Archive for the ‘Politics’ category

Mike Ellis, RIP

April 14, 2014

State Sen. Mike Ellis’ 44-year career in state government ended in ignominy. Surreptitiously videotaped  in a barroom plotting to engage in the sort of illegal campaign tactics he once righteously denounced, the Neenah Republican saw the handwriting on the wall and meekly announced he wouldn’t seek his umpteenth re-election.

What a sad story. Ellis was a walking contradiction–simultaneously brilliant and crazy, both full of himself yet paralyzed by a fear of risk. In the end, Ellis showed himself to be another clueless politician who stayed too long at the fair. He was out of touch with the monochrome conservatism that rules the GOP these days, but lacked the guts to challenge its policies.

In January 2006, I wrote: “He could have been a contender. Instead he is a footnote.” I’ll stick by that assessment. That comment from eight years ago followed Ellis’ announcement that he would not challenge Jim Doyle, the incumbent Democratic  governor. The original links to two old Isthmus columns have been lost. But here’s part of what I said in June 2005, when I naively argued Ellis was well positioned to run an insurgent campaign for governor:

To talk politics with Mike Ellis, 64, is to talk substance, not tactics and wedge issues. He has a sweeping unified view of how Wisconsin has spun off the tracks and smashed into the wall -– and, more important, how it might yet regain its status as a leader among states.

Though he calls himself pro-life, Ellis ignores the familiar “guns, gays, God and feeding tubes” spiel of the GOP True Believers. Instead, he talks about Wisconsin’s unending fiscal crisis.

“We’re perpetually in hock,” he moans, noting that governors and lawmakers have cooked the books to balance the last six straight biennial budgets. “The papering over of the biennial budget deficit immediately throws the next budget into the red, so we can never do any serious reform because we don’t have the resources.”

Blame the pols, says Ellis. They’ve mortgaged their souls to the special interests who finance their campaigns. Doyle and the Democrats dance to the teachers’ union tune, while the Republicans take their cues from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

“We need to get the special interests out of the game,” Ellis says. “We need to use public money to fund elections. If we did that, the Legislature could break free from the tentacles of the special-interest groups. Then we could solve problem number one: bad budgeting.”

Now Ellis is warmed up, laughing and cracking jokes to his aides, looking Elvis-like beneath his sunglasses (a youthful swimming accident overexposed him to chlorine and makes him sensitive to bright lights).

Zeroing in on integrity issues, Ellis wants to merge the state’s election and ethics boards (“two toothless giants,” he sniffs), strengthen their powers, and let them root out trouble. “Legislators need to be afraid of something,” he says.

Then Ellis comes to the heavy lifting — restructuring school aid and local government finance. This is a policy area that typically sends lawmakers heading for the exits. This stuff is too hard, too complicated, too freighted with political dangers for the sound-bite rhetoric of the legislative leadership.

But Ellis is in his element. Long ago he was a teacher, and he delights in the exposition as he sketches out his Equity in Education Act, which would create a statewide levy to finance K-12 education, with add-ons for certain kinds of students and a facilities building commission reviewing capital projects.

“A kid in Crandon should get as good an education as a kid in a property-rich district like Neenah and Madison,” Ellis declares.

When it comes to shared revenue, Ellis would dump the current system and give local governments more latitude to decide what taxes to impose and services to provide. Real poor communities, he adds, would continue to get state aid.

Suddenly, Ellis looks up. “Jesus, I got a platform!” he exclaims, winking at staffers Mike Boerger and Kurt Schultz. “Where do I get the yard signs? I just came up with more goddamn good ideas than you’re going to hear out of Walker, Doyle — what’s that other guy’s name? — yeah, Green, him too.”

The full column can be found on the WisPolitics.com archive: http://wisopinion.com/index.iml?mdl=article.mdl&article=2158

In January 2006, I wrote a web post for The Daily Page (the Isthmus website), commenting on Ellis’ decision to not challenge Doyle. Here it is in its entirety:

Mike Ellis: No guts, no glory

Big surprise.

State Sen. Mike Ellis, the Neenah Republican, said last week he wouldn’t run for governor next fall.

Too expensive, he told the Appleton Post-Crescent. He needed at least $9 million to take on U.S. Rep. Mark Green and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker for the GOP nomination.

But the real reason is more mundane. Mike Ellis (umm, how to put this politely) is a big wuss. He lacks (umm, how to put this politely) the guts to put his principles to the test. Instead the veteran lawmaker, 64, will probably seek another four-year term in the Senate, which puts him in line for an AARP commendation, a free cup of Sanka, and increasing irrelevance.

Look at it this way: Ellis has already served almost 24 years in the Senate. What possible attraction, other than force of habit, does four more years provide? The guy has chosen to give up his shot at greatness

It’s a real shame. On paper, Ellis is darn near the perfect gubernatorial candidate, someone who could pick off the legions of Democrats disgusted with Gov. Jim Doyle’s lack of leadership and the legions of Republicans horrified over their party’s descent into the cloud cuckooland of rightwing politics.

Old-timers at the Capitol will tell you that Ellis is the smartest lawmaker around. School finance, local government finance, criminal justice and more—Ellis can rattle off detailed plans that would spin the heads of Walker and Green.

Campaign finance reform, of course, is Ellis’ signature issue. For years, he’s been aligned with the good-government types, trying to lessen the steely grip of special interests on the machinery of state government. The recent convictions in the Capitol corruption investigation only highlight the need for a let’s-clean-up-the-mess candidacy that Ellis alone could run.

You would have thought that Ellis would have jumped into this mile-wide opening. But no, he claims he couldn’t raise the money for a statewide run. Oh, baloney. That’s a fig leaf for his wussiness. Time and again, Ellis has failed to reach out statewide, and across party lines, to build a reform coalition.

He could have been a contender.

Instead, he’s a footnote.

Nothing changed in the next eight years. Play Taps for his demise.

Bring Back The Draft

May 27, 2013

Since today is Memorial Day, I’m going to dust off a nearly six-year-old Isthmus column in which I argued we should should restore the draft. Yup, everybody should serve their country. Here is an excerpt:

Former Gov. Tony Earl grew up in the postwar days of universal military conscription when everybody from Elvis Presley to Phillip Roth did a stint for Uncle Sam. After earning a B.A. from Michigan State and a law degree from the University of Chicago, Earl enlisted in the Navy for four years, from 1961 to 1965.

“It wasn’t a matter of whether you went into the military, it was when,” he recalls. “I had a couple of options: I could get drafted or I could join. I thought of the old line: ‘Join the Navy and see the world.’ I ended up spending better than two years in Norfolk, Virginia, which was not my idea of high adventure.

“But the military was filled with people in the same situation,” Earl says. “We all had to go. People weren’t necessarily crazy about it but you regarded it — this may sound high-minded — as part of your civic duty. You went. I think most of my peers felt the same way.”

Today, in an era of gated communities, privatized public services, Blackwater mercenaries and revived left wing suspicion of the military, the notion of everyone pitching in for the common defense is downright quaint.

Predictably, radio banshees like Vicki McKenna dig their talons into anti-war activists for protesting Army recruitment, but conveniently ignore that the leading Republican voices, as card-carrying members of the economic elite, also show their own personal disdain for military service.

The millionaire venture capitalist/presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his five sons are a case in point. Not one has served a day in the armed forces. Yet candidate Romney seems quite willing as a would-be president to use other parents’ sons and daughters to enforce his bellicose worldviews.

Of course, graying boomers like me who avoided the Vietnam war belatedly realized how selfish people are when they let others do the dieing in times of war.

President Nixon, the ultimate political cynic, trumped the anti-war movement in 1973 when he ended the hugely unpopular draft, buying himself another two years of mass killing in southeast Asia.

Don Downs worries that the civilian-military gap is weakening the nation’s democratic fabric. On sabbatical from teaching, the UW prof is researching a new book on university life and the college-based Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

He notes that ROTC has traditionally been justified as a democratic mechanism to diversify an officer corps that otherwise would be dominated by insular service academy graduates. But he’s focusing his research on the other side of the equation: How the university experience is enriched by students being exposed to ROTC and by studying military history.

Like the social philosopher Christopher Lasch in his 1995 book, The Revolt Of The Elites And The Betrayal Of Democracy, Downs sees the upper class withdrawing from the common demands of citizenship, including military service.

“The elites are, in a sense, buying themselves out of certain obligations to the common culture,” Downs says. “Their attitude towards the military is symptomatic of that.”

Tony Earl agrees. “I don’t think it’s healthy at all,” he says. “When the elite of our society have enjoyed the benefits of society but disdain the military and regard it as more appropriate for people of lesser standing, they do themselves and the country a terrible disservice.”

To read the column, please go here.

(Not Really) Progressives

March 1, 2013

Politics is such a dismal swamp that I’ve tried to avoid writing about it in recent months. (You’ve been following my tech stories, right?) But the dispiriting news of how progressive stalwart Sarah Manski won a primary race for a Madison school board seat and promptly withdrew from the general election was just too much to take. Her name stays on the ballot, the other progressive candidate becomes the default winner, and the third-place finisher–a Latina whom progressives denounced as a rightwing flunky (evidence of this is sketchy)–is squeezed off the ballot for the April election.

Not a great day for democracy. I see a bigger problem with progressives struggling to deal with educational change and with independent leaders of color–notably, Kaleem Caire of the Urban League of Greater Madison– who do not toe the progressive party line. I write:

Like it or not, we’re in an era of change and choice in education. Extending public vouchers to private schools in Madison may be wild overreach by the governor, but Madison parents already have choices for schooling.

If they don’t like their neighborhood school, parents can open-enroll their child in any Madison school or even in a suburban district. They can pack up and move to a suburban district. They can enroll their kid in a public charter school like Nuestro Mundo. They can send their child to a private school. They can home-school. They can sign their kid up for one of the many online schools.

This is a good thing. As long as academic programs address state educational standards and meaningful accountability is in place, why shouldn’t parents be able to pick a school setting they feel best suits their child’s needs? More to the point, why shouldn’t the district’s response to the painful achievement gap demonstrate this flexibility?

Progressives struggle with this. In the face of the Walker ascendancy, they’re basically fighting a rearguard and probably losing action. They want to restore the old model that standardized education, tightly controlled alternatives, and protected teachers with an industrial-style union contract — and sadly also did a wretched job of educating black children. African American leaders like Caire are still expected to fall in line, despite the old system’s manifest failure.

Because he hasn’t, Caire is shunned. The latest instance is the upcoming ED Talks Wisconsin, a progressive-minded education-reform conference sponsored by the UW School of Education, the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, the mayor’s office and other groups. Discussion of “a community-wide K-12 agenda” to address the achievement gap is a featured event. A fine panel has been assembled, including Mayor Paul Soglin, but Caire is conspicuously absent.

How can progressives not bring the Urban League to the table? Agree or disagree with its failed plan for the single-sex Madison Prep charter school, the Urban League has worked the hardest of any community group to bridge the achievement gap. This includes launching a scholars academy, the South Madison Promise Zone, ACT test-taking classes and periodic events honoring young minority students.

But Caire is branded as an apostate because he worked with conservative school-choice funders in Washington, D.C. So in Madison he’s dismissed as a hapless black tool of powerful white plutocrats. Progressives can’t get their head around the idea that the black-empowerment agenda might coincide with a conservative agenda on education, but then clash on a dozen other issues.

To read more, please go here.

The Corridor Strategy For Development, Cont’d

December 10, 2012

Earlier this year I wrote a piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel arguing that the Milwaukee-Madison I-94 corridor held great potential for economic development in the 21st century. I expanded the piece and gave it more of a Madison focus for this Isthmus cover story.

This is the essence of the argument:

Simply put, that 80-mile I-94 corridor traversing Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson and Dane counties could be the muscle and brain of Wisconsin’s 21st-century economic renaissance.

It also, I would argue, holds greater economic promise for Madison and Dane County’s prosperity than does the Thrive region, the seven largely rural counties surrounding Dane County that community leaders have identified as Madison’s cohort for growth.

Those four I-94 corridor counties cover less than 5% of the state, but have one-third of its population, 44% of its college graduates and almost 40% of Wisconsin jobs, according to the UW-Extension’s Center for Community and Economic Development. The synergy of a great transportation corridor connecting the state’s two largest metropolitan areas seems obvious.

Tom Hefty, the retired head of Blue Cross-Blue Shield United of Wisconsin, made that case 10 years ago when he tried — and failed — to convince Gov. Jim Doyle to adopt a corridor development plan as part of the state’s economic strategy.

The logic: Milwaukee is the state’s finance and commercial capital. Madison is the political capital and home to a world-class research university. Waukesha County is a teeming entrepreneurial beehive. Already a good chunk of workers travel back and forth along the corridor. Major educational facilities, including a rising UW-Milwaukee, prepare the workforce.

“You combine an academic powerhouse with a commercial powerhouse, and you get job growth,” says Hefty.

Do you think that Wisconsin’s languishing economy could use more jobs? The answer is obvious, but the politics here are deeply dysfunctional. Talk about Mission: Impossible. It’s not just Milwaukee versus Madison; their shared liberalism is abhorrent to conservative Waukesha County. Lambs will lie down with lions before the corridor politicians ever work together.

For that matter, Gov. Scott Walker’s successful effort to kill the $810 million federally funded train service between Milwaukee and Madison is just one more nasty episode in that endless grudge match.

But before you turn the page, here’s the thing: The corridor is coming together without these feuding politicians.

To read more, pls go here.

Looking For The New Pat Lucey

November 23, 2012

For a decade now, the Wisconsin economy has sputtered and stalled. I argue in this Isthmus opinon column, that Democrats are part of the problem. Beginning with the Doyle administration in 2002, they just haven’t advanced a modern-day program for economic development. I suggest that the party should look back to its own history for inspiration. Namely to the example of Pat Lucey, who was governor in the 1970s. I write:

Lucey, who is 94 (and living in an assisted-living condo on Madison’s west side), brought consummate political skill to advancing a sweeping policy agenda. “They were enormous changes all at once,” recalls his former staffer David Adamany.

Governing from 1971 to 1977, Lucey merged the two university systems, enacted consumer protection laws, strengthened ethics provisions for officials, revamped campaign finance laws, shifted mental health treatment from institutions to community programs and, perhaps most importantly, retooled government aid programs to reflect the progressive vision: Poorer communities, especially their schools, should get more state aid than richer communities. Republicans howled at how Lucey threatened their low-tax enclaves.

Jesuit educated, Lucey saw the moral end in politics. Linda Reivitz, who worked in the Department of Natural Resources, recalls briefing Lucey on the pros and cons of a policy matter only to be interrupted when she veered into its politics. “He put up his hand and said something like, ‘Young lady. I will worry about the politics. You just tell me about the policy options.'”

Notes Jim Wood, another aide: “Pat knew you only walked through this valley once. Politics wasn’t about getting elected. It was getting elected to do something.”

After La Follette’s Progressive Party collapsed in 1946, Lucey was among the legendary activists who launched the modern-day Democratic Party. When he was elected to the Assembly in 1949, a fellow Democrat griped to the Milwaukee Journal: “He thinks he’s down here to reform us.” Lucey later served as state party chair and built the party infrastructure county by county.

He made his fortune in real estate, and that too shaped his political success. “He could talk to businessmen as one of their own,” notes Adamany. Early on, Lucey embraced a Republican pet issue — exempting manufacturing machinery and equipment from the property tax, as an incentive to reinvest — and got it passed through a divided Legislature. He also removed business inventories from the property tax and standardized assessment practices so county assessors could no longer over-assess business property to benefit homeowners.

By 1977, the Wall Street Journal, chronicling the Wisconsin economic success, called us “the shining star of the Snowbelt.”

Wisconsin needs a new Pat Lucey. A progressive who gets job creation’

For more please go here.

Wisconsin’s Two Great Crises

September 21, 2012

In this column for Isthmus, I argue that Wisconsin’s economic malaise has been made worse by the failure in the state’s leadership. Here’s a chunk of copy:

For a good decade, Wisconsin’s economy has stagnated and declined. Even the end of the Great Recession in 2009 brought no real relief.

The ugly truth is that the Wisconsin workforce has shed 164,500 jobs from the pre-recessionary high in December 2007. That’s almost a 6% decline, according to a fine, detail-rich report from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy.

But the situation is even worse, given the state’s population growth of 2.8%. COWS estimates that another 81,000 jobs are needed to keep the newcomers employed.

Wisconsin’s total job deficit? 245,900 jobs.

Just as bad, wallets are noticeably thinner for almost everyone. COWS focuses on four-person families and finds over the past decade that annual income has dropped from $84,500 to $76,000.

Note that conservatives often bash the Center on Wisconsin Strategy because its leaders — Joel Rogers and Laura Dresser — are advocates for progressive economic strategies. But the center’s reports pass the ideological blood test. COWS was just as hard on Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle during his lackluster eight years when the Wisconsin economy first slid into the ditch.

And that brings us to the most discouraging fact of all: Wisconsin’s leaders — not just Democrats and Republicans, but business and labor, city and county, even university and tech school leaders — have been depressingly ineffective in getting us out of that ditch.

We have a leadership deficit in Wisconsin, not just a jobs deficit.

To read more , including my criticism of Gov. Scott Walker for saddling the state’s jobs agency with a political appointee with no relevant experience, please go here.

The I-94 Road to Prosperity

June 13, 2012

Politically, Madison and Milwaukee are two Democratic peas in a pod. But culturally  they are like oil and water.  Go figure.

In a story for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I make the case that the two cities need to pull together through an economic corridor along  I-94.

The story begins:

What is it about Milwaukee and Madison – that potent mix of mutual disdain, disregard and ignorance that characterizes their odd relationship?

“Only 80 miles separate them, but it’s like the cities are on different sides of the moon,” says James Rowen, who has worked in journalism and for mayors in both cities.

Mordecai Lee, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee political scientist who served for 12 years in the Legislature, offers another celestial view. “It’s the difference between Saturn and Jupiter. Milwaukee and Madison are on different planets,” he says. “Even as technology erases distances, the two cities remain impervious to cooperating.”

John Gurda, a Milwaukee historian and columnist for the Journal Sentinel, says Madison and Milwaukee are like estranged siblings who meet at Thanksgiving and then don’t talk for the rest of the year.

But enough metaphors – I have to blurt out something as loudly as I can.

Wisconsin needs Madison and Milwaukee to pull together.

Simply put, that 80-mile I-94 corridor traversing Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson and Dane counties could be the muscle and brain of Wisconsin’s 21st century economic renaissance.

The four counties cover less than 5% of the state but have one-third of its population, 44% of its college graduates and almost 40% of Wisconsin jobs, according to the UW-Extension’s Center for Community and Economic Development. The synergy of a great transportation corridor connecting the state’s two largest metropolitan areas seems obvious.

Tom Hefty, the retired head of Blue Cross-Blue Shield United of Wisconsin, made that case 10 years ago when he tried – and failed – to persuade Gov. Jim Doyle to adopt a corridor development plan as part of the state’s economic strategy.

The logic: Milwaukee is the state’s finance and commercial capital. Madison is the political capital and home to a world-class research university. Waukesha County is a teeming entrepreneurial beehive. Already, a good chunk of workers travel back and forth along the corridor. Major educational facilities, including a rising UWM, prepare the workforce.

“You combine an academic powerhouse with a commercial powerhouse and you get job growth,” says Hefty.

Do you think that Wisconsin’s languishing economy could use more jobs? The answer is obvious, but the politics here are deeply dysfunctional. Talk about Mission Impossible. It’s not just Milwaukee vs. Madison, but their shared liberalism is abhorrent to conservative Waukesha County. Lambs will lie down with lions before corridor politicians ever work together.

In that context, Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to kill the $810 million federally funded train service between Milwaukee and Madison is just one more smack-down in that endless grudge match.

But here’s the thing: The corridor is coming together without those feuding politicians.

To read the rest of the story, please go here.

To read a similar argument I made for Chicago-to-Milwaukee connection, please go here.

 

John Kinsman, the Family Farm Defender

May 30, 2012

Interviewing John Kinsman, the farmer activist  from Lime Ridge, was easily one of my more enjoyable assignments. The guy is fascinating, uniquely American in his personal history and  in committment to holding our country to its ideals. Here’s how the story in The Progressive magazine begins:

What could be more rare than cactus in a Wisconsin farmer’s wintry backyard? That would be the farmer himself if it’sJohn Kinsman. At age eighty-five, Kinsman has lived a singular life of activism.

This modest farmer from the Dairy State boondocks has traveled the world to stand with small farmers and indigenous people.

“You have to put your whole self into it,” he says of his approach. “You have to live what you’re saying.”

Kinsman has certainly done that. He’s locked arms with Native Americans like Winona LaDuke in their struggle. He founded the activist group Family Farm Defenders in 1994. He marched with his friend the French farm leader Jose Bové of anti-McDonald’s fame in “The Battle of Seattle” in 1999. He’s even sailed with Greenpeace.

How he managed all this while running a dairy farm in central Wisconsin, near tiny Lime Ridge, and raising ten children with his wife, Jean, may be the most improbable thing of all about Kinsman.

On a winter afternoon, Kinsman is just another Wisconsin farmer as he walks his 150 acres. He and Jean bought the worn-out, rock-strewn farm in the early 1950s not far from where his parents farmed. An early run-in with chemical pesticides put Kinsman in the hospital and converted him to organic farming. He points to the results.

Here are the pastures on which he rotationally grazes his milking herd of thirty-six Holsteins, the forested hills where he’s planted, literally, tens of thousands of trees, and the stand of fruit trees and bushes he’s grown around his house. And that patch of cacti—the prickly pear—was no exotic transplant but a stubborn native remnant from a warmer geological age in Wisconsin. Sort of like Kinsman himself.

Kinsman is a fourth-generation Wisconsin family farmer. His grandmother Samantha, who died at the age of ninety-seven in 1944, saw General Ulysses S. Grant when he visited Sandusky, Wisconsin. His dad was a “dyed-in-the-wool Republican who would vote for a dog if he were a Republican,” he says with a laugh. His own political awakening began in World War II, when on an Army train through Mississippi, he was upbraided for waving to the black people along the track.

To read more, please go here: http://www.progressive.org/family_farm_defender.html

Handicapping the Recall Election

April 9, 2012

I offered my take on the upcoming gubernatorial recall election for the blogger David Blaska. You can find all of the responses here.

Here’s what I had to say:

            Who’s going to win the recall? I don’t know.

I will venture this: For that sliver of the electorate that is undecided, the recall won’t pivot on the union issue, but on the condition of the Wisconsin economy.

Scott Walker could have a big problem here. It’s not just that the job numbers were so bad in his first year, but the Republicans fumbled two key economic development issues–creation of a venture capital fund and writing viable mining legislation.

Who would have guessed they would be so inept on fundamental business issues?

Walker’s best hope requires a twist worthy of an O’Henry  short story: Will there be enough of an Obama economic recovery to lift the floundering Badger economy?

As for the Democrats, their chances of beating Walker will almost certainly decline once they pick a candidate. Their leading hopefuls are palookas–the scarred losers of  previous statewide races.

Perhaps party chair Mike Tate can persuade the Democratic candidate to put a brown paper bag over his or her head. It could help.

But wait…if  Herb Kohl miraculously changes his mind and runs, game over.

Everyone knows that the wild card is the John Doe probe. All hell breaks lose if Walker is indicted for the shenanigans that occurred while he was Milwaukee County executive.

What the Democrats need — and probably won’t get — is a business-savvy candidate like Kohl who understands the utter centrality of growing the Wisconsin economy.

Bar none, there is no more important issue in Wisconsin today.

Kevin Conroy, the biotech innovator (and the son of a former Democratic Michigan state senator) who briefly considered a gubernatorial run in 2010, might have filled the bill. But his Exact Sciences start-up is at a critical point of development.

Finally, given the chaos of Wisconsin politics, I don’t rule out an intervention by space aliens.

Bat-crazy weirdness–this is the new norm in Wisconsin politics.

Missed Opportunity

January 22, 2012

I make the case in this Isthmus column that establishing a passenger rail connection between Madison and Milwaukee  would  strengthen the state’s economy in the decades to come. Ain’t happening:

What was the single most important decision Gov. Scott Walker made in his first year of office? Hands down, the consensus judgment would be undermining the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

But 20 or 30 years from now? Wisconsinites will probably point to Walker’s fateful decision to reject an $810 million federal grant to build a passenger rail line connecting Madison and Milwaukee.

Chances are that the logic for the train will be evident to most everyone by then. The I-94 corridor linking Dane County with Milwaukee and Waukesha will likely be the state’s 21st-century economic engine. In turn, it will be a vital link in what technology booster Tom Still has called the “I-Q Corridor” — the 400-mile stretch of interstate connecting the heavyweight metropolises of Chicago and the Twin Cities.

“That corridor contains some of the nation’s leading research universities, well-educated tech workers and thriving tech-based companies at all stages of development,” Still, who’s president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, wrote a few years ago.

Now imagine an updated rail system carrying people from the Twin Cities to downtown Chicago in less than six hours — even faster than driving and on a par with a complicated airline connection.

Oops! Don’t consider it. That scenario is precisely what Walker killed when he gave back the $810 million — federal funding that would have paid the full capital costs of connecting Madison to Milwaukee.

Says Watertown Mayor Ron Krueger: “That decision will hurt the state of Wisconsin for decades to come.”

To read more, please go here. For a related column,check this. 


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: