December 16, 2010 10:20 AM
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Spanish train manufacturer Talgo, which had planned to employ more than 125 people making trains in Milwaukee, will pull out and look to relocate in states that don't consider their product a "boondoggle" as Wisconsin's Governor-Elect Scott Walker has called high speed rail.
But it didn't have to be that way even for a rail opponent like Walker. Florida's new governor is also skeptical about rail, but he's willing to listen to different points of view before he just says no. As a result, Talgo is considering relocating jobs that would have gone to Wisconsinites to Florida instead. To quote the Journal story from Monday:
"But the Florida and Wisconsin situations differ significantly, because Florida's governor-elect didn't close the door to proceeding with rail plans the way that Walker did...
"Florida's Governor-elect Rick Scott also is skeptical about the costs of a planned 168-mph high-speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando. But unlike fellow Republicans Walker and Kasich, Scott didn't issue an unequivocal promise to end his state's high-speed rail project."
This squares with what U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told me last Thursday when he called me with the bad news. He said that the feds made their decision to pull Wisconsin's $810 million grant when Walker told LaHood directly in a meeting at the White House that there was no hope that he'd reconsider his decision.
Walker took an unreasonably extreme position during his campaign and then refused to weigh his options after he won election to save 5,000 jobs for his state. It didn't have to be that way.