Streetcar Proponents Point to Koch Boogieman

By Robert Miranda, Editor, Wisconsin Spanish Journal

The supporters of the Milwaukee streetcar are pointing to a recent Bruce Murphy authored article in Urban Milwaukee in which he exposes organizers of the petition drive calling for a referendum on the streetcar being funded by conservative groups outside the city. 

Murphy writes that Chris Kliesmet and his Citizens for Responsible Government Network, which is organizing the petition drive, is linked to Republican operative Craig Peterson and David Fladeboe, state director of the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity.

Murphy further writes that Fladeboe told him that “his group is quite involved in the effort: ‘We have been educating the public on why the streetcar is wrong for Milwaukee since the mayor started on this project. Now we are working on pushing the referendum to allow the people of Milwaukee to decide the fate of the streetcar.’”

Who are the Koch brothers you ask?

Billionaires David and Charles Koch have been buying our democracy in the form of giant checks to the House, Senate, and even the Presidency. 

The Koch brothers, worth $80 billion dollars, are the second wealthiest family in America.  Working with other billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, the Kochs spend an UNLIMITED sum of money to create an America shaped by their fanatical right-wing libertarian views.  

Forbes Magazine has reported that the Koch brothers’ fortune often increases by $12 billion dollars annually, while the fortune of Sheldon Adelson increases $11 billion.  That’s right! In one year!  In other words, they are self-serving right-wing multi-billionaires who possess the capability of spending more money on the political process than everyone else combined.

Now do you understand why Bruce Murphy and the proponents of the streetcar invoke the name Koch and scream boogieman?  Because Koch brothers are the boogieman.

However, for me, it’s not about the boogieman and his money, but rather Milwaukee’s position as the most segregated city in the country in terms of race and poverty — more than Atlanta, Chicago or Los Angeles, are the issues of importance. 

In Milwaukee Blacks are located mostly in the north-central area of the city and Hispanics stay in the southern inner city near Humboldt Park. How does this happen? What drives poverty in Milwaukee to the current levels? Why are the races so segregated?

Interesting how supporters of the streetcar can pinpoint how the boogieman is involving his money in the political networks of the streetcar, but they have failed to identify the players in our city who have helped to create and nurture the conditions of poverty and apartheid that has tainted the image of Milwaukee over the last 40 years.

The Koch oligarch dynasty may be flashing their cash in Milwaukee to defeat the streetcar and change the political dynamics of the city. They are able to do so only because the plantation masters of the city have allowed the Koch brothers to come in, because segregation and poverty conditions in Milwaukee are alive and well. 

As for the streetcar? 

Streetcar boondoggles are not that popular because they’re slow and expensive (general public cost), they make infrequent trips and make frequent stops, unconventional and inconvenient too. Not only are they slow, they cause vehicles to increase auto emissions due to the more frequent stop ‘n go traffic they will cause downtown. Yes! More pollution in the air because of traffic build up.

Streetcar debates usually use terms broadly to refer to the same technology as light rail. But the length of the corridor, and the speed it requires, usually determine whether we’re talking about rapid transit, in which case this technology is called light rail, or more local-stop service, in which case this technology is called streetcar.

In addition, Milwaukee’s streetcar plan fails to address a fundamental city issue and that is to increase public transportation to people living in high unemployment areas of the city, opening routes to employment. Milwaukee’s boondoggle plan fails miserably to achieve that.

The streetcar project states that “Milwaukee’s initial route is approximately 2 route miles. It has been carefully designed based on ridership projections, economic development opportunities and public input. It connects the Milwaukee Intermodal Station with downtown’s employment and commercial areas, dense housing on the lower east side and Third Ward, and entertainment and redevelopment areas on the west side (near the Milwaukee River) and the lakefront”.http://www.themilwaukeestreetcar.com/inside-track.php

In a recent article published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Ald. Robert Bauman admits, “Two miles of streetcar will not benefit minority communities, we readily acknowledge that now.”

That’s why this streetcar is nothing more than folly. It’s transportation for fun in the sun martini chasers. Nothing to make the lives of hard working people without transportation easier to get to work or meet other important needs of their daily lives.

Oppose the streetcar boondoggle

A diverse coalition of Milwaukee residents, organizations and community groups is banding together to gather signatures in a petition drive to force direct legislation on The Milwaukee Streetcar.

Those who support the Streetcar will scream and yell that the opposition to the Streetcar is an orchestrated campaign organized by right wing Tea Party nut jobs and their supporters, leading a bunch of blind mice.

The reality is that those who are behind the Streetcar project are the same tired ass lame usual suspects who have held power in this city for over forty years, keeping this city as America’s most segregated city and one of America’s most poorest communities for Black people.

The time to revolt against these people has come. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Use that money to fight poverty and build business in communities decaying because of poverty.

Let there be a referendum.

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on January 21, 2015

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