Most Popular ‘Back in the News’ Columns
Ron Johnson, Foxconn, Kyle Rittenhouse and the richest people in Wisconsin all made news.
Perhaps because it is such an important swing state, Wisconsin seems to get more national coverage than many states from media leaders like the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN. No one personified that phenomenon more than Wisconsin’s Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, who won repeated headlines and lampooning by the national press in 2021. In 2022, however, facing an election many predicted he would lose, Johnson seemed to tamp down his style, avoiding all those conspiracy theories he loves to peddle. Even so, he was the subject of two of our most popular Back In the News columns, detailing the huge amounts of campaign contributions he has received from the NRA, far more than outspoken gun rights advocate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and how Johnson used a tricky legal maneuver to save tons in federal taxes.
America’s wealth gap has also become a divisive issue, and its impact can be felt in Wisconsin and figured in two of the most popular columns, one detailing that the state’s eight richest people are now worth a jaw-dropping $58 billion, with John Menard the richest of the rich. Also getting richer in Wisconsin are the three non-resident billionaires who own the Bucks, Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan, who have seen the value of the Bucks rise five-fold since they purchased the team in 2014.
A key reason for that increase in value is a public subsidy for Fiserv Forum worth more than $800 million. Nowadays nearly all pro sports teams get a taxpayer bailout. And the business people who have proposed to build a soccer stadium as part of a complicated “Iron District” development near 6th and Michigan told Urban Milwaukee they would need a subsidy, which was reported in another of our Top 10 columns. The precise amount wasn’t specified, but Louisville was cited as a model, where the city contributed $15 million and the state provided a $21.7 million in tax incremental financing.
That story was in June, but in December the project’s developers downplayed the need for a subsidy in a story by the Biz Times. Yet they seemed to be keeping their options open. Just how that plays out in 2023 is likely to be a subject for a future Urban Milwaukee story.
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