Janesville76.9°

Crime of Convenience

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Joel McNally
October 11, 2007

When F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the wealthy were different from you and me, he could have been talking about John Jazwiec, chief executive officer of RedPrairie Corp., a Waukesha County software company.


When last we heard from Jazwiec about a year ago, he was attacking every politician in sight for turning Wisconsin into a welfare state, which he said was to blame for high crime and a poor business climate.


Oh, and by the way, although Jazwiec opposed welfare for poor folks to feed their families, he really thought government should provide millions more in corporate welfare to rich people like himself to entice them into expanding their businesses.


Surprisingly — or perhaps not so surprisingly — shortly after Jazwiec’s public diatribe, he began negotiating with Milwaukee to see what incentives he could extract to move his company from the Town of Brookfield into the city he’d blasted as having the worst crime and the worst tax climate of all.


Jazwiec might have faded into memory as just another self-centered, rich hypocrite if it weren’t for something else that happened recently. Or perhaps we should say, something that possibly happened.


Jazwiec lives in a million-dollar home on Milwaukee’s East Side. On Sept. 25, he claims a black man walked into his home wielding a sawed-off shotgun and held him, his wife and two daughters hostage for an hour.


If such a terrifying crime took place, the hearts of everyone would go out to Jazwiec and his family. Instead, curious details surrounding the alleged incident have raised other questions.


Perhaps the most surprising fact is that after Jazwiec said he and his family were held at gunpoint, when the intruder finally fled taking only a computer and an Ipod, Jazwiec didn’t call the police.


Instead, he complained the next day to the office of Mayor Tom Barrett, perhaps hoping to use a compelling personal story to gain some advantage in talks with the city.


The Milwaukee Police Department immediately began calling Jazwiec to open an investigation into the alleged crime. Jazwiec repeatedly refused to co-operate. It was a week later before he finally agreed to tell his story to police.


Jazwiec’s has to be one of the few millionaire’s homes that is wide open to anyone off the street. Not only was there apparently no alarm system, but the front door was unlocked when an intruder allegedly entered at dusk.


And Jazwiec certainly is a genial host to armed criminals. He said he served the man beer. And the man left a millionaire’s mansion with only two items he could have gotten from any dorm room at nearby UWM.


Even if Jazwiec no longer feared for the safety of his own family, why wouldn’t he have enough concern for his wealthy neighbors to call police about an armed robber wandering into homes in the neighborhood?


Jazwiec later sent out an e-mail saying he and neighbors decided to hire their own private security firm to patrol the block because they “agreed that we can’t trust the mayor or the police.”


“Next step — the de-annexation process and our large per capita tax revenues which we can then use to fund police, schools and real paved roads.”


It would be the first time a single blockful of millionaires has ever attempted to de-annex from the city. With its large per capita tax revenues, there’s no reason Jazwiec’s street couldn’t be paved with gold.


Blackwater USA may be available as a private police force since it is no longer welcome in Iraq, especially if the new Commonwealth of Jazwiec eases legal restrictions against shooting first and asking questions later regarding suspicious black men, real or imaginary.


If, on the other hand, some of the gaping holes in the story Jazwiec finally told police turn out to be evidence of another sort of crime, say, filing a false crime report, that illegal act should be vigorously prosecuted.


As someone who has been a vocal critic of crime in Milwaukee, surely Jazwiec wouldn’t want it any other way.



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