There has been a fair amount ongoing misinformation posted, regarding our organization, including but not limited to the following:
how did it get started
who exactly are the members
where do the members come from
what is really going on
I felt the time had come, where I needed to intercede to provide the facts. First, and foremost, we are a group focusing on advocating for the community as a whole, on a wide range of issues, based on truth. We want to support Franklin, so we can all live up to our city moto, and help everyone to celebrate the quality of life.
We represent no particular ideology from the Left or the Right, and we will not endorse any political candidates. We will however, advocate for good government. In order to make this happen, FCA will continually encourage, not just our members, but all Franklin citizens, to become more involved, and to vote. It appears that a great many of us have taken our eye off the ball locally, no doubt due to crazy, busy lives, and all the other insane things happening in our society lately. Unfortunately this is becoming a recipe for disaster.
How Did FCA Get Started?
What are the origins of FCA? The name was created by Marcelino Rivera in 2020, when he first became involved in advocacy, after seeing stories on the news, regarding both the short lived, and failed attempt, by Strauss, to create a new slaughterhouse in a disadvantaged part of Milwaukee. The surrounding neighbors were able to make their voices heard, and Strauss returned to Franklin, where some deal apparently had previously been cut. His dismay was further compounded, when Strauss Brands fired 28 of their employees. Why were they fired? They complained that many people were getting sick, and they demanded Strauss follow COVID protocols required by the state. Some of those employees had been working at Strauss for as long as 10 years, and they all were summarily dismissed.
Marcelino then began to delve into what deal had been cut with Strauss, and where exactly was this giant slaughterhouse supposed to go? He was met by roadblocks, and was provided virtually no facts or details regarding what was happening. In fact, what he did encounter, were childish attacks on his appearance (??? not particularly unique), his lifestyle (vegan), and his status in Franklin (thought to be a renter, but not exactly the complete story.)
Roughly two months after Marcelino started his journey, I began mine. If you read my previous entry titled "the big lie", I cover how I ended up on the same tracks, but approaching from a different side of the rail yard. I'm the president of my homeowner's association, representing 60 homes, roughly 1.5 miles from the slaughterhouse site. By late summer of 2020, I became increasingly concerned about what was actually to be built down the road from me. As HOA President, I wanted to get to the bottom of things, to find out what was happening, and figure out if this would impact my, and my neighbors, property values.
Marcelino and I first met, at the original Common Council Meeting for the Strauss SUP approval. I went up to Marcelino first, as I felt it necessary to apologize to him. Why, you might ask? In the course of searching for information to get up to speed on what was really going on with Strauss, I came across a local community board that, at first glance, seemed to consist of nothing more than childish name calling, ridiculous images, and silly memes. Almost all of it was directed at Marcelino. I've only seen this type of thing on a few individual Facebook pages (they tend to eventually be removed), and the occasional private blog (you know- like the ones the Feds watch). It never occurred to me that a "Community Board", would be so unmoderated, and degenerate into something like this. So I apologized to Marcelino, and assured him, that my neighbors were awesome (they totally are). I wanted to make it clear to him, that a handful of individuals, behaving in a manner they would never tolerate from their 6 yr old, were in no way representative of the overall community I knew.
Long story short, by the end of the meeting, which was well after midnight, we enlisted two more people, representing other segments of our community, and we all agreed to form FCA.
Who Makes Up the Membership of FCA?
After seeing a crazy amount of misinformation floating around on this topic, I thought it would be useful to clarify this with a few facts. FCA's core membership consists of roughly 160 supporters. Of that group, over 100 individuals are specifically from Franklin, and the remaining 50+ reside within the Milwaukee metro. In addition to members, we also have donors (may be a member, but is not required to become one). Our list of donors is far greater. I would estimate this number at roughly 1,000. This group is also much more geographically diverse, and includes donors from all regions of the country.
To clarify some of the crazier statements being bandied about regarding FCA:
a former local politician is not self-funding this effort - in fact, he is not a member, nor has he contributed any money whatsoever
FCA is NOT a political action committee (PAC)
FCA does not consist of only, or even mainly, vegans
FCA is a local, very diverse coalition of people - and as such, works with, and receives help from numerous external groups
FCA has no control over any of these external groups, nor can FCA dictate what they do, or what actions they ultimately choose to take
FCA has members across the political spectrum, with both Democratic and Republican supporters -in fact, with regard to our current lawsuit, we have the most diverse coalition of individuals one could imagine, from left leaning activists to ardent Trump supporters
at this point in time, Marcelino Rivera is simply a member of FCA, he holds no titled position within the organization, and began scaling back his role last February, removing himself first from fundraising, and eventually stepping down altogether, which he did in order to run for public office
FCA Has a Stated Mission, but What are You Working on Specifically?
This is a great topic, as I have heard our current efforts mischaracterized many, many times. It may be easier to talk about what we are not doing, as a way to get into what we are focusing on. FCA is Not:
Suing the residents of Franklin / we are suing on behalf of the residents of Franklin, to get their local government to conduct themselves in a manner more in accordance with local law, and to stop violating citizens' due process rights
Suing the city in general / we are suing the current city government for blatantly failing to do their job, and choosing to ignore the constituents who elected them
one or two people who did not get their way and are upset / FCA represents a very broad coalition of people, and with specific regard to the slaughterhouse, the great majority of Franklin residents, who have realistic and serious concerns, that:
their property values will go down
their air and water could potentially be polluted
they'll be stuck holding the bag for a multi-million dollar TIF
the City will be mired in endless lawsuits, when the new owners of the half-million dollar homes, realize they live adjacent to a giant slaughterhouse, where cattle arrive at all hours of the night
conducting this law suit for outside interests that are not local / The plaintiffs on this law suit consist of FCA (a local community organization), the Woodlake Village HOA (60 homes, populated by more than 100 residents, 1.5 miles from the proposed development) and 17 individual Franklin residents (living in homes surrounding the proposed site)
Our greatest hope at FCA, is that we can start having dialogue around issues, problems, and the overall development of our community, in a successful and productive way. One more caveat here, FCA is very much pro growth focused. But we want good growth, that benefits all people, is not poorly planned, and does not consist of a development forced quickly through the system, where a few people get rich quickly, and the local citizenry is left bailing out the mess for years to come. A rising tide lifts all boats, while a giant slaughterhouse may very well sink them. But this will require everyone to engage in a truthful, and fact based discussion. If, as residents, who all care for our home deeply, we are unable to do this, FCA will no doubt be forced to intercede again legally.
And to correct one last misconception, no one wants to engage in a lawsuit. They are both very expensive, and incredibly time consuming. So it doesn't take a lot imagination, regarding how bad things must be, when individuals or a group, get to the point where their only means for relief involves our legal system.
Franklin Community Advocates