Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee’

Who needs public transit?

January 25, 2010

Milwaukee does, according to top business leaders in the area. As many of you know, the last budget included a provision which allowed the creation of regional transit authorities, most notably in Southeastern Wisconsin. Generally speaking, Democrats support them, Republicans oppose them. The transit authorities will be governed by an independent board, which will have the power to levy a 1/2 percent sales tax to fund public transit.

According to the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, a group in favor of expansion of public transportation, five CEOs of some of the biggest companies in Wisconsin are urging lawmakers to take advantage of the regional transit authorities and take public transportation seriously.

Tim Sullivan, Bucyrus president and CEO, spoke first and

noted that the area’s current transit options are too meager to serve the 500 new employees his

company wants to add. Sullivan was joined at the news conference by the CEOs of SC Johnson,

AT&T Wisconsin, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance and Roundy’s Supermarkets, along with

Governor Jim Doyle, Racine Mayor John Dickert, and the president of Local 4International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Sen. Mary Lazich (R- New Berlin) shot back, saying that the authorities create burdensome taxes ($172 per household), are undemocratic and that the proposed transportation systems will “fail to entice enough users to pay for the cost.”

Notice the last assertion. Politicians regularly insist they can read the future, but this is a particularly poignant example. Is it really so hard to believe that a comprehensive transportation service in a big urban area would not be able to make up $172 in taxes per year? No evidence is provided, so we just have to assume she knows what she’s talking about.

Walker wins victory against gay rights

December 15, 2009

Journal Sentinel:

A Milwaukee County Board committee on Monday recommended that the full board sustain County Executive Scott Walker’s veto of a measure that would lay the groundwork for granting domestic partner health benefits to county employees.

What’s interesting and disturbing is how the opponents of gay rights frame the issue as a question of cost. One member of the board who had originally voted in favor of the proposal switched her vote, citing the cost, as if she pragmatic considerations would be taken into account when assessing other city benefits.

This argument is inherently based on the premise that gays don’t deserve the benefits as much as straight couples, but those who use it won’t admit it.

Political scientists on Barrett’s chances

October 26, 2009

There are good reasons I chose not to study political science. However, it was nice to see Wispolitics columnist Steve Walters ask several poli sci professors to give their opinions on Tom Barrett’s chance of getting elected governor. The main issue at hand is Barrett’s Milwaukee origins. Here’s a fact that lends credence to Democrats’ fears:

*Last time a Milwaukee resident was elected governor: Republican Julius P. Heil, in 1938 — or 71 years ago, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau. (Footnote: Milwaukee resident Marty Schreiber served as governor, but he wasn’t elected to the office. Schreiber was elected lieutenant governor, and became governor when Democrat Pat Lucey resigned to become ambassador to Mexico in July 1977.)

Here are what a couple of the political scientists said about the myth of Milwaukee:

— Former state Sen. Mordecai Lee, D-Milwaukee, now a UW-Milwaukee professor:

In the ‘old’ days, the out-state hostility to Milwaukee was largely Jeffersonian in origins: rural life is better than urban, provincialism is better than cosmopolitanism, etc. Now, I’m afraid it’s mutated to be also about race and poverty, tax-eaters-versus-taxpayers.

Without calling anybody a racist. I think it’s easier for a Republican from the Milwaukee suburbs to get independent and swing voters out-state than for a Democrat from the city of Milwaukee. So, Tom would have a more uphill struggle than (Milwaukee County Executive Scott) Walker (or Mark Neumann — also now living in a western Milwaukee suburb).

— UW-Madison political science professor Kathy Cramer Walsh:

Barrett could be elected governor of Wisconsin if he can walk into the morning coffee klatches at gas stations in Mellen, LaCrosse, Muscoda, and Green Bay and make people feel like he is sincerely listening to and understanding their concerns.
The Milwaukee/Madison-versus-outstate divide is perpetuated by folks in outstate areas feeling like no one in the big downstate cities gives a hoot about them. That’s the big barrier, and it is going to take some serious seeking out of people on their own turf in order to overcome it.

I find the first explanation much more convincing. Sure, there is no absence of rural resentment for urban areas, however, not even the most aloof northern Wisconsinite entertains the theory that people in Milwaukee have it good. There will be plenty of negative associations made with Milwaukee politicians, but they will more likely center on corruption, inefficiency and embarrassment to the state. Lee is likely correct in saying that it’s easier from a guy from the Milwaukee suburbs – the epicenter of the Wisconsin bourgeoisie if you will – to wash his hands of the city slicker association than a Democrat, even though if anything, the Milwaukee suburbs should be the target of rural resentment, not that deteriorating mess known as the city.

Lawton paying attention to Milwaukee theory?

October 8, 2009

I’m starting to think Tom Barrett is not serious about a bid to be gov. The evidence is pointing to an understanding among Milwaukee politicos to jump on the Lawton train as soon as possible:

While Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett continues to weigh whether to jump into the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton (left) is quickly picking up support in his backyard.

Lawton this week announced that Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic and Peggy West had endorsed her campaign, joining the likes of state Rep. Barbara Toles, D-Milwaukee, state Sen. Jim Sullivan, D-Wauwatosa, and state Rep. John Steinbrink, D-Kenosha. Also backing Lawton is Milwaukee County Democratic Party Chairwoman Martha Love.

These are not the moves indicative of a competitive race. You’d think the party chair would try to stay out (at least publicly) until the very last minute. Granted, former state chair Joe Wineke endorsed Edwards pretty early on during the presidential primaries. Jim Sullivan, a moderate Democrat in a competitive district, does not seem like the type to go all in on Barb so early.

Scott Walker about 2300% off

June 16, 2009

I’m sure he just misspoke. Or he was just trying to get the point across. You’ve never exaggerated before? Now these bastard journalists are jumping down the man’s throat because when he said “$15 million budget deficit” he actually only meant “$650,000 deficit.”

Truth be told, it’s not the end of the world to have a county executive who has no idea what goes on in the county. It becomes a problem when that same airhead attempts to implement policy that coincides with his delusion.

Walker said he won’t back off his 35-hour week plan – at least not now. He said supervisors were clinging to an overly optimistic shortfall scenario.

“We can’t wait ’til the end of the year and hope” some money materializes that may not, Walker said.

The name “Walker” is not all that Scott shares with former President Bush. Hopefully the people of Wisconsin recognize this before it’s too late.