Saturday, September 22, 2018

WisDOT admits chatting about selling WI roads, then nixing it. Blimey!

Can't a blogger listen to the end of a long Brewers game in peace? 

I had just finished blogging about our rutted, debt-laden roads and was taking in the ballgame after a long rain delay when I read that WisDOT officials had met someone from London - - a billionaire perhaps, or not - - who wanted to talk about buying some of our highways.

Who knew we were thinking about a fire sale this close to an election?

And the last time you saw "Scott Walker" and "London" in the same story, you were reading about Walker beginning to punt his soon-to-be-folded-up presidential campaign into oblivion.

So here were five printable-in-a-family-blog responses to this wonderful Journal Sentinel piece which includes Deputy Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Bob Seitz's description of how officials firmly rejected letting foreign investors take some Wisconsin roads off our hands.

WI roads for sale? WisDOT says 'no,' but why even have the discussion? 
1. Well, that's what you/we get when the brainiacs in the GOP-run legislature gave Walker the ability to sell state assets, as I wrote more than five years ago:
The plan is allegedly to reduce debt somewhere in state finances - - but is actually an end-run to mindless privatization around publicly-interested and honest budgeting...
A highway could be sold to a private company that wanted to turn it into a toll road and collect money from motorists who had paid for the road and its servicing with gas, income or property taxes.
2. It sure is reminiscent of how various Trump officials and family members recalled bits and pieces of various meetings with various Russians over really, nothing much. 
He [Seitz] said they met with a man named Thomas Morrison but that he could not recall what firm Morrison represented.  
"It was just a courtesy meeting," Seitz said. "I still couldn't tell you what hardly was said."
3. Oh, and about taking lump-sum payments for public infrastructure: 'Hey, what happened, said Indiana officials, like that ex-Governor named Pence:
What happens when the wave of the future files for bankruptcy? 
That’s what they’re asking in Indiana now that its privatized toll road, lauded as a new era in public/private infrastructure partnerships, has filed for a “pre-packaged” Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
4. Or ask Chicagoans how infrastructure privatization to our south really went south: 
The 2008 parking meter deal gave the city (only) $1.15 billion. In return, not only do we pay much higher rates for street parking, but the city must pay the franchise holder for lost revenue when a disabled motorist parks free...  
Don't forget that the private concessionaire will charge the users of a facility, such as an airport or toll bridge, for every cost, including construction, rehabilitation, maintenance, operations, interest on borrowing and inflation.  
Tolls doubled on the Indiana Toll Road on June 1 when a decade of state subsidies ended and the concessionaire began extracting full costs from travelers.
5. And I know it's not the most important part of the story, but can someone explain how all this policy and finance stuff is in the portfolio of the same Bob Seitz who was both a lobbyist for the Koch brothers and the failed GTac open pit iron ore mine.


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