Opponents of the unelected Regional Transit Authority are asking municipalities to hold their own referendum on whether local sales tax should be increased in order to help support a commuter train running from Middleton to the Town of Burke.
The move is especially relevant since County Supervisor Matt Veldran is holding up a countywide referendum in his committee -- refusing to even schedule a committee vote -- on orders from Board Chair Scott McDonell. Veldran has so far stonewalled B-Blog's request to explain why he is trying to frustrate the democratic process.
On Tuesday, County Clerk Bob Ohlsen entered the political realm in an e-mail he sent to all municipal clerks in Dane County.
It's my opinion that it's a HUGE waste of your taxpayers' dollars. Should your municipality vote to put it on, please aware that it isn't going to make one bit of difference. The RTA Commission will call for a referendum at some point and ONLY the people in the RTA District will be allowed to vote.
Now, might the residents of, say, the Town of York have an opinion on whether the sales taxes they pay when they shop in Madison or Sun Prairie be increased?
And how comforting is it to know that the RTA Board may call for a referendum "at some point"? To be fair, the RTA Board said it would do so at some unspecified time but acknowledges it is not legally required to do so. Nor would such a referendum be binding in any event.
Finally, why not ask voters sooner rather than later? If there is no support for commuter trains today will there be tomorrow?
Supervisors Bruskewitz, Clausius, Ferrell, Gau, Imhoff, Jensen, Martz, Ripp, Schlicht, Solberg, Wiganowski, and Willet issued their own e-mail today in response.
They argue that $7 million has already been expended on commuter rail in Dane County.
The Dane County Board and the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Board (the MPO), the organization that manages federal transportation dollars, have both voted to approve the commuter rail plan.
An application for commuter rail is pending before the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for the Middleton to Town of Burke commuter rail line. The Application can be viewed at transport2020.net/. FTA officials need to know how the citizens of Dane County feel about commuter rail and the increase in the sales tax to pay for it.
As of this writing, the County Board has refused to allow the referendum question to go to committee. The County Board could place it on the county ballot and save everyone a lot of money (just like was done with medical marijuana). Short of that, the only way the public can speak is through their local municipal ballots.
Don't you just love a county board that wants to know whether you think the Legislature should legalize medical marijuana but doesn't want you to vote on a major tax increase? (Snark alert)
Here's the website for the Stop the Train Tax movement. Get a petition going in your neighborhood.
Bill Lueders to publish full monty?
My friend Bill Lueders of Isthmus pooh poohs the concerns of, among other parents with children, the grandmother of a 4-year-old girl attending a Saturday farmer's market on the Square as the World Naked Bike Ride jangled past. Several self-centered men revealed full frontal nudity.
What a blue-nosed Puritan scold, Bill suggested. What's next, will police take hammers to "the sculptures that encircle the upper echelons of the state Capitol?"
If there really is no difference between a living, walking and dangling naked man at street level and monochromatic representations in stone high above street level, then might we expect Bill to adorn the cover of next week's Isthmus doing the full monty? [Isthmus: Nudes at the Wisconsin Capitol. Oh the humanity!]
I think that sooner or later most people are likely to see a naked human body. That's just my opinion. I, personally, have seen naked bodies, and lived to tell. In this case, I have no information that any children were traumatized, only that the adults around them were. I think it's fair to wonder if this was a wee bit of an overreaction, but if you think weeping for hours after seeing a naked guy is an appropriate reaction, that's fine by me. It's a large country.
I am unaware of any Isthmus policy against showing depictions of nudity. I know we ran a recent photo of the goats with the erect human penises from the Chazen exhibit, and some people have even mentioned that Ms. Forward seems to be showing some nipple in the photo that ran with our cover story of July 9. We might not rush into print with every such picture we can find, but I don't think there's any rule against it.
To which I parried:
You seem to doubt the sincerity of the 4-year-old girl's grandmother. How about leaving the "sooner or later" to the little girl's caregivers? If Isthmus does not have a written policy against full frontal human nudity, it has an unwritten policy. It's never published such a photograph and never will.
Race to the bottom knocks off an hour early
We learned this week that Wisconsin is a bystander in the President's Race to the Top challenge for educational reform. Nineteen states are on the list but not the one-time Laboratory of Democracy. Congratulations, I suppose, to the teachers union and its Democratic allies.
Now we are told that high school and middle school students in Madison will be dismissed from class an hour earlier every Wednesday in the coming school year due to "professional collaboration" meetings for teachers. They couldn't do this AFTER the students' school day? Does anyone smell more teachers union?
In Milwaukee, some public schools teachers could be getting their hotel accommodations or other spring break vacation expenses paid by the district under an agreement reached with the teachers union. [Milwaukee Magazine 7-28-10]
That is why winning passage of Dave Obey's $10 billion teacher bailout is so, so critical! To keep those union dues flowing to Democrats' campaign coffers!
If the GOP is saying adios to the Hispanic vote...
Then why are the major Hispanic candidates running under the Republican banner? Of the 74 U.S. Senate and governor races, the only three Hispanic candidates are Republicans. Slate tells us there is Susana Martinez for governor of New Mexico, "she currently leads in the polls and has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, the Tea Party favorite who drove Gov. Charlie Crist out of the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Florida, and Brian Sandoval, a former judge who holds a big lead in the Nevada gubernatorial race. Sure, that's only three candidates. But in the 74 elections this year for governor or U.S. Senate - not all of them competitive - there are no Democratic Hispanic nominees." [Slate: Adios, Democrats]
Meanwhile, President Obama's support among Hispanics is flagging. According to an Associated Press-Nielsen-Stanford U. poll, "President Barack Obama's once solid support among Hispanics is showing a few cracks, a troubling sign for Democrats desperate to get this critical constituency excited about helping the party hold onto Congress this fall."
Yes, I heard about the federal judge's temporary stay on part of the Arizona immigration law.
This just in
Federal appeals court Judge Diane Sykes said Tuesday she hopes the likely addition of another female U.S. Supreme Court justice will push the federal judiciary away from what she called "gender identity politics." [WisPolitics 7-28-10]
Speaking of "cheap shots ..."
Why would The Capital Times politicize state ag secretary Rod Nilsestuen's death?
A. To criticize GOP U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson for not expressing condolences for a man he never knew.
"Instead, the millionaire politician is busy taking cheap shots ..."
Like that kind of cheap shot?
This sounds apocryphal to me but the point is sharp.
The owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, Robert Sarver, opposes AZ's new immigration laws. He actually dressed up his team in "Los Suns" uniforms. Arizona's Governor, Jan Brewer, is supposed to have responded thusly:
What if the owners of the Suns discovered that hordes of people were sneaking into games without paying? What if they had a good idea who the gate-crashers are, but the ushers and security personnel were not allowed to ask these folks to produce their ticket stubs, thus non-paying attendees couldn't be ejected. Furthermore, what if Suns' ownership was expected to provide those who sneaked in with complimentary eats and drink? And what if, on those days when a gate-crasher became ill or injured, the Suns had to provide free medical care and shelter?