Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is Palermo's Ripping Off The Taxpayers?

Sure looks that way:
The AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Research today released a new report that questions whether Milwaukee-based Palermo Villa Inc. has lived up to its commitments to create family-supporting jobs after receiving $26 million in government subsidies.

The report is titled, “Too Much Pork in the Pepperoni Pizza?: Tax Credits For Palermo’s Highlight Need For More Transparency, Accountability at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.”

The report the company has received from city, state, and federal subsidies for economic development and job creation.

In return for substantial public assistance, the Milwaukee-based frozen pizza manufacturer made specific commitments about job creation and economic development, the report said.

“Due to a lack of transparency in the administration of the Wisconsin Economic
Development Corp., we cannot know whether Palermo’s has kept its promises,” the report stated.

The report called for the WEDC to improve public disclosure about the company’s accountability.

The report said a disclosure document obtained during the research for the report was “heavily redacted” by the WEDC.

“The public has a right to know whether companies benefiting from public dollars are meeting their economic development obligations. Annual reports should be comprehensive and responses to public records requests should not be so zealously redacted as to render it impossible to evaluate a particular subsidy or tax credit,” the report stated.

“Palermo’s appears to employ fewer people today than it did before it qualified for almost half a million dollars in job creation tax credits with a promise to create 56 full time, permanent positions,“ said Julie Farb Blain of the AFL-CIO’s Center for Strategic Research.

“I worked at Palermo's for over 5 years and only earned $7.50 the hour,” said Flora Anaya of the Palermo Workers Union. “That is not a living wage. I couldn’t support my children and sick parents with so little.”

“Good public policy requires that the details of incentive packages be disclosed, and the effectiveness of incentives be measured. Public policy makers must be held accountable for their decisions based on evidence,” said Cheryl Maranto, chair of the Department of Management at Marquette University.


  1. On top of all the rest, Palermo's pocketed gov't subsidies of $26 million? Unbelievable! There are other stories of workers (Latina women seem to predominate, just like in maquiladoras on the border)not reaching $10/hr after a decade. And then, for strikebreakers, they bring in Burmese immigrants! I wish Mexicans and Burmese the best, but how on earth does defending Palermos help the right-wing trickle-down case that gov'ts need only serve 'job creators' and then all our economic problems are solved? Instead, Palermos is a telescope into our grim, no-middle-class future

  2. Note to WEDC functionaries and cronies:

    Now that WEDC has been caught slipping Federal money into the slush fund, everyone should assume when using the phone or sending email that they are being observed. And forget that private email system scam using a law firm or a lobbyist as a cutout, the Feds are on to that as well.

    Every time you hold a private meeting to arrange a forgivable loan and kickback scheme you should consider the possibility that the person you're talking to is wired. A basic rule of thumb in criminal enterprises is that those you trust the most will be the first to rat you out. Lower level employees may want to start stashing evidence now to use against their superiors. Cooperation always pays off.

    It's only a matter of time until the WEDC scandal blows wide open. Good luck and pray for a Romney victory.

  3. I notice that the full article has a rebuttal from the company claiming that they've created 208 jobs in the past five years. That made me curious about something. Does that 208 jobs include the people they've hired to replace the striking workers? Because that's 82 jobs right there. Creating 126 jobs (most of which reportedly pay $10.55 per hour, less than the WEDC's required minimum wage of $10.88 per hour) in five years with $26 million to spend doesn't seem like such a great record. That works out to just over $206,000 per job. It would take over ten years for someone working those jobs to earn that much. Better to just give them the $200,000 each to live on while they're looking for a better job.


  4. This is such a vague article.

    Let's take this:

    "we have created 208 good paying new jobs for local residents. We have paid more than $130 million in wages and benefits, and we offer all full-time employees an excellent benefits package that includes health, vision and dental insurance; paid time off; a company-sponsored retirement plan; tuition assistance; and more. "

    So, help me out, and anonymous 11:55 AM hit on this already. My math divides that up to $625,000 per employee count of 208. Spread that out over whatever time frame you make up and the math is getting damn fuzzy from what I've read the workers get paid from what I hear on the street.

    Where is that IMBAR on this?

    Hey, come on man, there are photos of Walker and the owner together here, and now we have the public/ private "hybrid" passing out YOUR cash and you are nowhere to be seen.

    Unless you are a Palermo, IMBAR?