Can Anyone Stop Barrett's Revenge
Imagine a History teacher in an MPS classroom 30 years from now.
A student raises his hand and asks: "Teacher, what are those tracks all over the street downtown?" The teacher responds: "Oh those. Well, years ago, Milwaukee had a Mayor who didn't want to be Mayor. As a matter of fact, just a few days after he was elected, he tried to run for another office but he lost. He did however leave the City with a streetcar project that the City couldn't afford and nobody used. It's called "Barrett's Revenge!"
"So", the student responds, "if it was about streetcars, this had to be a Mayor from the early 1900's?" "No", the teacher answers, "this was a Mayor from 2012"!
"But that doesn't make any sense", the student opined. "No, it doesn't", the teacher answered. "But that's just the way they did things back then!"
Yeah, it's just the way we do things in Tom Barrett's Milwaukee.
Late last week, the federal government shot down a request from Milwaukee for an extra $52 million to extend the not-yet-build trolley line to Brady Street. This follows a previous refusal to toss an extra $70 million to take the trolley to UWM. It seems that before the line is even built, the Feds have enough sense to not throw good money after bad!
It's also interesting that the Mayor is desperately trying to get money to extend the line before one street is torn up and one rail is installed. This tells me that Barrett understands that there's no way this boondoggle has any chance of generating significant ridership as presently configured. The only hope for success would be to spend hundreds of millions of additional dollars to extend the line..
Assuming, of course, money existed to expand the line. Which it doesn't.
And assuming that the added distance would generate enough added ridership to justify the incredible cost. Which it wouldn't.
What is scary though is that nobody seems to be able to stop Mayor Tom's Trolley Folly before it's too late. As a matter of fact, the City just authorized giving $1.3 million to consultants "to ensure the project meets all local and federal requirements". That's right, they're paying consultants $1.3 million just to make sure all the bureaucratic regulations are followed? $1.3 million? Seriously?
What's perhaps most frustrating is that Barrett probably won't be around to suffer the consequences of his foolishness.
As it stands now, the trolley isn't supposed to be up and running until late 2015. With his term expiring in April 2016, my guess is that lots of politicians who took a pass on 2012 (in the hope that Barrett would have been elected Governor in the recall election) won't be sitting on the sideline four years from now. Assuming a strong challenger emerges (particularly one who can inspire the minority community), color Barrett history.
In other words, Barrett will be gone but the $100+ million streetcar project will remain to haunt Milwaukee for decades to come.
Think of it as "Barrett's Revenge". He's stuck in Milwaukee - so he's going to stick it to Milwaukee for decades to come.
And think of it as inevitable - unless the silent majority is able to stop it before it starts.