Monday, September 20, 2010

Council Supports Transit Referenda

The Monona city council passed, by a 4-2 vote (Munson and Wood opposed), a resolution for the anti-train November referendum. The Mayor also indicated that he would have supported the proposal.

That referendum will read:

“Shall commuter rail from the City of Middleton to the Town of Burke be funded by a half-cent (0.5%) increase in the sales tax?"
It was another occasion where I thought logic was on my side, but to no avail. Do we want to spend ALL of the RTA sales tax revenue on a commuter train? Who could vote 'Yes' on that question? I plan to either vote No or - more likely - just sit it out to boycott dumb questions.

Melanie Stebbins, one of the residents who supported the referendum, made the most astute observation of the evening: The driving force behind this anti-train referendum is that a lot of people just do not have any trust that they will get a fair chance to vote on any future RTA-proposed sales tax increase. She nailed it exactly. I don't share that mistrust, for the most part, of county government, but the mostly well-earned corrosive cynicism that pervades the average person's view of state and federal government has made its way down to county government.

The council also passed by a 6-0 vote the proposal I offered (co-sponsored by alder Munson) calling for the Regional Transit Authority Board to hold a regular meeting in Monona, urging the RTAto adopt a regional transit plan that includes, among other things, increased transit services for Monona residents; and urging the RTA Board and the Dane County Board to conduct a referendum on a regional transit plan, including the amount of any increase in sales tax, at a regularly scheduled election and to abide by the results of that referendum.

In non-transit matters, the council approved an ordinance making the Sustainability Committee a Standing Committee. The Council also extended Green Valley's refuse/recycling/brush contract by one year while the City Engineer prepares an RFP for the next long-term contract. The Public Works Committee will be working on that in the months ahead.


  1. Another sad day for our community, when fear and cynicism are used to justify a meaningless ballot question which will only lead to more distrust and cynicism in our community.

    What a sad irony: conservatives want to "reclaim our country", longing for the good old days, ( the glorious 1950s and 60s,) when the progressive policies of the New Deal age led to such upward mobility and wealth that we created an economy almost completely dependent on automobiles, forgoing the development of excellent train and transit systems, which all other first world nations enjoy. Tax rates on the wealthy were 91% in the 50s, and despite this, we enjoyed unparalleled prosperity!

    After 30 years of conservative economic policy, with the resulting decline of the middle class, growing inequality and loss of good paying jobs, we can no longer afford the wasteful and "luxurious" liberty of forcing everyone to own cars and drive. Never mind the fact that is was never such a great idea to begin with, given the high cost and loss of productivity that comes with each person having to drive to work. But i digress, because conservative economic policy does not create the broad wealth and upward mobility that makes our automobile-dependent economy possible, so now we actually need mass transit and trains to travel around, to get to our low paying jobs.

    And what a shame, because the conservatives are really good at getting ordinary people to blame progressives for the disarray that conservative policy has created. and by the way, conservatives do not believe in government, so get a bike or walk to work.
    It turns out that the "crushing taxes and regulations" that conservative always complain about are actually the cost of living in a vibrant, wealth-creating and civilized society. The US was actually number ONE in about everything going into the 1970s. But for the last 30 years, the standing of the United States has continued to fall despite all of the conservative policies that were supposed to save us. When will all these tax cuts create the city on the hill that we have been promised? Of course, it was always just a dream (or a lie, depending on who you ask)

    We are on the road to nowhere, which is crumbling, and the people think that we cannot afford to do anything, since we have transferred most of the tax burden onto the middle and working class in these last 30 years. Now the average Joe really is overtaxed. But we are doomed to decline further, it seems, since no one is willing to demand that we must, in fact, raise taxes considerably on the well off; re-instate significant estate taxes; and hold corporations accountable with clear and strict rules. The sort of rules that regulate cars on the highway, for example, where you are free to do many things, with some basic regulations and taxes that help to enable everyone to be able to get places without (routinely) getting killed.

    Must we really destroy democracy and our great nation just to prove that the conservative game plan was just an elaborate hoax to justify giving more money and power to the rich and powerful, at the expense of the great nation that we once were?

    Unregulated capitalism almost destroyed our nation in the 1920s, and we almost did it again in 2008.

    Wake up, sheeple. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

  2. Doug, I like your idea of not voting on the question. The council can vote to put it on the ballot, but a campaign to not even cast a vote on the referendum should show that this is not even a valid question. A significant amount of non-votes compared to total votes cast in the election should make a good argument of the validity of the referendum.

    Scott W.

  3. Not good that 4 Council members completely disrespect the unanimous recommendation by their own citizen committee that they asked to review this.

  4. "Not good that 4 Council members completely disrespect the unanimous recommendation by their own citizen committee that they asked to review this.

    Ditto. But they never intended to listen to the committee on this issue.

    I say we start a movement "Vote Nothing." If a significant number of voters leave taht question blank, that will at least say something about the inevitable outcome.

  5. Doug your chicken shit. You only post the lib's comments. This just comfirms who you are. I know this will get posted. If you had guts you would go back and post some of the conservatives post.

  6. "Doug your chicken shit. You only post the lib's comments. This just comfirms who you are. I know this will get posted. If you had guts you would go back and post some of the conservatives post."

    And you, anonymous, are a gutless coward. It is simply amazing that you accuse me of lacking guts without any apparent sense of irony when you are writing *anonymously*! Kind of pathetic really.

    You are also, surprise, wrong in asserting that I screen comments based on conservative versus liberal. You could go back and read - or have someone read it to you - many prior posts and see that, in fact, I post comments on both sides.

    The only comment I have screened on this topic was one that resorted to name-calling against members of the Transit Committee as a form of argument - sort of like your comment here.

    The Internet provides plenty of outlets for mindless vitriol, but this blog isn't one of them.

    I generally don't post comments that use abusive language, even when they are only aimed at me, but responding to this comment was too much fun to pass up.

    And you also need to work on your spelling.

  7. I am completely taken aback at the amount of bile and animosity that the RTA issue has provoked. Someone on Monona Rag's blog threw out the slur "train lover", Anonymous has called you "chicken shit", and Chad is calling out the "sheeple". We're talking about buses and trains, folks. It seems like this is an issue that we should be able to discuss with our indoor voices and our nice words.