November 10, 2007
November 9, 2007
Senator Lehman and Representative Mason.
This is Fred Dooley, a constituent and the author of the Real Debate Wisconsin blog.
I would like you each to answer some questions, on the record, about KRM.
I am obviously a vocal opponent of the plan. I simply do not believe the cost is worth the economic benefit.
I have raised issues among many areas of the plan, they include in no particular order.
Ridership projection: The proposed ridership projection of 1.4 million is simply too high. This works out to an average of 320 riders per train (14 weekdays, 7 weekends). If ridership is lower than projection then revenue will also fall short requiring a new funding source in short order. (As an example, the existing Hiawatha line has ridership of about 500,000)
Funding: The proposed 650% increase in rental car fees does not account for the revenue shortfall mentioned above nor does it account for inflation or possible downturns in the industry. (Such downturns have happened in the past in the wake of large tax increases)
Airport: Any major rail plan that ignores the airport just falls short. Name me a successful rail plan that ignores the airport in this country, just one. My suggestion here is if we are going to do this, can we at least do it right so it has the best chance to succeed.
Transit Funding. KRM will divert as much as 23% of existing transit funding from all over the state to this rail project. How will existing transit projects replace that funding, or are cuts planned?
Regional Cooperation. The three county region has not even come up with a plan they can all agree on. Why are we moving forward before anything has really been agreed upon?
Duplication of Services. We have coach service that runs the proposed route plus Amtrak service in Milwaukee and Racine and Metra in Kenosha. This plan actually adds nothing we do not already have. Could we at least try and promote what we have before scrapping in for some dream?
Gentlemen the response I get is usually something as simple as "transit is good".
I seriously want someone to answer the issues I have raised here. These are all serious flaws in the plan. If we are going to do rail, can we at least do it right? Can we at least have a funding source that is realistic and accounts for inflation. Can we have honest ridership and revenue projections? Can we have a stop at the airport?
I will publish your responses, but I will do so without edit. I'm sure my reputation precedes me, I can assure you I am a man of my word.
I eagerly await your responses.
To date I have not heard back from Mason's office.
This morning I received the following response from Senator Lehman I present it as promised without edit.
Dear Mr. Dooley,
Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding the KRM commuter rail line project. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to some of the issues you have raised and provide the other side of the story to the one being spun by project opponents and the car rental industry.
I believe transportation alternatives including KRM are positive for our community. Clearly
there are avowed opponents such as yourself that disagree. That’s fine. But an honest
accounting of the issue must recognize that there are many folks with many valid, evidence based reasons for supporting this project.
For example, with gas prices again nearing record levels, some people may wish to have an
alternative to driving. Others may wish to avoid freeway congestion that we will face with the scheduled reconstruction of I-94 from the state line to Milwaukee. Still others believe a
multimodal transportation system that more closely connects Racine with the larger Milwaukee and Chicago metro areas enhances our economic development potential.
Extremely successful and profitable businesses believe that this project is important for their ability to grow and thrive. And some people just plain like trains.
Beyond such “transit is good” answers there are some hard numbers that merit serious
• Using the Regional Input-Output Modeling System developed by the US Department of
Commerce project construction is expected to generate 4,700 jobs and a $560 million
impact on the local economy.
• A 1% increase in tourism in the three KRM counties generates an estimated $20 million
in expenditures, 500 jobs and $3 million in state and local revenue growth.
• In other communities across the nation with commuter rail corridors, property values
have increased between four and twenty percent and significant redevelopment within
one-half mile is expected.
It is also important to note that before any bonds are issued or construction begins this project will be scrutinized in a competitive funding process by transportation experts. If the numbers don’t hold up to the scrutiny of people with far more expertise in this area than either you or I the project doesn’t move forward.
Now, on to the concerns you have expressed.
Ridership Projection – These projections are based on a variety of factors including population density, labor force and proximity to employers, mass transit usage rates and experience in other cities.
The fact that Hiawatha is very successful points to area support for rail as a transportation
alternative. However attempting to try to draw a direct correlation between ridership figures to justify an assertion that the KRM projections are “simply too high” just doesn’t work.
KRM is a commuter proposal with 14 proposed stops to allow easy access and a number of
jumping on and off points. Hiawatha offers service directly between Milwaukee and Chicago
with very limited stops and much higher cost.
Funding – Based on projections by the RTA and confirmed by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, an increase in the fee charged on rental cars from $2 per rental to $15 per rental would generate a sufficient revenue stream to support the projected local share of bonding necessary to build the line. Under a variety of viability scenarios formulated by the RTA, including a reduction in car rentals, the fee will support the project.
Airport – The project proposal connects the KRM line with the airport with a dedicated shuttle service from a Cudahy/St Francis station.
Transit Funding – The allegation you repeat here is based on a memo prepared by the Fiscal
Bureau in response to a theoretical situation posed by a KRM opponent. In distributing this
information, the rental car lobbyists tended to omit some key information like: “As requested, this memorandum provides an indication of how state mass transit operating assistance funding to existing systems could be impacted is the KRM commuter rail project would be included under the current funding structure of state mass transit systems”
“It is important to note that the figures in the preceding table are based on 2007 estimated operating expenses for each system, as well as the state and federal aid amounts available for that year. Since the KRM system would not begin operating until 2011-12, under current projections, all of the figures used in this analysis will change.”
Translation: Here is the answer to your theoretical situation, but in reality this will never occur.
A classic lobbying strategy of creating fear and doubt based on a theoretical scenario created
specifically to reach a preconceived result.
Regional Cooperation – I am somewhat perplexed by the allegation that three county region as presented by the mayors of the cities of Racine, Kenosha and Milwaukee and the executives of the counties of Racine, Kenosha and Milwaukee have not agreed to anything. In fact, they all have agreed that the KRM is a worthy project and that the car rental fee is the appropriate funding source.
Duplication of Service – As I noted earlier, the KRM line is different than the existing Amtrak
line running through Racine County. It is also not a bus. For example, the KRM line would get
one from Kenosha to Milwaukee anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes more quickly.
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with me and allowing me to correct some of the misinformation circulating regarding KRM. I certainly appreciate that reasonable people will disagree on this and many other issues. I hope that through it all we can maintain a civil, fact-based debate.
As always, feel free to share your questions, comments or concerns on state issues with me.
State Senator John Lehman
21st Senate District
I thank the Senator for his response.
I'd like to point out a couple of flaws in the plan that I do not believe he is recognizing.
When I speak of a stop at the airport, I speak of a stop at the airport. Rail plans that that runs back and forth is not a stop at the airport.
The ridership projection is artificially high. There is no way this train can support the average ridership of 320 riders per train that is projected in this year or in 2011. The Hiawatha is the best source of comparison in this market. The KRM Projection is roughly 3 times that of the Hiawatha traffic. Quite simply if the ridership projection is too high, then revenue will be short of the required resources to run this project even at the proposed 83% subsidy.
To regional cooperation, the Milwaukee Common Council and the Milwaukee County Board are both still at odds over who runs this thing, who gets the money and can they move the Milwaukee County Transit System under the same funding bundle.
The funding source again does not account for inflation or downturns in the one industry it draws from.
I do not believe you can ignore these serious flaws in the plan, and to waive them off as a lobbying trick just will not wash with me.
I had some contact with a lobbyist at the end of the budget process, but I have been making these points own my own after reading the full project proposal.
Again, I thank the Senator for his thoughtful response. I still hope to hear from Rep Mason on the issue.
The Report Card Committee, comprised of administrators, teachers and central office staff, reached a consensus that “Honor Roll” in our elementary schools be eliminated.
We do believe in recognizing student achievement; however our focus will be to enhance the academic environment, foster positive parent/school relationships, avoid legal challenges and promote consistent practice throughout the District. Our goal is to motivate students to achieve success!
We recommend schools use the following criteria to recognize and promote student achievement.
• Special recognition in academic areas measured at 80% mastery or better.
• Special recognition in other areas including but not limited to;
-participation in extracurricular activities
Apparently, children should no longer have goals to attain. Just show up, don't kill anyone and go home. The school will make your feel warm and fuzzy.
MSNBC.com put the following "quote" from Randy Thomas, VP of Exodus International on why he was supporting Mike Huckabee.
Randy Thomas, vice president of Exodus International, an evangelical ministry, wrote last month that “I have decided to vote for Huckabee. Yes, it is because he is unabashedly Christian, but it is also that he does care for the environment.”
Only problem, they intentionally left stuff out that completely changed the meaning.
Here is the actual quote.
Speaking on behalf of me….and me alone … not any organization and (especially not Exodus because Exodus as an organization does not support or condemn any particular candidate) *I* have decided to vote for Huckabee. Yes, it is because he is unabashedly Christian, but it is also that he does care for the environment (in a balanced way … not the “new religion” kind of way.) I like that he has a lot of good experience as well. Of all the candidates, I like him. I like Fred too, but Huck is just as likeable in my opinion.
Leaving out the entire (in a balanced way … not the “new religion” kind of way.) changes things quite a bit don't you think?
Would someone like to come along and tell me how NBC, or their leftier cable news outlet, MSNBC is objective?
By the way, MSNBC did not contact Mr. Thomas for clarification nor did they ask his permission to cite him in their story. They just plucked something from his writings and changed the meaning to suit their agenda.
Read Mr. Thomas' comments on the subject here.
November 8, 2007
I didn't see this coming from the Court of Appeals:
Jensen contends that the trial court submitted an erroneous jury instruction and prevented him from presenting a complete defense by excluding portions of his and his defense witnesses’ testimonies. We conclude that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in excluding portions of Jensen’s defense witnesses’ testimony, but erred in submitting an erroneous jury instruction and in excluding portions of Jensen’s own testimony. Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part and remand for a new trial.
I'm curious to see how the left treats this in comparrison with the Georgia Thompson conviction being overturned. Yes, I know granting a new trial and overtturning a conviction are not the same thing, but they are close enough to provide an interesting contrast.
You see the Racine Congresscritter, Paul Ryan, is taking a stance against wasteful pork spending.
Pete says he agrees with that policy but he has gone and looked at all the other pork project funding in Wisconsin. In total $72,500,000 and Pete is conflicted because none of that is coming to Racine.
As usual Mr Pork, Dave Obey is leading the pack, but good old Steve Kagen appears to be learning how to bring home the bacon. Sensenbrenner is absent from the list while the horrible Tom Petri is there as usual. (Don't forget Reps Moore, Baldwin or Kind they are all there too)
Pete ends with the following question, "You want a piece of these ... or the moral high ground?"
I'll take the high ground Pete, thanks for asking.
If we are going to make any real reform in wasteful pork spending someone has to set the example. Preferably the voters would throw out the bums who are wasting their money. Let's start with David Obey.
November 7, 2007
When the whacky world of daylight savings time strikes.
- $1,600,000 for the Allen Telescope Array, added by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). It is part of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), which describes the telescope as “dedicated to astronomical and simultaneous search for extra-terrestrial intelligence observations.”
- $2,400,000 for the Lewis Center for Education Research, added by its namesake, House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.). The center is described on its website as “a unique educational facility designed to improve educational effectiveness and scientific literacy among American schoolchildren.”
- *$3,000,000 for “The First Tee,” added by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) The program’s mission, according to its website, is “To impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.”
- $23,000,000 for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), added by Rep. John “Jack” Murtha (D-Pa.). This is the project over which Rep. Murtha threatened a colleague for challenging in the spring. Since 1992, more than $509 million has been used to fund NDIC, which is administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ.). Ironically, DOJ does not want the NDIC and has asked Congress to shut the agency down because the department believes the operations are duplicative.
- *$20,000,000 for historically black colleges and universities, added by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
In total there are 2,047 pork projects valued at $6.6 billion in this bill.
Remember this the next time someone tells you there is nothing to cut. $1.6 million to look for ET...
LONDON (Reuters) - Chocoholics can assuage any guilt they may feel after a new process was developed that turns the by-products of making chocolate into a biofuel -- meaning you can eat your chocolate and be eco-friendly.
A truck, fuelled by the biofuel, will set out from Poole on the English south coast to Mali in West Africa later this month on a charity mission.
"The chocolate waste used to be used in landfill. But now we can make it travel as biofuel," said organiser Andy Pag who will be one of the two drivers on the trip.
North western English firm Ecotec has taken waste from the chocolate manufacturing process, turned it into bio-ethanol and mixed it with vegetable oil to produce biodiesel.
Some biofuels have come under fire for either diverting much-needed food crops or leading to massive deforestation as land is cleared to grow crops specially for biofuel production.
"This is to show that you can have environmentally-friendly biofuels and that you don't have to convert normal diesel engines to use it," Pag told Reuters.
The BioTruck will depart on November 26 and is expected to take about three weeks to drive the 4,500 miles to Timbuktu where it will off-load a small biofuel production unit with the local MFC charity.
But vehicles using the novel product will not exude the sweet smell of success. "No! I'm afraid the exhaust doesn't smell of chocolate," said Pag.
To the liberals who will now come and claim I have no compassion, forget it I ain't interested.
This is a matter of fiscal policy and a complete lack of understanding in how high our tax burden is NOW.
There is a limit as to how much we can bare. I think we have reached that limit. Government has to learn to live within its means.
November 6, 2007
City Attorney Stephen G. McLean
City of Sheboygan
807 Center Avenue
Sheboygan, WI 53081
Re: Jennifer Reisinger
Dear Attorney McLean:
Please be advised that this firm has been retained to represent the interests of Jennifer Reisinger. I have reviewed as much of the material relative to this matter as possible. It appears that your office sent a legal directive to our client, ordering her to take certain actions relative to the link of a public site to her business website. It is my understanding that this “order” was at the request of the City of Sheboygan and/or the Mayor.
I am contacting you to inform you that Ms. Reisinger will not be removing any such link to any
public site at anytime. If you can enlighten me as to the legal basis you believe you may utilize to
order a citizen to remove a public link to a public site, I would be happy to examine same. At this point, however, this directive certainly does not pass muster. Obviously, something is not correct, as the Mayor has taken it upon himself to utilize the substantial powers of the government and focus them upon one individual who is utilizing her First Amendment rights.
Please also accept this correspondence as a request pursuant to the Wisconsin Open Records Law for copies of all documentation, correspondence, letters and communication, in whatever format, as they relate to Jennifer Reisinger and any matter relating to her website. Again, this request is made pursuant to the Wisconsin Open Records Law and, therefore, your response in a timely fashion will be much appreciated. Should there be an advance fee required for the processing of this request, please advise this office and we will immediately remit same.
Thank you for your consideration and courtesies in this matter. Obviously, we will be pursuing this matter aggressively towards a resolution.
Very truly yours,
GATZKE & RUPPELT, S.C.
Paul E. Bucher
Attorney at Law
November 5, 2007
Does this mean I won't be quoted in MRQ anymore? Wiggy.
"Dish makes cable is like Halle Barry vs. a chick you can't drink pretty at closing time...it's no contest." Steve.
Now Wiggy, get my link off your %*$&#^@ blog! Jib.
popgun sized bazooka Peter.
choosing between barfing and crashing a skateboard. Uncle Jay.
Play the game anyway. Kathy.
I don’t give a flying fig. Spirit Lady.
I don't wear suits. Elliot.
Anyone want to revise their Packers predictions? Patrick.
Most men do not really like to fish, they are just trying to get away from your constant yapping. Kathy.
"Crushed nuts?" Tom.
Dude, where’s my motorcycle? Random 10.
Do, Not. Give. Milk Duds. to a three-year-old. Grumps.
Mall bangs and blue eyeshadow. Jones.
don't-say-anything-that-will-get-us-sued. Still Unreal.
Eat at Idaho Chuck's! Joey.
Not only do most frozen pizzas taste like crap. Jeff.
Anyone want to revise their Packers predictions? Patrick.
Grunting like you’re constipated doesn’t make you sound deep. Plebian.
Home of the Kringle, and half of Mexico.
Stu is now in the running for the prestigious MRQ of the year award.
Winning MRQ of the week honors is Fuzz.
Luckily it wasn't the Chorizo, otherwise this would have been considered a hate crime.
Fuzz is in the running for the November MRQ of the month.
Tune in later tonight for another exciting edition of Monday Random Quotes.
- The mere fact that you — with a law degree, no less — even think that a free citizen should need to get "authorization" to have a link to a Web site indicates to me (another free citizen of these United States) that you are quite disqualified to hold any elected office.
- Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is still a city within the United States of America. Had it not been for your bombastic, bullying, bull — tactic, I would never have heard of Mayor Juan Perez, nor of the effort to have you recalled. But, because of your "man who would be king" attitude, I will certainly encourage each of the readers of this column to send one dollar each to the Sheboygan Spirit site. That way, Ms. Reisinger will have a lot of money to spend on her recall effort against you.
- Long after people forget the name of Mayor Juan Perez — a politician that, hopefully, will soon be hoist from his own political petard — they will still remember the First Amendment.
Read the whole thing, it is worth it.
Hint: Folkbum, just because the author (Tom Kovach) thinks Perez did a politically motivated cheap attack does not mean the author is racist. In fact the author is a retired USAF Blue Berret. That means he is a veteran and holds the John Murtha standard of being free from criticism.