Running as a Republican for state office means opposing pretty much everything, ever
It must be election season, because politicians of all stripes sure do seem to be ramping up their posturing and pandering. Most recently, Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon) introduced a bill to the Assembly that would prohibit the state government from using any federal, state, or local money to fund a high speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee.
Davis hate trains! Want to crush, crush now?!
There has been some opposition to the plan ever since it was first seriously discussed, so I'm not surprised that there are still people who don't want to see this happen. I'm even less surprised that a Republican Assemblyman who's also running for Lieutenant Governor would actually introduce legislation, after so much progress has been made on the project, to stall the entire thing.
But people in Wisconsin have been clamoring for a proper passenger line between their two major cities for years. And we were just awarded $800 million from the feds to get that system built. There are contracts in place to have the new trains constructed at a facility just outside of Milwaukee, something that is supposed to provide 125 direct jobs as well as "450 indirect jobs through vendors throughout the Midwest."
Still, Davis says he's concerned that the annual upkeep costs of the line will be too much. What he fails to grasp entirely, far as I can tell, is that connecting the state's center of government and education with its commercial hub has a multitude of far-reaching benefits that can't always be easily quantified. It's more than worth the continued state support of such a line, in terms of job creation and maintenance, revenue from increased tourism, increased commuter access, and more.
It's funny, too, because in an interview Davis gave to the blog Letters in Bottles back in January (shortly after he announced his run for Lt. Gov.), he cited "Little to nothing done on job creation" and "Excessive government spending, especially the poor handling of stimulus spending," as some of his main grievances with the Democratic administration.
And yet here he is, trying to sabotage a major effort that would help achieve both of those goals. Of course, in this day and age of Tea Party influence on GOP strategy, a politician's moves don't have to make sense so much as they should sound catchy and ignite the alleged "base." Davis and pal/bill supporter Scott Walker (candidate for Governor, naturally) seem to be working extra hard on their technique.
Crooks and liars
In this corner, wearing shorts that appear to be on fire, we have State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman! And in the other corner, weighing in with a recently issued order, we have Justice Patrick Crooks. It's sure to be the bout of the century! Or at least, the year…in Wisconsin…concerning the role of Supreme Court justices.
Still! Contentious case, this. Gableman has come under considerable fire ever since one of his campaign ads made a claim about then incumbent Justice Louis Butler that was quickly proven false. An ethics complaint was then filed against him by the state judicial commission, but a panel of three appeals judges ruled that the ad didn't include a lie and recommended that the case be dismissed.
I'm not sure how they came to that conclusion, as it's been made pretty dang clear that the Gableman ad did, in fact, include a falsehood. Specifically:
Gableman ran an ad about child sex offender Reuben Lee Mitchell, who, the ad said, "went on to molest another child" after Butler "found a loophole."
Butler was a public defender, but he was unsuccessful in getting Mitchell out of prison. Mitchell committed his subsequent crime after serving his sentence.
Seems pretty clear cut to me, and yet here we are. In his continuing quest to hold onto his seat and avoid any responsibility whatsoever, Gableman had asked that Crooks recuse himself from the Court's deliberation over the appealed case. Crooks, you see, took serious umbrage with the fact that Gableman's lawyer has made several disparaging remarks about the role of defense attorneys, none of which Gableman has bothered to repudiate. That certainly doesn't make him look very shiny and clean.
I'm glad, then, that someone who actually seems to hold objectivity and the law in high regard will stay on this case. Regardless of their final decision, this deserves serious discussion and investigation. Incidents like the Gableman ad and how we deal with them are going to prove all-too important in future elections. We need all the informed opinion on the problem as possible.
A new Central Library is one important key to central Madison
First of all, I'd like to take a moment to thank and praise Capital Times reporter Kristin Czubkowski for the incredible work she does in bringing this sort of news to the public's attention on a regular basis. Her blog, Laptop City Hall, has been an invaluable resource for me and many other concerned citizens for some time now, and I'm not sure what we'd do without her.
Most recently, Kristin brought us an update on the debate over how to proceed with the Central Library plan. The original idea was to build a brand new building to replace the not-so-gracefully aging structure currently serving as our downtown library. But when negotiations between the city and Fiore, the developer, collapsed over a $2 million dollar disagreement, talk turned to the idea of simply renovating the existing building.
Many people, including myself, are uncomfortable-if not outright upset-with the idea. Simply patching up the old library isn't going to cut the mustard in this case. And as Kristin herself asks in the blog, what's an extra $2 million in the middle of the already approved $37 million for the original plan?
Apparently Mayor Dave was nervous that the City Council wouldn't approve the added expense given the still rocky condition of the economy. But why not ask? Test the waters? Explore ways in which the money could be found without it causing an undue burden on the city?
I know the mayor wanted to see a new library. I don't question the intentions of those involved, but this does seem like a case of throwing in the towel well before the end of the fight. It also seems like the process that led up to the change of course could have been far better handled.
Northeast side Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway says she does not think that the council had enough information about the Central Library, even during the budget votes, and that the mayor's office could have kept council members better-informed afterward about what was going on in negotiations with Fiore.
"What we thought we were voting for was essentially what Fiore proposed," she says, adding that there wasn't an understanding that the mayor would be negotiating further about significant parts of the project.
Public libraries are an invaluable community resource. It's worth it and then some for government and the public to support them. It's also well worth a properly thought-out and researched approach, to see that the end result is as good as it can be.
A renovation would be better than nothing, of course, but I'd hate to see this opportunity missed.
A bill that would allow for the sale of raw milk by farmers directly to consumers was approved by an Assembly committee Wednesday, advancing it for a full vote by the full Assembly. The bills' twin is also up for a vote in the Senate, but there's no word yet on whether or not it will get it before the end of the legislative session in May. Raw milk seems to have as many supporters as it does detractors in the state and country.
And finally, long-time blogger, musician, and English teacher Jay Bullock (D-Union Thugs) has given in to the considerable pressure coming from Washington and announced that he will be running for Paul Ryan's seat in the House. As a fellow left-leaning, politically aware individual, I am glad that Bullock, who describes himself as someone who does not "personally abort babies," will be campaigning.