PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

Sour Grapes And Red Herrings

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on March 17, 2009

I always thought that the traditional Irish fare for St. Patrick’s Day was supposed to be corned beef and cabbage. However, Milwaukee County Scott Walker has decided to give us a plate full of sour grapes and red herrings instead.

Still stinging from the schooling that Mayor Tom Barrett gave him on how a leader gets things done effectively, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker does what he does best. He goes running to Charlie Sykes with yet another email (which appears to have been sent on county time again) full of lies, hypocrisies and attempts to divert the reader from the reality.

Walker breaks his attack into three prongs. The first line of attack is that this will cost city taxpayers more money:

The City of Milwaukee asked for $100 million from the initial “stimulus” package, so we know that the true cost of the downtown streetcar system is at least that much money. So who will pay for it? The next great battle will be fought at the Milwaukee Common Council level as alderman from outside of downtown Milwaukee have to ask themselves if they (and their constituents) are willing to pay to subsidize the operations of a system that serves a three-mile loop in downtown Milwaukee.

What Walker doesn’t mention is that unlike him, Mayor Barrett did ask for stimulus dollars. The divvying up the remainder of the transport fund already pays for half of the projected cost. I have no doubt that out of the hundreds of millions of dollars of stimulus funding the city will receive, that the balance will be covered.

Meanwhile, county taxpayers aren’t so lucky. Walker not only said that he wouldn’t ask for any stimulus dollars, even though there are hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure repairs needed, but is working devilishly hard in trying to sabotage any efforts by the County Board to get this funding. Not only will county taxpayers be held on the hook to pay their taxes on the stimulus dollars, but they will still have to pay for these repairs themselves. Who will pay for all of that, Mr. Walker?

Walker’s next attack comes on the grounds of the cost to the county transit system:

Based on a review of the Mayor’s plan, transit system staff believes that a new streetcar system will cost the bus system up to $3 million per year. This is because the operations of the streetcar system are funded – in part – by transit aids from the state government. Assuming that there is not a massive increase in transit aids to cover the new system, aid will be taken from the Milwaukee County Transit System to pay for a street car system. Which routes will the transit system have to cut because of the $3 million less in state aid?

Coming from Walker, this is laughable. Walker is the one that has been the overseer of the transit system’s death spiral. It was Walker that refused any efforts to help the transit system, including increasing ridership by adding bus racks to increase ridership and actively opposing any efforts by the citizenry to gain a secure source of additional funding for the transit system (which would have also helped control property taxes, as it did for Washington County).

The responsibility for the transit system’s current distressed situation lies squarely at Walker’s feet.

Walker’s third attack comes in the form of stating that Barrett was being irresponsible and is all alone in his desire for a streetcar system for Milwaukee:

The County Board agreed with me as they passed a resolution in the past calling for the $91.5 million to be used on improvements to the bus transit system. They voted to support Bus Rapid Transit. Even the Mayor’s plan includes a portion for Bus Rapid Transit. The Common Council did not pass a resolution supporting a downtown street car system so the Mayor is operating in a vacuum. Will the Common Council even support the Mayor’s plan?

Now this is something that Walker knows something about. Walker is continually issuing and reissuing ideas that are rejected by the County Board and other sentient beings. Some of these issues include the irresponsible effort to move the mental health complex to the old St. Michael’s Hospital, trying to privatize everything, including the airport and the call center (which he eventually lost control of due to his incompetence) and his very questionable pension obligation bond plan, which had already been rejected by the voters a number of years ago.

He has shown a distinct pattern of trying to force decisions that aren’t necessarily best for Milwaukee County, but what he decides is best for his perpetual gubernatorial campaign. But seeing how well he is doing at that, it just may be a good thing that he is neglecting Milwaukee County. If he did for us what he is doing for himself, we would all be even in more serious trouble than we already find ourselves.

Finally, to help heal Walker’s hurt feelings, James Rowen offers some hard facts about transit and its funding.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: