Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Zoo Interchange Column: Paying for the Sins of the Past

There's a lot of chatter about the Zoo Interchange and how we got where we are today. Here's my latest column:


In February of 2005, I held a press conference at the Medical College of Wisconsin with the college’s CEO and former Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley. The event highlighted the need for the state to move ahead with reconstructing the Zoo Interchange. The Zoo, with over 300,000 vehicles traveling through it each day, was then, and still is now, the busiest interchange in state.

Despite the facts, and ignoring that The Zoo is located in the middle of the economic engine of Southeastern Wisconsin, Governor Doyle announced the I-94 North South (NS) Corridor would be the next section of the freeway system to be reconstructed after completion of the Marquette Interchange. In a letter attempting to satisfy proponents of the Zoo project, the head of the Department of Transportation said “as the NS Corridor progresses, the state will in due time turn its attention to the full reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange.”

Since then, the Governor has turned his back on the Zoo Interchange project. Within six months of his commitment, Governor Jim Doyle vetoed almost all of the Legislature’s $38 million appropriation to the interchange in the 2005-2007 State Budget. That veto, and the Governor’s subsequent refusal to fund the Zoo with any sense of urgency, is responsible for our current crisis.

So why did the Governor choose to place the NS Corridor in front of the Zoo? Why not focus our limited resources on the area of greatest need, the area that would most benefit the region and the entire state?

The answer is indicative of the leadership style of Jim Doyle; he took the easy way out. He was under pressure from political forces in Milwaukee opposing a critical portion of the Zoo project, the widening of I-94 from Miller Park to the Zoo. A major source of that political pressure was Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Just weeks prior to the Governor’s budget veto, Mayor Barrett wrote a letter to legislative leaders in opposition to the Zoo’s $38 million budget line item. Demonstrating his own lack of judgment, much like Governor Doyle’s, Mayor Barrett’s letter argued against the funding stating, “…the Zoo Interchange will stand long enough for us to resolve these issues.”

Now flash forward to last week. The Department of Transportation announced the need for an emergency replacement of three bridges within the Zoo Interchange with total estimated cost reaching $22 million.

If Doyle and Barrett would have made the right call and the Zoo project had moved forward on its original timeline, reconstruction would have been right around the corner in 2012, not pushed off until 2016 and beyond. Would we have known about these structural deficiencies earlier? Would we would have been able to shift the project forward and fully incorporate the emergency repairs into the final product? We’ll never know for sure. What we do know, however, is we’re now faced with an incredibly expense bill, for a temporary fix, to a massive problem.

Our leaders should have made the right decision in 2005 instead they made the easy one. A little backbone or even the hint of leadership and judgment from Governor Doyle and Mayor Barrett would have gone a long way. Undoubtedly, we would be better positioned to address this critical situation.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My response to Mayor Barrett’s Claims on Zoo

I issued the following statement this afternoon after Mayor Tom Barrett's Chief of Staff made several comments on the Zoo Interchange. If you wish to read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article by Tom Held click the link below to take a look:



(Madison) November 21, 2009…State Senator Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield) issued the following statement today in response to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s claims on the Zoo Interchange:

“Mayor Barrett’s long opposition to reconstructing the Zoo Interchange is undisputed. Even today, while the bridges are about to undergo an emergency repair, the Mayor refuses to admit his incredibly poor judgment and lack of leadership on this important issue. Despite his public admission of lobbying Governor Doyle on the Zoo, he refutes politics was ever a factor in his opposition.

For Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee and a liberal, former Member of Congress, to suggest his lobbying of Jim Doyle and the legislature was not political in nature is laughable.

On June 28, 2005, Mayor Barrett wrote a letter to former Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz and former Senate Minority Leader Judy Robson in opposition to funding the preliminary engineering for the Zoo Interchange. Demonstrating Barrett’s lack of judgment he stated:

‘…the Zoo Interchange will stand long enough for us to resolve these issues.’

The letter was so fraught with errors and misstatements the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission responded with its own letter to legislative leaders indicating a number of Mayor Barrett’s statements were ‘without foundation.’

Then on July 21, 2005, Mayor Barrett issued a statement praising Governor Doyle’s partial veto of Zoo Interchange money and took a political shot at Waukesha County in the process:

‘Governor Doyle took the appropriate action in vetoing the Legislature's $38 million appropriation for the Zoo Interchange. The funding was excessive and the message it sent, divisive. I thank Governor Doyle for recognizing that Milwaukee-Waukesha regional cooperation is not a one-way street.’

Tom Barrett’s statements and the Governor’s actions made the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange into a political issue. Now Mayor Barrett is on the defensive and unfortunately for all of us, continues to put politics ahead of safety and economic development.”


Friday, November 20, 2009

Zoo Interchange

As you may know, I have a long history working to fix the Zoo Interchange. Governor Doyle has been blocking my efforts for years and his buddies in Madison have been willing accomplices.

Even Mayor Tom Barrett has gotten in on the act. In 2005, he praised Governor Doyle for vetoing $38 million in much needed funding to move the project forward. Also in 2005 he went so far to say the Zoo could be placed on the back burner because "the Zoo interchange will stand long enough for us to resolve these issues."

Wow, he could not have been more wrong!

Here is a copy of my statement today on the Zoo Interchange reconstruction and a copy of my 2005 release on Barrett:

(Madison)…State Senator Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield) issued the following statement in response to the Department of Transportation’s emergency action to repair the Zoo Interchange.

“I’ve been calling for the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange since 2005 and now the bridges are falling down. Over that time, the governor and legislative Democrats raided the Transportation Fund to the tune of $1.2 billion and chose to ignore what was happening to the busiest interchange in the state. It’s irresponsible to sit back any longer and watch it disintegrate. The facts speak for themselves; we need to rebuild the Zoo and do it now.”

To learn more about Senator Kanavas or the 33rd Senate District please visit his website at: http://www.senatorkanavas.com.

Mayor Barrett Does Not Get It
Kanavas Questions Mayor Barrett’s Judgment on Zoo Interchange

(Madison) June 30, 2005… Senator Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield) today questioned the judgment of Mayor Tom Barrett regarding the funding of preliminary engineering on the Zoo Interchange reconstruction project. Yesterday, in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz and Senate Minority Leader Judith Robson, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett embraced the Democratic Party line to nix funding for the Zoo Interchange.

“The Mayor needs to understand that the reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange is vital for the economic development of the region. The preliminary work is being funded now so that businesses and local communities are able to plan and grow. They need to know that the Zoo Interchange will be able to handle the increased traffic demands of an expanding economy,” stated Kanavas.

In his letter to senate leadership, Mayor Barrett was eager to criticize SEWRPC’s freeway plan as baseless and divisive. He went on to say that funding of the Zoo Interchange should be further delayed despite the facts. The Zoo Interchange handles more vehicles in one day than the Marquette Interchange, the Mitchell Interchange, or I-94 at Wisconsin/Illinois border.

“Mayor Barrett needs to decide from which side of his mouth he wants to speak. On one side he talks about the need for economic growth of the region so that the City of Milwaukee can benefit. On the other side he is attempting to kill a project that will create the infrastructure to support growth. The Mayor just does not get it. It is ironic that the Mayor’s letter was sent a day before it was announced that Milwaukee is no longer a top 20 city in America. Without a viable Zoo Interchange Milwaukee will not be a top 30 city in ten years. He needs to understand that the answer to growing the City of Milwaukee is not shrinking Milwaukee and Waukesha counties,” Kanavas concluded.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waukesha Christmas Parade

This Sunday, I'll be joining my good friends Bill and (former Senator) Jodi Huelsman in the Waukesha Christmas Parade. The parade begins at 4pm and heads right through downtown.

It's a great event for the whole family! Come down and see us.

Clink the link for details:


Monday, November 16, 2009

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Fish Fry

This Friday, I will once again be serving as a celebrity waiter at the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) 19th Annual Fish Fry. It's a great event with lots of great people and a wonderful dinner. Please join me and show your support for Waukesha!

Friday, November 20, 2009
4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Country Springs Hotel

For additional information you may contact RSVP at:
Phone: (262) 549-3348 ▪ Fax: (262) 549-0436

Waukesha GOP Event

I will be speaking at tomorrow's Waukesha Co. GOP County Chairman's Circle Leadership Celebration in Delafield. I have included some information below if you are interested in attending.

When: 11/17/2009 6 p.m.

Where: St. John's Northwestern Military Academy,1101 N. Genesee St., Delafield.

For details or to RSVP please contact Cathy Waller 262-542-8532 or cwaller@waukeshagop.org.

I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interview for the "Inside Scoop"

Click on the link below to hear my 11/5/09 interview with Rick Sense of the Inside Scoop.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Statement on Senate Democrats' Economic Development Plan

Kanavas Statement on Senate Democrats’ Economic Development Plan

(Madison, WI)…State Senator Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield) released the following statement in response to Senate Democrats’ unveiling their new economic development plan:

“What jobs will be created by passing this bill? Capital is leaving our state by the millions of dollars and the Democrats’ plan to reverse the state’s economic death spiral is to hire a grant writer and a regulatory ombudsman?

Our state is dying. Businesses and people cannot move out of state fast enough and at this time of nearly unprecedented joblessness the Democrats have a plan to do as little as possible. Where are the tax cuts to spur growth? Where is the expansion of the R&D tax credit to encourage innovation in existing companies? Where is a cut in the capital gains tax so businesses don’t leave Wisconsin?

They could not have done less and still said they had a plan.”

To learn more about Senator Kanavas or the 33rd Senate District, please visit www.senatorkanavas.com.


If you want to read the plan for yourself you may do so at the Wheeler Report's website: