Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Disbanded Water Committee Had Too Many Waukesha Representatives, a GOP State Senator Says

The criticism that the now-defunct legislative study committee on Great Lakes water had too many Waukesha representatives wasn't just an observation made by Milwaukee environmentalists.

Turns out that State Sen. Rob Cowles, (R-Allouez), felt the same way.

This was how Sen. Cowles described the so-called now-disbanded Kedzie Committee in the Green Bay Press-Gazette:

"Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Allouez, and a member of the special study committee, said Chairman State Sen. Neal] Kedzie’s move was “the right decision” because the committee’s work “was not going to be a good thing for sustainability of the Great Lakes.”

"He said about eight of the 19 committee members had strong ties to Waukesha, a city outside the basin but whose county straddles the basin line.“I’m glad this thing is getting disbanded,” Cowles said. “It was not a fairly constructed, balanced committee.”

What's interesting about Cowles' interview is that he and Kedzie are both Republicans. The problem with the committee was less a partisan matter than one of geography. Waukesha County is inland from Lake Michigan and most of it is outside the Great Lakes basin.

The counties and cities bordering Lake Michigan and Lake Superior were shortchanged in the study committee selection, including the Green Bay area, represented by Cowles - - but Waukesha had reps galore, including two indivuduals representing private business: Bill Mielke, the consulting company CEO, and Matt Monroney, head of the Metropolitan Builders Association.

And as with so many of these Blue Ribbon groups in our area and state, especially at the Southeastern Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC), the Kedzie Committee was primarily made up of white males with no minority members or individuals representing low-income populations.

Here is the membership list.

It's too bad that the legislative leadership that worked with Kedzie to create the study committee didn't set up a more diverse or truly representative membership from the get-go - - with the most important criteria for service being selfless dedication to Great Lakes sustainability.

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