Scott Walker Is A Joke

Mar 29th, 2011 | Posted by

Not long after he rejected high speed rail funding – resulting in a $624 million windfall for California (along with funds rejected by Ohio), Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker now wants federal money to improve trains after all:

Less than half a year after rejecting federal funds to build a high-speed rail connecting Milwaukee to Madison, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is now asking for at least $150 million from the feds to upgrade an existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago passenger line….

The shed that Walker plans to upgrade to make it comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act will account for about $30 million of the $150 million grant money, but it’s a project that would have actually been paid for had Walker just kept the $800 million the feds had originally given him.

But it gets better: even the locomotives, train sets and maintenance base would have ALL been covered by the original grant.

This is pretty ridiculous. Scott Walker is a greedy joke who thinks that government merely exists to enable his ever-changing whims. It isn’t. He doesn’t get to reject money one day and then turn around and suddenly change his mind the next.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood should reject this proposal out of hand. Wisconsin is a great state and it deserves better rail service, but not while Scott Walker is governor. There may well be a recall of him next year, so maybe then Wisconsin can get some of the train money that the people of the state deserve. But Scott Walker made his bed, and now he’s got to sleep in it. No more train money for him.

  1. VBobier
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 22:40

    You mean WI Gov. Scott Walker still has a bed? I thought LaHood took that too. ;)

  2. JJJ
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 22:48

    These new batch of republican governors simply want their ego stroked.

    They can’t allow a project that’s been approved by anyone else to go forward. No, they need to feel the power of canceling 15 years of hard work, and then feel the power of proposing a “great new project”.

    They should all be sat down and be evaluated by a professional.

    In fact, to be elected, you should be able to
    a) Pass a civics/us history test (similar to the kind passed by new citizens)
    b) Be mentally stable

  3. Jason
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 22:52

    For this to make sense for non-Wisconsinites, you’d have to understand just how much Wisconsin conservatives, and especially those from the only part of the state one would consider deep-red in the suburbs west of Milwaukee, absolutely HATE Madison. It’s the capitol city as well as the home of the flagship university, so it’s packed full of all sorts of people they despise.

    joe Reply:

    On the hook for 30M regardless.

    “Walker administration officials said the state’s contract with Talgo, signed by former Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration, committed the state to spending at least $30 million on a maintenance base, regardless of whether it had federal funding. This grant application would seek $40 million to $50 million in federal funds for that project, matched by $10 million to $12 million in state funds, which the Walker administration calls a $20 million saving for state taxpayers.”

    Nathanael Reply:

    Good. Force the Walker administration to pay that out of the state’s pocket and tell him “You reneged on the deal, you don’t get jack from the Feds. When Wisconsin kicks you out, then Wisconsin gets help.”

    joe Reply:

    but this rail switch kills Madison Jobs in favor of red-Suburban jobs.

    “The locomotives, train sets and maintenance base would have been covered by the earlier $810 million grant. But the maintenance base, originally envisioned as a $52 million facility in Madison, now would be a $60 million facility at the Talgo Inc. train plant in the Century City complex on Milwaukee’s north side.”

    Jason Reply:

    No matter how much money it costs or what the people of Wisconsin lose out on, WI Republicans will do whatever it takes to stick it to Madison. Any other benefits they can squeak out of the aftermath are purely secondary considerations.

    joe Reply:

    I agree, it’s war on the State and citizens. Just like in CA.

  4. political_incorrectness
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 22:57

    What a complete MORON. He is probably just trying to claim credit, I want to make sure that he is known in the history books for first CANCELLING the project. Now he is wanting money for it? I’m not sure, give him the original deal or the bird?

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s too bad the Definition of MORON in the Dictionary doesn’t have a reference to that Moron… ;)

    But then that would be priceless.

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    The bird, definitely!

  5. Donk
    Mar 29th, 2011 at 23:31

    Meh, he simply made a campaign promise that he kept, and now he is trying to do what actually makes sense for the state. I don’t think this would qualify him as a “moron” or “idiot”, but “joke” would probably be appropriate. This is just politics.

    There are so many examples of this sort of about-face with infrastructure in politics: Jim Hahn, the former mayor of LA tried to shoot down the San Fernando Valley BRT project as his first act as mayor because he promised the orthodox Jewish community along the tracks that he would stop the project in exchange for their votes (they were opposed to it because they would have had to press the buttons to cross the street on the sabbath). After that plan failed, he was generally supportive of public transit in LA.

    When Gavin Newsom was elected mayor of SF, he had a campaign promise that he would support the competing developers in the Transbay Terminal area and try to shut down the project. He followed through on that promise, but the Transbay Terminal project ended up surviving anyway, and he has since generally been a supporter of HSR and transit in SF.

    joe Reply:

    Sorry Donk;

    He didn’t yield to popular pressure to restore HSR, he didn’t accept a compromise counter offer from the Admin when it was offered, and didn’t react to a successful campaign to undo his decision.

    Donk Reply:

    You’re totally missing my point. Everything you just said has nothing to do with what I was saying. I don’t like the guy either.

  6. Alex M.
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 02:05

    While it may be fun to make fun of him, you have to realize he’s now doing the right thing, which does not warrant name calling. The speed of his flip-flop is a little suspicious, though.

    Paul H. Reply:

    Everything about Scott Walker is suspicious. I still have no idea why the citizens of Wisconsin voted him into office. Two months in, and he’s a complete joke already. These new batch of Republicans make me ill for this country’s future. Seriously ill.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Every time I hear of a candidate who is favored or backed by the Tea Party (as seems to be the case with Scott Walker), I tend to think of the Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland, and the reasons behind the Hatter being, well, mad.

    (dementia caused by mercury poisoning over time due to the process used for making hats at the time)

    Nathanael Reply:

    Walker is absolutely not doing the right thing. Walker is now trying to steal HSR money for the totally-not-HSR components of the project, in order to (as Jason said) “stick it to Madison”. Any Governor who hates the state capital should either propose a bill to relocate it, or volunteer for euthanasia, not pull this shit.

    VBobier Reply:

    Moving the state capital? Hmm, How about to Los Angeles… Or better Yet, Fresno… ;)

    synonymouse Reply:


    brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Or Vernon or Cuday too,

    Wad Reply:

    California has moved its capital a couple of times in its history. It was in San Jose, Vallejo, Benicia and San Francisco. Sacramento had been capital twice. The San Francisco period was temporary due to severe flooding in Sacramento.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Let’s not forget the original capital, Monterey…

    Alex M. Reply:

    Good point, I hadn’t thought of that.

  7. Andy M.
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 05:16

    The good people of WI deserve an improved rail service and it would be wrong to refuse it to them because their governor is throwing tantrums. Idiocy should not be met with malice or desire for personal revenge. He has asked for money to improve rail and he should get the money he is asking for. Hopefully his just reward will be reaped when he next comes due for re-election when hopefully more common sense will have pervaded the electorate.

    jim Reply:

    No. He cannot be trusted not to change his mind later and refuse the money that he’s now asking for under pressure from his conservative base. LaHood has the responsibility to allocate stimulus money where he can be certain it will actually be spent

    Nathanael Reply:

    Look at Christie, who is trying to steal the money allocated for the ARC tunnel. Walker simply cannot be trusted with money. No federal funds to Wisconsin until a trustworthy governor replaces Walker.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    I developed a healthy distaste for Walker when living in Milwaukee County in the noughts (I now live in Chicago) and part of me wants to see this application fail for spite’s sake, but like Andy I’m also uncomfortable with the equation many are making here of Walker and Wisconsin. The feds should make decisions based on the merit of the proposals put forward by the state DOTs, not the merit of the state’s governor. I also doubt Walker would try to embezzle the funds—as a frequent Hiawatha rider, I’ve noticed the train is very popular with the southeastern Wisconsin business class, which is one of his main bases of support.

    Furthermore this proposal, combined with Michigan and Missouri’s applications, also helps (ever so slightly) to chip away the image of the non-Illinois Midwest as being hostile territory for future investments in rail.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Do not doubt Walker’s willingness to steer money to his cronies. Remember that part of the union-busting law he claims to have passed was a provision to allow him to sell off public utility infrastructure, at a price of his choosing, to private companies of his choosing, without the deal being reviewable in court or anywhere else.

    As long as a Governor who pushed THAT is in office, I wouldn’t give one red cent to the state government for infrastructure. He might simply resell it to his cronies for pennies on the dollar — that *is* what the law he passed is *for*.

    Once Walker is removed from power, I absolutely support giving money to Wisconsin for improved service. Honestly, if Amtrak proposed Amtrak-owned improvements in Wisconsin, with the backing of Dane County and the city of Madison and other municipalities, I’d support THAT.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I think Wisconsin should get all the rail money they want once Walker is recalled in early 2012.

  8. D. P. Lubic
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 05:53

    It looks like Walker is under pressure from other things, too; I suspect the rail question is among the least of his worries (links courtesy of William Draves’ Nine Shift site):

    General weblog link; some comments are unusual, and some fit right in with us:

    Oh, Draves does think a lot of this is generational, as do I:

    You may not agree with everything Draves has to say, but I find some of his insights interesting.

  9. James
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 06:57

    “Thank you for your request for federal funds. The money allocated for rail service in the 2009 stimulus bill has already been allocated to other states, and the current Congress is not expected to allocate any more funds.”

  10. Risenmessiah
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 07:07

    Unfortunately, looking at an electoral map, Barack Obama probably needs to win Wisconsin in 2012 to return to office. Thus, he’s going to tell FRA to cull this application so that he can give them something and make Walker look like the prodigal son.

    For example, since the Hiawatha line connects to the airport, expect the Administration to want to showcase the ability of HSR to move people to and from airports.

    Alan F Reply:

    The grant or not granting of $150 million to Wisconsin is not going to make any difference at all in who carries Wisconsin in the 2012 Presidential election. Do not overthink this.

    The Wisconsin application is apparently entirely for new rolling stock and support facilities. This makes it easy for LaHood to skip over as Illinois already has HSIPR funding to acquire rolling stock for the Chicago-St. Louis corridor as does Iowa for the Iowa City service. Missouri will be applying for rolling stock. If Michigan submits an application for rolling stock along with additional funding to get the Chicago-Detroit corridor up to 110 mph speeds, then provide funding for rolling stock purchases to the other 2 states, so they can collectively buy bi-levels or Talgos. That will free up equipment for Amtrak to use on the Hiawatha service as Amtrak’s sees fit without dealing with Walker.

    Risenmessiah Reply:


    This says that the $150 million is to buy some new train sets and locomotives, as well as oh yeah, construct a new maintenance facility.

    Thing is, it’s the exact same facility that is part of the now-defunct HSR plan. Might even be the same design. Currently, the space is occupied, I believe by Talgo. So my question is why wouldn’t you go for Walker’s request? Why don’t you want people to see what technology can do on a popular line already? Why don’t you want to build a state-of-the-art maintenance facility that has the ability to send rolling stock all throughout the Midwest?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why should the rest of the Midwest send money and jobs to a state that isn’t interested in rail?

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Did you support sending the money to Florida in the first place? If so, then you need to support sending it to Wisconsin now. HSR (or something like it) winning converts on the Hiawatha is not a bad place to start.

    joe Reply:

    Hiawatha isn’t HSR – there isn’t a plan to increase train speed with the $150M unless I’m missing something – the claim is EVENTUALLY they can increase speeds – assuming other work is done.

    So it’s an inferior, late and contradictory position.

    Spokker Reply:

    He opposed one rail project but he supports another rail project. Take what you can get in a state where the Tea Party is running amok.

    I don’t like the decisions he has made but the voters of Wisconsin put him in. Elections have consequences and if the voters regret their decision, get rid of him in a few years. Same with Florida.

    Or perhaps the majority of voters in Wisconsin are happy with his decision, and we are only seeing a loud minority complaining right now.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Hiawatha though has something FLHSR never did: proven (and high) ridership. You make the case for HSR not just in flashy presentations and big appropriations, but by having a great product and demonstrating how great that is day after day after day. Even though it’s not the Nozomi, most people are going to notice only a few things a) it created jobs) b) it created new infrastructure and c) it changed their experience riding the train.

    That is the message. Not, it goes X miles an hour. As it were, the Hiawatha service only covers 86 miles total. What’s the purpose of building a 220 mph train to make a 90 minute service 45 minutes, when 120 mph will make it 55?

    joe Reply:

    The disparaging comments about HSR are irrelevant.

    There are a large set of proven things to do with stimulus money – non-responsive proposals are irrelevant.

    Walker’s late, counter proposal to canceling the Chicago Milwaukee Madison HSR line has be be judged on the same merits as every other state – he has to follow the rules, not make up his own.

    He can ask the feds to help WI and IL improve the line and improve Amtrack service via the transportation bill. He might possibly consider apologizing for mocking the IL Governor and citizens about taxes IL approved so WI could find a willing partner that controls the destination city, Chicago.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Look, the facility he wants built was the same facility that would have been constructed in the original proposal for the train to Madison. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tom Barrett, supports Walker’s plan. He’s giving Obama an opportunity to put a lot of people in his state and elsewhere on new trains.

    It’s not that the request shouldn’t be scrutinized like all the others. It’s that short of going “all-in” for Acela or CAHSR, what other state project is going to have a greater return than this one?

    Plus, there’s $2.4 billion to dish out…and he asked for…$150 million?

    egk Reply:

    So that when you extend it another 125 miles or so you can have 1 hr trip times?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What egk said. Milwaukee is a natural intermediate stop for a Chicago-Twin Cities line. Since the legacy lines from Chicago to Milwaukee are straight, upgrades there are effectively initial investment in Chicago-Twin Cities HSR.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The proposals by Walker are not, however, upgrades. :-P

    Nathanael Reply:

    They may qualify as enabling works for future upgrades. However, Walker rejected those future upgrades, and he also tried (perhaps successfully) to pass a law allowing him to sell off public infrastructure to his cronies at prices of his choosing, including below market value. I would not let Wisconsin’s state government have one red cent while that man has control over the state government.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    You are presuming the Republicans can field a decent candidate. I suspect 2012 will be a landslide for Obama on that basis (which is pretty damning of the GOP, given Obama’s lackluster performance).

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    No, I’m assuming turn out is going to be less than 2008, especially among young, non-white voters. I don’t think Obama will lose for several reasons, but the man needs Wisconsin.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    No he doesn’t. He can safely lose Wisconsin and several other states. Pacific Coast, Hawaii, Illinois, and New England (DC, MD and north) are safe states, giving him 210 votes, leaving just sixty votes for election. Given that he won with 365 in 2008, he can safely lose Wisconsin. Odds are that he’ll win WI anyhow, since he won by about 14% last time and the state GOP have made themselves extremely unpopular this year.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    I am not sure what the voters will think. Will they want to see more budget cuts? Will the policies of Republican legislators in the states reflect at the national level? There are so many questions to be answered such as will the minoritys and youth turn out to vote? We shall see what happens. Honestly, unless Ron Paul is running, the Republican presidential bid will probably fall flat.

    joe Reply:

    Walker is a political bully who picks fights. With the Dems with Unions and with the judge who issued a court injunction.

    He picked a fight with Milwaukee/Madison when he refused HSR and now is trying to pick a fight with LaHood over rail funds.

    Pushback – he’ll fight over something else when he gets his way – like switch the funding to highways or issue some nutty signing statement where he sets new conditions.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Good description of Walker.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    You ought to look at this chart

    What it shows you is that Obama didn’t suddenly get deep red states to vote for him in 2008; he lost badly in many places Kerry lost badly. What he did was pull some states on the borderline into the Democratic side. Because the college is winner-take-all mostly, that accounted for the “landslide”. In reality, Obama only received about 10 million more votes than Kerry did.

    But when you consider than 10 million more people voted in 2008 than 2004, and you realize that McCain only got 3 million fewer votes than Bush…you see that Obama has his work cut out for him.

    joe Reply:

    Every year shifting demographics undermine the numerical size of the Republican collation.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Although that is true, I wouldn’t bet the farm on that assumption in 2012.

    Spokker Reply:

    If Palin, Gingrich or Huckabee get the nomination, Obama can sit back and coast to victory.

    But my liberal ass might vote for this Mormon bastard Mitt Romney if Obama keeps fucking up.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Huh? Obama has made mistake to be sure. But a vote for Romney is a vote for the plutocracy, and nothing more.

    Spokker Reply:

    Oh please, this guy has been peddling the same shit about energy independence and policing the world as every other president has.

    A vote for Romney would be another vote for a moderate. Big deal.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Stop. Are you Andy Rooney saying “there’s really no difference between Bush and Gore”?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Obama’s health care plan *was* pretty much Romney’s plan.

    On the other hand, I don’t think Romney has a chance in hell of winning the GOP nomination. He’s not crazy enough.

  11. M Brennan
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 09:20

    Recall the bastard. Not sure if I can say that but I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

    Richard A Reply:

    Which bastard? Walker? Scott? You cacn’t mean Obama because there’s no recall mechanism.

  12. Alan
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 11:30

    Did Walker get permission from the Koch brothers for this request?

  13. Eric M
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 15:14

    There won’t be anything left for him anyways, CA just asked for all of the money Florida gave up!! hehehe

  14. Ken
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 15:43

    He’s running scared for his political life because he doesn’t want to be called the douche that killed the train when everyone is groaning at $5-6/gallon gas prices which is fast becoming a reality.

    francis Reply:

    I”ll believe it when I see a website…

  15. D. P. Lubic
    Mar 30th, 2011 at 21:11

    What is wrong with the Republican party? How is it that they seem to have a habit of nominating idiots lately? Walker, Scott, and before that, G. W. Bush. I won’t say all these fellows are bad people (those who got to know him thought, and still think, G. W. Bush is a “nice guy,” and that has included some of his critics), but it seems all of them are in way over their heads.

    For them to win elections is one thing, given the lack of knowledge a harried and hurried public may have, but how do these guys get nominated, given that the party leadership presumably still has some role in that process? Isn’t there some sort of vetting process on the part of the party leadership going into the primaries?

    Sheesh. . .

    Comments on the story are interesting, as always. . .

    joe Reply:

    Why is the Dem leadership meeting them half way?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That crazy party has other problems, too; it’s as if they can’t think logically.

    Case in point: One of the things charged against Obama is that he “hates America” because it has been “imperialist” or “colonial.” Supposedly this “anti-colonial” attitude comes from his Kenyan father–but the father left him at a very young age, and supposedly Obama didn’t even see much of him over the years. If that’s so, how would he get an “anti-colonial” outlook from someone who wasn’t there to give it to him? Was the father a witch doctor using magic or something?

    Either the so-called conservative block in this country is largely made up of cynical liars and their bamboozled and pixillated followers, or they all suffer from some sort of low-level mental illness. My wife has thought the latter may well be the case, given all the stuff we’ve been putting in the water over the years, hormones in cattle, food additives, and so on.

    It makes you wonder if the anti-floridation crowd is onto something–although sometimes that crowd looks like the crazy ones mentioned above!

    Spokker Reply:

    “It makes you wonder if the anti-floridation crowd is onto something”

    Not to mention the root canal conspiracy theorists.

    Wad Reply:

    D.P., the mistake is looking for logic in the first place.

    It turns out that the modern right wing is the end state of what used to be thought of as an affliction of the left: identity politics and the self-esteem movement.

    You can’t really call it an ideology, since there isn’t an idea at the roots. It’s more of a politics of collective experience, very much along the lines of women’s, minority and GLBT groups — at least those can claim legitimate grievances.

    It also showed how the pendulum swung so far in the direction of self-esteem that it mutated into egoism. The self is the final arbiter of what is good, just and right. You now have decisive elections based upon the question of which candidate the voter would like to have a beer with.

    Don’t bother with logic. Stampedes don’t operate on logic; they operate on momentum.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    The Authoritarians has some very good perspective on US “movement conservatives”, including the teabaggers. They fit Prof. Bob Altemeyer’s profiles VERY well.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You can go even more specifically than that. I mean, Bush and Cheney are social dominators, but they’re not really the same as the right-wing populism that encompasses the Tea Party, the National Front, the Dutch PVV, the Flemish Bloc, etc.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    The Truth About the Tea Party | Rolling Stone Politics Matt Taibbi went to Kentucky and visited a lot of teabaggers and teabagger events to get an idea of what they are like.

    Wad Reply:

    D.P. Lubic wrote: Comments on the story are interesting, as always. . .

    It’s like a Raiders game without the football.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “How is it that they seem to have a habit of nominating idiots lately?”

    When you interested in lining your own wallet, acquiring absolute power, and not sharing it even with your lackeys, such as the Koch Brothers are, and you are trying to hire lackeys to do your work for you, it is very hard to find anyone EXCEPT idiots who is willing to take your job offer. What smart person would actually sign on to the corporatist looter agenda, with the destruction of the rule of law and all that implies?

    That’s part of it. The rest is described by the previous commentators.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh — also, the Republican party leadership got taken over by lunatics a while back. It was around the time of the Gingrich “revolution”. The old-school Bob Dole types *cannot* be happy. That’s the problem with cynically attracting crazy people and crooks to your party, eventually they take over.

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