Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Possible Executive Director Appointment Still On Thursday, 3/20 SEWRPC Agenda

Though no search, screening or interviewing process has been announced, or implemented publicly, the "possible appointment" of an Executive Director is still on Thursday's agenda at SEWRPC's Executive Committee meeting, documents show.

Phil Evenson, the current Executive Director of the seven-county Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) told the agency February 28th that he did not want his contract renewed.

Since a item about his impending retirement appeared in last Friday's Journal Sentinel, and as a result of several items on my blog, there has been considerable speculation in the region about how and when SEWRPC might name Evenson's successor, and who that person might be if it is a quick, in-house promotion.

Several sources in regional governments have said this week they were trying to ascertain SEWRPC's procedures and intentions regarding the possible appointment: an email I sent Evenson last Friday about the matter has not been answered.

The Executive Committee has the authority to name Evenson's replacement.

Evenson was the agency's Deputy, the number-two official, when he replaced long-time Executive Director Kurt Bauer, who still serves as Executive Director Emeritus, and chairs SEWRPC's three-year water advisory committee study.

Evenson's having been promoted to replace his former boss Bauer has led to speculation that Ken Yunker, the current SEWRPC Deputy Executive Director, would be named Thursday as the next Executive Director, perhaps with a lengthy transition throughout much of 2008.

Evenson could stay on at SEWRPC as a consultant, using the Bauer model. Bauer has had an annually renewed half-time consultancy for many years following his mid-90's retirement, and also receives an office and car.

SEWRPC's leadership operates in and with a small insiders' loop, even though it is 100% publicly-funded.

Bauer also had a consultancy following his retirement as SEWRPC Executive Director at the high-profile Waukesha consulting firm of Ruekert & Mielke, which frequently contracts with SEWRPC and local governments in the region on water, land-use and other municipal issues.
Ruekert & Mielke is the lead consultant on the water supply study that Bauer chairs.

The committee will soon offer up alternative recommendations to resolve the region's water supply issues, including the controversial use of diversions from Lake Michigan to communities in Waukesha County.

The firm's senior water staffer, Steve Schultz, is writing much of the SEWRPC study, and also wrote concurrently, as a consultant, the pending Lake Michigan water diversion application for the City of New Berlin.

After Milwaukee County's Board of Supervisors dragged its feet supplying a $261,000 contribution to the water supply study's $1 million budget, Bauer helped secure the needed Milwaukee financing component from an obscure Milwaukee County public/private committee that had a budget comprised of real estate transaction fees.

Bauer was a member of that committee.

Among Bauer's other duties has been serving as the Milwaukee County Surveyor.

The network of planning consultants and officials in Waukesha who knew each other also paid off for both Ruekert & Mielke and SEWRPC when the agency wanted to move out of its offices in the old Waukesha County Historical Society in downtown Waukesha.

Evenson was authorized by SEWRPC's executive committee to negotiate the purchase of the agency's current Pewaukee office building from Ruekert & Mielke, on a no-bid basis, for about $4 million, according to SEWRPC records.

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