Friday, February 18, 2011
In Wisconsin, the state's 14 Democratic senators left the state on Thursday in an attempt to stall a vote that would strip state workers of their bargaining right. There are 19 Senators in the Republican majority, but they need at least 20 for a quorum. Throughout the week, tens of thousands of state employees, including teachers and prison workers, have protested at the State Capitol in Madison, camping out in the building through the night and marching during the day.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Amid a veritable thunderstorm of union opposition to a bill proposed by Gov. Scott Walker, the 14 Democrats in the Wisconsin State Senate have gone off the grid in a ploy to avoid a vote on a Republican-backed budget plan that would strip most public employees of their collective-bargaining rights.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Teachers and other state workers in Wisconsin are rallying at the State Capitol in Madison this week over a bill that would remove the unions' rights to collectively bargain over health care and pension benefits. The bill, proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker, would also mean a roughly eight percent wage cut for 176,000 government workers, who would have to pay more for health care and pension contributions. Republicans hold the majority in both the state's Senate and Assembly — but it is yet unclear whether Walker will be able to secure the vote. Wisconsin was the first state to write collective bargaining laws for state employees and is the birthplace of the national union for non-federal public employees.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Remarks of President Barack Obama at Orion Energy Systems – As Prepared for Delivery
Let me begin by clearing something up. I have not come to Packer Country because I lost a bet. Sunday was a tough day to be a Bears fan. But even if it didn’t go the way I wanted, I’m glad we got to see one of the greatest rivalries in sports go another round. And so, in the spirit of sportsmanship, let me just say this: congratulations, and good luck in the Super Bowl.
Last night, I gave a speech some of you may have seen. And what I said was, in this new and challenging time, when America is facing tougher competition from countries around the world than ever before, we’re going to need to up our game. We’re going to need to go all in. We’re going to need to get serious about winning the future.
In the words of the man the Super Bowl trophy is named after: “There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place.”
That’s the kind of determination to win that America needs to show right now. That means making sure that all of our children are getting the best education possible – not only because we need to give every child a chance to fulfill her God-given potential, but because we need to make sure American workers can go head-to-head with every other country on Earth.
It means making sure our infrastructure can meet the demands of the 21st Century by rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and connecting America and the American people with high-speed rail and high-speed Internet.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) It caught our eye that -- a day after proposing a vast increase in high speed rail -- President Obama is heading to Wisconsin today, the state where the Governor won on a platform of no high speed rail. Coincidence? Mild Rebuke? Your thoughts, please.
Here's the press release:
President Obama – White House to Main Street Tour, Manitowoc, Wisconsin on Wednesday:
On Wednesday, January 26, 2011, President Barack Obama will take the “White House to Main Street Tour” to Manitowoc, WI, where he will continue his conversation with American families and workers about rebuilding an economy that ensures America’s long-term economic competitiveness and guarantees that America and its people continue to lead in the future.
The President will tour Orion Energy Systems, a power technology company that designs, manufactures and deploys energy efficiency and renewable energy technology for commercial and industrial business, and deliver remarks on the economy to employees. In 2004, Orion shifted their manufacturing operations to Manitowoc, WI where they now employ over 250 employees and anticipate growing to more than 300 employees by the end of 2011.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Szabo "This is a state driven program -- it's up to the states to determine what their vision is. The population will be 70 million more people in the next 25 years...how do you plan to move ‘em? The dollars are so hotly competitive that if one or two states decide this isn’t a part of a vision there are dozens of states that have decided it is part of their vision….At this point there’s enough work to be done to build out that midwest plan…Illinois is moving forward, Michigan is moving forward, the plan is going forward to build Chicago to Milwaukee. Others will clearly be clamouring for their leg."
Adds Roy Keinetz: "Don’t confuse the short term with the long term.”
Monday, December 20, 2010
California's High-Speed Rail Authority approved matching funds to the latest round of federal money the state has received. That means the state will match the $616 million slated for California after Ohio and Wisconsin turned it down. With the new federal money and now matching funds, California has $5.5 billion available to begin construction on the high-speed rail project to connect Los Angeles with San Fransisco.
Here's the full press release from California High-Speed Rail Authority:
HIGH-SPEED RAIL AUTHORITY APPROVES STATE MATCHING FUNDS TO EXTEND BACKBONE OF STATEWIDE SYSTEM
SACRAMENTO – Moving quickly to take advantage of $616 million in new federal funding, the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board voted unanimously today to approve committing state matching funds to extend construction of the initial Central Valley backbone of the statewide system south to Bakersfield.
The new federal funds – which were redistributed from other states that returned federal high-speed rail support – will now be coupled with state matching dollars, bringing the total available funds to begin construction to $5.5 billion. The new total will allow engineers to significantly extend initial construction, potentially building as many as 120 miles of the project’s 520-mile first phase, and incorporate the Valley’s largest urban centers: Bakersfield and Fresno.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
By Casey Miner
(San Francisco–-Casey Miner, KALW News) Earlier today we reported that the Department of Transportation re-allocated $1.2 billion in high-speed rail money rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin. The largest share of the liberated funding is headed to California. Now officials at the DOT have given us a few more details on how that $654 million in new high-speed rail funds is meant to be spent.
The bulk, $616 million, will go towards extending the first segment of the rail system all the way to Bakersfield, instead of terminating it in Corcoran as was originally planned. The rest of the money will go to Caltrans to improve existing rail transit.
The feds are also asking California to match the $616 million with its own bond funds; rail Authority spokeswoman Rachel Wall said that outlay will still have to be approved by the Authority board. We'll have more on this as the situation develops.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Newly-elected governors in both those states have said “no thanks” to nearly $1.2 billion in stimulus money targeted toward high-speed rail projects. So the Department of Transportation now says the money goes to states that are interested, the bulk of foregone money going to existing projects already begun in California and Florida. Full DOT release here.
DOT also says its opening discussions with Wisconsin and Ohio officials on how and when they’ll pay back federal high-speed rail money they’ve already spent. Similar negotiations with New Jersey over a cancelled rail tunnel are getting litigious and may prove to be an example for Wisconsin and Ohio.
Wisconsin gets to hold on to up to $2 million—o.oo25 percent of the original amount—for its Hiawatha line. Wisconsin also faces the potential of a further economic hit as Spanish rail manufacturer, Talgo, has said they may move out of Wisconsin taking 40 existing jobs and 85 additional planned jobs. Those jobs would go to another state if they chose to contract Talgo for train manufacturing with a contract that requires in state production. Job creation is part of why so many states vied for the passed up money from the Midwest.
“I am pleased that so many other states are enthusiastic about the additional support they are receiving to help bring America’s high-speed rail network to life,” DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
LaHood had it about right. Florida stands to gain $342.3 million in the deal, and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), could barely contain himself in a Thursday afternoon tweet. “Looks like Santa's trading in his sleigh for a bullet train,” Nelson wrote.
Here’s a breakdown of how Wisconsin’s and Ohio’s $1.2 billion will be spread a round, according to DOT:
- California: up to $624 million
- Florida: up to $342.3 million
- Washington State: up to $161.5 million
- Illinois: up to $42.3 million
- New York: up to $7.3 million
- Maine: up to $3.3 million
- Massachusetts: up to $2.8 million
- Vermont: up to $2.7 million
- Missouri up to $2.2 million
- Wisconsin: up to $2 million for the Hiawatha line
- Oregon: up to $1.6 million
- North Carolina: up to $1.5 million
- Iowa: up to $309,080
- Indiana: up to $364,980
Thursday, December 09, 2010
From the US DOT: (analysis coming)
U.S. Department of Transportation Redirects $1.195 Billion in High-Speed Rail Funds
WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that $1.195 billion in high-speed rail funds originally designated for Wisconsin and Ohio will be redirected to other states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors across the United States. Wisconsin has suspended work under its existing high-speed rail agreement and the incoming Governors in Wisconsin and Ohio have both indicated that they will not move forward to use high-speed rail money received under the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As a result, $1.195 billion will be redirected to high-speed rail projects already underway in other states.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Last week Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, an adamant rail supporter, suddenly stopped all work on his state's high speed rail projects. He did it because Governor-elect Scott Walker has said he plans to kill the $800+ million dollar project citing cost concerns.
Here's Governor Doyle's explanation for shutting down the rail projects he fought so hard for. It's as bittersweet as you can get in a press release. (Double click on the image and you should be able to see it full size)
Friday, November 05, 2010
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Contractors in Wisconsin received a one line email telling them to stop work on high-speed rail construction. This came after rail-opponent, Republican Scott Walker won the governorship on Tuesday. But it was sitting governor and rail-supporter Jim Doyle's administration that made the call to halt progress now.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation issued the orders saying the stoppage is "just for a few days," though the Journal-Sentinel is reporting that some contractors have already initiated some layoffs as a result. Sadly, that may be the point. DOT Chief Frank Busalacchi said in a written statement this is "to assess the real-world consequences, including the immediate impacts to people and their livelihoods, if this project were to be stopped." Already, a locally-based but foreign-owned train maker Talgo Inc. has said it might not stay in the area if the project is scrapped.
Governor-elect Walker has been an adamant opponent of the project even though construction would be 100 percent funded by federal dollars. The operating costs would fall on the State to pay. He doubts there is sufficient demand for the service and says Wisconsin just can't afford it.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) We've been closely watching the intersection of transportation and politics on this site. Here are a few races where transportation may affect the outcome, or where the outcome may affect transportation.
The race: Maryland Governor -- Repub. Bob Ehrlich, Dem. Martin O’Malley
What's at stake: It's a race of rail vs bus. The two candidates each support extending some form of public transit to the area of Maryland in the Washington D.C. suburbs. O'Malley wants the proposed Purple Line while Erlich prefers a bus plan. Maryland is a deep blue state, so Ehrlich's chances aren't great. But O'Malley isn't hugely popular and this is not a good year for Democrats nationwide, so an upset is always possible and the Purple Line hangs in the balance. (Read more.)
The race: 8th Congressional District, Minnesota -- Incumbent Dem. Jim Oberstar, Chair of House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Repub. Chip Cravaack
What's at stake: Congressional control. Oberstar is currently the Chair of the Congressional transportation committee. He's in charge of the purse strings on countless transportation and infrastructure projects around the nation. He's called for a massive transportation funding package that would be less likely to pass without a champion at the helm of transportation committee. Even if Oberstar holds on in this tighter-than-expected race, he may lose his chairmanship if Republicans take control of the House. The ranking member of the House Transportation Committee is Republican John Mica of Florida, who, like Oberstar, has been a champion of increased transportation funding and high speed rail. In fact, Mica and Oberstar have joined to assail the Obama administration for not making transportation spending a higher priority.
"I view this as the most critical jobs bill before Congress ... we're going to do it together, one way or another, come hell or high water," Mica said in 2009 of the transportation bill. But it's unclear how Mica would hew to this agenda with a much more conservative, less spending-friendly congress. (Read more from MPR)
The race: Ohio Governor -- Incumbent Dem. Ted Strickland, Repub. John Kasich
What's at stake: High speed rail spending. Kasich has proposed repurposing the
Friday, October 22, 2010
Russ Feingold has represented Wisconsin in Congress over the last three decades, and has been the Badger State's senator since 1993. Known as a highly principled politician, Feingold has broken with his fellow Democrats by voting against legislation like financial reform and being the lone vote against the USA PATRIOT Act. But perhaps he's best known for a campaign finance reform law that bares his name, McCain-Feingold. That law, which banned "soft money," or unregulated contributions, from elections was struck down earlier this year by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case.
But this fall, this longtime incumbent faces the toughest re-election bid of his career. Feingold has been overtaken in the polls by the self-funded political newcomer and millionaire, Ron Johnson.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Is the way supporters got to Glenn Beck rally hypocritical? ("Politics and World News" blog)
No cash for clunkers: Fewer discounts, incentives for car buyers this fall (AP)
Rendell, not content to boss around PA legislators, says Congress should pass Surface Transportation Bill before midterms (The Hill)
Rail funds feature prominently in Wisconsin gubernatorial debate (Journal-Sentinel)
"Revolt" over speed in high-speed rail plans for Midwest among legislators (Chicago Tribune)
Thursday, August 19, 2010
(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation) You won’t find a clearer policy statement than the domain name for NoTrain.com. The web site was created on behalf of Scott Walker, the republican gubernatorial candidate in Wisconsin, who in a new campaign spot takes a stand against a proposed Madison-to-Milwaukee rail line. Rather than build the $810 million dollar federally-funded “boondoggle,” Walker says, he’d like to “fix Wisconsin’s crumbling roads and bridges.” He’s worried for the “hard-working families who are going to pick up the tab” for a train they may never ride.
The undercurrents are of states rights and fiscal responsibility. The television ad and the open letter that appear on the web site are directed not so much against Walker’s Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (who supports the rail plan), but against President Barack Obama, who won the state of Wisconsin two years ago by nearly fourteen percent.
Walker isn’t the only Republican gubernatorial hopeful employing the roads-vs-rail rivalry in a state that voted for Obama. California nominee Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO, has complained that issuing bond debt for high speed rail is unwise in the current economy. She wants the plans put on ice. In Ohio, candidate John Kasich has proposed repurposing the $400 million in stimulus money set aside for faster trains serving Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati, and using that money for roads. And in Maryland, Republican challenger Bob Erlich has taken issue with Governor Martin O’Malley’s goal to “dial up mass transit.” Erlich says he wants to see a better balance of highway and transit projects, and has suggested that a number of commuter rail projects be converted to a bus program.
The party is not monolithic against rail.
TN Moving Stories: Student Athletes WON'T have to pay up, self-service airport scanners, and cell service to hit NYC subways.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Oregon transit takes away parking spaces from crowded park and ride garage -- and puts in 74 biking parking spots. Look at it this way, officials say: you haven't lost eight spots --you've gained 74 bike spots! (Oregon live)
Los Angeles Schools Chief, in reversal, says school athletes will NOT have to pay $24 towards transportation to sporting events. He'll find "other financial options" to foot the $650,000 bill. Good luck! (Los Angeles Times)
LaHood, Wisconisin Governor Doyle, get ready for "big announcement" on High Speed Rail Thursday. (Business Week).
The phone will be ringing off the hook: New York subway tunnels will also get wifi. (New York Daily News)
Self service "subway-style" scanners being tested at Houston airport. Bloomberg
Suburban Nassau county sues NYC MTA for bus funding. MTA says Nassau has been a deadbeat for a decade, Nassau says too bad, we're broke! Buses could go private. (Long Island Press)
And crosswalks lights from around the world art installation graces Lower Manhattan construction zone: (jaunted.com)
Saturday, April 03, 2004
Jennifer Angus makes art installations in which the walls look like fancy wallpaper. But when you get close, you see that the patterns are formed by dragon flies and beetles. She pins insects to walls by the thousand, arranging them in repeating patterns. Producer Sesh Kannan talked with Angus ...
Saturday, June 14, 2003
The Kohler Factory in Sheboygan Wisconsin makes toilets and sinks, but the company has a surprising motto, that quotes the 19th century art critic John Ruskin: "Life without labor is guilt. Life without art is brutality." Kohler runs an artists-in-residency program, and Studio 360 sent Hillary Frank ...