Choo-Choo Gate Stops Railroad Magnate in His Tracks. But not Scott Walker

bill gardner railroad magnate and executive now felon
To Bill: I think you can't, I think you can't, I think you can't.....


Well, here’s the quick and dirty: Railroad owner concocts scheme to pressure employees to donate to Scott Walker campaign. Was getting away with it over two Scott Walker campaigns for governor, but then he ticks off his girlfriend and she tells the G.A.B. everything.

That’s great. Where I want more: He’s not going to prison. And, G.A.B. is not getting the dirt on Walker here. Why might there be some more to discover?

Millions in rail grants to come for Gardner’s lines is a great and obvious answer-the State of Wisconsin can take over several lines, giving the railroad grant $, and thus the private company does not have to operate its own infrastructure.

But, I’m guessing there is an even bigger fish to fry if we poke into the high speed rail plans days passed.  I have no idea why I think like this! I mean, Walker was just doing his duty, standing on the Capitol square 1 day after election to say for about the thousandth time he’d kill it dead. Harranging  Jim Doyle to kill high speed rail track that would bring $890 million all told to Wisconsin, and jobs ranging in estimates from  a low 5,000 to at least double that if ancillary business dev’t were included!

*sigh* But back to the already tasty morsel of current millions to be had for Mr. Gardner, from the criminal investigation: “the company stands to gain substantially from a possible deal with the state to buy 50 miles of track between Madison and Reedsburg, and another 20 miles of track in Madison. Under the deal, the state would take ownership of the tracks, and Wisconsin & Southern would operate them, making the company eligible for more FRPP grant money, including potentially between $35 million and $60 million to rebuild the Merrimac Rail Bridge”

“Wisconsin & Southern’s chief financial officer told investigators that the revenue from the state is “essential” to the operation of the railroad, and the company employs a government liaison charged with lobbying federal and state agencies for “railroad-friendly legislation” and increased funding for track and rail line structure upgrades.”

So it would’ve gone ducky if the railroad owner didn’t make his girlfriend mad. She tells the Government Accountability board – at first not naming the railroad owner. G.A.B. figures it out.

Today the Milwaukee DA and the G.A.B. are falling all over themselves to say how friendly railroad owner Gardner is. How cooperative!

Slowwww down. Look at the order of events:

— the future felon Gardner proceeded to press employees for donations even after his old gal pal said she’d gone to the G.A.B. about him

–about 1 month later than her tell-all, the G.A.B. starts an investigation

–about 1 week after that Gardner publically disclosed his campaign finance law violations– May 18, 2010

— about that time Walker returned to Gardner more than $40,000 in campaign donations

Nottttt so cooperative seeming. Looks more like he saw the writing on the wall.

OK. Here’s the commentary-free portion:

John Chisholm, DA of Milwaukee County and Keven Kennedy, Continue reading

Grab bag of blogging: If the bumper sticker bleeds, it leads | Wisconsin union-busting theories | Team Scooter | Elizabeth Warren

Republican State Representative Robin Vos thinks this bumper sticker image of Scott Walker with a train flying through his head is “indecent”(the first sticker design was more gross. Check it out.). WPR’s Joy Cardin will chat about the Democratic-sponsored sticker and more on her radio program’s 8-9am tomorrow,  Friday 12/31.

In good taste or not, this sticker is “sticky”: I’ve seen it crop up on facebook, in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and I’ve heard about it on the radio. If you click on the image, you can get your own and make it sticky on your car’s bumper. The Wisconsin Democrat website link to this sticker is no longer functioning as of 12/31/10. But here’s a similarly themed sticker from an independent artist!

Union Boogey Man. Quick fact for ya!: Wisconsin ranks 43rd in the number of  state employees per resident.

So I was wondering why our state employees pose such a vast threat for Scott Walker and Wisconsin.  A few theories:

A. Scott Walker wants to bankrupt Wisconsin to kill unions and privatize that workforce. From a Nov. 11 Newt Gingrich speech:I also hope the House Republicans are going to move a bill in the first month or so of their tenure to create a venue for state need to sit down with all your government employee unions and look at their health plans and their pension plans and frankly if they don’t want to change, our recommendation is you go into bankruptcy court.”

B. Unions are a strong political and funding force of “The Left”

C. Union wages bring up wages for all workers, and Walker’s business friends don’t like that. According to the Sunshine Review, the average national hourly wage of public employees last year—$39.66—was 45 percent more than the average hourly wage of $27.42 paid in the private sector [Note-I think that’s skewed high since it includes Federal employees]

D. Wisconsin may have a disaster brewing in its Employee Trust Fund.  Experts like Mike Shedlock say the fund is dangerously over-leveraged. He says fund managers did it to come up with 8% returns:a profit out of sync with the market reality. ETFs are also predicted to have their turn at a bubble. The state will either outright fail baby-boomer retirees or fulfill obligations through unpopular tax hikes or some portion of both.

Cathy Stepp at a Racine tax protest. She threw in a shot at President Obama for regulating carbon dioxide emissions. "My own breath will be regulated?" she asked.

There is no “I” in TEAM. Here comes Scott walker’s staff and heads of departments. How about this comment on the new DNR chief:  “Putting Cathy Stepp in charge of the DNR is like putting Lindsay Lohan in charge of a rehab center,” said Brett Hulsey, an incoming Democratic state representative from Madison. …Stepp said Thursday that her past criticisms of the agency should not affect morale at the agency.

Well, it’s nice she cares about morale.

I see that welfare-to-work reformer Eloise Anderson is back again to work as Department of Children and Families. Under Governor Tommy Thompson she was Administrator of the division of Community Services 1988 – 1992. She said in 1996 about the welfare reforms of that year: “By emphasizing work, welfare reform will lead to cooperation between a father and a mother, and create an interdependence for the well-being of the children, which will lead to cultural mainstreaming and stronger families”

I wonder how Eloise’s worky mainstreamy stuff worked out for families [distorting a Palinism there]. My first reaction is “Dear Eloise: The economy is not as good as when you peeled people off the welfare rolls in times past. Proceed with caution.”

Elizabeth Warren: A woman to watch. I do love a good industry watchdog. Don’t you? She’s the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau designed to in Warren’s words, “be a new cop on the beat that will end big loopholes in the regulatory system [on financiers and bankers]” I know she’s not out of the woods yet. Last we knew her boss Timothy Geithner hated her. Maybe it’s because when she had the chance, she grilled him quite mercilessly on the sloppy bank bailouts:

Are you a fan of Elizabeth Warren yet? If you’re up for it, 1 more 4 minute video of Elizabeth on how we need to regulate loans to favor the consumer HERE.

Grab bag of blogging: Talgo rejection a mystery | Deregulation looms | Walker is a grabby guy | Wisconsin now has its first Latina legislator

Why the Milwaukee business community did not work harder to keep train builder Talgo and high-speed rail is still a mystery to me. I read all the excuses tossed out in this Politifact piece. I can see no valid reasons so I surmise that it’s spinelessness at work.  Tim Sheehy, President of Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce said that a vote amongst MMAC members was 50/50 on whether they’d fight for Talgo or not.

Deregulate us into “Success”? So instead of saying Wisconsin is “open for business” by building a high-speed rail that would add 9,000 jobs and take 500,000 cars off of the road [which would be rather handy when gasoline hits $5/gallon in 2012], Scott Walker wants to generate business by removing business regulation in Wisconsin.

When I was a kid, we lived downstream from the local soap factory that released enough soap to float 5 foot tall soap suds down a trout stream. Not just once. It wasn’t a trout stream after that. So that’s what I think of when I hear “deregulation”. He’s calling a “special session” next week.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel comes out of its fog?: “Power grab” This paper which handled Mr. Walker with kid gloves while he was saying he would kill our train, and which endorsed the failed Milwaukee County Executive in a state election, says his demand to approve all state rules, “does have all the earmarks of a power grab. Walker is not only asking the Legislature to cede him power, he is asking it to expand his powers over other elected constitutional officers and their departments”.

Scott Walker is as full of crap today as he was the day he sent $800 million dollars of our high-speed rail money packing. I don’t care what you tell your elected officials about it, but say something (please). Start here: Who are my legislators? After that, RSVP on facebook for two January 3rd events: a 10AM protest of his inauguration and a 7PM Rock the Pantry party.

Wisconsin’s First Latina Legislator. On January 3rd, JoCasta Zamarripa will become Wisconsin’s first Latina to serve in Wisconsin’s state legislature! She will represent the 8th Assembly District on Milwaukee’s south side. Zamarripa is the oldest of four children who was raised by a single mom who worked in food service and restaurants all her life.

Up for a campaign, anybody? Looks like half of Madison’s incumbents for city council will run uncontested & the two school board incumbents have no competition. These posts call on the elected to attend long meetings and catch flack for school & city problems. Perhaps even “communications missteps” caused by School Superintendent Nerad. January 4th is a key deadline to file paperwork to run. Interested? Contact Madison’s city clerk.

Recyclers in Madison-hang onto that styrofoam-Madison has found a local company which will recycle your styrofoam. There will be a Saturday collection day end of January or beginning of February. More info HERE.

Right next to Yale: Driving while Hispanic I stayed in New Haven for 10 days-the home of Yale. And right next door is the town of East Haven. Where an FBI probe will look into systematic harassment of Hispanics by local police. Reported incidents include all out-of-state license plated vehicles being towed from an Ecuadorian restaurant, and multiple reports of literally not being able to cross the town without being stopped if you’re Hispanic.

Snowpocolypse done! We flew out of Hartford,CT with zero hassles yesterday. But over the weekend, at least 60 vehicles and 1 bus full of passengers were stranded for hours on New Jersey highways. I heard about a solution: in the Dakotas, they put  gates across highway on-ramps when it snows hard to avoid this type of thing. Brilliant idea!

Millions yanked away from a Wisconsin fool by a man with a spine: Ray LaHood

Image from lupinoduck of flickr

High-speed rail money “taken”? Removed as an act of “political retribution”?  Some say tomato and others, tomaaato. I offer one more verb: “yanked”. Progressives, it is a different day, same shit. Your opposition makes things up. Thusly, why not “yanked”? And yanked by a man showing some spine. My tweet last Friday:

@bluecheddar1 Note to the Obama Administration: pay attention to the spine implant over at the DOT @RayLaHood #hsr

Let’s recap quickly: Mr. Walker campaigned trash-talking the high-speed rail project. He rolled out of bed every day muttering “boondoggle”.  And he believed – or lied – that he was an alchemist who could turn a federal grant for a train into 1 for roads.

Showing diplomatic flare, Walker gave the I-kill-trains press conference 1 day after election. Moderates figured out this guy is 100% bat-smack f’real (I guess that’s what Doyle saw, too) and a “Save the Train” movement kicked up.

In November, Madison’s Mayor Dave waited for Mr. Walker’s schedule to open up. Seeing Mr. Walker too busy to call back, by December 7th, Mayor Dave got in front of his own cameras to tell Walker to serve the entire state, not just talk radio buddies. Over 650 people stopped by, too! [Not all but most showing support for the train.] We also saw the biz  community shuffle forward and everrrr so slowly break out into a full run to catch that train money. But too late. Trains run on time[federal grants have deadlines.] During this time, Walker stuck to his talking point: The train is dead.

You may recall that unemployment in America is close to 9.8% officially, 17% unofficially.

That $810 million in recovery money was getting dusty while people need jobs. Why not give people the gift of jobs somewhere else in America? Maybe somewhere where they’ll just use it for its intended purpose without argument!

Thus the money was prudently “yanked” by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

And as for Republican voters in Wisconsin? You’ve been bamboozled by Walker. And sadly, the whole population got screwed.

[Don’t like my verbs? Comment. ]

A wake for Wisconsin’s high-speed rail: B. Krupinski of

I’m just going to post a series of high-speed rail nuggets here. Part of my wake for our dead beloved train that never was.

Look what I found in my in-box! This came from B. Krupinski of