Cantlon: Trump and the Dells, expected results
On Trump: Two years ago I wrote to friends to expect a legally inconclusive result from the Mueller report because of course there is no document of Trump explicitly promising Russia something for their help.
Trump's early moves on Russian sanctions:
Trump asking for Russian help on TV
Trump foundation shuts down with court supervision
Open space money spent on streets
But there is a mountain of known actions. Trump admitting he got rid of FBI director Comey and Attorney General Sessions because he wanted to control the investigation, his seeming endless desire to be Putin’s buddy including one of his earliest acts being steps toward undoing sanctions against Russia that were in response to Russian meddling, his senior staff including his son eagerly meeting with a Russian operative who claimed to have dirt on Hillary for the purpose of influencing the election, not to mention Trump, on TV, asking Russia to produce hacked material on Hillary, again, to influence the election.
An analogy would be a politician favorable to big oil. If there’s a secret meeting to get money in exchange for favors, that’s a shakedown or a bribe. But if the candidate simply says publicly they’ll push favorable bills, and the oil company spends big helping them, that doesn’t cross any legal line. When a presidential candidate, however, does similar with representatives of an adversary like Russia, it’s wrong, immoral, disloyal, and unAmerican.
And regardless of A.G. Barr’s suggested conclusion, Trump’s openly admitted efforts to obstruct the investigation are just that, obstruction. Between that, consequences that may yet come from the open attempts at collusion, and the many other legal problems like charges of misuse of his charitable foundation, the Mueller report will eventually be seen as an early chapter in a long story.
On the Dells: City council rejected the Save the Dells resolution for 500 specific acres of the development to be preserved as open space. A couple members expressed hopes of negotiating more than the current 250 lesser acres offered by the developers Jason Gisi and AED, and that they hope to negotiate as much preservation as possible. But mostly council gave vague statements that leave it unclear whether they even support something like the resolution, and if they aren’t saying, what else are we to conclude but that they don’t?
City lawyer Paladini gave them an out by claiming the resolution would lock council into demanding 500 acres exactly. It doesn’t. It only endorsed the preservation as a hoped for goal. Still, most made no effort to say they would have voted for it had Paladini not scared them. Only Phil Goode said that. Then the mayor blew more smoke saying they couldn’t adopt the resolution before they had the developer’s specific plan in hand. Bunk. Why not? There’s no reason council can’t start the negotiation with their opening position first.
The bugaboo of private property came up. More bunk. No one has ever tried to take this land. It’s a negotiation where the developer gets phenomenal, and I do mean phenomenal, value from annexation in exchange for some tradeoffs, and they can always refuse the offer and stay in the county. This has been so clear for so long that when councilman Lamerson brings it up yet again it looks like nothing but more smoke to dance around what people seem to want.
He dismissively says if people will write council a check for $6 million they’ll buy the land and preserve it. Councilman, they did! Years ago city voters chose to tax themselves, $42 million of which was expected to go to open space. It taxed visitors too, but just averaged across voters, that’s over $2,000 per household. That’s a lot! Precise numbers aside, clearly they were dang serious about it. But you spent $26 million of that on streets. Councilman Blair gave a speech on what council has previously done to save parts of the Dells, and we’re glad, but he left the little fact about the streets money out. Gentlemen, you had your $6 million in hand four times over, and you blew it.
The Dells gets built-over with condos and homes and a parking lot forever, but streets were nice for a few years. What a great deal! Well, now it is, for the developers.
Tom Cantlon is a local business owner and writer and can be reached at comments at tomcantlon.com.