I was amazed to read The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial “Closer Chicago Ties” supporting rail service and revealing claims that the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) raised its parochial head and surreptitiously proposed a plan to Scott Walker to spend $450 to $500 million of the railroad stimulus money for upgrades on the Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha route in lieu of the full Madison – Milwaukee – Chicago Hiawatha expansion plan. Their hypocrisy in not supporting the Madison – Milwaukee – Chicago route upgrade is amazing given the constant refrain that Milwaukee and Madison businesses and educational institutions should be working more closely together. The editorial should have said “Closer Madison Ties” or “Closer Wisconsin Ties” and it should have said that the MMAC was pushing Walker to support high speed rail between Madison and Milwaukee and Chicago. The Chamber showed a lack of business and economic development leadership when it hid behind the coat tails of their predominantly GOP members and gave the Governor the political coverage to dump the Madison to Milwaukee to Chicago high speed rail funds as political theater and sop for his right wing supporters. That they now are yet again calling for the Governor to seek Federal funding for improving the Milwaukee to Chicago service is amazingly hypocritical and parochial.
Why weren’t they touting the Madison to Milwaukee to Chicago Hiawatha rail service as anyone with half a brain and understanding of basic economics and economic development would have? Does the MMAC not understand that the output of the knowledge center in Madison connected with the knowledge and production resources in Milwaukee (yes even in Scott Walker’s conservative base in Waukesha County) would have been enhanced if they had supported the complete rail system that had received Federal funding? Scott Walker’s administration and his GOP colleagues plans to give away money to businesses with no resulting jobs increases, while increasing the state’s structural deficit, shows what a red herring the claim of deficit reduction was as a reason to not support the high speed railroad between Madison – Milwaukee – Chicago and eventually Minneapolis.