Sunday, January 31, 2010

Obama Takes Lead In Cutting Government Energy Use

Saves money, greenhouse gas emissions, too.


Excellent use of presidential executive order power.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Waukesha Water Meeting Was Not A Real Hearing

Waukesha is going to have to improve the public information process it used at Thursday's roll-out of the Lake Michigan diversion plan.


At the meeting, water utility commissioners and aldermen were allowed to ask questions which consultants, utility officials or the Mayor answered.

So there was dialogue, and follow-up discussion ensued.

But when the public got its turn, a strange thing happened:

Questions were asked, notes were taken, and after a break, brief answers or responses were read off by water utility manager Dan Duchniak, in rough sequence to the order posed.

There was no dialogue.

No follow-ups.

Waukesha has at least two more sessions scheduled.

Let's hope they are full hearings, with dialogue and interrogatories that could lead to genuine discussion.

And let's make sure the Department of Natural Resources holds actual, not faux hearings.

Destination Shopping Has Its Limitations

For the same reasons that the Pabst Farms Uber-Mall has flopped in Waukesha County, so has the Cabela's been a disappointment.


In both cases, governments offered up hefty subsidies, hoping for synergies that would keep the development machine rolling.

Lessons learned?




Greenest Technology At Home Means Less Foreign Dependency

On China.


Will our slow-to-act approach to green technology make China the new Saudi Arabia?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Waukesha Will Seek Twice The Water It Now Uses

Waukesha uses around seven-to-nine million gallons of water a day and wants permission from the Great Lakes states to withdraw up twice that amount: 18.5 million gallons daily.


That is because despite conservation, and some large-user reductions, Waukesha will need water to supply to annexed land to the south and west in a larger water delivery area certified by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

This diverted-water-for growth is going to be an obstacle to its diversion approvals in the other Great Lakes states.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

For Better Or Worse, Waukesha To Go After Lake Michigan Water: Some Highlights

From Waukesha's City Hall meeting Thursday, where Mayor Larry Nelson, Water utility general manager Daniel Duchniak and some of the city's high-priced consultants disclosed a draft of Waukesha's $165 million Lake Michigan water diversion plan:


* Regardless from which Lakefront city (Milwaukee, Racine or Oak Creek) Waukesha chooses to purchase Lake Michigan water - - if the diversion application is approved by all eight Great Lakes states - - the discharge point for the wastewater to be returned is Underwood Creek in Wauwatosa. Period.

I keep wondering if Wauwatosa knows it is Waukesha's flush point.

* Regardless of which new water supply alternative Waukesha chooses to implement, and Lake Michigan is its preferred choice, water rates there are going to skyrocket. It was pointed out tonight that just the operation and maintenance cost of managing a pipeline from Lake Michigan and returning wastewater via Underwood Creek about equals the entire current Waukesha Water Utility operating budget.

And that doesn't include interest on tens of millions in borrowings to pay for the new system's construction.

* Several aldermen and citizen speakers objected to buying Milwaukee water if it came with development strings or additional dollars above the water rate approved by the Public Service Commission - - and Milwaukee's Common Council is unanimously on record by formal resolution tying water delivery to Waukesha to better transit, more affordable housing and other developmental relationships.

* Waukesha has a pretty tight time line to be done with the application, approvals, and construction to meet a June, 2018 timeline.

I remember the Great Lakes water expert Peter Annin addressing the Waukesha Common Council and Water Utility Commission at a public about a year ago advising the assemblage to expect any initial application to be turned back by one or more of the Great Lakes states.

Does the Waukesha timeline include a period of application re-writing, or a final turn-down, leading to appeals?

The city says it has about an 18-month buffer built in between now and mid-2018 for such contingencies, though it says there is no time to waste.

So can Waukesha afford the diversion plan, or should it be looking at alternatives that might be more politically viable, or doable?

Stay tuned.

Same Old Rail-Highways Double Standard

TMJ4-TV news this evening was teasing their upcoming report on the high-speed rail funding coming our way to build a line between Madison and Milwaukee.


The gist was: $800 million, but whose going to pay for it?

You never hear highway financing spun that way. No one ever asks: $2.3 billion for the Zoo Interchange: whose going to pay for it?
'
'

Major Zoo Interchange Program 2/4

Save the date: 2/4.


From WisPolitcs:



WISPOLITICS.COM/WISBUSINESS.COM PRESENTS "THE FUTURE OF SE WISCONSIN TRANSPORTATION AND ITS BUSIEST INTERCHANGE"
The Zoo Interchange provides connections between I-94, I-894 and US 45 in western Milwaukee County near the Milwaukee County Zoo. Built in 1963, it's the busiest interchange in Wisconsin with more than 350,000 vehicles using it daily.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is moving quickly to replace three interchange bridges and studying other possible changes to meet future needs.

What does the Zoo Interchange situation tell us about the transportation system in the region and the state? And how will state funding challenges and proposals for regional transit authorities impact those systems?

Next week's Feb. 4 event will feature a broad discussion about the future of Wisconsin's busiest interchange and its place in southeastern Wisconsin's transportation system.

This Thursday event is sponsored by the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin and co-organized by MMAC, UW-Milwaukee and WisPolitics.com/WisBusiness.com.

February 4, 2010 - 7:30 AM - 9 AM - Medical College of Wisconsin - Alumni Center

Keynote: Former Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Tom Carlsen

Panelists:

--Kenneth Yunker, executive director, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, and temporary staff to the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority
--Craig Thompson, executive director, Transportation Development Assoc. of Wisconsin
--Gretchen Schuldt, co-chair of Citizens Allied for Sane Highways, a coalition opposing freeway expansion in Milwaukee
--Dan Devine, West Allis mayor and former Milwaukee Co. board member
--WisDOT representative (pending)

To register, go to http://www.mmac.org or contact:
Debra Jordan
(414) 287.4127
djordan@mmac.org

Waukesha Releases Summary Of Lake Michigan Plan

The full draft plan is set for 7 p.m. release. The summary breaks no new ground, reiterating that the Lake Michigan option is the best.


The Wisconsin DNR, the other Great Lakes states, whichever city is the seller and Wauwatosa, where wastewater is to be dumped, will also weigh in.

Milwaukee Aldermen Love The High Speed Rail Funding

Statement from Council President Hines, Ald. Bauman, here.


And why not? It's a coup for Milwaukee - - better transit, jobs - - the whole nine yards.

I predict a lot of traffic from Madison to or through Milwaukee, too, with Madisonians getting to downtown, the airport or Chicago faster and at low cost.

Next step: the streetcar connection at the Intermodal Station for tourists and workers from Chicago or Madison.

Environmental Groups Raise Issues With Waukesha Water Plan

Questions that Waukesha's plan release tonight - - delayed as Waukesha changed consultants a couple of months ago - - and that probably will be less addressed by Waukesha than eventually by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, then the other Great Lakes states' reviewers.


So sit back and take your time because this won't get finished until well into 2011, or later.

Waukesha Consultant Touts Waukesha Water Plan

No surprise here: a consultant hired by the Waukesha Water Utility finds a plan by the Waukesha Water Utility to send wastewater to Lake Michigan via Underwood Creek poses no environmental threat to Underwood Creek.


A different utility-paid consultant had earlier found that the Creek could absorb the daily volume discharged without negative consequences.

These recent consultant reports are part of the run-up to tonight's formal release of Waukesha's plan to pipe in Lake Michigan water - - up to around 12 million gallons a day - - and send it back as treated wastewater through the Creek in Wauwatosa.

The Creek connects to the Menomonee River, thus to Lake Michigan.

As I have pointed out before, Waukesha is spending heavily on legal, scientific, public relations and lobbying consultants to support its Lake Michigan water planning.

More from the Waiukesha City Hall meeting beginning at 7 p.m. tonight where the draft diversion plan will be released.

Environmental organizations statewide have asked Waukesha officials for more detailed information - - summarized in a news release out today - - and the DNR is expected to initiate a formal Environmental Impact Statement review of the plan to comply with statutes and to independently determine if the plan passes muster.

All eight Great lakes states must approve the plan before water can be piped to Waukesha, a city outside the Great Lakes basin.

Diversion approvals are to be rare under the Compact, so Waukesha has to make a case for need and applicability that goes far beyond the findings of its consultants.

Waukesha water ratepayers will absorb the plan's estimated $78 million construction cost and annual operating expenses of more than $5 million.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Media Reports $810 Million In Wisconsin High-Speed Rail Funding

For the Madison-Milwaukee line.


If true, great news.

Solid State Of The Union Speech

Let's see if the Congress matches Obama's energy with legislation.

Scott Walker Looking To Double The State's Deficit

Figures and analysis from One Wisconsin Now.


Some reformer!

Local Water Cluster Firm Getting Boost From China Operation

We keep hearing that firms like A. O. Smith are at the core of Milwaukee's emerging water cluster, but do layoffs along with growing company activity in China and India really portend good news here?


Some related context from an earlier posting is here.

Why Tommy Won't Run For US Senate

Xoff nails it.

Public Policy Forum Executive Director Explains Milwaukee County Report

I blogged about it earlier, but let Rob Henken say what the Public Policy Forum is after with its report on the future of Milwaukee County.


From the PPF's wonderfully titled blog, "Milwaukee Talkie," Henken explains here.

Illinois Water Planning Process Looks More Open Than Ours

Water supply planning in Northern Illinois looks far more publicly-oriented that what the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission is considering and sponsoring around here.


Details here.

And while you are reviewing this study and process, take a look at how a modern website facilitates and invites reader and taxpayer inclusion.

Transit Enhances Affordable Housing: Is SEWRPC Interested?

SEWRPC's housing advisory committee is meeting in the agency's cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all style: an occasional confab at which members review staff-written chapter drafts.


Is this a prescription for innovation? Is this how new ideas can actually get into the study, which is the first the regional planning body has efforted since 1975?

Not really.

For example, a new report finds that combining transit access with affordable housing deepens the value of the housing. Details here.

Housing and transit, tied together. Sound like something this area needs?

But does the advisory committee, a large body of already-busy volunteers spread across seven counties, have the time and focus to comb data bases and chat up experts to find the latest thinking about housing and how it relates to other public needs?

That's a tall order, and not easily met as SEWRPC's planner on the project churns out chapter drafts at the agency offices in a cubicle in Pewaukee.

And by the way, what happened to that SEWRPC office it was thinking of establishing in the downtown?

Imagine if the offices were at City Hall or the County Courthouse, where some SEWRPC officials and planners were truly accessible.

I know - - never mind.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Abolish Milwaukee County Government? Along With It, Scott Walker's Gubernatorial Aspirations

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorially takes the position that Milwaukee County's finances are so imperiled that abolishing the unit of government is the rational way out.


"Dissolve the County," says the editorial headline.

Pretty heavy.

The basis for the piece: a new report from the non-partisan Public Policy Forum, a Milwaukee non-profit with a long history of thoughtful and documented fiscal and policy analysis. Trust me: folks at the PPF aren't hysterics.

Little wonder that the newspaper's editorial board took the PPF findings and concluded the County should go.

Equally amazing: Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is trying to walk away from this fiscal and institutional meltdown by, what else?...running for higher office - - that of Governor - - just as the state itself is weighed down by revenue shortfalls.

So how on earth can Walker suggest to voters that he is the right person to serve as Governor?

Walker's been County Exec for nearly eight years, and came into office as the reformer who would fix the County's woes in the wake of a pension scandal that cost the previous Exec and a host of supervisors their positions.

Yet Walker was unable or unwilling to get a handle on the county's financial problems, in part because his real agenda - - his major distraction - - was motorcycling around the state in search of the governorship, and using the Milwaukee position to step up and into the Governor's office.

With, of course, constant encouragement from our brace of righty radio talkers who helped create Walker as County Exec as a Milwaukee-area GOP wunderkind and have been urging him to run for Governor from the beginning.

The result?

Milwaukee County is at the brink of insolvency and failure, yet the guy in the top job is looking to bail out - - bad enough - - while seeking a promotion - - far worse.






Packed House At Barrett Event In Madison

Mayor Barrett and his gubernatorial campaign did well at the fundraiser tonight in Madison.


Good crowd.

Lots of energy.

All in all, a fine event.


MMSD Uses Video For 2009 Annual Report

Concise and accessible. Fine use of electronics to convey information by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage Commission.


MMSD on YouTube. Who'd have thunk that?

Madison Fundraiser For Barrett Can Set The Tone There

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett Takes his 2010 Gubernatorial candidacy to Madison Tuesday for a downtown fundraiser.


Beginning at 5 p.m. at Magnus Restaurant, 120 E. Wilson St.

See you there.
120 East Wilson StreetMadison, Wisconsin 53703608 258-8787
120 East Wilson StreetMadison, Wisconsin 53703608 258-8787

Wind Can Supply 20% Of US Energy Needs, Study Finds

I was on several recent road trips the last year across the Great Plains, and the growth in the number of wind farms and turbines visible just from the interstate highways from the Dakotas and Minnesota south into Iowa and Nebraska is astonishing.


A new study confirms my anecdotal observations: energy production from wind is happening, and can expand to meet perhaps 20% of the nation's energy needs, but with substantial infrastructure required.

To which I say, "great."

Let's keep it going, or get started.

When I see wind turbines, I see jobs, and I see energy security, as the electricity being generated is not produced with petroleum purchases from unstable and unfriendly foreign governments or owners.

And I see much cleaner energy - - fewer cases of asthma, heart disease and other ailments traced to the burning of fossil fuels.

Not to mention hydrocarbons that are not sent skyward to contribute to climate change.

Not every acre of land is suitable for a turbine. I know that. Cities and subdivisions and native plants and grasses in rural areas need protections and mindfulness, obviously.

That said, there is plenty of space where these concerns can and are being respected while building turbines that meet economic and social needs.

As to wind power, full speed ahead.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Marcus Corp. Theater Complex Will Boost Park East Corridor

I was working in Mayor John Norquist's office when a plan including a theater complex for the Park East corridor floated out.


Some years ago - - five or six at least, maybe more.

So it's been a long time coming - - bad economy, Milwaukee County sloth on land development (the County just had to be in control of development there even though the City had a development department and tons of experience and expertise - - but if it actually happens it'll help realize the development potential at the north edge of downtown.

And it'll add potential riders to light rail or the downtown streetcar.

Sure beats a useless elevated freeway ramp, I'll tell you that.

The Case For Milwaukee Transit

Milwaukee County First makes the case.

Waukesha Presents Its Diversion Plan This Thursday

The Waukesha Water Utility will present to the public its long-anticipated draft application for a diversion of Lake Michigan water supply before the Common Council at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 28. The meeting will be held at City Hall, 201 Delafield St., in the Common Council Chambers.

Key elements: Cost, cost of alternatives, return flow component, justification for acquiring significant surplus, plans for water supply to serve new annexations, levels of overall environmental review, justifications under the Great Lakes Compact.


Transit Is A Priority

Business leaders in SE Wisconsin are speaking up.

Huge New Power Plant Opens In Oak Creek

Thomas Content at the Journal Sentinel reports on the plant's costs and benefits.


Planned to meet demand that may not materialize, the company will sell some surplus generation, and retire some of its less-efficient plants, but the Oak Creek plant will add substantially to the company's carbon footprint - - a step backwards.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Another Pro-Corporate DNR Ruling

More manure for the groundwater in Rosendale.

Remind me again what the DNR's mission is supposed to be?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Only In Chicago: Cleaner Water Bad For Climate

Chicago is the only big city in American that does not disinfect its wastewater when it sends it down a tributary - - in this case, the already-controversial canal that artificially connects to the Mississippi River basin and from which the Asian carp may be invading Lake Michigan.

Now they have a new justification: it'll raise the wastewater agency's carbon footprint.

It's hard to imagine an agency deeper in denial, or one that is less deserving of renegade status.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cable News Shows: A Contradiction In Terms

I'm no TV critic, but the 24-hour-cable news programs have been in full 'roid rage this week.

Righty shows on Fox deemed Scott Brown's Senatorial win a revolution, or the end of the Obama presidency, and other nonsense.

Tonight, Keith Olbermann on MSNBC - - and I am usually a fan - - said the Supreme Court's approval of corporate contributions to campaigns ranked up there in the legal Hall of Shame (my term) with the Dred Scott decision, and meant the end of American democracy.

I don't think Brown's surprising win or the Court's troubling ruling are the end of the world as we know it.

Fodder for amped-up TV commentators, sure.

But let's see what these stories look like in 12-18 months, and how many unanticipated consequences or unforeseen tangents emerged - - after the hype died down and the yelling or heavy breathing or sheer goofiness subsided.

I Suppose NASA Is Lying About Climate Warming

NASA finds climate warming; expect the right to say it's all made up.

Still The Same Old Opaque SEWRPC

I again note that SEWRPC's still got its old-timey, nearly-monochromatic and user-hostile website in place despite telling federal regulators at the end of 2009 that a better website was just around the corner,

But given the culture of indifference there when it comes to keeping the public informed, little surprise,.

Another shortcoming: other than name, appointing authority, county represented and term dates, there is no biographical information on the site about the agency's 21 commissioners.

Some of them have been there a long time, and have been spending millions of taxpayer dollars for years, but they might as well be anonymous.

Which I think is the plan, but for a planning agency with known outreach and communication problems, a pretty bad plan.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper Good Source Of Information

You won't find a better source of information about Wisconsin and local water issue information than the Milwaukee Riverkeeper's updates, here.

White House Summit On Asian Carp Awfully Late In The Game

President Obama will be hosting in a couple of weeks a meeting of Great Lakes officials about the threat to the Great Lakes posed by the Asian carp.

Gov. Doyle was instrumental in getting the meeting scheduled.

This comes on the heels of the discovery of carp DNA in Lakes Michigan and Superior, indicating that all measure of electric barrier zapping and massive fish poisonings in waterway connections to the Great Lakes in recent months have failed.

And with the US Supreme Court turning down a multi-state petition to force Illinois to close a shipping canal's locks through which the predatory fish may entered Lake Michigan, it's unclear what will come of a White House meeting now.

Pick you fractured idiom: horse already out of the barn...cat out of the bag...you get the picture.

What's galling about the failure of the Great Lakes states to act decisively - - and we're looking at you, Illinois, since it is Chicago's shipping canal that is the probable offender - - is that media have been carrying stories for years about the carp's relentless swim northward up the Mississippi River and towards the Great Lakes.

Where $7 billion of commercial fishing and recreational businesses could be trashed by these hungry, 100-pound flying fish.

Take a look at this very comprehensive piece in the Michigan media - - from the summer of 2007.

Where was the White House meeting about the carp back then?

Oh, I forgot who was President then.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Milwaukee County Might Create A Transit Authority

I said "might," because the sales tax needed to finance it - - removing the cost from the property tax and bolstering the floundering bus system - - may end up being on the ballot again.

The sales tax plan that passed in a recent referendum was advisory, so it is not clear if that could count as taxing authorization. And surely there would be litigation, so I don't see Milwaukee County actually any closer to solving its bus and transit dilemma.

Larry Sandler at the Journal Sentinel has all the details.

And the issue will be trapped in the gubernatorial campaign, as Scott Walker, though overseeing the failing system, opposes the sales tax remedy.

Go figure.

Water-Themed Fundraiser For Haiti In Milwaukee Thursday

Politcos and private sector water-based businesses are hosting a fundraiser for Haiti Thursday evening, beginning at 5 p.m., at Discovery World, on the lakefront.

Interesting and useful coalition.

Coakley Campaign Lesson: Run Scared, Even If Ahead. Every Minute

I think Martha Coakley's losing Ted Kennedy's Senate seat is more about a disengaged candidate than national trends.

I've never heard of a candidate, in a short campaign, take a vacation, as Coakley apparently did. Voters will dismiss a dismissive candidate.

That said, Democrats, again, and again, have to refine their message, be true progressives and lead the country out of the recession.

Dave Dempsey, Great Lakes Expert, On Waukesha Water Issues

Over at Great Lakes Town Hall.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Waukesha Mayoral Hopeful Opens With Shot At Milwaukee

Attention all you regional cooperators out there: Milwaukee continues to serve as Waukesha's punching bag, as former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Darryl Enriquez opens his campaign for Waukesha mayor with the requisite kick at Milwaukee.

Aren't we all tired of this Milwaukee-bashing?

Here is his kickoff email to "friends."

From: Darryl and Ellen Enriquez [mailto:denriquez@wi.rr.com]
Sent: Monday, January 18, 2010 6:30 PM
To: Darryl and Ellen Enriquez
Subject: campaign message from Darryl



Friends -



After much consideration, I have made the exciting decision to run for

Mayor of Waukesha - a city that for more than 25 years I have called home

and come to love.



For 25 years - as a father, a husband, a journalist and volunteer - I

have seen our community rise to challenges and exceed expectations.



Waukesha is at a crossroads. We can either pursue the policies

adopted by Milwaukee that have left neighborhoods in shambles

and a school system that has failed a generation of children or one

that embraces the individuality of our city and recognizes the ways

for our community to prosper in an ever-changing world.



That's why I am running for Mayor and hope you can help provide the

resources needed to run a successful campaign.



Waukesha's greatest asset and strength lies in our diverse

neighborhoods. My campaign is focused on keeping those neighborhoods

safe and not let them fall victim to crime and the resultant fear and

disrepair.



And to keep Waukesha thriving, we need to have a safe, sustainable

source of water that doesn't soak ratepayers or taxpayers and keeps

Waukesha free of policies that diminish our quality of life.



And to effectuate all of this, we need to restore fiscal sense and

accountability to city government. The city's budget needs to reflect

our families' ability to pay and respects the challenges facing

Waukesha in this economic downturn.



I have quickly learned that to keep campaigns running and to

effectively communicate our vision for Waukesha it takes a steady flow

of resources.



As I continue to build a website to augment my message and as I go

door-to-door to talk to voters, every little contribution can help.

For years I covered the personalities and politics of Waukesha, but

now, I find myself one of those personalities. It can be daunting.



Knowing that the resources to campaign are available will help my

campaign focus on what is most important - making sure voters know

that I care as much about our community as they do.



Please take a moment to visit www.enriquez4waukeshamayor.com to learn

about our campaign and to see who else is supporting our effort. I

hope you will take a moment to consider sharing $25, $50, or whatever

you can to help us share our message with voters.



And please remember to vote in the primary on February 16!

Donations should be sent to campaign headquarters at 219 Arcadian Ave.,
Waukesha WI 53186.



Darryl

Carp In The Great Lakes: Feds

Bad news. More later.

Court Ruling Makes Carp's Great Lakes Invasion More Likely

The US Supreme Court declined Tuesday to order Illinois to close locks on a shipping canal that provide the gateway to the Great Lakes for a predatory fish, the Asian carp.

Weighing up to 100 pounds, the carp would overwhelm recreational and commercial fisheries, thus threatening economic and environmental damage across an eight state, two (Canadian) Province region.

It is possible the Court will reverse its order if there is actual damage attributable to the carp, though such after-the-fact action would be too late to stop the carp, as they have no known natural predator.

The ruling will be lauded in Chicago, until the first carp smacks a boater off the lakefront there.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Milwaukee to Hire Sustainability Director, Filling Vacancy

The City of Milwaukee is accepting applications for the position of Sustainability Director, filling a vacancy created not long ago when Ann Beier, the only person to hold the job, decided to return to the west coast.

Here are the hiring details from the city website.

It's a good thing that the position will be filled, as City Hall needs a strong advocate for green jobs and strategies for both growth and environmentalism.

Especially as the city continues discussions with Waukesha, and the DNR, over how Waukesha's application for a Great Lakes diversion will be analyzed, and what sorts of negotiations will take place over water pricing and related matters.

Beyond the Waukesha issues, Milwaukee needs to position itself as a provider of green jobs, whether it be in high-speed rail, alternative energy production or in academe, so there is a need for technical and political expertise available to aldermen, the Mayor and as a liaison to the private sector.

Let's hope the city finds the person it needs because that person will be invaluable.

And busy.

Green Disputes - - Not The Old-Fashioned Kind

I guess this was inevitable.

StopAsianCarp.Com Online Petition Launched

Courtesy of Michigan's Attorney General.

Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Also Shows King's Deferred Dream

We can also measure the lack of progress on race relations during today's King Day reflection by grasping that Rush Limbaugh, the nation's leading talk radio personality, mouthed openly racial remarks in the wake of the Haiti disaster, with no remorse, and also very little criticism from more respectable conservatives, or Republican leaders.

King Day And Greater Milwaukee

I didn't live in Milwaukee when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968, but it doesn't feel like our city and its environs have made a lot of progress on meeting his goals.

Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties remain among the most segregated and separated two-county regions in the country; the City of Milwaukee remains beset by poverty that is concentrated here in part through exclusionary zoning codes, transit disconnects, and the intentional export of employment and capital further and further from the central city.

The Kerner Commission, created in response to the riots that struck the country after Dr. King's murder, said with some understatement that we were moving towards two societies, separate and unequal, and the Milwaukee-Waukesha County region continues to illustrate that intolerable reality.

This is not to say that there aren't people working on these issues every minute of every day.

Just that the effort has to be broader, and more intense, or our sadly bifurcated region will continue to stagnate - - economically, politically, morally.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Former Bush Aide Endorses Climate Change Legislation

A former senior aide to both Presidents Bush and GOP Presidential candidate John McCain speaks up as a conservative for climate change legislation - - now.

A must read from and hat tip to Repower America.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stunning Book Reveals Environmental Disasters In Appalachian Coal Country

Readers of this blog know I am a fan of the regional blog Daily Yonder, and again I call attention to it by way of its reviewing an important book about the hateful practice of mountaintop removal to get at the coal below.

Review and details here.

Awareness about how we get the coal we turn into electricity, along with the consequences for the air we breathe and the climate we impact should go into our calculus in favor of renewable energy generators, like solar and wind.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Illinois Water Practices Are Bad: No Excuse For Waukesha Others, To Follow Suit

Waukesha's water-diversion blogging mouthpiece hauls out the tired chestnut that Illinois gets to take a lot of water from Lake Michigan without returning it - - without mentioning that there is a US Supreme Court grandfathering for the arrangement that Wisconsin fought unsuccessfully.

The blogger also forgets to mention that there is a new eight-state, two-country Compact in place that aims to rationalize additional diversions - - which the blogger should stand behind if he is really concerned about Great Lakes stewardship (my term, not used in the blogger's original text) - - that is designed to make sure there are not more, Illinois-style diversions of water.

And the blogger forgets to mention that Waukesha has said in some instances it might not return all the diverted water it is likely to soon seek - - during major storms, for example - - and my understanding of the Compact is that such co-mingling of waters is not permitted.

Again - - because the Compact is designed to preserve Great Lakes water, not find more reasons to flush it down the Fox River, where Waukesha currently dumps its wastewater and may elect to send some Lake Michigan water to prevent flooding along the tributary in Wauwatosa where its return flow would routinely be routed.

So let's have a higher standard of reasoning about Waukesha's water diversion planning, and adherence to Wisconsin's legal and environmental standards and laws, along with the Compact, beyond "Illinois is worse."

And though the blogger says that concern about Waukesha's probable plan is anti-suburbanism.

Bunk.

It's about beginning to support real Great Lakes watershed preservation and protection - - the lakes and tributaries included - - with standards and follow-through.

MMSD Offering $5 Million In Green Roof Funding

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage Commission is accepting proposals through 2/12/2010 for green roof projects within its service territory - - so businesses, governments and others within its 28 municipalities should get their applications in order.

Green roofs reduce storm water runoff and save the treatment system energy costs, too.

Details here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

County Grounds Real Estate Deal For UWM Gets Weird

The UW Regents last week considered the County Grounds option for the new UWM Engineering school and related Innovation Center, but the way the latest plan is described to me, a private developer will be found to underwrite much of the project.

This entire deal looks shakier than ever.

After A Delay, Waukesha To Rollout Diversion Application Draft Jan. 28

Mark your calendars; Waukesha now says its draft Lake Michigan diversion application will be made public at its City Hall Friday, Jan. 28th., at 7:00 p.m.

It's announcement today indicates that the draft will undergo revisions into the spring;. I will post a link to the release when I have it in a form I can work with.

A couple of observations:

The application is a draft for several reasons:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will have to sign off on Waukesha's return flow plan that utilizes Underwood Creek rather than a pipe directly to Lake Michigan or to the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.

That review could take many months, or longer.

Secondly, no one has firmly established the costs of the diversion option as compared to other supply alternatives.

A final observation: the Waukesha announcement discusses the diversion's return flow as recycling - - a more environmentally-conscious phrase.

But Pr aside, it is not clear yet whether 'recycling' Lake Michigan water is actually the best use of the water in the first place, or can be done without harming Underwood Creek.

So let's be mindful about the language and terminology that accompanies what will be a long debate, aina?

Asian Carp Taking Another Route To Lake Michigan, Test Show

There is more evidence that the predatory Asian carp are approaching Lake Michigan, with the new report showing a different route than the Chicago shipping canal being targeted by several Great Lakes attorneys general with remedial legal action.

No doubt those with a vested interested in keeping the shipping canal open and in carp-enabling status quo mode will use the new carp movement finding as an excuse to keep the Great Lakes legal officials and their US Supreme Court motion at bay.

Actually, it re-affirms that any and all means need to be taken immediately to keep these voracious and dangerous fish out of the Great Lakes.

Should they make their way into what is the world's largest system of fresh water, the consequences to commercial fishing and recreation would be devastating.

So it behooves Illinois and federal officials in charge of both waterways to use whatever means are available to block or kill the carp.

Now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

As Carp Approach, Battle Plans Look Weak

You'd think Illinois officials and their counterparts in federal agencies would have by now been implementing phase two or three of a full-bore Asian carp battle plan, but as the big predators approach the Great Lakes, denial and inaction is the principal stance.

If the carp successfully breach the electric barrier and enter Lake Michigan, a lot of (ir)responsible public officials will have a lot to live down, as they will have allowed the Great Lakes fishing and recreation industries - - worth untold billions across eight states and two Canadian provinces - - to suffer irreparable harm.

You'd think that fear of having that sort of mark on one's permanent record would have been motivation enough to marshall the resources and will to stop the carp's northern migration, but apparently not, as officials are still holding the kind of planning meetings that are years late.

Wisconsin Making Progress Towards Alternative Energy Goals

A major wind farm moves closer to ground-breaking north of Madison, and its large potential moves the state closer to meeting the modest alternative/renewable energy goals established by the legislature and Gov. Doyle.

And also makes clear that the state can, as some legislators are suggesting, increase the percentage targets for the alternatives, thus making a real reduction in the state's burning of fossil fuels to generate power.

Wind power has its detractors - - ranging from naysayers who scoff at the entire notion to concerned neighbors with legitimate fears about negative effects.

So it's important for the state and the power companies to proceed with caution, but to to proceed, as coal-burning plants produce severe health and environmental consequences.

Furthermore, wind power provides green jobs in manufacturing and servicing, so the spinoff benefits abound.

I think within five years, wind turbine production and wind farm siting will be far less controversial and much more routine, so meeting more ambitious generation targets will simpler.

Great Scott! Walker's The Biggest Spender

Looks like Scott Walker will have a hard time running as anything but The Biggest Spender.

Hat tip, One Wisconsin Now (I sit on one of its boards, fyi).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Milwaukee to Study Water Supply Costs Facing Waukesha

I am hearing that the City of Milwaukee - - having decided not to study the value of water it could sell to communities like Waukesha - - has decided at least at the committee level to study what it thinks it will cost a city like Waukesha to purchase water from the potential sellers Waukesha has said it might select as the ultimate supplier - - Milwaukee (preferred), and also Oak Creek and Racine.

Here is a link to the council file on the matter.

Both Racine and Oak Creek present Waukesha with problems not faced by Milwaukee, namely infrastructure, capacity, piping distance and water quality.

Which means the Racine and Oak Creek options, while perhaps real on paper, or in a bargaining ploy, are in fact not true or likely options.

I suppose the thinking behind the study is to be able to professionally second-guess Waukesha should it claim that Racine and Oak Creek are offering bargain-basement supply costs to Waukesha, necessitating a low-ball purchase agreement with Milwaukee.

It's not a bad idea, and helps establish a politically-acceptable deal with Waukesha fromf Milwaukee officiais, but fails to answer what value the water will add to Waukesha's tax base, employment rolls and overall growth.

And, no doubt, Waukesha is free to challenge the study's outcome.

About That SEWRPC Annual Tax-Paid Dinner: Which Elected Official Will Criticize It?

Will one Alderman, County Board supervisor or legislator openly criticize the annual, $1,000 taxpayer-paid dinner thrown for its commissioners, staff and consultants at The University Club?


Anyone?

If the silence continues, here's another idea.

Move the dinner down Wells St. a few miles to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, where $1,000 would feed far more people - - 540 meals by one estimate.

If SEWRPC really wants to connect with portions of the low-income community it has long ignored, maybe that's how to continue the dinners without the embarrassment and waste?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wind Turbine Industry Could Presage Milwaukee Green Cluster

Milwaukee is at the center of important business development opportunities that have a green basis - - Spanish high-speed train works, water innovation and now a wind-turbine complex.

The city needs to remain focused on these new energy opportunities because it has all the basics to take full advantage of a greener economy.

You Knew This Was Coming In the Antarctic Whaling Wars

An anti-whaling protest ship gets its bow sheared off by a whaler.

Friday, January 8, 2010

EPA Will Further Regulate Air Pollutants

The Obama administration is fast acquiring a real record of environmental achievement.

Louis Butler Jr. Renominated For District Court Post

Butler will make it this time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It Could Get Expensive To Live In Waukesha

Consider that the Waukesha School District stands to lose tens of millions of dollars in a failed investment scheme, which means one or more of these things will happen, all with costs to taxpayers:


A damaged credit rating.

Legal costs.

Unknown added expenses for the system because of a revenue shortfall.

Then consider that the water utility estimates the cost of its preferred Lake Michigan diversion plan at $164 million - - but there is years of planning, changes and possible litigation down the road, not to mention studies that could lead to a different water plan.

Add all that up for ratepayers and taxpayers, and there will be real costs to everyone living in Waukesha and using its water.


Global Warming, 50 Years And Counting

Check out this documentary find.

Great Lakes Water Adviser Cam Davis Interviewed

Cameron Davis, known in these here parts as the former executive director at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, talks about water issues and his appointment as President Barack Obama's senior adviser on the Great Lakes, here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Canadians Join The Asian Carp Legal Fight

"Close the locks" is now an official position being brought from the North to the US Supreme Court.

Preferred Water User Rate Moving Forward

Water for Milwaukee jobs - - a Mayor Barrett initiative moves forward.

Minnesota Joins Asian Carp Litigation Aimed At Illinois

Now it's all the Great Lakes states, except Pennsylvania and the target state, Illinois.

Key SEWRPC Meeting Postponed - - But Read On...

Weather forces the postponement of the joint meeting of two SEWRPC bodies: the advisory committee on housing and the Environmental Justice Task Force.


Details below.

This will give people more time to read the early chapters of the housing plan being drafted - - ending a 34-year drought in housing planning for the region.

Note that the new plan references the 1975 plan as it were relevant - - pages 47-51 are illuminating - - but does anyone even remember it, and that it fell through the cracks or gathered dust on shelves, or wherever ignored plans go to die?

Here is the meeting cancellation notice:

Parties interested in SEWRPC’s Environmental Justice Task Force:

In light of the weather forecast, Chair Adelene Greene and Commission staff have conferred, and decided to postpone tomorrow’s Task Force meeting which was scheduled for 4:00 PM at IndependenceFirst in Milwaukee. The National Weather Service for Milwaukee/Sullivan predicts a winter storm with heaviest snow Thursday into Thursday evening, and 7-10” accumulating over much of the Region. Our meeting location and travel routes for most attendees are centered in problem area due to predicted Lake-effect intensification.

Though no one can know the snowfall outcome at this time, we would not want to expose our many valued volunteers in the Task Force’s efforts to undue inconvenience or hazard.

We would like to reschedule the meeting for Thursday, February 4, 2010, 4-6 PM, hoping that the lead time will find calendars clear.

Thank you,

Gary

Gary Korb

Regional Planning Educator

UW-Extension working with SEWRPC

262-547-6721

gkorb@sewrpc.org

Illinois Has Obama In Its Corner; Something To Carp About?

Environmental politics?


Of course, though it's more about money than carp-free water.

Let's not be shocked that the federal government is weighing in on Illinois' side in the carp debate.

Via Blogger The Sconz, State Rep. Marlin Schneider On OWI Reform

Thanks to The Sconz.

Waukesha Water Diversion Preparation Is Aggressive, Multi-Faceted

Waukesha's lobbying and communications efforts in pursuit of a Lake Michigan diversion are leaving no stone unturned.

Read along, thanks to Waukesha records released to this blog that show:

* Face-to-face meetings at Waukesha's behest with various Milwaukee officials;

* Additional media, governmental, union and business sector meetings and organizing under discussion to help win a precedent-setting diversion of Lake Michigan water to Waukesha with Milwaukee being the water-seller most desired by Waukesha.

In summary: Waukesha is thinking strategically and resources behind it.

Milwaukee's strategy?

Not so clear.

The emails and other records reveal busy communications among Waukesha officials and contract lobbyists in October and November to schedule and prepare for the Milwaukee meetings.

Waukesha officials have also been meeting with outside groups and agencies, including staff at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, records show.

The meetings with the Milwaukee officials were to include one or more of the following: Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson, Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Daniel Duchniak, and two lobbyists from Martin Schreiber & Associates, a lobbying and PR firm under a $10,000+ monthly contract to the Waukesha Water Utility: Schreiber firm partner Bill McClenahan, and former Milwaukee Ald. Michael D'Amato.

Meetings were set up initially as early as Nov. 4th with Milwaukee Alds. Robert Donovan, Council Pres. Willie Hines, James Witkowiak, Willie Wade, and more followed.

Ald. Joe Dudzik was scheduled for Nov. 10th, with Ald. Ashanti Hamilton and Comptroller Wally Morics on Nov. 20th, though some times and appointments changed, as the records show.

One later email indicates that Morics, and Alds. Hamilton, Hines, and Robert Bauman were scheduled or rescheduled on Nov. 20th, along with Ald. Terry Witkowski "at the South Shore Yacht Club for lunch."

Ald. Tony Zielinski was set for a meeting at Alterra Coffee on 1st and Pittsburgh on Nov. 23rd, and Alds. Dudzik and James Bohl on Nov. 25th.

McClenahan asked D'Amato by email on October 28th, at 1:33 p.m. what sort of materials would be best prepared for the Milwaukee officials.

D'Amato replied later that afternoon:

"3 things as an intro

"One, the need for water in 2 bullets. Radium, stipulation

"Two, who needs water. Service area map including % of developed land. Who is city of Waukesha? Income, housing value, wrking class, growing diversity. Do not use latino # alone. Roll into growing "people of color." [the abbreviations were D'Amato's]

"Three, what are options and what's in it for Milwaukee. Indicate all 4 options, unique circumstance that makes diversion possible (map). Discuss approx amount of $ that will go to city for next 20 yrs. Use modest escalator to boost amount.

"That should do it for most people," the email concludes.

Another interesting document that shows Waukesha's attention to detail is a proposed work plan drafted by McClenahan for discussion among the Waukesha contingent at a Milwaukee Athletic Club lunch on November 4th.

This is the text, records show, with bold-facing in the original:

"Additional needed meetings with Mayor Nelson (or for Mike solo): [Mayor] Barrett, [Alds] Murphy, Bauman, Puente, all other council members

"Additional other meetings: Wauwatosa, West Allis, New Berlin? Racine? Oak Creek? Governor Doyle? Local Legislators?

"Discuss public meeting and hearing schedules and locations

"Other action items:

"Respond to enviro letters

"Consult with DNR on process

"Finalize application by for [sic] Dec. 8 release

"Op eds, letters to editor (Journal Sentinel, Business Journal, Freeman, Daily Reporter)

"MMAC, other business meetings

"Union supporters - how best can they help? Also contact additional unions

"Revise or prepare additional handouts."

My bottom-line analysis:

Waukesha has an array of lobbyists, staffers, elected officials, lawyers and consultants who are focused on obtaining the Lake Michigan diversion, which Waukesha has said it would prefer to purchase through the City of Milwaukee.

The Waukesha approach is multi-layered, with experts brought on board as needed.

In a recent posting, and by contrast, I quoted another document from Waukesha expressing satisfaction with the City of Milwaukee's decision against hiring an expert adviser to help calculate the true value of water.

Not because the Milwaukee expert would have been too expensive. Money had already been earmarked for the contracting. Milwaukee said it could handle these possible water sale valuations on a case-by-case basis.

So, I'd say: advantage Waukesha. It knows how to play the game.




Tuesday, January 5, 2010

UWM Engineering Campus In Tosa To Have Housing

I missed this Business Journal story when I was out of town and want to post a link to it because it shows how the proposed UWM engineering campus on the Milwaukee County Grounds has evolved.


Key point: five historic buildings on the site will be converted to graduate school housing.

My first reaction is that it indicates just how misplaced is this site, and why more than ever the new school should have gone downtown.

Is UWM trying to generate some revenue from the site at the expense of students who will be isolated on the County Grounds?

And will the housing now absolve UWM and the County of the responsibility for providing first-class transit to and from the site?

I am not convinced this site will ever be developed along the lines that UWM envisions, and that as long-term Zoo Interchange construction gets under way, the site's weaknesses will come into sharper view.

Is it too late for UWM to partner with Marquette's new Engineering school now taking shape?

Chicago Resists Strong Anti-Carp Response

Chicago is in full denial mode - - check out this Tribune editorial - - as most Great Lakes states now seek the closing of the locks on a canal through which the destructive Asian carp could enter Lake Michigan.

McIlheran Misses The Point: Not A News Flash

The Journal Sentinel's in-house conservative blogger and resident rail naysayer, quoting a known railophobe, laughs off high-speed trains, assuming that every short-to-medium range trip can be accomplished by airplane at 600 mph.


The reality?

Many small US cities have little or no air service, and high-speed rail would offer all travelers an alternative.

Choice is the conservatives' mantra - - unless a reflexive, anti-train hired gun says otherwise, and ideology again trumps common sense.

Potential New Water User In New Berlin In Limbo

A hotel, conference center and water park slated for the very portion of New Berlin to be served by the diversion of Lake Michigan water that began last year has stalled, according to a report in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online publication.


The lesson? Projections of water need, and future demand, along with population estimates are all a piece of an inexact 'science,' at best.

New York Times Has Great Lakes/Asian Carp Sunday Story

The New York Times continues to follow the politics surrounding the Asian carp menace to the Great Lakes and the State of Illinois' reluctance to aggressively help keep the destructive fish away from Lake Michigan.

$200 Million Withheld From County Parks: The Walker Legacy Grows

Milwaukee County's park system suffers from deferred maintenance in the $200 million range.


Somehow this will not be Scott Walker's fault.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Illinois' Supreme Court-Approved Great Lakes Diversion Is Called Theft

That's how Mike Nichols sees it.



Dave Dempsey Call For Great Lakes Unity Of Purpose

Well said.



New York On Board Against Carp Migration

New York is state #6 working in the courts to force Illinois to close off a shipping canal through which destructive Asian carp could enter Lake Michigan.

Blog Postings This Week Focus On Water, Open Records

I will use the blog this week to reference documents from several Open Records requests, or commentary based on records or their requests.

Here is the first: an account of the close-and-easy relationship between the general managers of the water utilities in Milwaukee and Waukesha.

Now I know it makes sense that these officials exchange information, as the fraternity of water utility managers in Wisconsin is small.

And in this case, Waukesha's Dan Duchniak and Milwaukee's Carrie Lewis sit on the regional planning commission's water study advisory committee, where they both voted to approve a preliminary (hint: read as 'soon to-be-qpproved.') recommendation approving a sale of Lake Michigan water by Milwaukee to Waukesha.

You can read a lengthy description of the study's conclusion, here: Work you way to p. 57, fyi.

But is Dan Duchniak the best source of legal information for Carrie Lewis if she has a technical legal question about how diversion negotiations as spelled out in the Great Lakes Compact and in Wisconsin statutes?

Anyway: more later this week, including details of Waukesha's full court lobbying press in Milwaukee City Hall orchestrated by former Milwaukee Ald. Michael D'Amato, now a registered lobbyist working for Duchniak's Waukesha Water Utility through former Gov. Martin Schreiber's public relations and lobbying firm.

To Help Price Water, Milwaukee Decides Against Consultants - - Delighting Waukesha's Consultants

When Milwaukee decided about a year ago to sell Lake Michigan water out of the Great Lakes basin to New Berlin, the big city's Common Council also advertised for a consultant to help it determine the true value of water.

It did so because it had no economic basis upon which to evaluate a modest, so-called regional cooperation fee it eventually accepted from New Berlin - - $75,000 annually - - as compensation for the agreement above and beyond the per-gallon charges set by the State Public Service Commission.

The plan was a good one: have an expert's study in hand as an aide negotiating a far bigger sale with Waukesha. (A brace of consultants is helping Waukesha with various legal, environmental, media and strategic matters as it prepares to formally apply for a Great Lakes diversion, and how much it will pay is sure to be a key issue when it comes to picking a seller.)

But Milwaukee didn't like the water pricing consultant proposals it received in response to a solicitation, and along with what I have been told was not-so-subtle resistance from the Milwaukee Water Works - - where there is in-house balking at anything from outsiders that might block sales from its under-utilized capacity - - Milwaukee has decided against getting independent opinion and expertise.

In an email exchange obtained in records provided by the Waukesha Water Utility, then-Milwaukee sustainability director Ann Beier told Waukesha officials that future sales would be addressed as they are now, on a "case by case basis without a formal analysis," according to an August 18, 2009 email to Waukesha Water Utility General Manager Dan Duchniak.

Who, in turn, let others know, eliciting this response from Bill McClenahan, a Waukesha contract lobbyist and PR specialist:

"This is good news from Milwaukee that they have given up on the value of water study, apparently concluding there is no magic formula (or perhaps that the formula would have resulted in a lower number than they had hoped for)," he said by email back to Duchniak and other Waukesha water consultants.

"In any case, it eliminates a potential source of delay."

Note that Milwaukee has chosen not to hire a consultant - - to the delight of Waukesha's consultants.

And the Milwaukee Water Works seems comfortable getting legal/informational questions answered about the Great Lakes Compact water selling provisions answered by Waukesha officials, other records show.


And as one well-informed person observed to me privately, illustrating the need for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to have been the leader in the issue from the outset, which it has not as it continues to abdicate decision-making and parameter-setting to Waukesha,

So if you are keeping score, these early rounds are going to Waukesha - - not by strategic superiority, but by default.

Will School Districts That Gambled And Lost Seek Bailouts?

Waukesha and four others stand to lose big, but will they look for handouts?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ex-Wash Post Ombudsman Dies: Former Local Editor Quoted

Deborah Howell, a trail-breaking woman in American journalism, died suddenly in a freak accident; A Washington Post story quotes former Milwaukee Journal staffer Linda Fibich, who had followed Howell into a job at Newhouse when Howell left for the Post.

Celebrating Alcohol, And Mourning Its Abuse: A Media And Cultural Contradiction

The Journal Sentinel carried Sunday page one frivolity with photos about the annual Polar Bear Plunge, noting that the "pro" it located for an interview fuels up with Jack Daniels each year before 'braving' Lake Michigan cold waters.

OK, don't be a scold about cold-weather fun, you say.

But you read farther into the paper and find stories about 55 drunken driving arrests over New Year's in Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties that included four crashes, two injuries and one not-so-funny plunge into Lake Michigan by a drunk driver and her passenger - - in their car.

I had driven (sober) past the area of the accident not five minutes earier. The paper says that deputies, closing off the scene, made several more OWI arrests on the spot.

So I count my lucky stars that I didn't meet one of these irresponsible drivers out on the roads - - not to mention that as I was turning off I-794 to go north on Lincoln Memorial Drive, a deputy was pulling over the motorist directly behind me...

Then the paper carried this story about a fatal snowmobile crash - - alcohol and speed believed to be factors - - and you wonder: Anyone connecting the dots?

The Journal Sentinel has been pounding away about our state's penchant for drunken driving, and has editorially criticized the State Legislature's recent weak effort at amending Wisconsin OWI statutes.

It's interesting that both the conservative blogger/talker Jeff Wagner and I both have taken similar positions.

But my point is that the paper undercuts its news and editorial campaign against excessive drinking on the roads by glorifying the drinking that underlies some of the Polar Plunge participation.

Do we think that those people fortified by alcohol before the plunge had designated drivers?

The story finds one group of plungers who then headed off to a tavern.

Surprised?

Wolf Killer Gets Off Pretty Easy

Much of the punishment aimed at a Wisconsin man who shot a wolf in Michigan is his two-year ban - - on hunting.


Slap on the wrist.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The New York Times Is Following The Asian Carp Story

Sunday's New York Times will carry a major piece about the politics surrounding efforts to unite the Great Lakes states and keep destructive Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.


If legal actions fail, or stall, or if Illinois needs need a nudge to agree to close locks or waterway access to the Great Lakes for these predatory fish as they migrate north from the Mississippi River, don't rule out boycotts.


Milwaukee Water Official Asks Waukesha Water Official For Great Lakes Legal Information

Two months ago, as Milwaukee's Common Council was debating whether to approve a letter of intent to sell water to Waukesha - - thus beginning the negotiation process between the two cities once Waukesha actually applies for Lake Michigan water - - the Milwaukee Water Works manager Carrie Lewis had a question:

"What exactly does the state statute require? Willingness to negotiate only, or "support for and willingness to negotiate" as stated in the Waukesha resolution," asked Lewis in a Thursday, November 5th email to Waukesha Water utility manager Dan Duchniak.

The email exchange is part of an open records release provided to me by Waukesha. (I will post more items this week, so stay tuned.)

Duchniak had earlier that day sent Lewis some materials, including Waukesha's city resolution asking various cities to submit letters about possible water sales negotiations.

"Please let me know if you need anything else from me," said Duchniak by email at 2:19 p.m.

Lewis' question is a good one, but wouldn't the better party to ask be Milwaukee's City Attorney, and not the potential water buyer?

Thirteen minutes later, Duchniak replied, sending Lewis a citation for a state atatute and "relevant section," by page.

I'm not saying the information is right or wrong, or that Duchniak wouldn't or didn't know.

My question is: shouldn't these questions raised by Milwaukee officiala be answered within Milwaukee City Hall?

I worked for both Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, and for Madison's Paul Soglin, and I cannot imagine those offices or other depaartments getting a key legal question answered by the other side in what would be a multi-million dollar, long-term and precdent-setting national and international discussion and contract.

More questions:

* Does the Milwaukee Common Council have a greater willingness to exert control over contacts in these preliminary discussions?

* Does it even know how key information for its use is being obtained?

* What will happen when preliminary discussions lead to formal negotiations, and perhaps contract drafts and final agreements? Will email chatting between the parties' technical staffers continue, or will Milwaukee officials take greater control over who is communicating with whom?

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's 2010, But One-Notes Still Blame Tom Ament

Where would Scott Walker be without Tom Ament?

Indiana Becomes 5th Great Lakes State Joining Carp Legal Action

Five states now are asking the US Supreme Court to force Illinois to take strong measures to block the Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan through the Chicago shipping and sewerage canal.


Indiana is the latest to join.