Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Local Officials Endorse Strong Great Lakes Compact - - Major Media Blackout

More than a dozen local officials on Tuesday morning publicly endorsed Wisconsin's adoption of a strong Great Lakes Compact implementing bill for the state, but you'd have to read the speciality media to get the details because the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has had no story about it online or in print for more than 24 hours.

Too bad: it was a significant event, organized by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and held at Pier Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan.

It proved, that despite pockets of ideological narrow-mindedness centered among some corporate interests in the sprawl areas of Waukesha County, there is growing regional agreement on the need for getting a strong Great Lakes Compact bill adopted now.

The Mayors of Milwaukee, West Allis, Cudahy, Franklin and New Berlin were in attendance, and were joined by several area county board and city councils' members.

Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy reported that a Common Council resolution supporting a strong Compact had unanimously passed its first committee vote earlier that morning.

The Small Business Times has a comprehensive article, here, as does the Daily Reporter, here.

The Waukesha Freeman carried a story, with a truncated version available to online readers here.

And the Door County Advocate has run a comprehensive summary of the issues in the wake of the news conferences.

All in all, there was a keen awareness in the room that the Great Lakes are under stress, and that drought and a warming climate will make these international waters a target for diversion and depletion if the Compact's safeguards are not approved.

More than a dozen Wisconsin environmental, civic and outdoors organizations have endorsed the state's adoption of a strong, pro-conservation version of the Great Lakes Compact.

The Daily Reporter piece includes the predictable negative reaction from Compact-basher State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin), who is dedicated to stalling the Compact by re-opening the negotiations among the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces that produced the draft Compact - - after those discussions began nearly seven years ago.

Lazich is incensed that New Berlin's Mayor Jack Chiovatero is working with Milwaukee to move the Compact forward in the legislature.

Chiovatero understands that getting the Compact approved makes it more likely that his community can successfully apply for and win a diversion of water from Lake Michigan.

The Compact establishes first-ever rules, standards and procedures for such diversions, with conservation and planning among key requirements.

Lazich's opposition continues to make it hard-to-impossible for New Berlin to win such a diversion, but there the Senator is, working against the interests of her own community.

And also against Wisconsin's standing with the other Great Lakes states as the only one without a Compact ratification bill adopted or under discussion.

Is that the way to win the other states' approval for a diversion to New Berlin, and down the road, for the additional diversion applications that will come from the City of Waukesha and throughout the area if a new regional water authority is recommended, as expected, by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission?

A similar gathering of public officials was held the same morning in Green Bay, with good media there.

Now 48 hours later and counting, still nothing in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the state's larget paper, with more readers effected by Great Lakes water issues than in any other market.

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