Sunday, March 31, 2013

Big Tar Sand Oil Spill In Arkansas; Think Keystone XL

Imagine this soaking into the US High Plains' biggest aquifer along the Keystone XL route:

Exxon's Pegasus pipeline, which can carry more than 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude from Pakota, Illinois to Nederland, Texas, was shut after the leak was discovered late Friday afternoon in a subdivision near the town of Mayflower. The leak forced the evacuation of 22 homes.

Exxon also had no specific estimate of how much crude oil had spilled, but the company said 12,000 barrels of oil and water had been recovered - up from 4,500 barrels on Saturday. The company did not say how much of the total was oil and how much was water....

The pipeline was carrying Canadian Wabasca Heavy crude at the time of the leak. An oil spill of more than 1,000 barrels into a Wisconsin field from an Enbridge pipeline last summer kept that line shuttered for around 11 days.

Saturday's Walker/Rail/Jobs Posting Will Be Updated All Weekend

I'll be adding data and links to this effort to memorialize the loss of jobs and business as Walker killed passenger rail manufacturing in Milwaukee, and an Amtrak extension to Madison as part of Midwest High-Speed Rail service expanding throughout the region.

Procurement for which is now headquartered in Illinois - - another job center killed in Wisconsin.

I'll also repost the updated version Monday.

John Gurda's Strong Easter Sunday Message To Walker, Milwaukee

Historian John Gurda pens a strong defense of Milwaukee - - bringing to mind another must-read Gurda piece about the state government's leading faux supporter of Milwaukee.

Additional background.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Walker, Rail And Jobs

More about this tomorrow.

Another GOP Slurmeister Helps Bury His Party

The man is a long-time member of The Congress of the United States.

During a discussion about ongoing challenges to the economy Thursday, Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young referred to Hispanic workers as "wetbacks," an ethnic slur used to describe migrant worker

Scott Walker Caused These Job, Growth Losses

Following through on a campaign pledge (see the "no train" website), Scott Walker forced the termination of an $810 million federally-funded Madison-to-Milwaukee Amtrak line predicted to create thousands of jobs - - including employment in the years of his governorship when Wisconsin's job growth has steadily fallen - - over a six-year period, according to data published in 2010 by the Journal Sentinel:

Talgo, a Spanish train manufacturer, is seeking a Wisconsin plant to assemble trains that could run on this route. The Talgo business could create 50 to 60 jobs building two trains that the state already has ordered for the existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha service, plus another 20 to 30 more building two more trains for high-speed service, says Jim Schmelzer, president of Super Steel Products Corp., which is seeking the work.
Counting "indirect" jobs at suppliers would add another 152 jobs this year, 479 next year, 647 in 2012, 202 in 2013, 54 in 2014 and 11 in 2015. State and local government jobs, including planners, engineers and project managers, would total 67 this year, 212 next year, 291 in 2012, 109 in 2013, 47 in 2014 and 26 in 2015. Klein said personnel hired by the state Department of Transportation for this project would hold their jobs no more than four years.
Therefore, total employment specifically linked to the train line would be 1,100 this year, 3,483 next year, 4,732 in 2012, 1,542 in 2013, 483 in 2014 and 167 in 2015.
The remaining jobs that the state claims would be created - 181 this year, 577 next year, 803 in 2012, 305 in 2013, 138 in 2014 and 83 in 2015 - would be "induced" employment, or jobs at stores, restaurants and other businesses where the railroad workers would spend their wages.

Like a Broken Record, Walker Evades Jobs Fail Responsibility

Another failing jobs report, more Walker finger-pointing.

Asked Thursday about new numbers showing Wisconsin lagging in job growth, Gov. Scott Walker pointed to the uncertainty he said business owners felt because of the political tumult that rocked Wisconsin early in his term.
That one's getting old and moldy.

Remember this from last May:
Walker blamed the state's employment woes on the recalls, saying employers are hesitant to add jobs during times of political uncertainty but that there would be a "dramatic turnaround" after June 5.

"There is a tremendous enthusiasm built up for additional jobs," he said. "I think you're going to see a tremendous takeoff."
He needs to look to his actions that took jobs, resources and synergy right out of the economy - - his scuttling of hundreds of millions of dollars in labor-intensive rail line construction and train manufacturing, stalling wind farm installations and slashing the take-home pay of and main street spending by tens of thousands of public employees.

Great analysis by a Milwaukee economist, here:
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has repeatedly written that the state’s lack of job creation and weak economic and income growth is inexplicable. This report makes it clear that  Wisconsin's weak economic performance is the direct result of Walker’s austerity economics - - massive cuts in state aid to local governments, public schools, tech colleges and the UW system. It will be interesting to see if the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the economic mystery of Wisconsin’s subpar economic growth has been solved.  
This is hardly the way to build credibility for an unintimidated run for national office - - though it would be interesting to see the results of national economics writers spending time here and picking apart Walker's disastrous flirtation with Grover Norquist's ruinous, anti-government governance.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Props To Obama, Mayors On Gun-Related Health Measures

It would be tragic if GOP senators were able to block anti-gun violence measures as reasonable and non-controversial as universal gun purchase background checks, but several US lawmakers are threatening to hold up an array of gun violence prevention measures, reports The Washington Post:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), widely viewed as a 2016 presidential contender, announced Thursday that he was joining three other Senate GOP conservatives — Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) — in threatening to filibuster Democratic gun-control legislation.

President Obama's top anti-gun violence proposal since the Newtown, Conn. shootings has been universal background checks for purchasers - - an idea with widespread backing, the Post says:

He focused particular attention on background checks, his top priority and by far the most popular of the proposals. Public polls suggest that as many as nine out of 10 Americans support the idea.

“Right now, 90 percent of Americans — 90 percent — support background checks,” Obama said. “How often do 90 percent of Americans agree on anything? It never happens.”

Obama's proposals have grassroots support and are backed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization created by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is waging a TV campaign for reasonable anti-gun violence solutions, and is functioning as a counter-weight to the NRA.

These are public health matters, as well as crime and violence issues, too.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is a founding member, according to a City Health Department posting:

In 2006, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and 14 others founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) to reduce illegal guns and gun violence in urban areas through education, legislation and coordination between government and community entities. Today, more than 620 mayors participate in the nationwide, non-partisan coalition. Mayors are one of the central figures in protecting residents and families from harm and finding innovative ways to promote public safety.

Walker Job Fail: 44th Nationally, Midwest Flop

How is the state doing during Scott Walker's tenure? Consider this employment data as reported Thursday by the Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin ranked 44 out of the 50 states in private-sector job creation, according to the latest available government jobs data deemed credible by economists.
The data, which covers the 12 months from September 2011 to September 2012, shows that Wisconsin's position deteriorated progressively from a rank of 42 out of 50 in the previous 12-month period through June 2012; and from a rank of 37 in the 12 months through March 2012....

Wisconsin came out as the clear laggard in private-sector job creation in the Midwest, as this ranking of private-sector job creation shows:

11. Indiana (2.2% private-sector job growth in the 12 months)
13. Michigan (2%)
24. Ohio (1.5%)
27. Illinois (1.4%)
30. Iowa (1.3%)
39. Minnesota (1.0%)
44. Wisconsin (0.9%)

Chief Justice Roberts Needs Advice From Chief Justice Roberts

I heard audio clips Wednesday of US Supreme Court Justice John Roberts questioning a female attorney during the Defense of Marriage Act argument about the effect of lobbyists on changing public opinion about gay rights - - some references here - - and his question at least suggested there was something troubling about such organized efforts to sway mass consciousness and influence the courts on gay rights issues.

What" No support for free speech for lobbyists on behalf of gay and lesbian interests and organizations?

If, in fact, such paid efforts had been made and were continuing to change public opinion, why would that be different than the door to such efforts Roberts flung wide open for political campaigns and their financing - - see Citizens United - - designed to sway voters, advance agendas and influence public opinion?

Perhaps the Chief Justice Roberts who appears to be uneasy about the possible  impact of paid lobbying on behalf of gay rights should ask the Chief Justice Roberts who ruled in favor of unchained free speech for moneyed interests in campaigns - - a form of lobbying, if you will - - so the two Roberts' can be more consistent?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Someone's Britches Already Outgrown?

Or just part of the game?

Gov. Scott Walker is distancing himself from talk of running for president after word surfaced he's working on a memoir.
Look to see Walker changing gears and touring a place called Wisconsin soon.

Company Johnson Joined Had Earlier Received Government Grant

[Note addendum, clarification and correction below.] Wisconsin's low-visibility US GOP Senator Ron Johnson has thrown together a pre-re-election video entitled "Victims of Government" aimed to look engaged in a job he really doesn't like while energizing his anti-government Tea Party base.

The video is a little red-meat campaign appetizer for the crowd that condemns entitlements, government intervention in markets, picking winners and losers and robotically repeats other bumper-sticker slogans endorsing Grover Norquist's 'death-by-drowning' to a shrunken and intentionally-ineffective government.

In short: Cut The Spending. Restrain The Bureaucrats! Stop The Handouts!

The City of Oshkosh and the US Housing and Urban Development had arranged a grant of $75,000 public dollars to build a rail spur for a plastics business that Johnson subsequently joined:

According to documents from the Oshkosh city clerk's office, an Urban Development Action Grant in the amount of $75,000 was used to build a rail spur to Pacur, a plastics manufacturing company owned by Johnson.

The city resolution approving the grant was passed on March 15, 1979, the year the Oshkosh factory was built.

The money for the line went to Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies, owned by Johnson's brother-in-law, Pat Curler. Months later, WISS changed its name to Pacur and the plant opened.

Thursday, ll:30 a.m. addendum, clarification and correction:

When I wrote this post I had forgotten the history that arose when the rail line financing issue was raised in the 2010 Ron Johnson-Russ Feingold Senate campaign.

So I have rewritten the text and the headline to make them accurate, take responsibility for what I got wrong, and apologize to Johnson and readers.

The original headline had read: "Ron Johnson, Beneficiary Of Government $$ Gift," implying a direct link between Johnson and $75,000 in what is then explained as a grant to a company.

Such an implication is wrong, so I have changed the headline to read "Company Johnson joined had earlier received government grant."

PolitiFact had addressed the issues when they arose during the campaign.

The Feingold campaign had said the rail line financing was a loan, which I correctly said was a grant.

However, Johnson had responded when the issue arose that he had joined the company after the financing was arranged, as the PolitiFact piece had summarized below, and I should have made that clear. My error.

The $75,000 grant is clearly government aid. And the rail line it helped create clearly has helped Pacur from its earliest days. But the grant apparently predated Johnson’s arrival in Oshkosh, and there is no evidence so far -- if more comes to light, we may revisit this ruling -- that Johnson was involved in it.

The Governor and Governing Dilettante

Walker travels. Gives speeches. Raises money. Is 'writing' a book.

And is said to drop into the office. Helluva gig.

The Party Of Limbaugh...The Party Of Ted Cruz...The Party Of Scalia...

Republicans can push their faux newbies like Rubio, or Ryan, or even a complete contradiction like the job-creator job-killer Scott Walker, but having their angry and exclusionary core identity carried by a crank like Antonin Scalia will continue to make for a marginalized and toxic 'party.'

This piece nails it.

Scalia would seem to summarize for many the reversal of fortunes for Republicans. The justice who headed the court that delivered the presidency to George W. Bush, the man whose mean wit and arrogant swagger seemed just right for the cowboy years of the Texas president — suddenly he, like the party he so often favors in his opinions, seems out-of-touch....
Gay marriage? Well, “homosexual sodomy” is an “easy ” one for the judge. He says, “If we cannot have moral feeling against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
On many issues, the justice seems to reason with his gut, rather than his mind — another Republican characteristic that now seems anachronistic.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Most US Rivers Polluted; Keep Bad River Off That List

The massive open-pit mine enabled by new state law at the headwaters of the Bad River in NW Wisconsin that could release sulphuric acid runoff could easily land it on the feds' list of rivers polluted with chemicals.

At Wisc. DNR, Paperwork Backlog/Regulation Laissez-Faire Brings Praise

GOP legislators sing the praises of the agency head put there by Scott Walker - - his words - - for her "chamber of commerce mentality."


Rove's Anti-Gay Machinations Helped Create Momentum For Equal Rights

File this in the 'give-credit-where-credit-is-due' department.

Or 'bitten by unintended consequences.'

Or 'too-clever-by-half.'

Karl Rove's denials not withstanding, GOP election machinations to use gay rights as a divide-and-conquer strategy in 2004 helped bring us to where we are today - - where equal rights for gay citizens is front-and-center in the political environment and public opinion, with the support of the President, has left the intolerant in the dust.

Don't Forget That Wisc. Tribes Run Fish Hatcheries For Everyone

Native tribes have announced they may take an increased number of fish from inland lakes this year, limiting some daily catch limits off-reservation - - as is the tribes' right under long-standing treaties - - but sport anglers on those lakes need to remember that many of the fish available for Native and non-Natives alike originate in hatcheries run by the tribes for the common good.

Some basic information here, or video, here.

Walker Veered Right On Gay Rights - - Then Just Veers

As the US Supreme Court on Tuesday confronts the implications of barriers to gay equality, let's document where our Governor/book 'author comes down on these issues.

After his election as Governor, he moved in 2011 to bar gay couples from enjoying fundamental rights taken for granted by straight couples:

Gov. Scott Walker believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it.
And he supports the very restrictive 2006 Wisconsin constitutional amendment adopted by referendum that banned both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

And on same-sex marriage itself? You can decipher his recent word-salady response and decide if it's the end product of skilled obfuscation or crossed wires:Just
"The interesting (thing) on the generational standpoint is I've had young people ask me I think an appropriate question, is not expanding it to include folks who are not one man and one woman but rather questioning why the government is sanctioning it in the first place," he said on the [Meet the Press] show. "I mean, that would be an alternative to say not have the government sanction marriage period, and leave that up to the churches and the synagogues and others to define that."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Smaller Cities Backed Walker, Get Screwed On Transit Anyway

It's not just the irritating urban voters whose transit systems pay a price in Walker's 2013-'15 transit budget; smaller cities' systems - - like all transit programs in Wisconsin - - will have to compete under that budget with general state programs for regular operation financing - - but will have to compete with larger cities (read: more clout) for federal funding doled out based on population, too.

I'd posted information about this funding issues last year.

Attention, transit system riders and taxpayers in small-to-medium-sized cities:

You might want to think twice about voting for Scott Walker in two weeks, and any state or national GOP legislators when the opportunities arise as well, because the Walker budget along with conservative Congressional ideologues are going to raise your costs next year.
Well, here we are a year later, so check out pages 455-456 in the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's posted budget.

What you will find there is information about transit systems in the pro-Walker, very Republican communities of Hartford and West Bend being transferred to a federal funding category that gets a $277,700 bump in dollars but then forces their smaller-community transit/ride share systems to compete for dollars with larger communities, like Oshkosh or Appleton or Green Bay:
Page 456
...Based on the 2010 decennial census, the City of Hartford and City of West Bend transit systems are now serving a population of 50,000 to 200,000, which results in these systems being in a different federal aid category than the systems were in prior to the newcensus. This recommendation would transfer these two shared-ride taxi systems, and their corresponding state funding, from Tier C to Tier B, in order to correspond with their new federal aid category.
So the smaller cities have grown - - and yes, there's a modest dollop of available federal funding for that tier or non-rural areas - - but now have to compete for that federal funding with larger cities.

Those smaller communities are looking at a funding mirage.

And because voters in these communities do not like to throw more property tax dollars into their transit system operations they can look to either fare increases or cuts in service in great demand by aging populations.

Walker Grandiosity + Absurdity Alert

His life story? It'll be in the dollar bin real quick.


Scott Walker hires torture apologist to ghostwrite campaign book

NW Wisc. Winters Could Warm Eight Degrees F.

If a 3.6 degrees F. (2 C.) increase in temperature is considered a danger, think about this:

WICCI [Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts] climate scientists project that our winters will see the most warming of any other season by mid-century. Northwestern Wisconsin, where the ['Berkie'] ski race occurs, is expected to warm the most—by as much as 8◦F.

Ron Johnson: Nobody's Senator

Tea Party devotee and former family-plastics-business CEO Ron Johnson has done something of a disappearing act in Washington, D.C.  - - name something he's done, aided, attempted, said, written - - but you can get closer to the heart of his political persona since his 2010 election by simply deleting the last two words of former US Senator Herb Kohl's substantive slogan "Nobody's Senator but yours."

Data and perception show he's basically Nobody's Senator, a Capitol Hill Nowhere man.

A solid challenge might just make him a one-termer.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Yes" Vote On Same-Day Registration

Milwaukee residents have an opportunity and obligation at the ballot box April 2nd, and that's to vote "yes" on the advisory referendum recommending retention of the state's same-day voting registration procedure.

It's shocking that in 2013 Americans anywhere would have to petition their government to continue unfettered access to the ballot box, but Gov. Walker and others have said they're thinking about ending the same-day procedure and that's enough for people to be alarmed and activated.

Closing off same-day registration is part and parcel of the Republican reaction to the Romney/Ryan debacle of 2012 and the party's reprehensible efforts around the country to reduce voting schedules or impose discriminatory voter ID laws in areas with strong Democratic turnouts.

So we can send a message on April 2nd to Wisconsin officials that messing with the voting process is off the table, and, in fact, more state effort should be put into encouraging voters to participate.

Some details, here.

The ballot question, sponsored by Ald. Milele Coggs and approved by the Common Council in January, states: "Should the state of Wisconsin continue to permit citizens to register to vote at the polls on election day?" It will be printed in both English and Spanish in areas with large Hispanic populations.

Coggs sought the referendum after Gov. Scott Walker said in November that he favors ending same-day registration, echoing earlier comments by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).

The 'New' GOP Wasn't To Be Just Anti-Obama, So...

How did that reform message escape party reformer-in-chief Reince Priebus, as these are his two most recent tweets?

Developing Countries Contributing To Biodiversity

I'll try and do better posting information from around the globe that is interesting on its own and also relevant to us right here, like this Inter Press Service posting about diversity as the State of Wisconsin has amended the law to fill wetlands, grind down the Penokee Hills at Lake Superior and jeopardize the largest wild-rice estuaries in the Great Lakes watershed close to the Bad River reservation to facilitate open-pit mining:

We cannot isolate biological diversity by geographical boundaries, says Brazilian negotiator André Aranha Corrêa do Lago in this interview.
HYDERABAD, India, Oct 23 2012 (IPS) - Developing countries are investing enormously in preserving biological diversity, and it is unimaginable that the wealthy nations will not fulfill their obligations to provide funding for these efforts, Brazilian environmental negotiator André Aranha Corrêa do Lago told Tierramérica*.
Global awareness on biodiversity is still “much lower than it should be,” despite the fact that the Convention on Biological Diversity has provided “a large amount of scientific information to governments in all countries,” said Corrêa do Lago, director of the Department of Environment and Special Affairs at Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations and senior negotiator of the Brazilian delegation at the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to this international treaty.
Hat tip, SM.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Remember, It's Not The Gun That's At Fault...

It's the teen brother, or the four-year old.

Or the father of a 10-month-old.

Where's Walker Campaigning Today? Dallas, Texas

Here's the schedule, not entirely low-caliber:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the special guest for Saturday’s Dallas County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner...

The dinner starts at 7 p.m. and there’s a VIP reception at 6 p.m.

There will be no live auction. So unlike similar events staged by Tarrant and Denton County Republicans, guests won’t be able to buy a semi-automatic rifle.

Lake Michigan Ferry To Get Two More Coal-Ash Dumping Years

File this under 'the-more-things-change....'

The Manitowoc, Wisc.-to-Ludington, Mich. S.S. Badger will get two more years to dump coal ash into Lake Michigan.

It's a practice 60 years old, though cleaner fuels have been around a long time - - and the ship's EPA dumping permit had run out at the end of 2012 with the deadline understood for several years, as this 2009 Michigan report indicated:

Ludington almost lost the S.S. Badger ferry operations late last year as new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discharge regulations came close to permanently ending the historic cross-lake service...
The lobbying efforts of high-powered Washington attorney Barry M. Hartman persuaded the EPA to allow coal-powered ferries to continue to dump coal ash overboard with little restriction until December 2012. The Lake Michigan Carferry now has several years to find an on-board ash storage system or retrofit the Badger to use another fuel.
So there is this last-minute deal between the company and the EPA that calls for an ash-dumping reduction of 15% and the installation by 2015 of an on-board collection system. The ship owners pay a fine of $25,000 for permit violations.

Observers have said the deal will resolve the dumping issue and do so more quickly than other remedies that would probably have tied things up in court and stretched out the process and eventual solution.

Though the company knew in 2008 it was supposed to have the dumping issue fixed by 2012, so it looks to me like the company, with a full-court PR press, beat down a pliant regulatory process.

The ship now deposits an estimated 500 tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan each sailing season of about five months, so even with a reduction, Lake Michigan still will receive hundreds of tons of coal ash until 2015.

You can decide if this is a win, or a cave-in, or something in between.

All other coal-fired Great Lakes shipping abandoned coal for cleaner fuels; the Badger is the last of its kind on these waters.

Here's what I wrote about a year ago:
As the Great Lakes ferry season opens, the controversy over the S.S. Badger's routine coal ash dumping into Lake Michigan - - 3.8 tons a day - - is renewed.

I've been writing about this for years.

The ship's lobby is strong, which means we're asking the same questions today as were asked in 2009:
And by the way, do you think the SS Badger will somehow wangle an exemption from recent EPA action and remain as the only coal-burning ship on the Great Lakes - - complete with hosing out the boilers and washing the ash into Lake Michigan?

Friday, March 22, 2013

This'll Put Wisconsin On The Map: Groundhog Shooting

Do we really need to be state where you can kill groundhogs?

That'll go over big on Groundhog Day, where Wisconsin's Jimmy will have to take cover.

A hunting-deprived legislator, not satisfied with the opportunity to shoot wolves, deer, bear, and even mourning doves wants to take groundhogs, also called woodchucks, off a protected list.

Illinois Gets $808 Million Train Business Walker Destroyed Here

When Scott Walker forced the cancellation of a Madison-to-Milwaukee Amtrak line in 2011, he and legislators also broke a contract to build train equipment for several states at a developing Milwaukee factory in the economically-depressed 30th. St. corridor.

All to satisfy a Walker campaign promise to block the federally-funded Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed rail construction plan which Walker said would cost the state $10 million annually (horrors! - - when governors routinely budget billions to build and millions to repair, maintain and plow highways) - - but which state officials said would cost the state as little as $750,000 annually. 

And to deny a legacy to Gov. Jim Doyle, (D) who'd set these wheels in motion in cooperation with Pres. Obama - - even if it meant squashing a new industry in the state with regional and national implications.

Today Illinois is celebrating the news that $808 million for new trains will be managed or built in Illinois for delivery to five states - - with manufacturing to take place at a plant in Rochelle, IL that is about 25 miles south of Beloit:

Locomotives capable of exceeding the 110-mph speed limit on the passenger rail corridor between Chicago and St. Louis will be bought for Illinois and four other states under a process the Illinois Department of Transportation will lead, officials said Thursday.

The Federal Railroad Administration selected IDOT to manage the multistate procurement of at least 35 next-generation locomotives for high-speed rail corridors in Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state, Gov. Pat Quinn said.
The Illinois Governor spelled it out:
Today’s announcement is part of the governor’s commitment to bring Illinois’ and our nation’s transportation systems into the 21st century.
“This decision by the federal government is a testament to Illinois’ role as a national leader in high-speed rail,” Governor Quinn said. “This important multi-state procurement is a key to success for high-speed rail throughout the nation, and I have directed my administration to move forward quickly.”
More lost jobs for Wisconsin, where Walker's 250,000 new jobs promise is failing in part because he killed rail construction, manufacturing, R&D and repair employment in our state.

In the initial announcement of the Milwaukee contracts:
Not only will Wisconsin's Talgo trains be built in Milwaukee, the Talgo rail car assembly plant will support the delivery of Talgo trains throughout the country and create hundreds of jobs through its supply chain vendors in the Midwest and U.S. Last week, the state of Oregon announced it has purchased two Talgo train sets that will be assembled in Wisconsin - saving both states millions of dollars.
This means Walker and his ideologically-motivated legislative allies snatched paychecks and economic security right out from under Wisconsin workers and families. Food off their tables. Shoes from the kids.

Walker also sent wind energy jobs to Illinois. 

Walker a job creator?

He did more than stick it to Milwaukee, where wind turbines are made and train sets were on the table.

He harpooned us.

For God's sake:

What a fraud.

When Conservatives Grit Their Teeth And Agree...

The comments can make for some funny reading.

Over at my Purple Wisconsin blog site about Walker's $200 million WisDOT palace:

I can't believe I am saying this, but I actually have to agree with Jimmy on the DOT building. If the current place is functional, why do we need a new one?

PS: As usual, the rest of his article is complete liberal garbage.

No State Budget Public Hearings In Most Cities

The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance budget hearing schedule leaves most pesky urban voters on the outside looking in - - or having to travel to speak to testify, or perhaps catch a glimpse of State Sen. Glenn Grothman, (R-West Bend), looking genuinely interested.

Hearings are set for April 4 in Greendale, a suburban Milwaukee GOP bastion, on April 8 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, on April 10 in Lake Delton (get in your cars, Madisonians and on April 18 in Baldwin, west of Eau Claire and convenient to curious Minnesotans.

Privatization Alert: Why Chicago On-Street Parking Is $6.50/Hr.

File this away as Walkerites at the Capitol look to transfer public assets to private interests for ideological satisfaction, short-term budget gains and long-term added costs to taxpayers, consumers, shoppers and commuters.

One case in point: outrageously expensive parking - - now $6.50/hr.- -  at Chicago ramps and on-street now leased seemingly forever to private operators:

[Consultant Richard Layman] wrote almost one year ago ("A lesson to cities that they need to be very careful when leasing assets to public private "partnerships") about the continuing debacle of Chicago's long term lease of its parking garages and parking meters to a for profit consortium.
Hat tip, 

Same sort of big toll increases continue since its leasing at the Chicago Skyway:

On January 1st, drivers who use the Chicago Skyway toll road will be paying more to use the 7.8 mile length of tollway...from the current $3.50 to $4.00.

According to a report from Fox News citing the Federal Highway Administration, the Skyway was already the costliest interstate toll road in the U.S....

The City of Chicago leased the Skyway, which links the Dan Ryan to the Indiana Toll Road, to a private investment group in 2005 for 99 years and $1.83 billion dollars.

The fatter toll policy after long-term privatization continues right into the the Indiana tollway, too:
The Indiana Toll Road lease may have paid off in the short term, but a new study concludes it'll be a bad deal for taxpayers in the long run.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Walker Wipes Out World Water Day In Wisconsin

Let's not hold our breath waiting for the governor who's willing to fill wetlands on behalf of an out-of-town iron mining company - - and who last year signed a separate wetlands filling/'reform' bill in front of the state's Realtors - - to issue a World Water Day proclamation tomorrow.

Madison March Madness At Fever Pitch

March Madness is sweeping the Capital city.

I just hope tournament basketball gets some attention.

Walker No-Humility Tweet Alert

Good Grief: Who would post a picture like this of one's self?

Happy to accept my friend 's invitation to speak at the National Republican Congressional Campaign dinner

WI Legislators Proposing Expanded Gun-Buyer Background Checks

Here's what they are doing:

Representatives Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee), Terese Berceau (D-Madison) and Senator Nikiya Harris (D-Milwaukee) joined together today to announce they will be introducing legislation to add Wisconsin to the growing list of states requiring criminal background checks for all people buying firearms.
 Under federal law, background checks are already mandatory for people who purchase weapons from federally licensed firearms dealers.  However, private-party transactions aren’t covered by the federal law, including sales by private sellers at gun shows and flea markets or on the Internet. 
Here's how to join WAVE and promote the effort.

Clean Wisconsin Creates Petition Against Waukesha Diversion

[re-posted 1:09 p.m. to reflect Clean Wisconsin authorship.]

At by Clean Wisconsin:

Waukesha: Don't Waste Lake Michigan Water

    1. Sponsored by
The Great Lakes provide drinking water for nearly 40 million people and invaluable opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating and more. There is nothing else in the world like the Great Lakes — we can't afford not to protect this critical resource.

Waukesha Diversion Raising Canadian Questions

Signal sent?

Canada and the US share stewardship responsibilities over the Great Lakes, the planet's largest supply of fresh surface water. The resource is managed by international agreements, including a 2008 Compact approved by Wisconsin, seven other Great Lakes states, two Canadian provinces, the Canadian parliament and the US Congress

And while Canadian officials cannot veto Waukesha's application for a Lake Michigan diversion that would travel outside of the boundaries of the Great Lakes basin, our neighbors to the north have a legally-established advisory role on the application's approval.

So concerns expressed publicly by Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer about Waukesha's languishing application (Waukesha's Common Council approved it three years ago, though efforts to gain a diversion have floated around since 2006) should be taken seriously as the Wisconsin DNR continues to review the application and decides whether to forward it to the Canadians for their advice and to the other seven Great Lakes states which would have to approve it unanimously under the 2008 Compact for the diversion to occur:

During a visit to Milwaukee last week, Canadian ambassador Gary Doer said Canada generally opposes transferring water from one watershed to another, fearing it would hurt water quality, “and today's project may make sense, but 100 of them won't.”
I've lost track of the multiple discussion on this blog about the bigger regional issues facing Waukesha's application than just its reception in, say, Milwaukee or Racine - - and the few minutes devoted to the issue at a recent Waukesha forum show modest awareness of the big picture (relevant text begins at the 8:09 p.m. mark), but here's an example:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Waukesha Water Issue Has Broader Audience Than Us Locals

Media in southeastern Wisconsin are replete with coverage of the Waukesha water diversion issue. Laurel Walker of the Journal Sentinel weighs in, for example, here.

And certainly the issue is local, and what we think of as regional:

Can Waukesha find a willing partner to sell it water diverted from Lake Michigan - - Milwaukee, Oak Creek or Racine - - so there is delivery if Waukesha's formal diversion application is approved?

Will the DNR browbeat the Town of Waukesha in to the City's diversion application?

How expensive will the plan become if Milwaukee is not the suppler, and can a negotiation between Milwaukee and Waukesha get started despite conditions Waukesha and the DNR have rejected, at least for now?

But remember that there are other audiences and decision-makers farther away, and they are extremely important in the final analysis - - in fact, can make or break the application.

For Waukesha to receive the diversion, all eight Great Lakes governors must give their approval, and Canadian provincial leaders along with First Nation officials there are permitted input, though not a vote, as the Great Lakes are a shared resource held in trust, with no owner.

This much larger regional review - - beyond the border at 124th St. or the authority of the DNR - - is where critical issues like Waukesha's plan to return the water as treated  wastewater, or Waukesha's interest in sending water beyond its current borders to four smaller municipalities get sticky.

And where the DNR's support for the wider distribution - - hung on the very thin reed of mapping decisions by SEWRPC, an advisory regional planning body run by unelected officials - - could easily raise eyebrows, and worse, in the other states.

The Waukesha application is the precedent-setter under a 2008 statutory Compact, and all the reviewers in the others states, and in Canada, are likely to follow every word and comma in the submission.

And in the DNR's processes and findings, because when the application goes out for the wider review it goes with the DNR seal of approval, too.

A few years ago, the DNR sent out a smaller diversion request on behalf of New Berlin to the other Great Lakes states and Canadian regulators for an informal, courtesy review - - a different set of standards applied - - and some tough comments delayed final approval.

You can read some of that, here and factor that history into what lies ahead as Waukesha and the DNR make decisions that will be vetted by regulatory reviewers from Minnesota to New York to Canada with the power to say "yes" or "no."

And all must say "yes" for Waukesha to move forward.

One More Thing About Walker's $200 Million WisDOT Palace

You might hear that planning for a new Tower of Power for WisDOT replacing the Hill Farms complex began under former Gov. Jim Doyle.

OK: if Walker just follows the Jim Doyle lead on transportation-related matters, when does the first Milwaukee Amtrak train roll into the Madison station?

GOP's Desperate Rebranding Reminds Us Of Another

Reince Priebus wants a re-branded GOP, with better messages and messengers, but without fundamental change in policy, re-branding looks superficial, ineffective and downright grasping.

Priebus' project reminds me of another rebranding that came and went.

Some years ago the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission - -  SEWRPC - - chased after and shelved a rebranding that would have changed the name to...the Regional Planning Commission of Southeastern Wisconsin.

And it was the product of a $73,000 taxpayer-paid contract, as blogger Gretchen Schuldt had discovered.

The incomparably-dogged Schuldt even posted images of the proposed re-branded logo and barely-changed agency name.

Proof that basic change entails more than lipstick and fresh packaging.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Walker Proposes $200 Million WisDOT/Special Interest Shrine

Yes, a Governor and an entire administration allegedly dedicated to fiscal conservatism can jump the shark:

Scott Walker proposes new $200 million DOT building in Madison 

No funding for transit. Pennies for potholes. But billions for new Interstates and roads and, if Walker's edifice complex goes uncontested, a palace for contractors and bureaucrats to commune.

You might hear that planning began under former Gov. Jim Doyle.

OK: if Walker just follows the Jim Doyle lead on transportation-related matters, when does the first Milwaukee Amtrak train roll into the Madison station? 

Extreme Weather Tied To Arctic Ice Loss

One expert's take on the extreme winter worldwide:

It's the first day of spring, but winter remains firmly entrenched over the eastern half of the U.S., where temperatures of 5 - 25°F below average have been the rule all week. The culprit is the jet stream, which has taken on an unusually contorted shape that is allowing cold air to spill down over the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe, but bringing near-record warmth to portions of Greenland...

Unusual winter jet stream patterns tied to Arctic sea ice loss
Unusual jet stream contortions in winter have become increasingly common in recent years, according to a March 2013 paper by Tang et al., "Cold winter extremes in northern continents linked to Arctic sea ice loss"... 
They theorized that sea ice loss in the Arctic promotes more evaporation, resulting in earlier snowfall in Siberia and other Arctic lands. The earlier snow insulates the soil, allowing the land to cool more rapidly. This results in a southwards shift of the jet stream and builds higher atmospheric pressures farther to the south, which increases the odds of cold spells and blocking high pressure systems that can cause extended periods of unusually cold and snowy weather in the mid-latitudes.

Rep. Cory Mason Live-Tweeting WI Budget Review

I'm following the Joint Committee on Finance as it discusses Walker's budget via Tweets - - re-posted on Facebook - - via posts by State Rep. Cory Mason, (D-Racine). Great use of social media. Here's are recent samples - -

Fiscal Bureau confirms that if we took Obamacare fed $ state would save $100 million and we would cover more people.
Seems to be real debate about whether it is reasonable for someone on min wage to have up to $2k in cost to participate in the hc exchange.

Mining Bill Ends GOP "Winners And Losers' Fiction

I posted this over at Purple Wisconsin Tuesday:

Now that the iron mining bill has been signed - - a bill sponsored for and crafted by a single mining interest run by Walker donors - - the Cline Group - - let's have a moment of bi-partisan truth-telling and agree the facts demand that Republicans officially retire their talking point about Democratic Party politicians, platforms and principles being the source of indiscriminate government power that designates winners and losers.
Changing laws that govern mine permit reviews, wetlands fillings and waste dumping fees to suit the needs of Cline's possible open pit iron ore mine near Ashland is not the first time that Walker and/or his legislative allies used government power to create advantages for certain businesses or interests:
*  Walker had been Governor about 20 minutes when he tried to help a donor developer - - and eventually the Legislature joined the party, too - - fill a wetlands near Lambeau Field for a sporting goods complex before the DNR had finished its review.
*  He interceded in the implementation of wind turbine siting rules on behalf of real estate interests and blocked wind turbine projects in the pipeline - - and also blocked the manufacturing, installation and maintenance jobs that accompanied this growing, green industry.
*He's on record asking for a continuing waiver for the operation of the coal-fired S.S. Badger on Lake Michigan that routinely dumps its coal ash in the water - - even though the extended permissions for the continuing dumping had ended in December.
*  Low-income workers had their state income taxes raised in the reconfiguration of the value of a federal tax credit in Walker's first budget that helped fund tax breaks for upper-income and business owner filers.
* His budgets grossly favor highway building over local transit operations and road maintenance - - making winners of major concrete-laying firms and losers of asphalt spreaders, their lower-paid workers and transit operators.
The corollary myth here is that Walker's policies are breaking chains of dependency, when, in fact, iron mining and highway expansion involves government favors and preferences to industries that are 100% dependent on their production or financing.
So let's bury the winners and losers rhetoric and focus on history and facts.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Job Numbers Fall, So Walker Triangulates

Classic politics by distraction and performance by diversion:

Gov. Walker's job numbers continue to fall; adjective-free data reporting is leaving him increasingly vulnerable, undermining his 250,000-new-private-sector jobs pledge.

Hence, his entire message, definition, and purported mission as a job-creator.

So what do you do when miscalculation and failure stares you in the face, exposes your weakened reality and threatens your Presidential dreams?

Go arrest some protesters!

Wisconsin Not Among Wind Power Leaders

When it comes to cleaner energy generation and the good jobs that comes with it, neighboring Iowa and Minnesota are among the leaders:
Iowa ranked first in the percentage of electricity that came from wind power, with 24.5%. South Dakota was second, with 23.9% generation from wind energy, followed by North Dakota (14.7%), Minnesota (14.3%), Kansas (11.4%), Colorado (11.3%), Idaho (11.3%), Oklahoma (10.5%) and Oregon (10.0%).

According to AWEA, wind energy now powers the equivalent of almost 15 million U.S. homes.

wind turbine in lake district

But Wisconsin is not among the leaders, as Scott Walker sent wind power investments and green jobs elsewhere.


It's all about picking winners and losers, and the Realtors needed serving.

To which Illinois said, "thank you:" 
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s revival of the state's former "Escape to Wisconsin" slogan to invite businesses to escape rising taxes in Illinois has led to some blowback from south of the border.

In response to Walker’s wind energy regulations proposed Jan. 11, the Illinois Wind Energy Association is inviting wind power developers to “Escape to Illinois. '

Walker’s proposed legislation would require wind turbines to be constructed with a 1,800-foot setback from neighboring property lines, a mandate IWEA’s executive director Kevin Borgia said “would effectively ban wind development from the Badger State,” in a press release.

Walker The Taxer

An independent analysis shows Scott Walker's refusal of federal Medicaid funding could cost state employers up to $36 million.

Details about this tax on state job creators, here.

This is not the first time Walker has caused someone's costs to up through a policy or fiscal decision.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Inclusive GOP? Senators Go After Obama's Top Hispanic Nominee

It only took a few hours Monday for Republicans to shelve Reince Priebus' call for party inclusion by attacking President Obama's nomination of government civil rights attorney Thomas Perez as Secretary of Labor:

President Obama announced Monday that he would nominate Thomas E. Perez, who heads the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, to be the next secretary of labor, a choice that promised to provoke a debate with Republicans about voting rights, immigration and discrimination. 

WI Job Ranking Under Walker Bottoming Out

More dismal news for Scott Walker: Bucky isn't #42 anymore:

The Badger State ranks 44th nationally in job growth over the past two years and behind all neighboring states, according to updated figures released Monday from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But this doesn't stop Walker from heavily applying the lipstick for the out-of-town crowd:
"My number one job is helping people of the state of Wisconsin create jobs," he said. "I'm focused on that.

Is Walker Deliberately Opaque, Or Just Inarticulate?

See if you can unravel what Walker said on Meet The Press about gay marriage, and what he said "people want to resonate about," and decide if he wants to be understood:

"The interesting (thing) on the generational standpoint is I've had young people ask me I think an appropriate question, is not expanding it to include folks who are not one man and one woman but rather questioning why the government is sanctioning it in the first place," he said on the show. "I mean, that would be an alternative to say not have the government sanction marriage period, and leave that up to the churches and the synagogues and others to define that."

Republicans Finally Discover Root Of 2012 Losses


The Moving Target That Is Waukesha's Water Diversion Plan

This summation of just one new wrinkle in the City of Waukesha application for a Lake Michigan diversion highlights all the problems with a document that is still incomplete, has yet to fully reviewed by the DNR, is nearly three years old - - but which is based on assumptions that continue to change.

What changes, you ask?

Since its adoption by the Waukesha Common Council in April, 2010:

*  A new water supplier for Waukesha has been identified - - Oak Creek instead of Milwaukee - - which contributes to increases in the application's initial $164 million cost projection to $200 million:

Cost of building pipes and pumping stations needed to carry the water to Waukesha and return most of it to the lake in the form of treated wastewater is estimated at $183 million. Inflation could push the final price to $200 million as the request goes through a multi-state review, [Waukesha water utility general manager Daniel] Duchniak said.
*  A new water supply service mapped territory. The regional planning commission, (SEWRPC), has been asked to redraw and shrink the service area map because the Town of Waukesha - - which SEWRPC did not consult with in the first place - - now wants nearly all of its Town land removed.

*  And with a smaller proposed service territory, presumably there should be a new, reduced proposed daily diversion of water and return flow? The application asks for 10.9 million gallons daily, on average. Is that figure still justifiable for a smaller service territory, and does not that raise the value of conservation and other supply alternatives?

*  A return flow scheme now apparently using the Root River and Racine as a discharge point, and not Underwood Creek, the initial and preferred alternative tied to Milwaukee as the water supplier.

Every one of these changes and others that fall like dominos as a result cries out for fresh public input.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Priebus Announces $10 Million Throwaway

Rebranding? So this is an advertising issue?

As I Said, Walker Has The Presidential Bug

Following the script he followed on the political road to Madison from the Milwaukee County Executive office, Scott Walker tells media in DC that he will not to commit to finishing out a second gubernatorial term as the Presidency calls:

As I wrote the other day:

This newspaper is again reporting that Gov. Walker has Iowa and other national appearances on his schedule, and that previous conservative GOP politicians traveled the same road before their presidential bids.

Walker similarly used the office of Milwaukee County Executive as a springboard to higher office.

He was eyeing the Governor's Mansion from the moment he stepped into the Milwaukee County Executive's office in 2002, ran briefly for Governor executed a strategic, pro-party withdrawal in 2006, then went for it full bore and successfully in 2010 using a simple, consistent message lifted from Grover Norquist's no-taxes/anti-government playbook.

As Governor, Walker refused federal funding for Amtrak and Obamacare-related Medicaid expansions, blew up public sector collective bargaining and embraced privatization of public services and resources.

Everything Walker did when he was Milwaukee County Executive was run through the filter of a potential or ongoing gubernatorial campaig and the same is true with every word he says, every dollar he spends or item he budgets as Governor.

No wonder Walker appeals to CEO's, conservative funders and the fringiest, foot-soldiering 5% of those who thought Donald Trump was for real and went down with Romney and Ryan.

It's a shrinking national base demographically, but one which would enthusiastically finance and enable pre-primary organizing for Walker long before 2016 caucuses and balloting.

Just as they did during Walker's recall campaign last year, or to fund his legal defense fund.

Campaigning for office in presidential cycles is something Walker has been lucky enough to avoid in Wisconsin; nationally it's altogether a different, tougher matter - - just ask Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum or the entire Romney-Ryan effort - - but Walker has positioned himself advantageously for a 2016 run.

When he's not around in Madison from now on you can assume he's in Iowa, New Hampshire and anywhere from DC to Dallas to San Diego where big money Republicans are writing checks.

Because his ambition lines up with the far-right's agendas, too.

Walker's Pro-Business DNR Serving Polluters

You may remember that Scott Walker appointed former Racine County home builder and DNR-basher Cathy Stepp as that agency's Secretary because he wanted someone with "a Chamber of Commerce mentality" - - his words - - at the helm.

And the rest of the team, too:

*  She/Walker appointed as DNR Deputy Secretary an attorney, Matt Moroney, who was formerly Executive Director of the Metropolitan Builders Association of Greater Milwaukee - - one of the WBA's 25 affiliates statewide.

*The DNR also reports that Stepp appointed Pat Stevens, a former WBA general counsel, to run the agency's Division of Waste and Air.
So little surprise that the agency, under Stepp, has punted public protections in key areas - - inspections and enforcement - - and given the Walker's administration's war on public service, the agency response about being short-handed rang pretty hollow.

Here's one compilation of the industries getting a pass from Walker's DNR.

Hence the DNR's no-enforcement-action-to-date reaction to major environmental violations by two pipeline companies in recent months in Southeastern Wisconsin:

* A broken Shell Oil pipeline at Mitchell airport leaked thousands of gallons of jet fuel into the ground and a creek near Lake Michigan.

*  And there was a devastating gasoline pipeline leak near Jackson in Washington County that has left many homeowners with polluted wells.

Is the DNR going to play patty cake with these companies, like it did with the Jefferson County septic tank disposal firm that spread excessive amounts of human waste on farm fields near residences and wells?

Where is the fairness? Who is serving the public's interest?

Water in Wisconsin belongs to everyone under the state constitution, and the DNR is supposed to be the public's advocate in keeping water clean.

And this is the agency that is going to fairly, as a public agency, vet an open pit mine application from an out-of-state company and Walker donor for which the entire Legislative ruling party just rolled over?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Useful Anti-Poverty Program That Walker Cut...

In his first budget to finance tax cuts for the wealthy.

The facts.

Compassionate conservatism at its worst.

On-Line News Layout Underscores CPAC, GOP Contradiction

Whomever laid out this online Washington aggregation on its home page today is either brilliant or lucky. Verbatim:

Gingrich stresses ‘We are not the anti-Obama movement’

At CPAC, former House speaker says GOP needs to stop being defined by its opposition to the president.

Friday, March 15, 2013

WI Conservationists Running Ads Against Pro-Mine Legislators

Get in touch with the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters to chip in.

Wisconsin's Costly Drinking Culture On Further Display

It was just a few days ago that media published the jaw-dropping and documented financial cost that binge drinking takes from taxpayers and the economy:

Excessive alcohol use in binge-drinking Wisconsin costs the state $6.8 billion a year, and taxpayers are picking up more than 40% of the tab, according to a report released Tuesday...

Wisconsin has the highest binge drinking rate (25.6%) in the nation.
Yet it will again take added policing at public expense to cope with St. Patrick's Day drinking - - a holiday that now extends over two weekends, with pub crawls.

Last year's events were marred by a drowning death.

The so-called pre-St. Patrick's pub crawl this year got its share of attention, though I think this message from a Milwaukee Police Department spokesman could have been better focused:
"If you want to come down here and get intoxicated to the point to where you don't know who or where you are, that's your right to do that but have somebody along with you that's responsible for you," Milwaukee police Capt. Stephen Basting said.
No doubt there will be more coverage as the weekend of cheap drinks rolls on sober admonitions about personal safety and friends' responsibilities - -  blended with images of funny hats and green beer and "whoo-hooing" young people sending the opposite message.

Anybody see a contradiction?

WisDOT Survey Finds Itself Loved...

But in a sampling tilted towards highway operations barely asks about mass transit.

Here's the survey and the results.

WisDOT posted it, here.

And remind me why WisDOT is spending taxpayer money on such things?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Wisc. GOP Motto: Human Beings Not Wanted

Republicans are after Richland Center State Sen. Dale Schultz, the party's lone opponent in the Capitol to the mining bill.

It's Official: Wauwatosa Don't Need No Stinkin' Trees

The photos tell the story.

Walker Adds 32% More GPR To Transportation (Read: Highways) Budget

Road-builder bonanza from general purpose revenue [the GPR reference is a correction from earlier language] boost, official figures show.

And the price tag goes up because Walker's putting so much of it on the credit card.

And a reminder about the insanity of it all:

"Widening roads to solve traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity," says Walter Kulash, a traffic engineer from Orlando, Fla.
Former Mayor John Norquist brought Kulash to Milwaukee for a presentation calling interstate highways through cities a bad investment, but a senior official for the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission - - father to the SE freeway system's $6.4 billion expansion and reconstruction that is now undergoing reconstruction of the reconstruction  - - was unimpressed.

So it goes.