Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Who Needs High Speed Rail? Scott Walker Has His "Brown Bag Express"

Pilatus PC-12 single engine aircraft - WI owns four
Remember when Scott Walker told Washington to keep their hundreds of millions to develop high speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison?

Sure, it would have created jobs. It was also pretty high-tech and environmentally friendly.

Scott Walker didn't want to foot the $750,000 per year bill for Wisconsin to maintain the commuter line.

According to him, it was just fiscally wrong. Scraping high speed rail in Wisconsin was one of his very first acts as Governor.

Why would anyone want to get to Milwaukee or Madison faster? After all, those are his two least favorite cities in the state.

Well, it turns out Scott Walker likes to get between Milwaukee and Madison faster. A lot faster than he could on his beloved highway system.

Walker has been racking up the miles and dollars on the state fleet of airplanes like he's a junior Koch brother on...on coke!

The Shepherd Express filed an open records request on the Guv's frequent flier miles - and you may be surprised to learn that the candidate who appeared in campaign commercials with his brown bag lunch, lovingly prepared each day by Tonette, is breaking the bank flying from Madison to his home like it's his own chauffeur service.

According to the Shepherd Express:
"Gov. Scott Walker blew through $160,000 of state taxpayer money while flying on state-owned planes in the first six months of this year.  
That’s about $100,000 more than he’d spent in the first six months of 2011, when he was flying around the state trying to convince Wisconsinites of the merits of his controversial collective bargaining bill. Legitimate taxpayer funded expenditures for travel on state business is, of course, part of the job, which including promoting legislation, but when these trips get scheduled around campaign appearances, it begins to cause some serious concerns.  
According to documents provided by the state Department of Administration in response to the Shepherd’s open records requests, Walker has spent $183,839.16 on his travels from Jan. 1 to July 30, 2013.  
That amount doesn’t include his state-funded travels on commercial airlines or the expenses incurred during his April trade mission trip to China. Nor does it include the expenses he and his staff are racking up during their visit to Tokyo this week.  
Walker most frequently flew between Madison and Milwaukee, and occasionally between Madison and Wauwatosa, usually at the beginning or the end of a day of flights around the state. Walker has two separate residences, the official executive residence in suburban Madison and his home in Wauwatosa. Walker made the 75-mile flight 44 times between January and the end of June. Even his aides are flying between the two cities 14 times without him. In Wisconsin, staff members traveling without the governor were always expected to drive short distances such as between Madison and Milwaukee and not run up a bill for a private plane ride."
Now that's what we call high speed commuter rail - only the taxpayers get railroaded this time.

In seven years of Jim Doyle's two terms he racked up less than 200,000 miles in the air - a fraction of previous Governor's miles. Compared to Walker's travel binge habits - Doyle traveled by covered wagon.

"Diamond Jim" sold eight state planes while in office.

The Shepherd Express draws an interesting line between Walker's plane travel itinerary and his private visits to Wisconsin businesses which also happened to be campaign contributors.
"Walker often flies around the state to visit small manufacturers, where he meets workers, poses for photo ops and takes a few questions from local reporters. These events are closed to the public.  
According to analysis of Walker’s state plane usage, his photo ops at state manufacturers are often held with his campaign donors. And there are many of them, since, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s campaign finance database, those in the manufacturing and distributing industry have contributed $3.5 million to Walker since 1993." 
Now that's an a cheap way to keep raising campaign cash - who say's Scott Walker isn't fiscally wise? Cheap for him - pretty darn expensive for taxpayers.