Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Residents Outraged by Foxconn Fiasco

Many forced to relocate from Mount Pleasant. And Foxconn faces a $34.6 million ransomware demand.

By - Dec 8th, 2020 04:18 pm
Foxconn groundbreaking ceremony in June 2018. Photo from the White House.

Foxconn groundbreaking ceremony in June 2018. Photo from the White House.

The international publication The Guardian came back to Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin and found that many of its former residents, the hundreds who were relocated from their homes, are not happy. The story offers yet more evidence of what a disaster the Foxconn deal has become for Wisconsin.

In 2017, Mount Pleasant officials cleared the way for Foxconn’s promised $10 billion mega factory employing 13,000 workers on a 10-million-square-foot campus by “forcing hundreds of residents from their homes and turning the property over to Foxconn.” But that plan soon fell apart and more than three years later Foxconn has yet to manufacture anything.

“While Mount Pleasant residents are frustrated, they have largely directed their anger at local leaders” rather than the company, the story reported. “Those who spoke with the Guardian say the village waged a dirty war against its constituents in which it issued dubious eminent domain orders – a process by which the government takes private land for public use – and used other tactics designed to drive them out of their homes.

“Village leaders upended lives in the name of acquiring property for the company, residents say. Some continue to fight for their land while others took inadequate relocation packages and left. A few saw their homes seized by the village…

“Pristine new four- and six-lane highways now border and bisect the site’s fields. Village leadership claimed autonomous vehicles would fill the roads, but green John Deere tractors were among the few vehicles in sight on a recent afternoon. Many view nearly $320 (million) in water, sewage and electric upgrades that ratepayers must shoulder as unnecessary for the site’s four underused buildings. And earlier this year, Mount Pleasant began leasing farmland it purchased back to farmers.”

But Claude Lois, a village consultant hired to manage the project, told the publication that Mount Pleasant “worked diligently to secure voluntary agreements with property owners … and has succeeded in doing so in the vast majority of cases.”

But one resident, Kim Mahoneyargued that the “voluntary” process was backed up by legal pressure. “The mere prospect of a fight over complex eminent domain laws convinced most residents that they ‘had no choice but to accept the village’s offers, Mahoney said. ‘You feel like you’re up against Goliath.'”

“While some families won their battles with the village, the fight took an unimaginable mental toll, said Mahoney, who started using sleeping pills and blood pressure medication to deal with the stress.”

The village’s leaders are still defending the project and pointed to “thousands” of construction jobs created to build out the Foxconn site and $1 million in tax revenue paid by the company. But Mount Pleasant’s total cost for the project in $808 million, as Urban Milwaukee has reported. The deal does require Foxconn to pay $30 million a year in property tax payments, but not until 2023. If Foxconn walks out on the deal, state taxpayers would be on the hook to reimburse the village for 40% of that $808 million in costs or about $323 million.

Meanwhile, Foxconn faces more bad news: it suffered a ransomware attack at a Mexican facility over the Thanksgiving weekend, as the publication Bleeping Computer (love that name) reported. The attackers have demanded a $34.6 million ransom.

“Sources in the cybersecurity industry have confirmed that Foxconn suffered an attack around November 29th, 2020, at their Foxconn CTBG MX facility located in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico,” the story noted. “Since the attack, the facility’s web site has been down and currently shows an error to visitors.”

The attackers “claim to have encrypted about 1,200 servers, stole 100 GB of unencrypted files, and deleted 20-30 TB of backups.’

In a statement to Bleeping Computer, Foxconn said this: “We can confirm that an information system in the US that supports some of our operations in the Americas was the focus of a cybersecurity attack on November 29.  We are working with technical experts and law enforcement agencies to carry out an investigation to determine the full impact of this illegal action and to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”

Did this have an impact on the Mount Pleasant operation? Given how little is going on there, that seems unlikely, but the story does include a copy of a message about the “Wisconn Valley” site, suggesting some of its information might have been hacked.

One thought on “Back in the News: Residents Outraged by Foxconn Fiasco”

  1. Mingus says:

    I think there is one word from the vernacular that Donald Trump uses to describe the politicians who went along with this boondoggle: “Suckers”.

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