Gov. Scott Walker Appoints Democrat Jeff Plale to Railroad Commission

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has just appointed former Democratic state senator Jeff Plale as the state’s new railroads commissioner.

Don’t get too excited about this new bipartisanship. Plale, along with former Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, voted against renewing contracts with state employee unions during a December lame-duck legislative session.

After his vote, which shocked his fellow Democrats and union leadership, Plale said he did not want to hamstring with next legislature.

Critics charge that Walker rewarded Plale by appointing him to a $90,000 a year gig as administrator of state facilities in January. Plale will make one dollar more in his new position.

Plale, a conservative Democrat from South Milwaukee, lost the 2010 primary to Chris Larson. Larson won the seat and was one of “Fab 14” who left Wisconsin earlier this year in an attempt to stop Governor Walker’s budget bill from passing.

Plale hails an area that could use more public transportation. But, as Dave Zweifel of the Cap Times reports, a commuter rail line that would have connected Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha was dropped “primarily because of legislative GOP naysayers.”

Too bad Walker didn’t pick former Governor Tommy Thompson as Commissioner of Railroads. Thompson supported a Madison-Milwaukee line. Given that Walker killed high-speed rail, it seems fitting he picked Plale, who helped to kill state workers contracts.

If you liked this story by Elizabeth DiNovella, the Culture Editor of The Progressive magazine, check out her story Wisconsin Workers Feel the Pinch."

Follow Elizabeth DiNovella @lizdinovella on Twitter