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How To Fix The HSR Standoff – Give Walker New Clothes

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on November 29, 2010

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you are already aware of the corner Scott Walker, Goobernator-elect, has painted himself into regarding high speed rail.

On one hand, if Walker turns down the federal stimulus money aimed to build the first part of what will become an nationwide rail line, he is throwing away hundreds if not thousands of desperately needed jobs not to mention costing us $135 million on top of the lost funding.

On the other hand, if Walker accepts the funding, and the train, he estranges his base which would not fit in well with his plans to seek the presidency.

But there is a solution to this issue in which the high speed rail and the jobs that go with it comes to Wisconsin and Walker still gets to save face. The problem is it would require a concerted effort by the state legislature which is much akin to herding cats.

The solution is to take a page from the playbook of the Milwaukee County Board.

In the spring of 2009, when Walker was making similar grandstanding posturing regarding the ARRA funds, saying he was going to refuse the bulk of the money that the county was eligible for, the Board stepped up and exposed the county executive’s new clothes for what they were:

What was no surprise to anyone is that he County Boardoverwhelmingly overrode Walker’s veto of the resolution allowing the County to aggressively pursue stimulus money. What was interesting is the level of emotions that more and more members of the Board is starting to show as they tire of Walker’s showboating and his willingness to sacrifice the county for his campaign.

Even more moderate Supervisors like Lynne DeBruin and Pat Jursik are showing signs of disgust with Walker’s shenanigans:

Walker’s criteria for taking federal stimulus aid that the board shot down was politically motivated and “totally bogus,” said Supervisor Lynne De Bruin. Supervisor Gerry Broderick said Walker’s stance on stimulus aid was “great theater or dress rehearsal aimed at the governor’s race in 2010.”

De Bruin said Walker began backing away from his refusal to even consider stimulus aid after Milwaukee business leaders publicly disagreed with him. She called the standoff between the board and Walker the most upsetting issue of her 17-year career as a supervisor.


Supervisor Patricia Jursik criticized Walker for insisting on rejecting federal aid that required a local match. Walker said his ban on funding that required a local match wasn’t absolute.

I’ll spare both the gentle reader and myself to point out all of the ongoing hypocrisies from Walker as he tried to spin himself out of the corner he has put himself in. That is something I think I have covered in overly abundant amounts, even though it is still true.

I had further reported how Supervisor Weishan had instructed Corporation Counsel to be prepared to take the matter to court if Walker tried to balk on the newly implemented county policy.

The question, as I pointed out earlier, is whether the state legislature will have the fortitude to listen to the people now, and to do the right thing by making it law to allow the trains to roll through our fair state. It would be a fight to be sure.

There are many weak-kneed members in our state government that are afraid to take any kind of position on almost any topic. Add to this a list of the usual suspects that care more about protecting their wealthy friends than actually helping the state and its citizens and the job to bring these jobs to Wisconsin to be quite an uphill battle.

Fortunately, Milwaukee County is sending Elizabeth Coggs and Chris Larson to the legislature, and they have years of experience fighting with Walker and running circles around him.

Now they have to teach their soon-to-be colleagues, not only how to do this, but how to screw up enough courage to do what is necessary and in our best interest. They have the play outlined already. Now they only need to execute it.



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