Sunday, April 25, 2010

RTA Failure Shows Weakness Of Milwaukee Legislative Delegation

It remains the most stunning of the Legislature's stumbles and fumbles this session:

Killing transit in Milwaukee County.

Milwaukee County has the state's largest transit system: it is failing due to the lack of a dedicated, non-property tax funding source.

Everyone knows this - - from riders facing service cutbacks and rising fares to regional planners and civic groups that have run the numbers - - and even though county voters approved through referendum a sales tax increase to rescue the system, the legislature failed to establish the Authority and laws to put the pieces in place.

Milwaukee County is close to insolvency and its major services are imperiled, with transit "Exhibit A."

Truth is that Milwaukee's legislators lack the muscle and stamina and focus to move colleagues so that transit was a must-have priority.

The same leaders and legislators let the energy/jobs bill die, too - - another victory for incompetence and indifference.

That this collapse of commitment all took place while the ink was drying on Earth Day proclamations shows irony and shame abound at the Capitol, but no common sense.

I'm not sure how, or on what issues, Milwaukee's Democrats will run for re-election, but it will be interesting to watch.

And, yes, Scott Walker is running for Governor from a failed County.

For political insiders, it's more irony and laughs.

For Milwaukee's transit users and supporters of jobs and alternative energy - - an outrage.


Anonymous said...

If only those damn citizens would agree with your solutions - then you could make your utopia.

Something must be done to make the people accept it.

Unknown said...

I think people are tired of the failure of our representation in Madison.
So what happens when the chorus of the left "throw the bums out" meets the tea party anger at Doyle, the legislature, and people in suits with important looking hair walking around Madison? Who knows? But I will say this about the Legislature and particularly the Milwaukee "delegation": Could we do any worse? At least if they were Republicans I would know when and how we would be getting screwed by Madison.

Joseph Thomas Klein said...

@Anonymous They did agree, they voted for the sales tax.

Anonymous said...

While I am more than disappointed at last week's failures, its pretty disingenious not to mention inaccurate, that all the blame lies at the feet of the Milw Legislative Delegation. For starters, it was Governor Jim Doyle who vetoed the Transit sales tax out of last year's Budget. Second, the referendum was Advisory and would have failed without Obama on ticket. Third, the County BOard itself cannot muster the votes to override Walkers vetoes of Sales tax. FOURTH: I believe it was Mayor Tom Barrett and his campaign for Governor who made the front page last month for saying that the Clean Energy jobs bill was too "costly" and needed changes?! the same week he welcomed a wind power company to the Men Valley??? AND, lets add in the GMC and business community, who has Tim Sullivan (Bucyrus) running around town demanding the RTA, while his lifelong buddy and State Rep from South Milwaukee, Mark Honadel, smugly votes against the damn thing?! Name one thing the GMC has accomplished in the last Ten years...when we did Miller Park, they were in full force. Of course, back then, the Delegation and others worked hard w the GMC and business make things happen, despite Mayor Norquist, nearly trashing the project over a silly debate to put the thing DOwntown! You welcome to have your own opinions Jim, but not your own set of facts.

PurpleAvenger said...

remember, though, that an RTA did pass last year - and Doyle vetoed it. So I think he shares a big part of the blame. Yes, this delegation should have been stronger - but it shows a statewide disdain for transit, especially transit that is most used by lower income persons and communities of color.

EWO said...

In the natural world, when things grow past critical size, they either split or collapse.

Milwaukee county should succeed from Wisconsin and form a separate state. It's the only way to solve the conflict of rural Wisconsin vs Urban Milwaukee.

The economist Jane Jacobs and the Planner Leon Keir both suggest that when a city reaches a size where it no longer has equal neighbors to compete with, it needs to divide and create new competitors, or else it will decay.

James Rowen said...

I agree that I should have included the Gov. in this criticism.

But that does not change the ineffectiveness of our delegation or the leadership.

Purple Avenger said it best: there is a statewide disdain for transit.

Which means the representaties from the biggest city in the state, and the most-transit dependent, have to be more dedicated to advocating for transit.

This might be the Dems high-water mark for majority representation in both houses for years to come and there was little to show for it.

The Dems couldn't even pass the lessened energy and jobs bill, which woyuld have been good for Milwaukee.

all in all, a weak showing, which was my point.

Anon Jim said...

And, yes, Tom Barrett is running for Governor from a failed City.


Unknown said...

@Anonymous: You wrote, "the referendum was Advisory and would have failed without Obama on ticket."

So the implication is that it's a better democracy without *those* voters showing up??

enoughalready said...

I think this failure is an opportunity for Tom Barrett to argue for the difference that electing a governor from Milwaukee might make, especially for transit. I do not agree that there is "statewide disdain for transit." To the contrary, many communities (Appleton is one example) throughout the state recognize the value of transit and have visionary leaders who appreciate its benefits and who not only find ways to make it work, but also find ways to make it grow -- in sharp contrast to Scott Walker who, as we all know, has almost succeeded in killing transit in Milwaukee County.

James Rowen said...

To enoughalready: If Walker were really "from Milwaukee" he'd have been livid at the failure of the RTA.

Anon Jim said...

Having been born in Appleton and living there for 35 out of my 51 years on this earth, everyone should know the it was always the local joke about the empty buses running around town and the fiscal black hole Valley Transit is.