Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mary Lazich's Idea Of Regionalism: A Free Ride

Which, given that you can't ride the bus from Milwaukee to New Berlin, is somewhere between irony and a bad pun.

Here is what the State Senator (R) from New Berlin had to say on her blog about the notion that New Berlin would make anything in the way of a regional benefits payment to Milwaukee for extending water service to New Berlin:

"Despite an approved Compact, Milwaukee holds a gun to New Berlin
By Mary Lazich

Monday, Jul 28 2008, 12:55 PM

"I must admit I was taken aback when I read the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel that Milwaukee is negotiating with New Berlin to sell Milwaukee water.

"The price tag would be hefty $1.5 million one time fee in addition to actual costs.

"During the lengthy deliberations about the Great Lakes Compact, I made it clear that despite my reservations, I supported an effective document that was good for the Great Lakes, the state of Wisconsin, and would preserve our greatest natural resource.

"Time and time again, I heard Compact proponents make the case that the Compact would address the water needs of New Berlin.

"The conventional wisdom was that the Compact needed to be approved quickly, and if it was, New Berlin’s water woes would be taken care of.

"Making those arguments were city of Milwaukee officials from Mayor Tom Barrett on down.

"They claimed the city of Milwaukee would no longer have issues with New Berlin getting water if Wisconsin would simply okay the Compact. It seems that isn’t the case.

"Wisconsin has approved the Compact, but for the city of Milwaukee, on this critical public health issue, it’s still business as usual, imposing a hefty price tag for a community in desperate need of water.

"For the city of Milwaukee, it was never about the Compact. It was and remains a question of money and control over a suburb to the west."

My, oh my, where does one begin to unpack these 'arguments?'

* She was "taken aback" reading a July 23rd newspaper story that New Berlin and Milwaukee were negotiating a water sale?

The news that those negotiations were authorized by state officials was reported in a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 54 weeks ago, and there were subequent stories about negotiations, meetings between Milwaukee and New Berlin's mayors about water, etc.

(Tip also to Lazich and blog writing staff: There is no slash mark between "Journal" and "Sentinel" in "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." Check the paper's front page more than once every 54 weeks for confirmation.)

Where's she been getting her information about Great Lakes water: the Ohio newspapers?

Or did she forget her earlier blog post where she blasted New Berlin Mayor Jack Chiovatero for meeting with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett about water, or as it was described on her blog, "cozying up."

* The Compact, approved just a few weeks ago, would end New Berlin's water woes?

So it was up to outsiders to fix New Berlin's problem?

Wasn't that New Berlin's responsibility, something Lazich would understand, as a former New Berlin city council member, Waukesha County Board supervisor, state representative and now State Senator?

Lazich does not mention that New Berlin officials for years, on their own, and in the face of federal action, delayed cleaning up its water supply, then decided over the last couple of years not to buy water filtration upgrades that could have cleaned the water, and met the federal requirements, because New Berlin felt it could get better water - - Milwaukee's water - - cheaper.

* Lazich says "During the lengthy deliberations about the Great Lakes Compact, I made it clear that despite my reservations, I supported an effective document that was good for the Great Lakes, the state of Wisconsin, and would preserve our greatest natural resource."

Now come on, there: There's more spin in that sentence than an out-of-control Tilt-a-Whirl.

By "effective document," Lazich must mean the revised, fantasy Compact she wanted renegotiated by all eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces as an alternative to the draft Compact she vocally opposed from Day One, stalled in a legislative study committee, and voted against this year on the Senate floor.

Twice.

New Berlin Mayor Chiovatero still has to get this deal past his City Council; he and his brace of first-line consultants will not have to cozy up to New Berlin council members to help them understand that a $1.5 million payment to Milwaukee is a smaller number, and hence a better deal for cleaner, reliable water, than is $6 million for radium-removal filtration equipment and maintenance to further deplete their wells.

1 comment:

Joe Klein said...

I assume Mary Lazich took the oath of office when sworn in to serve the state.

Wisconsin Statute EB-154 (6/86).

"I, (official's name), having been elected or appointed to the office of (title) swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the State of Wisconsin, and will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of said office to the best of my ability. So help me God."

Source: http://elections.state.wi.us/pdf/EB-154 Official Oath.pdf

The United States Constitution in article VI states:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

Source: http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articlevi.html

Given that she has sworn an oath to the US Constitution and that the Constitution holds international treaties as "the supreme law of the land ..." "... anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding," any argument about the law prior to the compact should have included a discussion of our current obligations under the 1908 Boundary Waters Treaty.

The Compact is US "enabling legislation" pursuant to the Boundary Waters Treaty. The Canadian law regarding the treaty obligation is here:

http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/ShowFullDoc/cs/I-17///en

The right wing ideologues tend to sweep away legal fact because the desire to drum up animosity between the uninformed populace and their own government for their own selfish political gain. These loosely treasonous muttering do not negate our Constitution obligations, which include consultation with Canada on water diversions, and in the case of a deadlock, arbitration of disagreements at the International Court of Justice, an organ of the UN.

I quote the treaty below:

ARTICLE X

Any questions or matters of difference arising between the High Contracting Parties involving the rights, obligations, or interests of the United States or of the Dominion of Canada either in relation to each other or to their respective inhabitants, may be referred for decision to the International Joint Commission by the consent of the two Parties, it being understood that on the part of the United States any such action will be by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and on the part of His Majesty's Government with the consent of the Governor General in Council. In each case so referred, the said Commission is authorized to examine into and report upon the facts and circumstances of the particular questions any matters referred, together with such conclusions and recommendations as may be appropriate, subject, however, to any restrictions or exceptions which may be imposed with respect thereto by the terms of the reference.

A majority of the said Commission shall have power to render a decision or finding upon any of the questions or matters so referred.

If the said Commission is equally divided or otherwise unable to render a decision or finding as to any questions or matters so referred, it shall be the duty of the Commissioners to make a joint report to both Governments, or separate reports to their respective Governments, showing the different conclusions arrived at with regard to the matters or questions referred, which questions or matters shall thereupon be referred for decision by the High Contracting Parties to an umpire chosen in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the fourth, fifth and sixth paragraphs of Article XLV of the Hague Convention for the pacific settlement of international disputes, dated October 18, 1907. Such umpire shall have power to render a final decision with respect to those matters and questions so referred on which the Commission fail to agree.