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As I've pointed out, the coverage of Paul Ryan by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been whitewashed for national consumption, but bloggers and progressive media in Wisconsin are working hard to fill in the blanks, especially about Ryan's uneasy relationship with his hometown.
Elizabeth DiNovella of The Progressive describes Janesville:
Janesville it used to be an industrial center, a place where workers at the GM factory churned out 1,000 SUVs a day. But that was a long time ago, or so it seems. Back then, Ryan requested government money for projects, such as public transportation and water treatment plants. Back then, during the George W. Bush era, Ryan was “miserable,” he says, as he voted over and over again to support his party’s ever-growing government deficits, wars, and bureaucracies.
Now, though, Janesville is living in misery. It has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, alongside other cities like Racine and Kenosha in Ryan’s First Congressional District. Foreclosures have tripled since 2000.
Janesville native Lou Kaye has been covering Paul Ryan for years and points out that Ryan's personal politics clashed with what a town in recovery desperately needed - including making the choice to skip every government meeting related to helping his hometown recover:
With a White House official playing host and several more federal officials in attendance, this economic recovery summit was perhaps the single most important meeting concerning the future economic vitality of Janesville and the Rock County area in over 50 years. Everyone and anybody that represents city and county government were there including State Assembly Rep. Mike Sheridan and Rep. Tammy Baldwin. The state was represented by the DWD Secretary, Roberta Gassman. So just about everyone was there except for. one. Paul. Ryan.
That's right, Paul Ryan, the guy who often refers to himself as the area's go-to "federal guy", did not participate in the district's most important plans for economic recovery during what was arguably the most stressful time in its history since the Great Depression. These two important meetings were not only in his congressional district, but Janesville is his hometown. Now, I do recall during the summer of 2010 that Paul Ryan was starting to bounce around on the national scene promoting his hyper-partisan GOP recruitment book, "Youngs Guns." So it becomes obvious he had more important things to attend to at that time. It's also possible that he may have written a letter to whom it may concern in support of these economic recovery meetings, but we recently discovered how routine his letters of support really are. So.
In addition to Ryan's glaring absence, what must not be overlooked is the fact that local leaders in business, education and government had no choice but to present their list of 8 projects totaling $40 million to a federal official other than their own congressional representative.
Also, these meetings were not held behind closed doors with hedge fund managers, corporate fatcats or select campaign donors. They were held in broad daylight under full public scrutiny and with full disclosure. The folks in attendance were his constituency. But perhaps they (including some of his supporters) already knew Ryan would turn a deaf ear to their cries for help. Perhaps they knew Ryan would view their comeback plans and requests for revenue as little more than hand-outs and earmarks, putting his delicate conservative reputation at risk. But most important, perhaps they knew they had no choice but to go over his head if they ever wanted a chance to get something done.
Paul Ryan had the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of the solution and do great things for his congressional district. Instead, he chose not to show up.
Considering how little concern Paul "Atlas Shrugged" Ryan has for his hometown constituents, is it any wonder that supporters had to rehearse when to cheer for him pre-rally?