Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jeff Wagner Misleads On Freeway Issues

Even for a righty talker dedicated to stirring up the base, Jeff Wagner outdid himself Wednesday when he got into ideologically-driven, fact-free discussion of freeway issues during the WTMJ-AM radio program's 1-2 p.m. segment.

Wagner was arguing in favor the proposed six-mile extension of the Lake South Parkway - - perhaps he'd read this earlier in the day? - - by attacking former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist over the demolition years ago of a separate roadway across town from the Lake South Parkway known as the Park East Freeway spur, or stub - - which in reality was a half-mile elevated ramp that allowed traffic to come into the downtown off I-43 at the Milwaukee River just up 4th St. from the Bradley Center.

The proposed Lake South Parkway extension that Wagner likes - - even at the cost of $207 million - - would run from the airport south into Oak Creek; Walker folded in his beef over the long-ago torn-down Park East spur even though two roads do not connect and had nothing to do with each other.

Wagner did this so he could take a shot at Norquist, a Democrat, whose New Urbanist policies Wagner did not like, so he teed up the discussion by referring to the Park East Freeway stub removal as one of the last things Norquist did before he "snuck out of town."

Bad grammar aside, Wagner's facts are a mess.

Removing the Park East spur was first green-lighted in the 1990's by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission when a downtown stadium for the Brewers had been under discussion, and then shelved, in favor of the Valley site for Miller Park. 

The removal process was set into greater motion in 1999 when former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson and Norquist agreed that a multi-million pot of federal transportation funds could be divided, 50% to the state and 50% to the city and county, and the state eventually agreeing to contribute to the Park East removal.

I know this because, as Norquist's then-Chief of staff, I was in the meeting with Thompson and Norquist when the broad outline of their funding split was agreed upon, and I was in a subsequent meeting in Madison among several agencies when the particulars were hammered out, project-by-protect.

This is not the first time I have blogged about this.

Plus - - the physical stub removal began in 2002.

So nothing and no one was snuck anywhere on this issue. 


Talk radio does not care.

1 comment:

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I live near downtown, and work within view of the site of the Park East spur. From my daily experience, the loss of this over-valued hunk of concrete has had not a single detrimental effect, and in fact has had several positive effects.

Of course, as you say, right wing talk radio has no need for facts.