Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Anniversary of SEWRPC's Federal Review Is Thursday: Still No Report Card Issued

Federal highway officials trekked to Milwaukee a year ago tomorrow to listen to the public comment about how the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission had been doing its job the previous four years, and then to recommend - - on some presumably reasonable timetable - - changes based on the public's feedback so the agency could improve its community relations and overall performance.

The review happens every four years, and SEWRPC needs a thumbs-up from the feds to continue the agency's powerful, regional planning and development role: moving big-ticket federal highway and transit projects forward.

The feds had promised the release of their reviewers' report months ago, but never did, and this spring stopped taking questions about it.

The ironic thing about this new level of dismissal of public sentiment about SEWRPC is that it is being dished out by so-called objective federal analysts who at both the 2004 and 2008 public input sessions about SEWRPC heard a stream of complaints from people and organizations who thought the Pewaukee-based agency was ignoring significant portions of the community-at-large.

Now the feds have adopted the SEWRPC attitude towards the public.

The message: your voice is insignificant, and this input process is a farce.

This ridiculous delay is another reason why Milwaukee needs to free itself from SEWRPC and its federal enablers who together are running roughshod over urban priorities and the region's low-income and minority residents.

It is time for US Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) to join the effort to disassociate Milwaukee from SEWRPC, or to remove funding from the agency because its mission, payroll and advisory committees too often excludes minorities, low-income citizens and Milwaukee residents.

Some background here.

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