Monday, March 24, 2008

How The New SEWRPC Executive Director Designee Dealt With One Citizen: A Case Study

How might citizen input be handled at the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC), now that the agency has selected long-time Deputy Director Ken Yunker as its next executive director?

Here's one little case study (and a previous posting, here.)

It was about a year ago that Patrick Marchese, an engineer and former leader at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage Commission, gave a PowerPoint presentation at a meeting of the SEWRPC water study advisory committee.

The presentation suggested that the Public Policy Forum have a role in regional water policy planning: Marchese was a member of a Forum task force on water policy, and had SEWRPC's permission to give his presentation.

The Forum's work on regional water policy has found editorial praise from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as an example of regional cooperation with broad participation - - but that's not where SEWRPC is coming from.

It wants to be in charge, period, and anyone else having the temerity to offer any help gets dissed.

Yunker waited for Marchese to finish and then delivered to Marchese a tounge-lashing before the committee, claiming that the Public Policy Forum's group somehow had been operating arrogantly by not communicating better beforehand with SEWRPC - - as Yunker saw it.

Talk about inside-baseball taking precedence over the public interest.

Not to mention treating disrespectfully a member of the public whose presentation was scheduled.

I was at the meeting.

And in all my years attending public meetings as a reporter, or as a citizen observer, or as a local government official in both Madison and Milwaukee, I had never seen a member of the public treated by a government body that way - - especially a committee member scheduled to speak.

By a committee staffer!

Not long thereafter, Marchese, who had been trying to push the water advisory committee to broaden its focus past the parameters sought by the staff and other committee members, submitted his resignation.

2 comments:

Dan Knauss said...

It's unfortunate he resigned, but I take it the advisory committee is composed of unpaid volunteers--why take abuse in that position? Althought the stakes seem worth taking some abuse--and being willing to push back...

Perhaps SEWRPC needs a "support group" of fans for people involved with it like Marchese. A group that would also level some organized crowds and press attention when the group deserves some "Bronx cheers."

Anonymous said...

This guy Yunker sounds like a crazy man. He's not in control of his emotions in a public setting. Its odd that someone with this kind of disposition would be promoted, rather than disciplined.