Rumble, young man, rumble!

October 30, 1974 — Zaire, Africa — a memory for a lifetime.  I plan on settling down tonight with a High Life and a cigar and enjoy once again the greatest fight of all time. Rumble, young man, Rumble!




“If a parcel of land has an ag crop on it, it qualifies for ag use assessment under Wis Statute,” Wall said in an e-mail. “That’s the law; we’re following it. But I guess in this town, no good deed goes unpunished.”

You know Terrance, how about you do this: Make a contribution to the youth club. Maybe buy some produce from the farmer. And save the Middleton Taxpayers from taking one up the ass because of your “good deed.”

Middleton Tax Payers get TWalled …

MIDDLETON – A 2-acre piece of commercial real estate along bustling Greenway Boulevard owned by T. Wall Properties is the latest example of an arcane state law that allows developers to dramatically reduce their property tax liability.

Dane County records show that two parcels off the Beltline owned by Wall Land Investment LLC were reclassified this year as agriculture property, saving the company about $34,000 in local taxes.

Owner Terrence Wall says he has been renting the land to a farmer, who this year planted a crop of pumpkins that were later sold to raise money for a Middleton youth group.

“If a parcel of land has an ag crop on it, it qualifies for ag use assessment under Wis Statute,” Wall said in an e-mail. “That’s the law; we’re following it. But I guess in this town, no good deed goes unpunished.”

In 2008, the parcels at 8225 and 8235 Greenway Boulevard had assessed values of $1.04 million and $961,000, respectively. But after an appeal from Wall, the assessments were lowered to less than $1,000 under the state’s “use value” law, which requires that land in active production be valued for tax purposes as farmland, not for its development value.

The issue was raised last week by the left-leaning group One Wisconsin Now, which had earlier criticized Wall for registering his real estate LLCs, or limited liability companies, at an address in Delaware.

The group has accused Wall – who recently announced he was running in the Republican U.S. Senate primary for the seat held by Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold – of using every loophole possible to reduce tax obligations.

“Between the Delaware ‘office’ and this phony pumpkin patch, Wall is determined to avoid taxes on its assets,” says Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now executive director. “Why should we have to pay more so companies owned by a multimillionaire like Terrence Wall can use creative tax laws to limit their obligations to taxpayers?”

Middleton officials, meanwhile, say they have little recourse aside from fighting with Wall in court.

“You hate to do it but it’s one of those things,” says Paul Musser, Middleton city assessor for the past 27 years.

Musser says Wall came in with documents showing the land was being rented to a farmer and asked for the tax assessment reduction. An even larger parcel owned by Wall on Airport Road is also qualifying for the agricultural assessment under the use value law, Musser says.

Musser says the depressed real estate market now has many large landowners looking for ways to lower their holding costs.

“A lot of guys are getting crushed so they are watching every dollar, dotting all their ‘i’s and crossing their ’t’s,” he says.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, “the purpose of the (use value) law is to slow urban sprawl and allow farmers to keep their land in agricultural production without burdensome taxation.”

The law has shifted millions in property taxes from farms to other types of property, including homes and businesses. The state Department of Revenue in 2003 estimated the change that year alone shifted $230 million in taxes from farms to other uses.

But although the law has been on the books in Wisconsin since 1995 and was upheld by the Supreme Court, there remain conflicts over what constitutes a legitimate farming operation.

The issue came to a head in Sun Prairie last year when city Assessor Jim Young balked at a use value assessment for real estate developers who had just sold land for a new Target store. Prairie Development Ltd. owners Jerry Connery and Ron Felder scored nearly $100,000 in reductions on their 2007 property taxes by planting a few rows of winter wheat along a roadway.

Young refused to allow the reduced assessment but was later overruled by the Sun Prairie City Council. Young has since left his position with the city.

One Wisconsin Now’s Ross has also been critical of the interpretation of the use value law, saying it was meant to help farmers, not real estate developers.

“It wasn’t so developers could avoid their tax obligations to the residents of already cash-strapped local communities,” he says.

Middleton Mayor Kurt Sonnetag says there isn’t much the city can do even though he laments the loss of $34,000 in tax collections.

“The city has no control over state statutes regarding how real estate is valued for property tax purposes,” he says.

Wall says he is only using the assessment rules as written and says One Wisconsin Now is a group of “paid hacks” bent on derailing his campaign.

“Feingold’s political operatives are just making hay because they view me as a credible threat,” he says. “Instead of debating the issues on a substantive basis, they attack me and my company on peripheral issues.”

Fox News: “It’s a perpetual revulsion machine”

Sometimes, Jon Stewart and his band of probably the best writers in the media today hit one out of the park all the while exposing a cold, hard truth in the most simplest of ways.  So it was last night. Enjoy.

Just wish I could figure out how to get all my friends and family whose TVs only receive one channel to watch this …


I hope you’re wrong, but fear you’re right. Politics have always been ugly…but they seem to be getting uglier all the time. Public debate shouldn’t be a show of disunion or weakness. Instead, it should be a display of confidence in the issues and democracy. Sadly, we are sorely lacking in both of late.

The Unseemly Side of Politics …

Early Monday morning, I read Daniel Bice’s column on JSOnline about the Obama Administration’s urging of Tom Barrett to enter the Governor’s race. They really want him to get in. It was a good read as Bice’s columns often are but it really wasn’t that startling a revelation and I moved on.

Last Saturday, I had a short chat with Lt. Governor Barb Lawton. I didn’t get the feeling she was having second thoughts about a run for the Governorship. Quite the contrary, she spoke with enthusiasm about the major fundraiser coming up on Wednesday.

So to say I was shocked when I heard she was dropping out of the race late Monday morning would be an understatement. Shock and a feeling that this was just weird.

Then I remembered the Bice column. I went back to JSOnline for an update and was struck by the juxtaposition of the Lawton/Barrett stories.  Lawton won’t run. Obama team wants Barrett.

Then I scrolled through the story of Tom Barrett and Jim Doyle together on Monday for a solar power press conference where the Gov urged Barrett to run. “I think there’s someone in the room who I think would be an amazing candidate,” said the Governor. Jim Doyle and Barbara Lawton aren’t on each other’s Christmas card lists so that certainly wasn’t a startling comment.  But the timing sure smelled.

I was starting to have a grassy knoll moment.  Did the Governor and/or Obama team members communicate with Lt. Governor Lawton and tell her to get out of the race sometime between Saturday and Monday? Did they tell her we need a united ticket to take on the Republicans next year? Did the Lt. Governor tell them that Wisconsin voters deserve a full slate of ideas and full debate and that – no – she wasn’t going to drop out?  If that’s how it went down, that’s when it probably got ugly.

Like I said – I have a vivid imagination sometimes. But we know this stuff happens in politics all too often.

Kind of reminds you of Chicago politics back in the day.

There goes that imagination again.


Report: Wall files candidacy papers to challenge Feingold

WISC is saying this morning that Terrance Wall is officially in the race for the US Senate seat held by Russ Feingold.


I don’t suspect TWall has much of a chance of beating the junior Senator from Wisconsin. Especially if TWall agrees to anything resembling a debate.  For me, this race is purely for entertainment purposes.  I’m guessing this run for the Senate is more about TWall building reader base and laying the foundation for some future ego boost.

Has anyone read TWall’s column in InBusiness Magazine?  I’m not much of a fan.

Here’s the deal. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to do business with TWall. The only good thing that came out of that interaction was the coining of the phrase “TWalled,” as in “…you’ve been TWalled.”

TWall has a column in a business magazine.  But as is often the case, your actions say more about you than your words. Keep that in mind when you read TWall’s column.  And, when you watch and analyze his campaign.  I, for one, can hardly wait.