Thursday, May 8, 2008

Water And Concrete: Same Advocates, Same Biases

Isn't it interesting that the State of Wisconsin and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission are writing recommendations and rules enabling water diversions from Lake Michigan into the same areas that they already are pushing more highway-building?

A coincidence?


Both highway expansion and water diversions feed the same sprawl machine - - the very collection of developers, road and home builders that contribute heavily to elected officials in both parties, and are key players in state business associations lobbying legislators and regulators - - as we speak - - for quick access to Lake Michigan, more road-building and eased air pollution regulations.

It's all about sprawl development, and it has social, economic and partisan consequences.

The political disconnect in this dynamic, however, falls at the feet of the Democrats and others who can't or won't acknowledge the self-destructive electoral folly rampant around the State Capitol these days, and which has been a routine part of the burdensome political daily grind Milwaukee for years as regional political clout moves into the suburbs.

Most of the areas of population gain in Southeastern Wisconsin - - fueled by taxpayer spending on roads and regional planning that enables sprawl construction into open space and farmland - - is Republican:

Waukesha County, Washington County, Ozaukee County and portions of once-reliably Democratic Kenosha County.

These trends will accelerate as the $6.5 billion freeway plan extends throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, and as the Great Lakes Compact is implemented by Wisconsin legislation in the wake of the continually rumored deal-making designed to move Lake Michigan water quickly across the subcontinental divide.

These water resources, and highway expansions that intentionally leave out any transit upgrades, will continue to attract people, services, commerce and wealth away from Milwaukee, the state's only big city and leading source of Democratic voters.

No wonder that several Republican state legislators were heard declaring victory when the Great Lakes Compact agreement was announced last month.

And why they are unified in Madison during ongoing efforts to craft a state budget repair plan that will, first-and-foremost, protect highway spending.

For Republicans, highways and water are political and electoral necessities that add to their base.

Those people get it.

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