Archive for March, 2009

Tommy’s Little Choo-Choo

March 14, 2009

Congratulations to the urbanists, the downtowners and the anti-car crowd. Mayor Tom Barrett’s end-around the County has given him the win he was looking for and he’s now got half of the money he needs to build his little streetcar project. What Barrett and the urbanists don’t realize is that the removal of street parking along the route will be even more reason to keep those of us who’ve been fighting against this cute but expensive little choo-choo out of downtown. I’m starting to think that was the goal all along, to drive “car people” out of the city and into the outskirts. What do those guys call the freedom to drive again? Oh yeah, “sprawl” pronounced with a condescending snarl.

So there’s now no doubt that we’re getting Tommy’s silly little train but there is a very serious question about where the REST of the money will come from. The city has been given ~$55M right? Barrett’s numbers had construction of the streetcars at $100M, which is actually a slightly conservative number when you take a look at the average cost per mile for similar systems of $35M/mi. So where is the rest of the money going to come from? Then once it is built where will the operating funding come from? Milwaukee County is estimating that the state will be taking ~$3M of annual funding away from the bus system to help run the streetcars. Does anyone believe that this system can be run on $3M per year? What about the bus system? Everyone acknowledges that it needs more funding and yet this streetcar system will be draining a hefty chunk away from it. That’ll be $3M spent on a 2.8 mile circuit downtown instead of on the bus system that serves the entire county.

Here’s what I predict. Tom Barrett will push for the RTA to take over the streetcars. The RTA will push for a new tax on the entire region which it will use to pay for this system that benefits only the select few urbanists in downtown who will use it. Milwaukee County will push for a new county sales tax (which the county board is already working on) to fill in the holes left in the bus system’s budget. The City of Milwaukee will push for new parking surcharges in the downtown area (something Barrett has already announced as his plan to help pay for the streetcars). The net effect is that the “car people” who will no longer come downtown unless they are required to will pay for the entire system that they will not use. They’ll pay for it in sales tax on every single thing that they buy and they’ll pay for it in extra parking fees when they do have to go downtown. Way to stick it to us.

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Restructuring the Conservative Message – Not The Movement

March 14, 2009

I was recently given a link to an article at newsweek.com written by David Frum, it was a good read and I agree with much of what the author had to say. There’s a lot of “Rush-hate” going on right now and it’s been drummed up by the Obama White House, which is where the notion of Rush as the “de-facto head” of the Republican party started. Rush is not our leader, he is a member of our movement. One of the most influential for sure but I would argue that we presently have no single clearly defined leader. The conservative movement now more than ever is being led by the base. At the same time the media is trying to steer us by their coverage and they are distorting our message in the way that they report. This is entirely on purpose from my perspective, the liberal bias in the media has never been as blatant as it is today.

I wholeheartedly agree with both Rush and Frum that what we (conservatives) need to do is to regain our footing through intellectual honesty, creative problem solving and appeal to common sense through the foundations of conservative thought. To do that we need to understand the opposition, we need to understand what voters see in the promises of liberal candidates (however false they may be). Once we understand that we can properly formulate our message. That message must address the concerns of the people without sacrificing our core principles.

We’ve got many great conservative thinkers who are trying to do just that. Rep. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America (http://www.house.gov/budget_republicans/americanroadmap_home.shtml) is a good example of this. He’s come up with a way to deal with the tax system, health care and entitlements all at the same time.

As a conservative activist and candidate it is my goal to help formulate this new message. Among its tenets will be the founding principles of conservatism: freedom, fiscal responsibility, limited government and personal responsibility. Through those principles we need to show the voters how today’s problems can be solved.

On health care for example: The rising cost of health care will not be solved by socializing the system, that will only make it worse as bureaucracy piles on top of bureaucracy. We can address the problem of cost in health care by passing tort reform to protect doctors and medical professionals from frivolous lawsuits and exorbitant judgments, by opening up competition in the market for insurance and for care and by educating the public on wellness and prevention. We must also address the cost of bringing new treatments and pharmaceuticals to market while maintaining public safety.

I am optimistic about the future of the conservative movement and where conservative success can take our country. I believe that the imminent failures of liberal governance will open the eyes of many who thought they were voting for hope and change when what we’ve wound up with is more of the big government status quo.

Walker Slammed By Weishan For Trying To Fix Pension

March 11, 2009

County Supervisor John F. Weishan, Jr. wrote an op-ed that appeared on a blog at biztimes.com this morning. In it he slams County Executive Scott Walker for attempting to find a solution to the county’s pension troubles.

Walker’s pension bonding plan is too risky – John F. Weishan, Jr. @ BizTimes.

Weishan promises to vote against Walker’s attempt to help fix the pension problems while offering no real solution of his own. He even states his opinion that ordinarily plans like Walker’s are sound solutions to problems like this but he just doesn’t like the long-term outlook right now. Sounds like a petty political grudge is keeping him from supporting a plan he would normally be in favor of.

Weishan’s hypocrisy is that he voted for the pension!!! Does he think we’ve forgotten? He bears the blame for getting us into this mess in the first place and instead of coming up with solutions to help fix his mistake he attacks every attempt by the County Executive to do so. If Weishan truly wants to fix the pension that he broke why hasn’t he put any effort into it over the past 8 years? Scott Walker has tried repeatedly to come up with solutions and he has been faced with opposition from the County Board and Supervisor Weishan every step of the way.

Supervisor Weishan, it’s time to either put up or shut up. If you can’t come up with a plan to fix the pension without raising our taxes then stop trying to sabotage the ideas of those who are working to fix this problem.

Weishan’s power grab threatens to upset months of negotiations between UWM & Milw. County

March 8, 2009

After months of negotiations between Milwaukee County and UWM a deal has finally been reached for the sale of a large parcel of the county grounds. UWM intends to build a $150 million engineering school which will work closely with the nearby county medical complex and serve as a center of biomedical engineering for the region.

The Business Journal has the whole story: UWM, county agree on land price – Site would house engineering school

This development will not only bring a state of the art engineering research facility to Milwaukee County but it’s construction will be a boost to the local economy at a time when such boosts are sorely needed. The agreement that has been reached allows for a flexible sale price depending on what the actual developed square footage eventually turns out to be, the more success that UWM has the more money Milwaukee County gets.

Sounds great, huh? Not if Supervisor Weishan has his way. Weishan is putting up a stink and apparently attempting to stop the County Board from voting on the plan. He’s upset that the county will lose control of the land and that the existing research park may face competition from the new engineering school. See Milwaukee Rising for the details.

While disappointing this behavior is certainly not surprising coming from Weishan. His obstruction of progress and reform in Milwaukee County government is surpassed only by his rigid adherence to the status quo. He’s determined to be a thorn in County Executive Scott Walker’s side and is no doubt feeling threatened by what will be seen as a victory for the county and for UWM in this deal brokered by Walker’s office.

Please contact Supervisor Weishan and express your support for this land sale to UWM. His phone number is 414-278-4222 and his email address is john.weishan@milwcnty.com.
You should also contact your own Supervisor, if you’re not sure who that is you can look them up here.