwanese, ahem, Chinese company

  2. Terry says:

    This is what happens when you let a career politician like Scott Walker who has spent his entire adult life mooching off the big government dole with no experience in business, the private sector or the free market make your business decisions Wisconsin. And now the biggest government moocher in the state wants to be Governor for Life. He’ll win and Wisconsin will continuebto lose and lose mightily.

  3. James says:

    Easy solution. The Board votes “no”.

  4. Rich says:

    @James, Ditto. Someone around here has to take a stand for “what’s right”. Grandstanding or whining via various news outlets isn’t cutting it.

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