April 29, 2009

Eight reasons Lehman is wrong on KRM

Sen. John Lehman looks ready to play the KRM spoiler role this week by voting against Gov. Jim Doyle's proposal to create a regional transit authority to pay for commuter rail and local bus systems. Here's his quote in the JS:
"I'm not sure many people around the state realize the aversion to sales taxes there is in Racine County," Lehman said, adding that people are still mad about "that little one-tenth of one percent of a sales tax for Miller Park."
Here are 8 reasons why Lehman's assessment is wrong:

1. The RTA isn't a multi-million corporation that pays its employees millions of dollars to play a game many people could care less about.

2. The proposed RTA isn't located in western Milwaukee County. KRM would stop in Racine and Caledonia, and Racine's bus system would get needed money.

3. Racine and Caledonia would actually gain economic benefit from the RTA. Racine County was included in the Miller Park stadium tax with the dubious claim that Brewer fans would stay in the county. KRM stations would generated development.

4. George Petak made a back room deal in the middle of the night to flip his support in favor of the Miller Park stadium tax. That's what made people angry.

5. The RTA's sales tax could be used to offset local property taxes - not a professional sports stadium.

6. Lehman's political base is in Racine, not western Racine County. He shouldn't take his base for granted.

7. State Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, has already staked out the anti-KRM position. If Vos runs for Senate, Lehman has already lost the KRM issue.

8. Lehman's KRM stance is a failure to lead. That may cost him more at the polls than voting for KRM.


  1. Dustin – I agree with your intended pro sports evaluation in Reason #1. However, the rest of your list of reasons why Lehman is wrong is a joke.

    Reasons # 6 through 8 are purely political, noting the potential damage to Lehman. Sorry Dustin, but massaging the political future of John Lehman should not be one of them many hyped RTA promises. Reason # 4 may be correct but contributes nothing to the value of RTA. Reason #3, well, let’s just say that if Mr. Choi had used the RTA consultants (who the taxpayers have paid over $1,000,000 to this point for creating estimates and marketing/lobbying) to run the numbers for his 6th Street convenience store, the city would have had an estimated $10,000,000 per day in taxes collected from his business. By the way, using taxpayer money to lobby the legislature is absolutely7 illegal but no one seems to care. Reason #5 – the operative in this sentence is “could” but we all know it would be considered as window dressing only. As for Reason 2, did you complain about Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s rating bonds AAA when they had junk rolled into them? THIS is how that happened – hey, let’s pass this ridiculous idea and we’ll get more money for the buses we need.

  2. Editorial. Please label as such. Also, "Here [are] 8 reasons..."
    Otherwise, nice work.

  3. What happened to John Lehman? In the assembly, he was the conscience of the people. In the senate, everything seems to be political.

  4. The Translator4/29/2009 8:38 AM

    It is apparent to this writer that Dustin does not know hisAmerican history. If he did, or if he cared at all about American principals at all they would be against the RTA because it is government mandated taxation without representation, which goes against the moral fiber of every American citizen. His use of fuzzy math and worn out benefit lines are just an extension of the media mouthpiece of the media arm of the KRM. The KRM will not be the savior of Racine, even though your friend Jim Doyle says so. If you really care about revitalizing the business community of Racine you would be asking for tax reductions on new business developments and for Wisconsin to become a business magnet instead of a tax hell with too much crime and failing schools.

  5. Anon 8:12 - You're right about reasons 6-8, but it's part of Lehman's faulty logic. He's opposing the RTAs in hopes of getting re-elected, but it won't help him get re-elected.

  6. Thanks for catching the "are." I changed it in the story.

  7. Translator - You're right, KRM won't be Racine's "savior." But it will lead to new development in Racine and Kenosha, and whenever the federal government is willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in your city's infrastructure, local leaders should figure out a way to make it work.

  8. Couldn't agree with you more Dustin! KRM is such a great benefit to the community and I feel that its completely blind not to support it including with a sales tax. Also Translator-- take a look at current businesses in Racine, they're PRO-KRM.

  9. Lehman is a spineless hack. He slipped into the senate seat in a Democrat year and is worried about losing it to a Republican in 2010.

    He could vote for this and still win the seat back - the Repubs have only been able to dig up Van Wangaard to run for the seat. They could do better for sure.

  10. I can't believe I actually supported and voted for Lehman. Never again.

  11. If Lehman votes no then he should face a recall.

  12. please tell me about all the development around the Metra station in Kenosha (its been there how many years ??) Will KRM and Metra run on the same schedule ?? Metra is in financial trouble also.Will the High speed (110 mph-ha,ha)train stop in Racine too ?? or just fly by ?Who pays for it after the federal money is gone ??

  13. "But it will lead to new development in Racine and Kenosha,"

    Sorry will not happen KRM will not bring one more business to the City. I would suggest you look it to the records of who owns what around the station downtown.
    Your right about #4
    I dislike Lehman a lot nothing more then a hack for the Governor however on this he is right.
    I am tired of paying tax after tax.
    KRM will not have the ridership they clame and will need millions more just to keep running. Please remember that Metra everyone talks about is broke as is the Chicago transit system.NO SALES TAX NO KRM

  14. Racine is losing business and population putting yet another tax on us will only drive more of both out.
    In 5 years Racine will look just like Detroit few jobs fewer homeowners, who will be left to pay for all of this then?

  15. Translator, Colt and Others thanks for taking Dustin to task for this. I am one hundred percent behind Lehman on this..Creating a RTA district will result in Milwaukee getting better bus service, and Racine, Kenosha and potentially Waukesha will get LESS Bus services, Once this thing is built and it loses money like we all KNOW it will, the Sales tax will need to be raised, the BUS services reduced (Racine and Kenosha first), and after 1015 years it will be torn down or mothballed. The High Speed (110, LOL), line "The B&O (Barack&Obama) Express" will be built and MIGHT actually get riders because it WILL go to the Airport! WE have a system already, building a redundant system is...well...REDUNDANT.

    i went down to the KRM station yesterday to see all the new developement around it? A Police station, a jail, and an older church?? Insufficient parking, and the parking isn't Free.

    I know the Loop train connects nearby, but I have never seen more than 2-3 riders on that silly train.

    The Miller Park tax will expire soon, let's let Racine County be the one district that doesn't just find a new thing to replace that tax with.

    Jody Harding is opposed to the RTA and the KRM Write in her name May 5th and Stop this nonsense!

    And BTW Anon 8:53, Several Businesses in Racine are NOT pro-KRM, including mine! WE are Pro- Taxpayer, and Pro-Racine!

    If KRM made any sense someone else would build it! There are other options. Let's not waste 300 Million Dollars on this!

  16. Good for Lehman. A sales tax is not the way to fund this rail. He is right. We need to find another more reasonable way to fund it. We are rushing in to something and it will come back to bite those of us who will still be able to afford to live in Racine.

  17. I guess no one cares because the RTA mandated taxation without representation is being completely ignored. What part of the constitution is anyone concerned about?

  18. Why hasn't a private company come forward to run/manage the day to day operations of this train?

  19. Will it increase the supposed declining value of my house?

  20. Anon 12:29 - I keep asking the same question and no one even TRIES to answer. I would also like to know how all the TAXPAYER MONEY - almost a million dollars or even more now - was spent on Mueller and others to lobby the state and others, which is also clearly illegal.

  21. Rider Fare - $2.92

    Rider Cost - $28.00

    % loss 89.6

    Projected Ridership, $1.4 million, an average of 321 riders per train. A complete and overt ridiculously over-stated number.

    Additional costs to build new commercial rail line (not considered) - $50 million

    Stops at Mitchell Field - 0.

    This is an over-priced pipe dream. Our tax burden is already too high and the legislative fiscal bureau estimates this will cost $179 per household per year for the rest of our lives.

    KRM is not the solution, it is part of the problem.

    People think of this as some sort of panacea to fix Racine's ills.

    First go after a tax base that is already too high, fix schools and crime.

    Look at lower cost alternatives. We have coach service that KRM is duplicating. It has very low ridership, try and market that. All anyone ever considered here was the high cost solution.

    Taking more resources from the community right now is the absolute worst thing you could do.

  22. Anon 1:54 PM. It is worse that that, the current Tri-County Transit authority placed a $2 tax on rental cars.

    They raised $650,000 which they used to hire lobbists to lobby the legislature to raise taxes for transit.

    Yes, a tax to hire lobbyists to push for higher taxes.

  23. God I am so tired of feel good folks believing the spin put out by Media companies who are being paid to get the public to support KRM. If this gets build and no one rides who will take the blame? What will be done then more taxes for an area that is taxed to death? Force the public to ride? What?

  24. They should just call it the Bob Turner Railroad and get his union buddies to pay for it.

  25. I RARELY agree with Lehman. The simple fact that he is against a sales tax increase is at least something I can agree with.
    Racine Post - you are starting to sound like one of a million blogs. Are you an alternate to the JT, or just another blog?

  26. So let me get this straight.....

    If Lehman votes no, then all of these Jody Harding loving conservatives will be happy.

    In the process he will make most of his democratic base upset and angry. The same people that actually voted for him in the first place.

    He is then depending on the conservative right to rally to his side and get him re-elected when this whole thing blows up in his face.

    What is Lehman thinking? Did he read the Jody Harding best selling conservative book: "Hating your constituents and making them love you for it."

    Dustin - time for a new poll! Who hates Racine more? Jody Harding or John Lehman? It's a toss-up for me.....

  27. John Lehman has to do what we the voters want not what the media and some business people want. He is correct that sales taxes end political careers. A vote for funding KRM with a never ending sales tax will end his future election chances. This goes to prove that even former teachers can learn new lessons. George Petack's lesson has been learned. Well done John.

    Now take that lesson to the whole State budget.

  28. The 9th reason that Lehman is wrong is that Dustin and Pete want a cute train that others can pay for but they themselves will not ride much

  29. Anon 3:12 let go of your hate.

  30. StopthemadnessNOW4/29/2009 9:29 PM

    Very good analysis, Dustin. Sadly, Sen. Lehman isn't exhibiting any "Profiles in Courage" here.

    The irony in this is, Sen. Lehman could get his clock cleaned by Vos in '10 and residents of the City of Racine will REALLY be screwed just as they were during the term of Sen. Cathy (Do Nothing) Stepp.

  31. Wisconsin Coach Lines (Coach USA) currently provides bus service between Kenosha and Milwaukee. Do they get a government subsidy for providing this service? I would like to see more info on this.

  32. I want a list of names of the people who support KRM so they can pickup the tab when this thing fails (and we all know it will). All of the losses and expenses will be split evenly amongst those that are in favor of this madness. Those taxpayers not in favor of this will be exempt. Let's see how many people would support this BS if thats how the law was written!

  33. For those that seem to think taking the bus is as good as train, please STOP. Would I take the bus to Chicago? No, I wouldn't. Would I take the train? Yes, definitely. Love it.

    All forms of public transportation are not equal!

    As for "picking up the tab" - I guess we are all picking up the tab for keeping up the highways and interstate, adding more lanes, etc. I was not given a choice in the matter and I never hear anyone complaining about money being spent on roads. Why is that?

    If given a choice, I'd be much more willing to spend the extra money on train, rather than increasing the size of our interstates. Last I heard, our roads were not making money either, however, we all realize the importance of them. The same goes for train, it should be viewed in much the same way. All are equally as important.

  34. By the way, the train from here to Chicago on Metra has very high ridership numbers. Yes, people will use it.

  35. The discussions about taking the bus aren't about taking it to Chicago, they're about taking it between Milwaukee and Kenosha. Taking the bus between Milwaukee and Kenosha isn't as good as the train, it's BETTER. The Coach USA bus runs between the Milwaukee train station and the Kenosha train station, and you can get on or off just about ANYWHERE along the route. It even makes a quick loop through downtown Milwaukee to drop off and pick up passengers away from the depot. It practically follows the proposed KRM route and won't cost taxpayers millions of additional dollars to build and operate. Most of the people I know from riding the bus won't take the train, it's perceived as far less convenient.

  36. Considerable evidence from all the years of grousing against taxation have accomplished what for Racine?

    Companies moving away because they cannot hire capable workers, schools sending out more because education has been undermined by cost-cutters (including many kids without even a high school diploma), and more and more Racinians driving elsewhere to earn enough to pay routine bills.

    And, what is your response to plain evidence that cost-cutting by itself is not a cur-all? You demand more tax cuts.

    Now is long enough to look back and ask you to show the rest of us how cost-cutting has worked. Now is a good time to ask you: When will we begin seeing at least a little positive result?

    I think the answer is in Translator calling Wisconsin a "tax hell" and in Anon 5:06 PM urging Sen. Lehnman to impose that tax cut "lesson" on the statewide budget.

    The Tax Foundation ranks Wisconsin 12th in tax burden, comparable to Utah and Hawaii. Neither of them suffer anywhere near the problems of Racine, so blaming Gov. Doyle and the Legislature is a dodge. A blame-shift to avoid looking at the facts.

    Making a fresh demand on Sen. Lehman to take the tax cut "lesson" to the whole state budget is just changing the demand, just shifting a new demand in place of the earlier one. And, demanding wider use of it -- even though the evidence is clear that not enough tax cutting isn't what's holding back Racine.

    BTW, Translator, your flag lapel pin is not sitting there squarely.

  37. Anon 12:05/12:07

    Then drive the TWENTY MINUTES from Racine to the station in Kenosha, park for $1.50 and get on the train. How far will you have to drive to get on the train in Racine when they build it? One of the many ridiculous notions about KRM is that people in Racine will be able to live without their cars.

    And by the way, I take Metra to Chicago often so I would benefit directly from a train station in Racine. However, I am one of those selfish naysayers who thinks cash like this should be spent on something more worthy than Mueller “consulting”, lobbying state legislators, travelling to choo choo conferences, and the drooling friends and family bids to construction and hauling gigs.

  38. 12:7 can you gives a link to your information please.

  39. "The Tax Foundation ranks Wisconsin 12th in tax burden, comparable to Utah and Hawaii. Neither of them suffer anywhere near the problems of Racine, so blaming Gov. Doyle and the Legislature is a dodge. A blame-shift to avoid looking at the facts.

    Making a fresh demand on Sen. Lehman to take the tax cut "lesson" to the whole state budget is just changing the demand, just shifting a new demand in place of the earlier one. And, demanding wider use of it -- even though the evidence is clear that not enough tax cutting isn't what's holding back Racine"

    Then what is holding back Racine? We need more taxes for more failed programs? If only we spend more... Tell us

  40. Very interesting......

    From the Wisconsin stutes:

    77.705 Adoption by resolution; baseball park district. A local professional baseball park district created under subch. III
    of ch. 229, by resolution under s. 229.68 (15), may impose a sales
    tax and a use tax under this subchapter at a rate of no more than
    0.1% of the sales price or purchase price. Those taxes may be
    imposed only in their entirety. The resolution shall be effective on
    the first January 1, April 1, July 1, or October 1 that begins at least
    120 days after the adoption of the resolution. Any moneys transferred
    from the appropriation account under s. 20.566 (1) (gd) to
    the appropriation account under s. 20.835 (4) (gb) shall be used
    exclusively to retire the district’s debt.

    229.66 Creation and organization. (1) There is created,
    for each jurisdiction under s. 229.67, a special district that is a
    local governmental unit, that is a body corporate and politic, that
    is separate and distinct from, and independent of, the state, that has
    the powers under s. 229.68 and the name of which includes “Professional
    Baseball Park District”.
    (2) A district is governed by its district board. The district
    board may adopt bylaws to govern the district’s activities, subject
    to this subchapter. Subject to sub. (3), the district board shall consist
    of the following members:
    (a) A number of persons equal to the number of counties within
    the jurisdiction of the district plus one, appointed by the governor.
    At least one of the persons appointed by the governor shall reside
    within each county that is within the jurisdiction of the district.
    A person appointed under this paragraph may take his or her seat
    immediately upon appointment and qualification, subject to confirmation
    or rejection by the senate.
    (b) Two persons appointed by the chief executive officer of the
    most populous county within the jurisdiction of the district, who
    shall serve at the pleasure of the chief executive officer. A person
    appointed under this paragraph may take his or her seat immediately
    upon appointment and qualification, subject to confirmation or rejection by a majority of the members−elect of the county
    (c) One person for each county in the jurisdiction of the district
    other than the most populous county within the jurisdiction of the
    district, appointed by the chief executive officer of that county.
    Each person appointed under this paragraph for a county shall
    serve at the pleasure of the chief executive officer in that county.
    A person appointed under this paragraph may take his or her seat
    immediately upon appointment and qualification, subject to confirmation
    or rejection by a majority of the members−elect of the
    county board.
    (g) One person appointed by the mayor of the most populous
    city within the jurisdiction of a district or if that city is organized
    under subch. I of ch. 64, the president of the council of that city,
    who shall serve at the pleasure of the mayor. A person appointed
    under this paragraph may take his or her seat immediately upon
    appointment and qualification, subject to confirmation or rejection
    by a majority of the members−elect of the common council
    or council.
    (3) Upon appointment under sub. (2), the appointing authorities
    shall certify the appointees to the secretary of administration.
    The term of office of 50% of the persons appointed under sub. (2)
    (a) is 2 years, and the term of office of the other 50% of the persons
    appointed under sub. (2) (a) is 4 years, except that if an odd number
    of persons is appointed under sub. (2) (a), there shall be one
    more office with a term of 4 years than there are offices with terms
    of 2 years, and except that for the initial appointments for a newly
    created district the initial terms shall expire on July 1 of the 2nd
    year beginning after creation of a district for persons appointed to
    2−year terms, and the initial terms shall expire on July 1 of the 4th
    year beginning after creation of a district for persons appointed to
    4−year terms. Persons appointed under sub. (2) (a) may be
    removed from the district board before the expiration of their
    terms by the appointing authority but only for cause, as defined in
    s. 17.001. Vacancies for persons appointed under sub. (2) (a) shall
    be filled by the appointing authority who appointed the person
    whose office is vacant. A person appointed to fill a vacancy under
    sub. (2) (a) shall serve for the remainder of the term to which he
    or she is appointed. All of the appointing authorities shall ensure,
    to the greatest extent possible, that the membership of the board
    is diverse with respect to race. Of the persons appointed under
    sub. (2), not more than 4 may reside in any one county.
    (4) The governor shall select the chairperson of the district
    board and the district board shall elect from its membership a vice
    chairperson, a secretary and a treasurer. A majority of the current
    membership of the district board constitutes a quorum to do business.
    The district may take action based on the affirmative vote
    of a majority of those directors who are present at a meeting of the
    district board.
    (5) The members of the district board shall be reimbursed for
    their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance
    of their duties.
    (6) Upon the appointment and qualification of a majority of
    the members of a district board, the district board may exercise the
    powers and duties of a district board under this subchapter.
    (7) At its first meeting the district board shall name the district.

    It looks like all the members of the stadium district board are appointed and they have the authority to levy the stadium tax.

    Am I correct on this?

  41. I found some info on Wisconsin Coach Lines funding:

    See page 5 of this link to document.

    Transit in Southeast Wisconsin
    7. The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) is the transit operator for the City
    of Milwaukee, and the entire county. The City of Racine operates the city-wide Belle Urban transit
    system, and the City of Kenosha operates the Kenosha transit system, including the downtown
    trolley system. Each of these systems receives state operating assistance and federal operating and
    capital assistance. Each governmental entity also provides local property tax revenue to fund a
    portion of the transit service costs in their area. In addition, the Racine Commuter system is
    operated by Wisconsin Coach lines and provides daily, intercity bus service between the cities of
    Kenosha, Racine, and Milwaukee. While the Racine Commuter system receives state operating
    assistance, it does not receive federal operating assistance. According to Department of
    Transportation (DOT) officials, the City of Racine contributed 35% of the local share of costs for
    the Racine Commuter system, while Racine County contributed 30%, the City of Kenosha
    contributed 20%, and Kenosha County contributed 15%.