Archives for posts with tag: Jim Doyle

The day in trains was a bit of a snoozer in terms of news.  We learned (again) that Governor Doyle will not go ahead with the trains until Gov-elect Walker signs onto the project (that’s why all the phone calls, emails, petitions and community education are so important right now).  Walker also said he wasn’t going to push the feds right now on getting the rail money appropriated for roads (probably because he knows he can’t get the appropriation changed). Is he simply trying to ride out the negative press behind the project’s cancellation?  Is our Gov-elect looking to negotiate, or be convinced of something? Is he hoping that once the new congress starts, something will happen that will allow him to get the appropriation changed? It’s a great mystery that I’m sure will be partially revealed down the road.

Wisconsin’s rail debate became national news, with a feature piece this evening on NPR.  I continue to question Gov-elect Walker’s rationale for cancelling the project, given that costs are still negotiable at this point AND there are many people willing to come to the table with him.  Further, as I said yesterday, Gov-elect Walker favors state support for the Hiawatha line from Milwaukee to Chicago.  What gives? I’ve suspected an anti-Madison bias (and this Journal Sentinel blog indicates that it’s clearly out there among conservatives–by the way, the Madison Metro area is nearly 500,000 and contains the best university in the state and the State Capitol. Madison is important and pretty.).  Others suspect Gov-elect Walker may feel a sense of obligation to road builders for all the money they gave to his campaign.  I certainly hope for all of our sakes that such suspicions are incorrect.

In positive news, the Save the Train Wisconsin Facebook Group is up to nearly 7,000 supporters!  And all those train supporters have been busy planning activities to get the word out as to why Wisconsin needs to be a player in the Midwest high-speed rail network.  As I mentioned yesterday, the Sierra Club’s Wisconsin Chapter has declared next Saturday, November 20th a Save the Train action day.  There are rallies and events scheduled to take place all over the state.  To learn more, visit their website.

Also, it positive news, the majority of the members of the Milwaukee Common Council came out in favor of the train.  And AND Virgin Everything owner Richard Branson is interested in investing in Florida’s high-speed rail project.  This is nice to just have in the back of your mind when someone makes an argument that private enterprise does see value in passenger trains. “If trains were valuable, businesses would invest in them”–here’s a very powerful businessman investing in a train.  I’ve already pointed out that Madison’s business community is very much in favor of the project.  After the election, Milwaukee’s business community sort of said “Meh. We like our train to Chicago, but don’t want to help you get yours.”  Although here’s a video of several Milwaukee business leaders showing strong support for public transportation. “It’s not a want. It’s a need,” says one executive:

You scratch my head; I’ll scratch yours!

New Links of Interest

Advocacy (Growing by leaps and bounds!)

Call Scott Walker’s Transition Office: 608-261-9200

AFL-CIO Rally (Monday, November 15th, Noon, Talgo site in Milwaukee)

UW-Eau Claire Petition Rally (Wednesday, November 17th, 8:30 a.m.- 5:30 p.m., Campus Mall)

WISPIRG Letter Campaign

Badger Football Game Flier Distribution (Saturday, November 13th, Meet at Topper’s near Camp Randall at 9:30 a.m. — More details an the linked Facebook group)

1,000 Friends of Wisconsin Petition Campaign

Wisconsin Environment Petition

Bring High-Speed Rail to Eau Claire Facebook Group

Ray LaHood Facebook Page (Let the US Transportation Secretary know Wisconsin is still committed to high-speed rail)

Keep High-Speed Rail in Wisconsin Facebook Page

Editorials

Plain Talk: Road builders get return on their Walker investment

Capital Times – Even Republicans are tell Walker he’s wrong about rail money

Letters to the Editor

‘Tainted’ funds must be rejected by Walker

Blogs

Riding the Rails, Looking for Work

News Analysis

The Roadmap to a High-Speed Recovery

Advertisements

Today in trains:  More people speak up in favor of Wisconsin’s high-speed rail project and they get a bunch of smoke and mirrors in return.

That’s right, much of today’s news about the train revolved around the fact that people don’t understand the logic behind cancelling the project.  The media discovered the Save the Train Facebook Page (up by 4,000 like since yesterday!) and Illinois feels sad for us because we are being so stupid with our train hate.  As one person asks in this clip: “Why shouldn’t you be taking advantage of the funding that should go to your state?” Great question. Our neighbor to the south also made a play for our new train factory.  More jobs lost because of the terrible threat of putting Wisconsinites on the hook for anywhere from less than $0.20 all the way up to $2.00 a year!  Even first cousin Minnesota in confused by their dim-witted relative, but Minnesota’s going ahead with their train  project.

Also Madison’s Mayor Dave went on record last night to be clear that he was open to working with the Walker administration on alternative funding mechanisms for the train’s yearly maintenance costs.  This would have been a great opportunity for Governor-elect Walker to say something like “because of new information related to costs for this project I am now open to negotiating with stakeholders on a rail project that would not burden state tax payers in the future.”  He could have said that by now. He could say he was committed to jobs before rhetoric. He would have four years for the remaining anti-train people to get over it…by then most of them would be.   But he didn’t do that.  Instead, he sent this letter to the Doyle administration, to ask if it would be okay if he could be Governor two months early, and also to remind people that he doesn’t know anything about the policies he doesn’t like.  Getting the support of 52% of 50% of the voters makes one King of Wisconsin!

 

From the Daily Cardinal

 

What is often being forgotten in the debate about the train project is that it is not really about cost.  Scott Walker is in favor of spending the money we are slated to receive from the feds, just not on train.  He is in favor of state-supported trains, just not this one.  The state could develop a number of creative ways to deal with the estimated $7.5 million yearly cost of the train.  For instance, the state could receive support from Madison, as Madison has said it would be willing to do give more money to the project.  There could be train cards or memberships–or just ask for supporters to donate $3 extra on their annual tax returns for crying out loud! I want the train so badly, I would even pay *gasp* $20 or even more extra on my taxes.  So I would pay my “burden” and the “burden” on 9 other people.  We can get it done if there are honest brokers on either side of the negotiating table.  Every day that this debate goes on, I question more and more whether we have an honest partner in our Governor-elect.

The good news is that people continue to be vocal in support of the train.  Watertown’s republican mayor continues to show support for the train because he believes it’s in his city’s best interests.  We need more business people, more republicans, more people outside of Madison to make it clear that they support the train (because Madison is apparently no longer part of Wisconsin).

News Links of Interest

Advocacy

Sierra Club Wisconsin – November 20th – Save the Train Events (Sierra Club Wisconsin is declaring November 20th a day of action on the train — learn how to plan or attend an event in your area)

Survey – Should Walker his plan to stop the train project

Sierra Club Wisconsin – Intercity Rail Letter Campaign

Poll: Should Wisconsin go ahead with plan for high-speed rail

Editorials

Tomah Journal – Editorial: Wisconsin open for business … except for mass transit

Randy’s Ramblings: Who’ll stop the train?

Walker’s plan for high-speed rail a huge fail

Blogs

Jeremy Bloom – Off the Rails II: GOP misreading Ayn Rand in blocking railroads

Mike Shafer – Opponents spew myths about high-speed rail

Matt Logan – Scott Walker stuck in the 70s

Myths about Madison-Milwaukee rail service – station and train ridership

Emily’s Post: Wisconsin high-speed rail supporters fight back

Rejecting high-speed rail will isolate Wisconsin

This time out could be useful for high-speed rail

Letters to the Editor

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


 

BizTimes.com

 

Hey, Wisconsin! How’s it going?  Remember how a week ago today we has this thing called an election? Remember how 52% of you decided to vote Republican everything, no matter how vapid and insane the Republican candidate appeared to be? Dear, Wisconsin, I have a question: What did you mean by that?  Did 52% of you mean, by voting that way, that you don’t want there to by high-speed rail in Wisconsin? Or did 52% of you vote Republican for a litany of variant hopes and fears that may or may not had anything to with high-speed rail. My guess is that it is probably the latter.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a good way to know how many people were thinking about rail when they connected their arrow to Scott Walker last Tuesday.  High speed rail was not part of any exit polling data I’ve seen. Moreover, before the election, polling on the high-speed rail project was limited.  The most recent poll on this issue was the St. Norbert’s poll, which came out around mid-October.  In October 44% of respondents were in favor of rail.  What’s striking is that, of this group of respondents, 60% said they would probably never take the train. Chances are many of the people polled live nowhere near the proposed line or stations. What if a similar survey were to concentrate on the areas of the state most likely to use the train: Southern and Western Wisconsin? Why do we poll statewide on local infrastructure questions?  What approval rate would we see in statewide polls if questions were to be asked about local highway and interstate expansions? We don’t normally ask those questions; why did we ask such questions about the train project? Oh, I answered that one myself. Because the train project became a campaign issue! Why was that again?

Behind these questions is a deep, deep concern: Wisconsin may lose it’s high-speed train.  For those of you not in the know, last year Wisconsin bid for and won $810 million of federal recovery act funds to build a high-speed rail line that would run from Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison and (a few years later) eventually on to Minneapolis. This is a line that does not currently exist and has long been supported by people from both parties (including Republican former Governor, Tommy Thompson).  Last Tuesday, Wisconsin elected Scott Walker as our next Governor. Scott Walker has consistently said he does not support the train project and claims that his election victory means that 52% of Wisconsin voters also want to kill the train.  But is that actually true? And at what cost do we end this project?

Those are the questions that we need to answer right now, Wisconsin.  Governor Doyle has made it clear that the decision on the rail project now ultimately rests with Governor-elect Walker.  But should Walker choose to the end the project, it will have catastrophic implications on our infrastructure and economy.  Not only will Wisconsin have no high-speed train (which will improve our transportation infrastructure and help commerce), but we will be on the hook to the feds for $14 million we’ve already spent and another $80 million for other projects and upgrades.  Further, Wisconsin will immediately lose 400 jobs and will say goodbye to the additional 4,000 to be created during the construction phase of the project.

In light of these numbers, why would anyone want to end this infrastructure project? Walker has said that he wants the feds to allow the high-speed rail money to come to Wisconsin as road money–as he believes it would be better spent that way.  But this argument willfully ignores the fact that this money is, by law, designated as rail money.  Designating this money to sometime else would require an act of congress.  Further, the US DOT, has said that it will not allow Wisconsin to use the money for anything but trains, and should Wisconsin refuse to use its money for that purpose it will be given to another state.  Both New York and Illinois have already said they will gladly take our rail funding.  Even fellow Republicans admit that congress is far more likely to give the funds to another state for than to reappropriate the money as road funding.  Does Gov-elect Walker really think that his election meant voters would be okay with giving our jobs and money to New York or *cough* Illinois?

Further, Walker has claimed that he doesn’t want Wisconsin to be on the hook for the estimated $7.5 million annual upkeep cost for the rail line.  But this $7.5 million is really a drop in the bucket of what the state spends on road upkeep every year.  In the current state budget, the state DOT receives $200 million for road maintenance and repair.  This money is designated for projects that do not receive any federal support. We also get money from the feds for upkeep and repair. And, yes, this all taxpayer money, too. Roads aren’t free, either. Further, federal and state officials have both strongly hinted that many of the rail upkeep costs could be picked up by the federal government.  BREAKING: And Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has said Madison is willing to help off-set the state’s operating costs for the project, while Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he will sue the state if it does not go through with the project. (The reason why he wants to sue is because Milwaukee has put capital of its own in the project–a Milwaukee train manufacturer has already said it will leave the state if Wisconsin ends the project.)

Wisconsin, this is our opportunity to tell our Governor-elect that we want rail jobs to stay here in Wisconsin and that we rail is important part of our infrastructure. High-speed passenger rail holds great promise to reduce congestion and improve commerce along the rail line.  Many people and organizations have voiced support for the train in recent days, I hope you will consider joining them.

Here are links of interest (I hope to update as the issue progresses):

Advocacy

Stand Up For Trains (Midwest High Speed Rail Association–has links to their Facebook page and encourage word of mouth advocacy)

Forward Lookout (Progressive Blog, lays out strong arguments to refute common anti-rail misconceptions)

Save the Train – Wisconsin Facebook Group

Community Support

Watertown Chamber of Commerce

League of Women Voters

Citizen Action of Wisconsin

Sierra  Club of Wisconsin

Downtown Madison Inc

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz (Also here and here)

Editorials

Wisconsin State Journal – Get Past Rail Rhetoric to Reality

Hands on Wisconsin: Walker’s great train robbery

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – There are Jobs at Stake

Capital Times – High-speed rail essential to Wisconsin’s economic renewal

The Sheboygan Press – Let’s look at big picture on rail line

La Crosse Tribune – Let’s hope Walker changes mind on rail

Watertown Daily Times – The high-speed train issue

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Questionable Dealing

Letters to the Editor

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – Build the Train

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – It’s time to catch up; Muddled editorial thinking; Saying no is madness