This has probably been the most confusing week for blogging on the Drexel interchange. Whether it is the media reporting on the story or the elected officials themselves, someone has to be doing flip-flops right about now...one way or another.
Mayor Dick Bolender, which wrote his rebuttal to a blog entry of mine yesterday, vetoed the Oak Creek Common Council resolution that would have put up $3.8 million, or 25% local share, for the Drexel Avenue interchange with I-94. Now enters in the issue of either the media getting their facts incorrect or Bolender trying to cover his tail, since the media reported that it was Bolender who worked on the same "compromise" legislation that he just vetoed. Bolender strongly denies the charges in his response to MMT.
Meanwhile, what's left is a ton of confusion on too many angles. To be frank, I think the primary confusion must be with the Oak Creek Common Council, who apparently cannot trust either their Mayor or their media. Next up would be the City of Franklin, who keeps getting nagged and pestered by Oak Creek officials to come up with some magical number to financially support the Drexel interchange. While Franklin Alderman Steve Olson, who is Chairman of the Joint 27th Street Steering Committee, is claiming ignorance on whether or not Franklin residents want to spend up to $4 million on an interchange in Oak Creek. How do I know this? I received an e-mail from a concerned citizen who e-mailed Alderman Olson with some questions. Originally Olson had this to say to the citizen:
You mix several issues. First is the interchange itself. Second is who pays for it. I support a new interchange at Drexel Avenue. I believe it will benefit the entire region. I also believe, that due to the regional benefit, the state, using federal funds, ought to pay for it 100%.
The citizen then asked:
It is abundantly clear Franklin taxpayers want no part of that interchange on Drexel Ave. Why is this dead horse being whipped again? Are you a part of this travesty? Are you in favor of it in spite of the taxpayers' wishes?
You make a lot of assumptions in your statements. I don't know if taxpayers in Franklin are for or against an interchange at Drexel.
I don't have to sit back and think twice to know my answer is an absolute NO towards favoring an interchange at Drexel. Why? Well, unlike Olson, I have been upfront in noting time and again that Oak Creek has wanted funds from Franklin, funds that Franklin taxpayers simply cannot afford. What Olson does is neglect the whole issue about Oak Creek's desire for our tax dollars pouring across the border, and thus he bounces off the direct questions. His statement that the feds should cover the interchange is nothing new with regards to rhetoric. He wanted Milwaukee County to pay for upgrades to S. 76th St in Franklin; upgrades that included what the county considered nearly $8 million in improvements and wouldn't pay for. Olson fought back with another alderman and ultimately lost that battle. If Olson can't win a battle with Milwaukee County, who's to say he can win a similar one with the State of Wisconsin?
In my opinion, it seems that Franklin officials are trying yet again to get their hands dirty with this interchange, which is simply ridiculous considering we have the option of simply walking away from all the nonsense and the bologna.
Perhaps the last angle of confusion has to be with those communities impacted further north of the interchange, like Greenfield and the City of Milwaukee. Several leaders from both cities have lodged complaints against the interchange, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce seems to agree with a pending ACLU lawsuit alleging discrimination between a heavily minority-based population in Milwaukee and a heavily Caucasian suburb in Oak Creek. If the interchange is dead, there technically wouldn't be much of a lawsuit! However, if it is alive and well, I'd presume the lawsuit would be, too.
Ah, it's all in a week's worth of Franklin and Oak Creek politics. It never ceases to amaze me.