Friday, July 18, 2008

We've moved

Milwaukee Rising can now be found at http://milwaukeerising.net/wordpress/

Swing on by!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Texas DOT and road costs

The Texas Department of Transportation recognizes that roads cost more than just building them. Wisconsin doesn't like to recognize that fact. More here.

Sanctifying crime

The Senate yesterday voted to give telecos legal immunity for participating in illegal wiretapping. In a grossly disappointing pander to the right, Sen. Barack Obama went along with the plan.
(Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, on the other hand, led the fight against it.)

Now that this anti-constitutional piece of legislation is about to become law, the ACLU promises to challenge it:

“This fight is not over. We intend to challenge this bill as soon as President Bush signs it into law,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “The bill allows the warrantless and dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international telephone and email communications. It plainly violates the Fourth Amendment.”

And please remember: in America, if you engage in serious felonies, it helps to have lots of lobbyists to help rewrite the law to your benefit. Lots of cash for campaign donations helps, too.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

McCain's aims on energy

The commercial is playing over and over again. It's John McCain, talking again about his bipartisan plan to reduce gas prices at the pump.

But what's the plan? The ad doesn't tell us.

Perhaps we're supposed to let that slide because he's a war hero, you know.

Monday, July 07, 2008

A bit more on the oil dilemma

The Wall Street Journal reported today that oil may be moving into $200 a barrel territory. Here's a piece of the story.

The one shift in demand that would have a serious price impact would be any sign of diminished thirst for fuel in China. Speculation has run high for months that Chinese demand may have surged artificially in advance of the Beijing Olympics as the country turned to oil over coal for power generation to ease pollution. It is also unclear whether China stockpiled gasoline and diesel to avoid any shortages.

"But if consumption roars on even after the Olympics, then the upside pressure on prices will remain pretty strong," said Stephen Brown, an energy economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Another force that could shove prices down in a hurry would be signs of a significant buildup in oil inventories in the U.S. But even with oil use down in the U.S., crude stockpiles remain unusually low. The U.S. now has just over 19 days of total commercial supplies, compared with 23 days worth at the same time last year.

The first part of that excerpt doesn't make sense to me. If China converted from coal to oil in preparation for the Olympics, would it then dump its oil investment to go back to coal afterwards? Would that make economic sense?

And even if China simply stopped adding to its oil dependency, what its done so far has driven up prices significantly. Would they drop if China's demand remained flat with nothing else changing?

Folks won't need those wider freeways

A Canadian investment bank says cars will leave American highways in droves.

The highway guys at WisDOT have their eyes shut tight, their fingers stuck in their ears and are singing loudly, "la la la la we can't hear you!"

The choir is directed by Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi.

More here.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Evenson correction

SEWRPC Executive Director Phil Evenson says he did not advocate tolling to provide congestion relief for some freeway lanes as I, picking up from the JS, said he did.

Evenson's right. He didn't say it.

More here.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Will Sherard gets his due

Central city landlord Will Sherard, who's been flouting for three years a court order to fix his crappy properties, gets hammered in federal court with a $500 per day per unit fine.

Good.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Hooray for DOT on the Marquette Interchange

It's good news that the Marquette Interchange will come in under budget and a bit ahead of schedule.

Let's celebrate, even though we don't know how big those savings will be.

Construction did not shut down Downtown or hurt traffic flow much at all, which should prompt people to ask just how much WisDOT's longed-for wider freeways are needed.

The structure is still too big and expensive and, while its aesthetics have been praised by some drivers, it is a massive, shadow-throwing hunk of ugly to folks on the ground. Sorry, but huge concrete pillars like the kind holding up the Marquette just are not attractive. Of course, the thing was designed for freeway drivers -- anyone else is just in the way.

The design contract was still modified dozens of times, massively increasing the take-home pay for consultants HNTB and CH2M Hill and that web site still cost an outrageous $685,000.

And could it be, possibly, that the Marquette's cost estimates were a tad inflated from the get-go?