Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Regional Transit Committee Begins Work At The Capitol - - Without Mayor Barrett's Nominee

There are high hopes for quick passage of legislation to enable regional transit authorities to get rail systems in place in Wisconsin.

Details are in a Capital Times story about the upcoming work of a 22-member bi-partisan legislative study council committee.

And while no city in the state has more transit riders than the City of Milwaukee, Mayor Tom Barrett's request that Ald. Robert Bauman, the Common Council's acknowledged transit expert, be included on the study committee was not accepted by the legislature's leadership.

Here is the committee list: It's hard not to notice that 27% of the committee - - 6/22 - - is from Madison. Take out the legislators from the membership and Madison got 6 of the remaining 16 slots, or 38%.

It's true that there is a representative on the committee from the Milwaukee County transit system, as well as from the Milwaukee legislative delegation - - State Rep. Barbara Toles, (D) - - but the specific perspective of the Milwaukee city government should have been on the committee.

It reminds me of the 21-member running the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

There is representation for Milwaukee County, but none for the City of Milwaukee.

I have a great deal of respect for Rep. Toles. Her voice as a Milwaukee legislator will carry weight on the committee.

The legislative study committee has important work before it. There is a pressing need for rail transit and other improvements in Wisconsin that serve those who choose not to drive, or do not have access to an automobile.

And Milwaukee's city government represents more of those citizens than any other city in the state.

That perspective needs to be front and center in transit discussions in Wisconsin. Bob Bauman knows this stuff cold, and the committee is weaker without him.

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