Maybe corruption buys good trains


Doyle wants a fast train. I can sympathize. I dream of a world where rappers boast about their city’s mass transit, emphasizing the speed, the efficiency, and of course, the chrome plates on the tracks.

But in his zeal to develop hip-hop worthy trains, Doyle may have jumped the gun. Critics are pointing to the Spanish company which the state is scheduled to pay $47 million to make the train cars. It appears Jimmy awarded them a rare no-bid contract, despite a pledge from his office in February to choose the contractor through a bidding process.

Committee member Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said she would oppose the purchase in part because of the lack of a competitive bid that might have lowered the cost of a deal.

“The Doyle administration is like a runaway train,” Sen. Darling said. “It’s very upsetting as a policy maker to see the governor acting so cavalierly about hard-earned tax dollars.”

The most telling aspect of the story is the Democrats’ refusal to comment. Especially when we’re talking about Madison-area Democrats, many of whom pride themselves on pushing for higher ethics standards and open, accessible government. You know Mark Pocan doesn’t like defending a governor who’s inviting comparisons to George W.

Budget committee co-chairman Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, is still reviewing the proposed train purchase and hasn’t taken a position on it, spokesman John Anderson said. The other co-chairman, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, could not be reached for comment.

What no Republican is mentioning, however, is that Doyle’s no-bid contract was perfectly legal. Why? Because their own railroad man, Tommy Thompson, wrote an exemption for railroad companies that allowed the state to forgo the normal bidding process when negotiating rail contracts. Incredibly, the State Journal article on the matter does not even  reference the role the former governor played in this outcome. C’mon guys. If you’re going to cut something out of an article for the love of God, don’t cut out political hypocrisy. That’s the best part.

If we take the governor at his word, although there was not officially a bidding process, there was competition. Seven train makers were contacted and apparently only one company gave a comprehensive response. However, one must question how much Doyle was influenced during his trip to Spain, when he rode trains made by the company and talked to its executives. He obviously did not receive that kind of treatment from competing firms.

A somewhat rational point put forward by Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican leader in the Senate, is that taxpayers should be wary of a deal that only one of seven companies seemed interested in. Why were the three other European and Asian train-makers seemingly disinterested? But perhaps they are different types of companies – perhaps they operate at higher profit margins, or the project was not big enough for them. Remember, $47 million is not that much in the grand scheme of public transportation world wide.

I just hope this goddamn thing goes fast.

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One Response to “Maybe corruption buys good trains”

  1. Doyle-style irony « The Sconz Says:

    […] bidding process the next time it buys trains. This promise, of course, is in contrast to the recent way of doing train business by the Doyle administration and Assembly […]

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