Interesting article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this morning accompanied by a tape recording of Republican US Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson seemingly agreeing with two unidentified men at a campaign event that Paul Ryan has a “light footprint in the state” and that Ryan’s lukewarm endorsement of President Trump “is a problem.” I can’t help but wonder if this is the influence of Steve Bannon in Nicholson’s campaign or just Nicholson’s inability to disagree with someone he wants to vote for him.
Lisa Manna and I talk about it in this short podcast.
You may have heard 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee recently did some shuffling of its line up, moving Steve Scaffidi to late mornings, a time period Jeff Wagner took over after the departure of Charlie Sykes. Wagner is now back in his old early afternoon slot. Scaffidi invited me on this morning to go through a rundown of all things politics, both state and national. You can hear the whole segment here.
You can read more about the line up changes at 620 here.
Gwyn is in Iowa, and no, she is not being held by terrorists. However, in this week’s episode we do discuss the state of legislative relations, as well as a new Catfishing bill. We also look at the productivity stats for this legislative session so far.
Ousted White House Strategist Steve Bannon’s super PAC announced it’s supporting Kevin Nicholson, a Delafield businessman and former Democrat over Republican State Senator Leah Vukmir. The Wisconsin State Journal called me looking for analysis of what this means to the US Senate race in Wisconsin.
Fraley, who has opposed Trump, said he’s skeptical Bannon and his allies will have much sway in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race. Attacks like those published by Breitbart “are more about raising money from national donors than about impacting what happens on the ground in Wisconsin,” Fraley said.
“These nationally driven narratives just don’t play at the grassroots level,” Fraley said.
Read the rest of the article on The Wisconsin State Journal website here.
It is no secret I think the legislature continues to let the public down with their refusal to find a responsible and sustainable transportation budget that will stop needless construction delays and improve our second-worst-in-the-nation roads.
While that fight will have to continue to be waged, the legislature did pass several reforms aimed at making road construction more efficient and more affordable and making sure the public is more aware of what is being spent where.
Yet some are balking at one of these cost saving reforms.
For years the costs of building roads have been higher than necessary because the aggregate used has to be hauled farther distances because of Wisconsin’s patchwork regulations on quarries.
Local ordinances have discouraged the opening and operation of quarries by imposing restrictions on their opporations and forcing new and increasing compliance costs. These costs impact the state budget. Big time.
For road construction projects, massive amounts of aggregate are needed – often several hundred thousand tons. Adding just a little bit to the cost of hauling this aggregate gets compounded quickly. Each trip of each dump truck, multiplied by each job site – the math is staggering. This month the legislature included a provision in the budget that would increase the likelihood that road construction aggregate is quarried from places closer to each project. This is important because the further a supplier is from a project, the more expensive it is to haul.
Think gas costs a lot for you? Consider how much more diesel fuel is burned to haul a full truck of rock an additional 10 miles. Now multiply that by hundreds or thousands of trips…for each project.
In talking to folks in the industry, even I was amazed at how much savings can be realized. The quarry permitting reforms in the budget can save taxpayers millions of dollars.
Here is just one example.The Highway 73 Interchange in Deerfield, where Highways 12/18 intersect with Highway 73, required a whopping 250,000 tons of aggregate. This took more than 12,000 truckloads to transport from a quarry to the job site. A quarry in Deerfield was chosen because it was only 2 minutes away. Had the state DOT had to rely upon the next-closest quarry, the project would have run $610,000 more just because the second-closest quarry would have been an additional 15 minutes away.
The good news is the closer quarry was able to be used. But what if that’s not always the case?
Let’s examine the I-39/90 project as an example. That bid called for approximately 400,000 tons of aggregate, requiring around 19,500 truckloads. (These big projects are bigger than I think most of us outside of the industry can really comprehend…think about that, 19,500 truckloads!). Anyway, that same Deerfield quarry mentioned above was the closest site, but it was prohibited from making the bid due to blasting ordinances imposed by the town (imagine having to follow the regulatory framework of 400 mini DNRs!). So the quarry that was chosen to supply the aggregate for this project was seven minutes father from the first. Those seven minutes, multiplied by the 19,500 truckloads, jacked the price of this project by more than $450,000!
So while I wished the legislature would have done the right thing with transportation funding, the quarrying provision in the budget at least will help keep costs down. These savings are passed down to you and I.
Yet, some are calling for this provision to be vetoed, a move that doesn’t make much sense to me.
Some think it poses a threat to the environment. Yet, the DNR will still be regulating these quarries.
Others say it’s unfair to single out aggregate, and they want all quarries to be included. Well, that’s like arguing to veto a tax cut because it’s not large enough. Embrace the pro-taxpayer position when you can, for crying out loud.
According to press accounts I’ve read, the Counties and Town associations say they are ok with this compromise, and this provision will save tax dollars.
If we refuse to improve the condition of the transportation fund in this state, we should at least do what we can to keep the costs down.
Is there still a need for Courtroom Sketch Artists? Should there be a test before you can qualify to be one? Why are we still having this conversation in 2017?
You name one other podcast that can tie today’s political tribulations to the hit(ish) early 80’s TV show Benson.
Dan, Lisa, and Brian take a crack at these topics and more on today’s 9er Podcast.
Why Generation X Might Be Our Last, Best Hope
Confessions: Brian’s Fight
The 9er podcast is back for week number 2 with Lisa, Brian, and Dan’s thoughts on 9 things that happened this week.
Not. So. Fast. On this week’s episode of The Wheelercast, we look at some scheduling conflicts that could delay votes on both the State Budget and the Foxconn package. Plus we review last week’s marathon Assembly committee hearing on the massive economic development deal.
I joined Steve Scaffidi and Eric Bilstad on WTMJ AM620 in Milwaukee for an impromptu segment mere moments after White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci was fired this afternoon.
Political Staffing 101: If as a staffer you become the story, you are failing your boss.
Click on the audio file below to hear it.
The largest economic development deal in Wisconsin state government history has been negotiated, and Gwyn has details regarding the substance of and timeline for legislative action on the Foxconn deal. Things are moving quickly. How quickly, and how could this impact the State Budget impasse? This news and more on the latest episode of The Wheelercast.