July 5, 2009


Override the Veto of a binding RTA refendum! (See other posts here also please)

Last week, the Gov. vetoed both the binding referendum and the money for roads in the Dane RTA legislation. Even Sen. Jon Erpenback (D) –Waunakee said, “Without the referendum in this I wouldn’t have supported the RTA being included in the state budget” (OK Senator, spearhead an override of his veto!)

http://www.madison.com/archives/read.php?ref=/wsj/2009/06/30/0906290246.php  (T) June 30, 09 WSJ- P.1 “Doyle veto of binding vote on tax criticized”

Is there anything you can do now?   YUP! Leave a comment on this blog! and…..

1) On our website are the Emails of County, state, Federal congressional members, the Federal Transit Authority- the money bags. One well written email to all of them from 200 people will get plenty of attention. Ask for an override in the Legislature of the vetoed binding referendum by your Assembly and Senators. (If you don’t know yours, the site will take you to them via your name, address, Zip from the official Wisconsin site.)

2) Or call, write or see your representatives. Get involved.

3) Send thegreattrainrobbery.org a check. The other side- our elected, appointed and paid officials and Transport 2020 staff and supporters – have spent $9 million of your tax dollars over the last ten years on selling you trains instead of addressing the real problem of traffic congestion. 

We are private individuals, unpaid, donate our time who self fund the web site and have had a few generous donors who donated some money to keep the web site going. (We’re talking “David vs. Government Goliath” here!)

4) We are looking for volunteers for 2 hour stints at the SAT morning Farmer’s Market on the Square to hand out literature, take names, phones and email addresses for the long fight ahead to educate and motivate people to pay attention to this top down billion dollar boondoggle that actually will make traffic congestion much worse if we are forced to pay for a train for a couple dozen of the Madison elites to ride once in awhile.

 As you know, the legislature passed bills encouraging RTA’s (Regional Transit Authority) in several areas of the state. The one for Dane county included a binding referendum that those in the Madison area Metropolitan Planning Organization  (MPO) would be able to vote for or against- likely in sometime in 2010. For info on MPO area that will be taxed for trains see:


FEB 23, 2009 WSJ: “Transit issue could go to voters in 2010″ Matthew DeFour. The map is not in the link.( Source for the map showing RTA boundary was from Madison Area Metroplitan Planning Organization) Be sure to read Dane County Towns Association President, Jerry Derr’s and Stoughton Mayor, Jim Griiffen’s comments in the article also. Here’s two guys with a back bone!

 The Governor’s Budget (don’t ask why it was in the budget) included an appointed, not elected RTA board that had this allotment that frankly would insure the “trainiacs” only would be selected to the RTA: Gov. 1, Dane Cty Exec 2, Madison Mayor 2, one each from Middleton, Fitchburg, Sun Prairie and one from the towns association.

 The folks who are already on board for trains would then have 7 of the 9 votes, with only Sun Prairie and the Towns Assoc. having a shot at opposition. (Even those two slots would fall in the “fat chance” category since these are all appointed – likely by the county board who’s majority are on record for trains would appoint only those smitten with trains and trolley syndrome.)  

 At the last part of March before the April 1 County Exec election cycle, Kathleen Falk also asked the Governor for money for roads, so the legislature provided 25% for roads of the extra sales tax collected for the RTA/ trains.  Many considered this just a sop to try to convince future referendum voters that roads would be upgraded to secure their votes.

(Look at past performance on county roads, (rated “F” for congestion, performance) stalling N. Mendota Parkway, Highway 12 to Prairie du Sac and the utter disdain for cars, roads and parking by the county Exec., county board and Mayor (Trolleyman) Dave. 

 The Gov. vetoed both the binding referendum and the money for roads in the Dane RTA legislation. County Exec Falk, Mayor Dave have publicly stated there will be a referendum-which they will tightly control and no doubt, write. 

* Dane Cty.Supervisor Stoebig at the Aug. 16, 2007 vote approving the resolution for ½ cent sales tax, an RTA for commuter rail for Madison called those in opposition not unlike Cavemen- Citizens Against Virtually Everything. So we adopted his slur against his own constituents.



* CAVEMAN stands for: Citizens Against Voting for Endless Madison Area Nonsense

Traffic congestion is the problem-What’s the solution?

July 4, 2009

Traffic congestion in the narrow Madison Isthmus is the problem. It’s made worse by HWY 151 and other through traffic going right through the center of Madison instead of around it. Any solution must attack this problem and adding commuter trains will only make it worse.

Short term: computerized traffic light controls that can respond to changing conditions- football game traffic, snow storms, local events like jogging competitions. Do massive catch up re-build the “F” rated county roads to safer, high capacity feeder roads that provide alternate routes to the beltline or Fed/state or I systems. Instead of ignoring traffic congestion, or chasing federal dollars for a “sexier” train that will make congestion worse, attack the problem. I think they call it sound public policy.

Taking a systematic look at flex time for Fed, State, County city employees- nationally people who telecommute take more drivers off the road than all the transit systems. Vary start, ending times where practicle- allow one day a week work at home where feasible.

Long term: gradually over a period of years move Federal, State, County and if feasible some city workers off the Isthmus. The UW and State Cap aren’t going anywhere and shouldn’t.  But do we need the DNR downtown? (I don’t know if they are or not, but we have packed the square area with Fed, State, county and city offices)  Does GEFF I and II really need to be just off the square? You think Brodhead or Oregon would like to have 200 hundred state workers toiling away and spending dough in their downtown areas?
Build bypass or a full circle beltline around and away from the city. It works.  It has worked in in city after city.You must build with or ahead of the traffic not bury your head in the the sand and say, “I hate cars, roads and parking” deal with the problem instead of trying to make it worse.

Finally, even the Transport 2020 report states that with commuter rail Madison traffic congestion will worsen. In fact, though not mentioned in the report, crossing just under 60 streets- about 40 in the Isthmus alone – 8,000 times a day with at grade train* crossings will make traffic congestion dramatically worse on the first day the billion dollar train picks up its first passenger after 4 or five years of construction.

* At grade just means the RR tracks cross over the roads- stopping all traffic, all directions; auto, bicycle, pedestrian – and emergency vehicles. The tracks and the streets are at the same grade. This is NOT a subway or elevated system that is proposed, but will have 9,  70-80 Ton Diesel powered locomotives pushing or pulling 70 ton passenger cars crossing and stopping traffic 80 to 160 times a day on nearly 60 different streets! Can you say Gridlock?

If you add the five bikepaths/ bikeways and Pedestrian overwalks of the RR tracks it adds up to over 9,000 times a day the trains will stop all traffic-bikes, walkers, cars, trucks and all emergency vehicles. Think about that. Would you want to be the guy or gal bouncing along in the Ambulance after a heart attack or stroke and you are stranded at multiple RR crossings as the half full trains whiz by at 23 MPH?  No? ( Me either)

Override the RTA Sales Tax Veto

July 2, 2009

County Board Supervisors released this Media Advisory this morning.  Do you agree that the Legislature should override the RTA and Sales Tax Veto.  Tell us what you think!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: For more information:
Thursday, July 2, 2009 Ronn Ferrell 695-1321


Despite unanimous support from State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee), Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz for a binding referendum on the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and on whether or not to increase the sales tax for commuter trains, Governor James Doyle vetoed the binding referendum language from the 2009-11 state budget document he signed on Monday of this week.

In vetoing the binding referendum language, Governor Doyle dismissed the shared desires of all the parties involved in the RTA/Sales Tax binding referenda which had significant support throughout the budget deliberations. Senator Erpenbach was quoted in the Wisconsin State Journal, “Without the referendum in this, I wouldn’t have supported the RTA language and it wouldn’t have been in the budget.” Erpenbach continued, “It is something everyone agreed to.”

The Governor’s vetoes both surprised and angered local elected officials. County Executive Falk indicated she was very disappointed…with the veto(s). Supervisor Ronn Ferrell (Madison) stated, “The Governor’s vetoes change the process that we all relied upon for a binding referendum because we all want to ensure that the voices of Dane County citizens will be heard through a public vote on this critically important issue.”

Supervisor Eileen Bruskewitz (Waunakee) expressed her frustration with the elimination of the binding referenda because the citizens of Dane County want to have their voices heard. “The failure of the State to require a binding referendum for a sales tax increase takes the people’s voice away,” she said. “The creation of an RTA and a sales tax should never have been part of the budget bill. The legislature needs to override the veto.”

Sun Prairie Supervisor Duane Gau said, “Regional transportation is important for Dane County and we need to hear from our voters about whether they want a sales tax increase to fund it.”

“We encourage the citizens of Dane County to contact their State Representatives and State Senators to ask them to override the Governor’s veto which eliminated the binding referendum on whether or not to increase the sales tax,” Supervisor Kurt Schlicht (Cross Plains) said. “Do it now, because, this is one of the only opportunities voters will have to voice their opinion on increasing the sales tax for a Regional Transit Authority in Dane County.”