A second major conservative organization has signed on to Ald. Bob Donovan's campaign to stop the planned Milwaukee streetcar.Americans for Prosperity joins Milwaukee streetcar opposition (JSOnline)
At a City Hall news conference Thursday, Americans for Prosperity state director Luke Hilgemann said his organization has set up a website, www.astreetcarnameddisaster.com, with an online petition opposing the streetcar. The group, co-founded by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, is instrumental in the tea party movement.
The $64.6 million project would link the lower east side to the downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station with modern streetcars, which resemble light rail vehicles. The state Public Service Commission is considering whether the city or utilities would have to pay for moving underground utility lines out of the streetcar's way, a cost the companies have estimated at more than $55 million.
Donovan wants the project to be put to a referendum, an idea the Common Council already has rejected. He also wants the city to spend $54.9 million in federal transit aid on street repairs instead of on the streetcar, although federal and local officials have repeatedly said it would take an act of Congress to redirect the money.
The south side alderman said the online petition would supplement some 3,000 signatures from city residents. He said suburbanites could sign, too, because their tax dollars are part of the federal funds for the project, and because they could end up paying for the streetcar through their utility bills. The West Allis Common Council voted in July to oppose the streetcar if any costs are passed on to utility customers.
Also opposing the streetcar is the MacIver Institute for Public Policy, whose president, Brett Healy, sought the PSC ruling. The institute commissioned a study critical of the project by Randal O'Toole, a Cato Institute scholar who has written numerous books and papers opposing rail transit.
Jeff Fleming, spokesman for the Department of City Development, issued a written statement defending the streetcar's economic benefits and slamming Donovan, saying, "We never hear Ald. Donovan complain about his Republican friends cutting Milwaukee's local road aids, our recycling aids or our state shared revenue, which funds police and firefighters. The alderman is so tight with groups and individuals who love gutting and kicking Milwaukee, you have to wonder where his loyalties are."
Americans for Prosperity and the MacIver Institute spent heavily to tout Republican Gov. Scott Walker's policies in ads during the run-up to the June 5 recall election. Walker defeated Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett in that race and the 2010 gubernatorial election. Barrett is the chief proponent of the streetcar, which Walker opposed when he was Milwaukee County executive.
Amazing how these well-funded groups magically show up when any town anywhere in the U.S. even contemplates building public transportation, complete with "studies" and lots of people whose full-time job it is to oppose absolutely anything the government does. Well, they killed the train to Madison and now this. incidentally, gas is now about $4.00 a gallon in Milwaukee. In other news:
State lost 6,000 private-sector jobs in July, early estimates show
By John Schmid of the Journal Sentinel
Aug. 16, 2012 2:30 p.m. | Wisconsin lost an estimated 6,000 private-sector jobs in July and the unemployment rate climbed to 7.3% from 7% in June and 6.8% in May, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the state Department of Workforce Development.
July marks the second consecutive month of deep private-sector job losses after Wisconsin lost a revised 11,300 private-sector jobs in June, which was the deepest job losses in Wisconsin in a year.
In the government sector, meanwhile, Wisconsin lost an estimated 500 jobs, led mainly by cutbacks in cities, counties and public schools. Net losses in both the government and private sectors led to an overall decrease of 6,500 total non-farm jobs last month in Wisconsin, the report said.
Gov. Walker downplays John Doe probe
By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel
Aug. 16, 2012 2:27 p.m. | Madison --Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he wasn't concerned about an ongoing probe into his state and Milwaukee County administrations.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday that a prosecutor in Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm's office had been seeking personnel records from the governor's office. There was no indication, however, of any crime or impropiety by any employee at the state level, though aides from Walker's time as Milwaukee County executive have been charged.
Walker downplayed the records request during a question-and-answer session with reporters Thursday after a Madison ceremony to unveil a new Wisconsin stamp.