Friday, March 13, 2009

Barrett To Get Rails, Walker Gets Derailed

It was announced today that part of the recently passed budget bill contains language that resolves the issue of the $91.5 million dollars that was designated for Milwaukee transit projects, but have sat stagnant for the last 18 years. The resolution to the stalemate is that 60% of the money will go to the City of Milwaukee for a downtown light rail system, and 40% would go to Milwaukee County for rapid transit buses.

Milwaukee County Executive and perpetual gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker is livid about this. I can't say that I blame him. This is the third big blow to his campaign in the past two days, the others being the Board putting a final stake into the inane and insane St. Michael's proposal, and that the Board has the right to set policy regarding the stimulus dollars.

Something worth noting is one of Walker's other reactions to the news. He actually claimed he was surprised by it:
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said he was caught by surprise this morning by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announcement that the federal Omnibus Budget bill includes a provision to spend $91.5 million in long unused federal funds for mass transportation in Milwaukee.
He shouldn't have been surprised. Barrett announced his intentions a full two months ago:
Barrett, meanwhile, said he was in talks with President-elect Barack Obama's staff and the Wisconsin congressional delegation "to end this stalemate once and for all." He declined to elaborate but said he remained committed to rail transit.
As predictable as Walker's anger was, so it is with the right wing of the Cheddarsphere, where a few bloggers derided the news, and one trying to state that the rail system won't work in Wisconsin winters. I have a hard time believing that one, since Minnesota has equally bad, if not worse winters, and their light rail system has been around for years, and continues to grow.

County Board Chairman Lee Holloway lamented the loss of more than $9 million dollars that could have been put to good use shoring up the transit system that Walker has neglected:
County Board Chairman Lee Holloway said he was "disappointed that the county executive's inability to negotiate a compromise reduced the county's share by more than $9 million," because the 50-50 split "would have been a better deal for Milwaukee County."
Of course, this could have been all avoided if Walker wasn't so busy grandstanding. From the same article, it is seen that Walker was indeed the one that refused to compromise, unless you consider demanding he gets his half and Barrett gets nothing as a compromise:
At one point, Barrett proposed splitting the money 50-50, which would have provided $45.75 million each for streetcars and express buses. Walker rejected that idea and instead suggested spending half on express buses and putting half aside for some future use. Barrett refused.
I wonder how well this all will play up north this weekend for Walker as he goes campaigning. The state has to come in and rescue the public support program, he loses control of the stimulus dollars that he didn't want in the first place, most of his lame-brained ideas continuously get shot down, and now he gets outmaneuvered by the mayor. What will be his slogan? Maybe something like: "Vote for Walker, the candidate of irrelevance."


  1. Not only irrelevant, but completely out of touch with the voters. Walker has proposed to float pension obligation bonds and use the borrowed money to invest in the stock market -- believing that the stock market will give him a better return on investment than the bonds. Voters have rejected this scheme via referendum but Walker continues to push the issue in his budgets.

  2. Now, Dog, don't be going and stealing my posts. ;)

  3. Now, I know you are all for these projects, but I gotta ask ya....what good will they be if you can't use 'em? I's freakin' COLD up there, and it tends to snow a lot, right? (Just in case ya didn't notice. :P )So, they might only be useful maybe half of the year. What about the rest of the year?

    Believe it or not, I'm not being snarky.

  4. Kate,

    I knew someone from your side would use that line. That is why I included it in the post. Minnesota has it worse than we do, and their light rail runs just fine.

  5. Capper,

    What type of people would use the high speed rail?

    I'll give you a hint, it's not the lower rung of society.

  6. Yes, capper, ask the people up North and ask them how they feel like paying for Milwaukee's choo-choo. Ask them, while your at it, how they like paying for all of Milwaukee's miserable failures like MPS and the child welfare system.

  7. High speed rail is a colossal mistake for Doyle, both pragmatically and politically speaking.

    Walker shouldn't be mad at all. He should be glad to beat Doyle over the head with a project that will cost taxpayers billions in operational costs for the next few decades.

  8. Anony 12:19, It's light rail, not high speed rail.

    Dan, I bet as angry as they are for having had to bail out the transit system last year, and now have to bail out the community support/income maintenance programs. I can't wait to catch one of Walker's appearances up north. Too bad that I didn't go this weekend. He was close enough to the castle.

    Anony 2:30, yes, Walker should. Then he can explain how he cost the state millions of dollars all the times that the state had to save his budgetary butt.

  9. The article you referenced said that commuter rail and high speed rail will be included.

  10. The money given to the city is for street cars. Barrett states that is can be tied into the KRM and other rail systems.

  11. Right, and Doyle went to Spain because he liked the scenery in Madrid.

  12. At least the Spanish gov't paid for it. How many of Sensenbrenner's jaunts did we pay for?

  13. You missed the point entirely.

  14. Having worked for Amtrak for many years as a sleeping car porter (train attendant ) and conductor I can attest to the issue of trains in the snow. Trains move through the snow as well as they do the rain, or sunshine, it is all much the same. I really enjoy taking Amtrak to Chicago and as I go south through the driving snow at 70 MPH I can look to the left and see the long lines of cars parked on the Dan Ryan going into the Second City. The train safely and speedily handles the worst of weather. Milwaukee has a more than 70 year history of having "street cars" and even an extensive interurban system that went to Waukesha and Lake Nemobin in Waukesha County. The only reason we eliminated these was due to some safety issues where the technology was not equal to the electric railways ambitions. Unfortunately there were some crashes, the electric company closed the railway down. Now we have the technology to run a safe railway for commuters. I applaud Mayor Barrett for his foresight and vision in Providing Milwaukee with one.

    The only words I can leave for you are, "Brilliant", and "Well Timed", wait till the silly little putz finds out that we are recalling his butt in a little while. There are formative moments in a mans life and one of them is when you find that a sense of entitlement will take you nowhere and another is when you find that a hate driven nihilistic ideology will elicit resentment.

    I am a native Milwaukeean and I'll tell you that the people of Milwaukee are easy going and forgiving. When the people see their parks going to waste and their dear old "Uncle Stash" lost his job because of a bean counter filled with hate These people will rise in their righteous might and and send Mr. Walker home to babysit the kids.

  15. Thanks for your insight Dave.

    To my anonymous detractor, jealous often?