By John Ruberry

Last Monday I had a errand to run for work–which brought me to Milwaukee’s suburbs. And for the first time in five years I drove on Interstate 94 north of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line–on what is known as the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor.

A lot has changed since 2012. As I left a toll road south of the border and entered a true freeway–okay, to be fair, the toll road has been there for decades–I noticed a lot.

Businesses–with huge facilities–that weren’t there five years ago leap out at you. Most obvious is the massive Uline warehouse in Pleasant Prairie. The headquarters office of the industrial supplier moved a few miles north from Waukegan, Illinois into Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County in 2010. Its “Chicago warehouse” followed four years later.

In the 1980s Wisconsin’s tourism slogan was “Escape to Wisconsin.” Illinois businesses are now heeding the call.

Yes, the Chicago area has a couple of Amazon fulfilment centers, but farther north on my drive I saw a massive one in Kenosha–it opened in 2015. The Milwaukee Business Journal calls it “the largest in the recent Kenosha County industrial boom.” There is a “Hiring Now” sign out front.

Sears Holdings, an Illinois loser

South of Kenosha County is Lake County in ILL-inois. There is no Lake County industrial boom. There is no Illinois industrial boom.

Why is that? Sure, tax incentives from Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker have helped greatly. Illinois, when inept Democrat Pat Quinn was governor, offered tax breaks to Sears Holdings, which operates the Sears and Kmart brands, and Mitsubishi Motors, to encourage them to stay. This was a few months after a huge income tax hike was enacted. What about attracting new business? By all accounts Sears and Kmart are on life-support and Mitsubishi closed its Bloomington plant in 2015.

Corporate taxes might be slightly higher in Wisconsin–no place is perfect. But Illinois has the nation’s highest median property tax rate. And Illinois’ expensive workers compensation laws frighten business owners.

In 2015 Wisconsin became a right-to-work state. All the states that border Illinois except for Missouri are right-to-work states and Show Me State voters will be asked next year if they want to join the trend. Nearby Michigan has been right-to-work since 2012. Job creators don’t like unions and based on recent workplace votes, neither do workers.

Illinois has its 800-pound odious gorilla in its basement, a woefully underfunded public-worker pension system. Wisconsin’s state pensions are by most accounts fully funded. Businesses don’t like uncertainty and Illinois’ pension bomb, despite a massive personal and corporate tax hike put in place this summer, has not been defused. Not even close. Ka-boom is coming.

Blogger in Pleasant Prairie

This summer Wisconsin and the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor snagged its biggest prize, the Foxconn factory. The Taiwanese manufacturer will hire anywhere from 3,000 to 13,000 employees for its facility in Mount Pleasant in Racine County. Yes, Illinois had also bid on the Foxconn plant.

Indiana is also enjoying great success poaching Illinois firms for the similar reasons.

And when the jobs leave the people leave. And Illinois is one of only three states with negative population growth.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

Illinois BlagoBy John Ruberry

Isaac “Ike” Carothers used to be a Chicago alderman until he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from a developer seeking a zoning change. Ironically, his father, William, was convicted on similar charges three decades earlier  when he served as an alderman in the same part of Chicago.

Carothers is on the ballot again–this time he is running for an open seat on the Cook County Board. As the ex-con enjoys by far the biggest name recognition of the five candidates for that office, Carothers stands a good chance of winning in this month’s Democratic Primary, which will again make the Land of Lincoln a nationwide embarrassment, because in this heavily Democratic district, the general election will serve as a coronation.

In 2012, voters chose to send Derrick Smith, another Chicago Democrat, back to Springfield even though he was under indictment on bribery charges and had been expelled that summer from the state House of Representatives. An independent candidate was chosen by local pols to run against Smith in the heavily Democratic district–but Smith won easily anyway.

Smith, who is still awaiting trial, is on the ballot again this spring, but this time Democratic Party bosses are backing him.illinois lawyers

Not so with Carothers. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle held a joint press conference where they declared their support for Emanuel’s former political director.

Oh, I almost forgot. While state law prevents Carothers from running for a Chicago City Council seat, he can run for other offices, including US Congress.

This ignominy troubles the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn, a liberal, who is calling for what he calls “Ike’s Law,” which would prevent ex-cons running for any public office in Illinois. That’s a great idea.

In a column last week, Zorn wrote of down-ballot offices, “But in races for smaller offices, voters will be less well-informed.”

Zorn moves on from there, but in that sentence he hit at the core of the problem as to why Ike’s Law is needed. What Rush Limbaugh dubs “low-information voters” are a key constituency of the Democratic Party. Generations of party and labor bosses have drummed into their followers these two words: “Vote Democratic.” Added by, “Just listen to us–only listen to us.”

That is why Derrick Smith won his seat back two years ago.Cook County sign

And the problem low-info voters extends beyond Illinois. At an Occupy Milwaukee rally two years ago, I watched in disgust as Gilbert Johnson, an AFSCME local president remark about the Tea Party, “What you have is a bunch of haters, people that tell lies, people that want to go back to the ’50s. White man rule. White man only.”

I’m pretty sure that hate-speech–by Johnson and others–was parroted by other union bosses across the nation during the 2012 campaign. And by precinct captains and even preachers at rallies of all kinds–not just Occupy gatherings.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said on the floor of the Senate last week to “turn off the Fox News” so people can only hear her version of the truth about ObamaCare.

Also last week, in a speech to political supporters, Obama called on them to reach out to Republicans “who watch the wrong newscast.”

If the low-information in voters  in Illinois start watching “the wrong newscast” or researching issues on their own instead of listening to ward-heelers, community organizers, and demagogues, the presence of Ike Carothers on a ballot would be good for one thing–a plethora of chuckles.

But the Democratic Party needs those low-info voters. And shame on Zorn, a nice fella by the way, for leaving that crucial fact out of his column.

Oh, imagine that–a president making choices about the “right” or “wrong” newscast.

How far we have fallen as a people.

…not in terms of entertainment, Willie and Savannah are entertaining, (I really think the show is a good influence on younger journalists in the sense that it keep them from taking themselves too seriously, that will pay dividends, both personal and professional, for decades) but in terms of balance.

Item: The Wet sloppy kiss stuff continues, Pat was outnumbered 3-1 and discussing the poll without not pointing to the skew of the poll sample. It’s not hard to get a 53% approval when you have a 10 point democratic vs republican sample.

Item: They have talked about Sarah Palin only 4-1, O’Donnell gets props for pointing out that without Palin there would not be a strong counter point. Unfortunately for some reason although they’ve talked about her appearing for McCain (calling it uncomfortable). Not a word about the “dozens” in Searchlight.

Item: We are about to have our second hit on the Pope with Pat outnumbered 3-1 this time (Norah O’Donnell has joined the table along with Mark Penn), they are quoting Maureen Dowd, always an unbiased source on the church. O’Donnell is of course talking about “bringing down the church”. Pat brings up yet again that the liberal Milwaukee diocese role and the fact that the case came to the then Cardinal Ratzinger two months before the priest in question died. It was also very dishonest to suggest that the Pope reference to “gossip” was about the abuse in Milwaukee rather than the allegations people are trying to make against him.

It is not quite 8 a.m. yet EST so maybe we will see something different but it would be nice to see at least one more Conservative sitting at that table. I think it can be done without too many MSNBC viewers going Kryten.

Oh boy 8 a.m. and the Kelly O’Donnell joins the table creating as Savannah put it an “O’Donnell sandwich”, (I shudder to think what Stacy & Ace will do with that image.) that will add to the media balance, I do give Kelly full marks for pointed out how the Democrats managed to avoid recess to keep President Bush from doing recess appointments during his last term.

Update: Did I just hear Norah O’Donnell call the tea party people “good hard working Americans”? Did she point out the number of women as leaders? And then she goes and spoils it by repeating the Pope BS. Oh well. You take what I can get.