Thursday, May 9, 2013

Just Follow The Streetcar Track Of Money

Earlier this year, I wrote about the ongoing struggle regarding installing a streetcar in downtown Milwaukee.  It is meant to be part of a long term plan to have a sustainable, intermodal public transit system in Milwaukee.

It would be a big step to help Milwaukee catch up to the rest of the country in the transit department.  Look at these facts, thanks to Nicholas Reindl:

Minneapolis, 387,753 residents. Rail transit? Yes
Portland, 593,820 residents. Rail Transit? Yes
Denver, 619,968 residents. Rail Transit? Yes
Pittsburgh, 307,484 residents.Rail Transit? Yes
Cleveland, 393,806 residents. Rail Transit? Yes
Salt Lake City, 189,899 residents. Rail Transit? Yes
Milwaukee, 599,867 residents. Rail Transit? No
And everyone knows that those other cities are actually growing while Milwaukee is lucky to just keep its head above water.

In my previous article, I pointed out how State Representative Dale Kooyenga, who likes to pander to well-moneyed special interests, was introducing a bill that would sabotage the streetcar because there were special interests that wanted the federal funding that would have gone to the streetcar.

Kooyenga's plan would force the cost of moving telecommunication cables onto the property taxpayers of the City of Milwaukee and give AT&T a pass.

But this is not surprising.

Thanks to Bill Sell, we can see that AT&T is most definitely a taker.  They get to enjoy all the amenities that we all do.  Things like police, firefighters, Emergency Medical Services, plowed streets, etc.  But unlike us, they don't have to pay for it.

Look at how much they paid in taxes on their property assessed at $12.6 million:

Click to embiggen
Yes, you read that correctly.  For property worth more than twelve and a half million dollars, AT&T paid only $390 in taxes.

Now do you understand why your taxes are so high and why we can't have nice things?


  1. I think your last sentence sums this issue up, nicely.

    This trolley is nothing more than a "nice thing".

    You want it, you pay for it.

    1. If you're outside if the City of Milwaukee, you aren't paying for it. There is no statewide assistance to operate a streetcar or any light rail in Scott Walker's budget, and it hasn't existed for decades. The construction costs are federal and local, and the utilities are overstating any costs to utilities (and rate changes are approved by the PSC anyway).

      You can oppose the streetcar all you want in the 262, but don't say you're paying for it, 'cause you're not.


  2. Yeah, who needs economic development or job creation?

  3. Think about your response to my comment. I mean, really think about it.

    1. There used to be streetcars in Milwaukee.
    2. Why did they go away?
    3. How can spending money on something that loses money be considered economic development?

    1. For number 2 and 3, why don't you ask the Road Builders? Cause you're kidding yourself if you don't think highways and roads don't "lose money."

      You suburb boys really flail on the weekends without Belling and Sykes to tell you the talking points, don't you?

    2. Anonymous needs to look beyond his narrow limit of vision. "There used to be streetcars" in most major cities across this country, and even many smaller cities. And guess what? Except for Milwaukee, most major cities AGAIN HAVE STREETCARS, only this time modernized, highly efficient ones. Why? Because they're economical, reliable and people like to use them. And they use less energy than everybody bombing around in CO2-belching gas cars, one person to a couple tons of car, in most cases. That in turns means less congestion on busy urban streets. So check your notes, anonymous. Except for wingnut Republicans, Wisconsin would already be joining the 21st Century with light rail, street cars AND high-speed intercity rail. Backwardness is so lovely in the spring, don't you think?

    3. Oh, and also, with respect to Anonymous' point number 3: Highways are a prime example of spending money on something that loses money. Their costs are huge and their hidden side effects nasty. We do need roads and streets, obviously, but here in Wisconsin, the highway construction lobby is so powerful that we have been building far more miles of roads relative to our population than any other nearby state. Yet automobile mileage is down in the state, in part because younger citizens are trending away from car ownership and the rest of us are being more thrift with our transportation dollars. It's foolishly wasteful to build freeways and exit ramps to nowhere, but those highway special interests have been busy pumping up the campaign coffers of people like Scott Walker, so it just goes on and on. And by the way, it wouldn't be half so bad if the state would decide to spend more on fixing the roads and streets we already have and less on new ones we don't need.

  4. Hahaha! - join the 21st century by bringing back an early 20th century technology. Nice! Sounds exactly like the foolishness I am hearing here in Cincinnati as well.

    Here is the bottom line: Liberals love choo choo trains (but feel buses are beneath them!) :O