Free Tuesday Trends sample: TV markets rising, food prices mixed and WEDC falling
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TV markets: As Wisconsin approaches the final leg of a two-year stretch that's seen virtually endless campaigning here, state TV and radio stations are going out with a bang. The Badger State's return to battleground status in the Electoral College -- after President Obama ran away with the state four years ago -- and a contested Senate race has helped put two state markets among the top five nationally for political ads on TV and radio. The Green Bay market tops the country, according to the rankings by ad buying firm SMG Delta. The Madison market ranks fifth, trailing only Green Bay, Denver, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio. Wisconsin as a whole ranks ninth in the country at $32 million in political ad spending, though the top states -- Florida and Ohio -- have seen at least five times as much spending.
Food prices: The latest survey of retail food prices by the Wisconsin Farm Bureau shows supermarket prices decreased modestly during the third quarter of 2012. In the latest quarter, the Marketbasket Survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $49.60, a drop of 72 cents from the second quarter. But the informal survey also shows that third quarter prices mirrored those from this year's first quarter, and a Farm Bureau spokesman says the group doesn't see any prevailing trend when it comes to food prices. For one, energy prices, while relatively high, have also been stable this year, resulting in stable food prices compared to 2009 and 2010. And for another, the effects of this summer's widespread drought are not expected to make an impact on prices until next year.
WEDC: Gov. Walker announces a series of corrective measures at the state's primary economic development agency -- and the resignation of its chief financial officer -- amid yet another run of bad press. Reports last week showed the quasi-governmental agency failed to track $8 million in past-due loans. Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. COO Ryan Murray tells the WEDC Board last week that the loans, originally made by the former state Commerce Department, weren't tracked properly because the WEDC failed to assume control of that responsibility from Commerce last year -- and that the new agency’s software was insufficient to do it. In addition to following up with businesses about collecting the loans in question, other changes include a review of all WEDC financial transactions, a search for new tracking systems and software, cooperating with ongoing audits and creating a new process for handling the loan portfolio. Dem members of the WEDC Board say that's not good enough to resolve the "huge mistake," saying professionals with expertise in banking and finance need to be brought in to manage loan portfolios rather than relying on current staff. The controversy comes as the Walker administration continues to seek new leadership as current WEDC CEO Paul Jadin moves to a regional economic development group next month. The governor names Reed Hall, a former executive director of the Marshfield Clinic, as interim CEO, saying he needs Murray to focus on identifying other issues within the agency.