Thursday, October 9, 2008

Feds Clam Up On SEWRPC Review Decision

The Federal Highway Administration has agreed to give SEWRPC a patty-cake public review procedure - - moving away from the public hearing format that produced much citizen and local government outrage against SEWRPC at the 2004 review - - but Dwight McComb, the federal highway official on the spot, isn't taking any more questions about it.

McComb - - at the FHWA Wisconsin office in Madison - - didn't return my call Wednesday.

When I left him another message today, he called back and said he couldn't answer my questions - - even if they were specific to his role in the SEWRPC reauthorization meeting format decision - - referring me instead to his agency's media office in Washington, DC.

The feds reauthorize SEWRPC every four years to participate in highway spending, but SEWRPC's activities and procedures need to pass muster in a public review, and, of course, have to comply with federal rules and laws.

McComb said that the media office should have already gotten back to me.

Which they haven't, though he said I am free to call them myself.

[Thursday late night update: No call from DC today. I'm not holding my breath.]

McComb acknowledged that he had talked to Gretchen Schuldt - - you can read her blog about the call and decide for yourself whether someone in DC told McComb he was already talking too much.

Ducking inquiries. Minimizing the impact of public comment.

The Feds are repeating SEWRPC's mistakes of dismissing and discounting public input - - the very reflex that has cost SEWRPC credibility and, in part, led to discrimination complaints against the agency.

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