Sunday, August 21, 2016

Transit foe Rep. Vos helped isolate Milwaukee, workers

I've been trying these last few days to deepen and broaden the discussion about Milwaukee, poverty, unemployment and race by posting several items about multiple state and regional policy decisions - - a summary post, with links and documentation, here - - which have land-locked minority-majority Milwaukee while keeping jobs and opportunities in neighboring wealthier and whiter counties difficult to access through bus line disconnections and barriers to rail transit, too.

I want to add one more politician to the mix - - n
ow GOP Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, (R-Rochester, Racine County) - - who tried in the last state budget now that he is Assembly Speaker to further starve transit by removing it altogether from the state transportation fund - - a dream of the road-builders, for sure - - because he considers transit "a social service."

Vos began to make his mark as Wisconsin Public Transit Enemy #1 or #2 ( remember, Walker is in charge) as a mere Assemblyman four years ago when he pushed the State Legislature to war counties from creating Regional Transit Authorities.

So more regional connections were barred and lost to counties, including Milwaukee - - just like what was sacrificed on a grander scale when Walker blocked new rail connections between Milwaukee, Madison and the Twin Cities when he successfully rejected $810 million in federal stimulus funds to add Amtrak services, rail bed upgrades, plus train assembly and maintenance jobs in Milwaukee, too.

Picture of Representative Robin Vos
As I wrote in 2012, when Vos made his move.
Transit has been outright attacked in the region, led by State Rep. Robin Vos. a legislator from Racine County, a SEWRPC County.
Wisconsin legislators, with the full support of the Waukesha County delegations, used the 2011-2013 state budget to wipe out cooperative, cross-jurisdictional Regional Transit Authorities, which affirmed the anti-transit, anti-Milwaukee position taken by Waukesha's County Board when it refused to join such a body that could have more closely aligned services with Milwaukee.
Vos' anti-urban small-mindedness found - - surprise, surprise - - allies in Waukesha County, where politicians had already killed a potential light rail connection with Milwaukee, and, for good measure, prevented Milwaukee County from moving forward with light rail plans for a system that would not have crossed the county border. 

As The Freeman, Waukesha's largest newspaper had already argued
First of all, while we are fine with regional partnerships and cooperation, we remain firmly against Waukesha County being part of a regional transit authority.

It doesn’t make sense and is not in the interest of Waukesha County residents to establish a regional transit authority that has the power to raise your taxes and will have aims that mostly benefit Milwaukee.
Pretty blatant, but par for the course in our segregated region.

The suburban counties' elected leadership and opinion-makers to the west (Waukesha) and south (Racine) want little to do with transit and nothing to do with Milwaukee when it comes to transit cooperation, thereby embedding the region's economic disparities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I spent many decades in the rural southern counties of Wisconsin. The general attitude is very bigoted and anti-Milwaukee. The typical ignorant statements blame those "bums" in Milwaukee for any tax increases etc. Many of these communities used to have "Sunset" laws either openly on the books or just informally understood by their respective police departments. Those in SEWRPC have always been about almost exclusively expansion and development in the outlying counties. I was around when it was formed and it was a bad idea then and it has only gotten worse. Basically answerable to nobody and they provide a perfect excuse for local politicians to claim they would like to do things differently but their hands are tied by SEWRPC.