Friday, November 12, 2010

An Open Letter to Governor-elect Scott Walker

I wrote the following letter to Scott Walker, the governor-elect for the state of Wisconsin:

Dear Governor-Elect Scott Walker:

When I first heard about the proposed rail line between Milwaukee and Madison, I was pretty excited. As a Madison native who also has ties to Milwaukee, I knew that I would frequent the train several times a year as a passenger. I could visit friends, go to a few Brewers' or Bucks' games, take my son to various museums and events, and maybe even enroll in a once-a-week class through my Alma Matter, UW-Milwaukee.

My trips to Wisconsin's largest city would no longer be constrained by time restraints -- it would be as easy as hopping on a train and getting there without the hassle of preparing for a semi-lengthy car trip (no gas to purchase, no lunches to pack, etc.). I also learned the project might eventually tie Milwaukee and Madison up to the Twin Cities area, making it easier to visit family I have there as well (no more six hour mind-numbing car rides -- my family and I could relax on the train, read a book, and have very little to worry about).

As I looked beyond the impact that the rail line would have on my life, I began to realize that this project was more than a convenience for myself but also an investment in Wisconsin. The federal government established this project because it felt Wisconsin could capitalize from it -- jobs to create the rail line would number in the thousands, revenue from those jobs would be injected into the state, and commercial interests would develop around the rail, especially at the various stops the train might have made.

It was a shock to me when I read about how Gov. Doyle had ceased work on the project, citing his soon-to-be-replacement governor's insistence that it be canceled. I further read how you wish the money could be spent elsewhere, on Wisconsin's crumbling roads, and how the dollar amount for other projects the state was facing would number in the billions.

While I agree with you that our infrastructure needs require attention from all levels of government, passing up this opportunity would be a grave mistake. The project is going to happen, but whether it happens in Wisconsin or not is up to you and your incoming Republican legislature.

The future of our state is in your hands, Mr. Walker; and while I didn't vote for you myself, I am pleading with you, as my new governor, to make the right choice. Don't let thousands of jobs and potentially millions of dollars in revenue leave our state, go south of the border to Illinois or elsewhere in our country.

I don't view you as a villain, Mr. Walker -- I believe that you truly care about Wisconsin, and though we may disagree on some issues, I know your heart is in the right place. Thank you for your consideration, and may you make your decision with clarity and rational judgment.

Sincerely yours,
Chris Walker


  1. Well said, Chris! - Sommer

  2. If this project gets cancelled and we decline the money, WI will look like absolute rubes! $10 million a year on maintenance is nothing in the big picture of a state budget. Besides, there are economic benefits right now, and in the future. It's a win-win. When you are scared of the future, you doom yourself to the past.

  3. Rail helped build Wisconsin after statehood. Rail could help build Wisconsin into the 21st century. The governor needs to decide if short-term political gain for his base is worth stalling the State's forward momentum.

  4. Thanks for your public support of passenger trains at this critical time.

    You say: "I also learned the project might eventually tie Milwaukee and Madison up to the Twin Cities area..."

    Actually, it's much more than that. When (and now if) the first train leaves Madison in 2013, you'd be able to travel by train to 1,000 spots on the map throughout the U.S. and Canada! That's how many locations Amtrak and Via Rail in Canada serve today.

  5. Well, we should spend a billion plus dollars so you can go to your ball games...

  6. Really, you and your son would spend $88-$132 to go to museums and various events?


    With three trips in the AM and three in the afternoon, you'd be hard pressed to use the train to go to sporting events.

    You would spend $44-66 a day to commute to class?


    It's time to get real. This train would be used by such a small fraction of a percentile of the citizens of Wisconsin, that it's wrong to even call it a public works project.

    People's evaluation of the Milwaukee-Madison train line should be based on reality, not emotion.

    The short and long term costs of this boondoggle are too high, even in good times.

  7. Rubed? T-Potty Scotty Walker? Impossible . . .

    A good Baptist rubed? Come on . . .

    Son of a preacher? Don't believe it . . .

    Who as state rep from Wauwatosa voted for these outrageous state labor contracts he now repudiates? Perish the thought . . .

    Just like he's going to add 250,000 jobs.