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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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home : opinions : opinions
April 2, 2020

3/10/2020 7:30:00 AM
Our View
Democrats escalate war on northern Wisconsin
Gregg Walker and Richard Moore
Publisher and Columnist

What's worse than a bureaucrat?

The answer is, a bureaucrat unleashed when a Democrat is in power.

This past week, we have witnessed just exactly how bureaucrats are behaving irresponsibly in the age of Gov. Tony Evers, no doubt with the blessing of Tony Evers. Maybe at the direction of Tony Evers.

On the one hand, we have the governor waging an unceasing war against already burdened northern Wisconsin, and pressing the pedal to the metal to overrun us with economic deprivation and depopulation.

Over the years, the establishments of both parties have been complicit in the transfer of wealth from North to South, but nothing compares with the ferocity of discrimination against northern Wisconsin in the first year of the Evers' regime.

This week the escalation continued with the announcement of so-called local transportation grants, in which the award list basically told northern and rural Wisconsin to get lost, maybe down a sinkhole, when it comes to our increasingly undriveable roadways.

Then the state doubled down with a DOT spin doctor, who told us the real danger was not so much dangerous roads as it was exposing just how dangerous those roads are.

Let's not kid ourselves about the real conditions of those roads and highways, and the very real impact they have on northern Wisconsin. Anyone who drives down Wisconsin Highway 70 West and U.S. Highway 51 in Minocqua knows this truth: Going downtown can resemble an episode of Survivor.

Trucks in front of you bounce so hard their covers come off and cargo can begin to fly out. You would normally try to dodge that except you're too busy dodging the Tony Holes and Tony Sinkholes yourself.

It's not just in Minocqua and our surrounding towns but in towns throughout northern Wisconsin. It's like a bumper car ride, except our collisions with Tony Holes isn't so benign to our health, our property, and our pocketbooks.

Our highways in and around the region are no better. Drive Highway 51 south and at around Exit 234 near Tomahawk, and continuing for about 10 miles, the punishment is brutal from the buckled roadway, with vibrations so intense drivers feel as if they are at the helm of a jackhammer.

The dangers to human life and property are self-evident. Such highways essentially hold us hostage - any detour merely exposes other ruptures in the roads - except for visitors who absolutely must make their way out, many never to come again.

So what is the state doing about it? Nothing.

Oh, that's not quite true. They do have signs around Exit 234 warning us of "Rough Road Ahead." As if we couldn't figure this out on our own.

In the pages of this newspaper, we have tried to report on this problem, and through stories and photographs we try to impress upon our lawmakers and policy makers, both here and downstate, just how dire the situation is and how urgently we need help.

So how does the state respond? Well, certainly not with help.

Instead, here comes a DOT bureaucrat, one Tegan Griffith, who reaches out to tell us - wait for it - that we're the problem for running photographs of potholes and crumbling roads.

Yes, indeed, the newspaper - and those who have informed us where very dangerous areas are - we are the problem because now, she says, the photos are encouraging people to run out into traffic to take pictures of absurdly deteriorated roadways.

Of course, the suggestion is that somehow our photos are making people crazy enough to risk their lives weaving in and out of traffic on foot to take photos for us.

First, as we report, the newspaper has never received any such photos. It makes us wonder, if people are engaging in such unwise behavior, why they would not follow through and send the photos.

Then, too, coincidentally and conveniently, the only ones who are seeing people "running into traffic" are government workers. We drive around the area a lot, and we just don't see them.

But, then, as they will tell you, government workers see lots of things the rest of us don't; that's what makes them smart enough to tell us how to live our lives according to their wishes.

So we doubt the DOT narrative that our pictures are driving people mad enough to dash into traffic. But, we would like to observe, even if people were crazy enough to do this, it's not our publication of photos of horrific roads that are driving them crazy, it's the horrific roads themselves that are doing so - the relentless never-ending fields of road mines people must navigate very day, breaking their cars, jarring and bouncing their families, with no apparent help coming from the government to fix them.

That it's the roads that are driving people mad never occurs to our brainiac bureaucrat from the DOT. She never assured that the roads would be fixed.

That's because, if there are no photos in the paper, there's no problem. If nothing is exposed, it never existed, and we'll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes. Seriously, this is how bureaucrats think.

Then, on the heels of this bureaucratic wisdom came Gov. Evers' road awards. Now, as we previously reported, the governor had already mangled what was a good effort by legislative Republicans to bring road relief and aid to our region and to other rural areas.

Republicans had crafted a $90-million infusion of funds for local roads. Then the liberal governor got ahold of the package and subverted it. He cut $15 million out of the allocation to begin with, and then he opened up the money not just for road projects but for all sorts of things not having to do with roads, such as pedestrian and bike trails and mass transit.

Then came the awards this week, and the governor once again put his foot on the neck of northern and rural Wisconsin. Cities and villages, and bike and pedestrian trails, cleaned up, as did special interests, but towns and rural roads, well, not so much.

There were only six counties in the state that received not one cent of the $75 million, and three of them are in our area - Iron, Florence, and Oneida counties. Vilas County got one award.

Essentially, the governor turned his back on our region, a region already losing population and businesses, already burdened with a lack of economic development and growth, already saddled with crumbled roads. The Evers' administration essentially stuck a sign along the timelines of our lives, saying "Rough Road Ahead."

He might as well have said, Drop Dead. No wonder the DOT dispatched a bureaucrat to spin the bad news and to try and turn it into our fault.

Rather than fill potholes, they merely want to cover them up with political spin.

But we have a message of our own to bureaucrats, Democrats, and our governor. Our pictures may speak a thousand words, but your horrible roads speak a million words and more to northern Wisconsin residents every day that they encounter them.

It's a lot of words and feelings to go with them, governor, and northern Wisconsin will surely remember them.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2020
Article comment by: JAMES LESCHKE

Sorry to say you got the answer wrong. The correct answer to the question is: A newspaper publisher and columnist with poor, limited vision, short and selective memories, and an axe to grind. You seem to have forgotten who has been driving the bus for many years, and for the most part, continues to operate the gas and brake pedals. Not to mention the elected officials from our area helped to grow the problem. The fix here would be some accurate reporting on how the problem got to be as bad as it is, and how it might be fixed. A bit much to ask for, but its worth a try.

Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Article comment by: Charlotte Schneider

You make it sound like this is only Evers fault. Where were you when we were dodging the Scott holes?

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