Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Milwaukee Aldermen, Tired Of Being Kicked In The Teeth, Fight Back On The Water And Transit Issues

Good for Milwaukee aldermen who are showing more spine in their struggles to link water, transit and employment in something approaching substantive regional cooperation.

I was especially pleased to see the Aldermen citing the disgraceful elimination of County Bus Route 9, which served low-income city residents with a transit line to their jobs in Waukesha County - - where low-income housing is virtually non-existent.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel News Watch blog Wednesday afternoon:

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 23, 2008, 4:39 p.m.

By Larry Sandler
City panel holds up water deal

After pointed comments about lack of cooperation on public transit and affordable housing, a Milwaukee Common Council committee delayed action today on renewing a 10-year, $1.3-million-a-year deal to sell water to Menomonee Falls.

By contrast, a study of selling water to Elm Grove easily sailed through the same panel after Elm Grove Village President Neil Palmer voiced enthusiastic support for regional cooperation and said he wished his community could be connected to downtown Milwaukee by a light rail line.

The debate before the council's Public Works Committee was the latest example of Milwaukee aldermen trying to use water as a tool to pull the suburbs into talks on other regional issues.

Similar questions were raised last year, when the city agreed to start negotiations on boosting water sales to New Berlin.

Suburban officials see access to clean water as a key factor in their communities' development. Urban leaders generally want to see more compact development and believe suburbs should share the city's social costs if they benefit from their proximity to the city.

"When we talk about regional cooperation in this community, it's very much a one-sided approach," Ald. Michael Murphy complained.

Menomonee Falls benefits from Milwaukee water, but municipal governments and businesses in Menomonee Falls and Butler refused to help Waukesha County pay for a Milwaukee County Transit System bus route that carried some 70 Milwaukee residents each day to Waukesha County jobs, said Murphy and Ald. Bob Bauman.

Some of those Milwaukeeans likely lost their jobs when Route 9 shut down a few weeks ago, Murphy said.

Those low-income workers also couldn't move closer to their jobs, because the suburbs have little affordable housing, noted Murphy and Ald. Willie Wade.

"Having decent, family-supporting jobs does more to fight crime than having armies of police," Murphy said.

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