ACLU Slaps SEWRPC Over Pulseless Outreach
The Wisconsin ACLU, from its Milwaukee offices, has rightly told the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission that the agency is moving far too slowly with the formation of a task force on environmental justice.
SEWRPC has had months to get this outreach effort underway but has not made task force appointments and is not aggressively getting input on appointees from communities to whom this long-overdue outreach effort is aimed, the ACLU says in its new release.
With its laissez-faire approach, SEWRPC is skating on thin ice with watchdog groups like the ACLU, and federal regulators who could use federal civil rights to light a fire under SEWRPC, as the ACLU further reminds SEWRPC by letter.
The Pewaukee-based agency already has minimal credibilty with large sections of the region because of its pro-suburban history, and giving the task force formation a low priority only reinforces SEWRPC's negative image.
At this very moment, SEWRPC and other entities are discussing major changes to transit and water management policies that will guide development in the region for generations, and will therefore profoundly impact low-income residents.
Yet those residents are regularly shut out of many of these policy discussions - - a problem the environmental justice task force could help remedy.
If SEWRPC had a comprehensive planning strategy and a more inclusive mentality, it wouldn't need an environmental justice task force in the first place: its commissioners and multiple committees would have integrated genuine environmental justice principles and goals into all their work as a matter of routine.
For example, if environmental justice were an important thread in SEWRPC operations, its last housing plan for our heavily-segregated region wouldn't have been done in 1975, and SEWRPC would have been a champion for transit expansion, not $6.6 billion in new, suburb-serving freeways lanes.
It's a disgrace that community groups representing low-income and minority populations had to demand a task force in the first place, and reprehensible that SEWRPC continues to drag its feet on its implementation.
Nicely said Jim.
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