Monday, July 9, 2007

Documents Suggest Political, PR Goals In No-Bid SEWRPC Study

Documents unearthed by transportation critic Gretchen Schuldt - - details here - - reveal the political and public relations goals contained in a no-bid contract awarded by the regional planning commission (SEWRPC).

The documents shed light on SEWRPC's inner workings, as the contract was awarded by SEWRPC staffers without competitive bidding and was not approved by the full SEWRPC body - - a publicly-funded, seven-county organization - - or any of its committees.

The contract was proposed to SEWRPC by Mueller Communications, Inc., a Milwaukee public relations firm, according to documents obtained by Schuldt through an Open Records request to SEWRPC.

Documents describing the proposed study suggest a "minority-led" effort in the 30th St. Industrial Corridor, an economically-depressed Milwaukee central city neighborhood, but the eventual study contract was awarded to two white contractors, the documents show.

Mueller Communications Inc. proposed the study, the documents show, in part to win support for SEWRPC from minority members of the Milwaukee County Board who had criticized SEWRPC's minority hiring.

Schuldt is co-chair of Citizens Allied for Sane Highways (CASH).

CASH is a coalition of organizations opposed to a plan created by SEWRPC to rebuild and widen $6.5 billion worth of regional freeway lanes, many of which will take land and housing in Milwaukee County neighborhoods along interstate highway corridors.

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