Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another Policy Dud From Scott Walker

Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County Executive famous for cutting the bus system, has come up with another bad idea:

Stripping out the trolley component of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's bus/rail transit upgrade - - the key element there being the rail loop aimed mainly at the downtown - - for an all-bus expansion to help the suburbs.

The Walker plan also deletes Barrett's proposed express bus extension to Mitchell Airport, indicating Walker's disinterest in the "multi-modal" linking together of various forms of transportation.

Not to mention his shrug of the shoulders at assisting the airport - - a County-run facility.

Walker's plan meets at least three of his pet political priorities:

Win praise from his shills in right wing talk radio, where anti-rail foamers lead the retrograde movement in southeastern Wisconsin keeping Milwaukee a second-tier, under-competing city.

Appear to support transit expansion, using federal funds he had nothing to do with winning for Milwaukee, for new bus routes to please his suburban base.

Be the anti-Barrett.

This is something Walker grafted on to his standard operating procedure after former Mayor John Norquist left office in 2004.

As a former Norquist staffer, I observed Walker's negativity towards Milwaukee, ranging from his opposition to programs as varied as the Milwaukee Connector to consolidation of duplicated, taxpayer-paid plant nurseries.

Express buses might be nice - - until they get caught in traffic and remind riders that a bus is a bus is a bus - - but urban trains are new, and hip.

Modern US cities are building several varieties of light rail and trolley systems, even in cities like Dallas, where there are more right wing talk show hosts per capita (or is it per square mile?) than in Milwaukee, Norquist joked.

Urban rail has come to Denver, Baltimore, San Diego, Portland, even to Kenosha, but Walker and his talk show allies are keeping Milwaukee a rail-free zone.

And rail-bashing by some AM talkers keeps the conservative, suburban base stirred up, on edge, fearing the easier movement of city residents across the region's borders.

Or as the late George Watts called them at a 1997 forum in Milwaukee - - "strangers" who'd ride the rails to menace the suburbs.

Walker says his plan is to be called SMART, for Suburban and Milwaukee Advanced Rapid Transit (actually SAMART, but let's not quibble).

Once you look at it closely, the SMART idea from Walker is actually something different: Small Minds Against Rail Transit.


ccook said...

you guys are nuts!!!!!

James Rowen said...

To ccook; Another thoughtful comment from the Right. Thanks for sharing.

EddyPo said...

And 5 exclamation points too. I guess that means ccook is opposed to light rail. Hard to tell.

XOut said...

Because trains are hip and trendy? Are you serious Rowen?

James Rowen said...

Ah, Xout: Back again from a long absence of anonymous posting.

So great to hear from you again - - you who won't put up your own blog, but whine away on others.

I'm putting up your comment just to thank you proving my point that small minds oppose rail transit.

Dave said...

Yea Walker's plan is all about showing "I can do something too!"..

My favorite features are that it doesn't go to the airport. Hardly serves downtown. Doesn't support the KRM projects requirement of a downtown circulator... Hell before the mayor's plan I'm guessing Walker didn't even know what BRT was.