Friday, October 24, 2008

Powerful City Committee To Consider SEWRPC Pullout

It sure has been a busy few weeks for SEWRPC, and activists who have been faced with forum after forum at which suggestions and complaints about the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission could be aired.

Last week, SEWRPC's Environmental Justice Task Force held a meeting where its members, by an 8-1 vote, told the agency it wanted all future studies to include independent socio-economic analyses.

SEWRPC brass objected to the idea; the fate of the task force's recommendation, and thus its role at the agency and in the community-at-large, is unclear.

Then on Wednesday, federal reviewers were in town to carry out their quadrennial evaluation of SEWRPC's handling of transportation plans in the region. The reviewers and SEWRPC thought they had figured out a way to impose an alternative format on the review - - one without a hearing - - but the public demanded public speaking, and prevailed.

Somewhere in there is a good one-liner about the best laid plans of planners...

And Monday, October 27th closes out the regional planning October trifecta - - a Milwaukee Common Council meeting before that body's most powerful Committee, Steering and Rules, composed of council committee chairs and led by the Council President, Ald. Willie Hines.

Item #3 on the 1:30 p.m. agenda - - a resolution calling for the withdrawal of Milwaukee County, and thus the City of Milwaukee, from SEWRPC's seven-county structure.

I support that resolution with the proviso that Milwaukee County create a new planning body, in cooperation with the City of Milwaukee, to make housing, transportation, water supply, development and other planning relevant and efficient for urban residents.

Milwaukee County ships $840,000 a year to SEWRPC - - half of which comes from City taxpayers - - but the City of Milwaukee has no seat on the SEWRPC commission, with urban needs, prospective employees and potential SEWRPC committee members receiving short shrift from the Pewaukee-based agency.

Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee could pool their existing resources, house the new operation in vacant public office space, and contract with the old SEWRPC for any technical services it chose.

And apply contracting standards, diverse hiring goals and a host of other performance measures to SEWRPC that are not required or provided now.

The time of day is not ideal, but if you have the time, stop by City Hall Monday afternoon and leave your two cents worth with the clerk.

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