Monday, June 16, 2008

Scott Walker's New Shell-Game Won't Fly

Milwaukee County taxpayers and bus riders need a real transit system financial plan and they are being offered parlor games and street-corner Three Card Monty.

Shell games are between-inning fun on Miller Park's centerfield big screen TV. Let's not elevate them to County political solutions.

Milwaukee County's bus system is facing multiple hurdles: plummeting ridership as transit use soars nationally, rising fares, no rail component, and County Executive Scott Walker's pledge to veto the latest sales tax rescue plan that is strongly backed by the business community.

Nimble politician that he is, Walker has throw out a huge diversionary idea to make it appear as if he is doing something to resolve the crisis:

Lease the county-owned Mitchell International Airport, then direct lease payments to the transit system.

The only problem is that such a scheme would take five years to implement, and the airlines that use the airport would have to OK the deal knowing their fees would rise to make the airport a profit-making business.

Increases that would be passed on to passengers, as would predictable increases in lease payments charged to the restaurants and shops that have stores in the concourses.

Some of that stuff is pretty expensive already, as are airline tickets. Want to pay more?

Walker will be long-gone from Milwaukee politics in five years, so he's avoiding a material problem that has festered since he took over the County Executive's office in 2002 by diverting us with an idea that could cause as many problems as it purportedly solves.

It's a little like trying to avoid foreclosure on your house by telling the bank that you could raise the money you owe by selling something else, like a condo - - except that the deal would take five years to complete and the other condo owners would have have to give their approval even though it would raise their association fees.

Vintage Walker: Just like his pension system 'reforms' that perpetuated bad old costly ways, and annual budgets that routinely papered over gaps with cotton-candy revenues.

Walker is the master of shell-game politics.

The county needs political leadership right now, not magic tricks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reading the article, did you notice something about Scott Walker's claim about airport privatization proceeds -- that their dedication to transit was a federal requirement -- was directly contradicted by an FAA official!!! So, either Walker does not understand the basics of his own proposal, or he was being "less than honest."

As for Walker bringing in a transit expert, I don't know, shouldn't he have done that, say, FIVE YEARS AGO??!!?? That is, if Scott Walker was ever really serious about preserving the viability of Milwaukee County's bus system ...

Here are a couple of of links to comments by local people who enjoyed their experiences elsewhere with rail transit. (Sorry, I do not know the HTML tag for linking.):
(From Waukesha)
(From Madison)