In many towns and villages in Dane County, the terrified of trains crew has gotten together and put an “RTA Referendum\" The problem is the RTA has not come out with their recommendations or their referendum(that will happen). So the question we have to vote on truly means nothing. It is similar to voting on if we agree with the Wisconsin Badgers seeding in the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney. We know they will get there but we do not know any other specifics.
As County Executive candidate Scott Mcdonell points out:
It has nothing to do with the Regional Transit Authority. A “yes” vote does not mean rail will be built, and a “no” vote doesn’t mean it won’t be built. They’re playing games with your vote.
In the future, voters will face a real choice on whether and how to support a full suite of real transit solutions that could include regional buses, express buses, commuter rail, special transit for the elderly and people with disabilities, and other options.
But they don’t want you to know that. They want to pass this fake referendum and then point at it and say, “See, told ya so, people don’t want commuter rail.”
The fact is, no one has proposed using a half-percent sales tax to fund commuter rail by itself. And no one really wants that to happen.
So, we finally arrive at the proposed referendum before the Monona council. The proposed referendum does not ask whether the voters think commuter rail is a good idea, as former alder Dale Suslick’s letter to the editor states.
Put in those terms, the proposed referendum really asks whether commuter rail is the only idea. The RTA can raise the sales tax by a maximum of a half-cent. The referendum asks if we want to spend all of it on a commuter train.
Here’s the actual proposed question:
“Shall commuter rail from the City of Middleton to the Town of Burke be funded by a half-cent (0.5%) increase in the sales tax?”
If you wanted to know whether voters want commuter rail, you could just ask them that exact question:
Do you want commuter rail?
Or you could ask, Should the RTA spend any money on commuter rail?
Or, Should the RTA spend part of the sales tax on trains and part on buses?
Or, Should the RTA spend part of the sales tax on trains and part on buses and part on park and ride lots and part on bike paths?
Of course, it is hard to decide what the right question is, let alone the right answer, before the RTA produces its transit plan.
So, another real question is why do the political leaders who are pushing this referendum want to have a referendum before it is ready for decision?
If we had such a half-baked question brought before the council on any run-of-the-mill, non-political item, it would be tossed back to committee for further development.
With some far right politicos playing politics with our ballot(no wonder they are in the minority in Dane County), I say the only option is to leave the referendum blank. It is set up for everyone to vote NO despite the fact that it really is toothless and means nothing. A YES vote will not bring commuter rail to dane county anymore than a NO vote will end it. Leave it blank and send the message that people do not want to play their political games.
My suggestion is leave the referendum blank! VOTE on all other races on the ballot but, those in Dane County, leave this referendum blank