Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Justice Delayed, Input Wasted

We're closing in on the one-year anniversary - - October 22, 2008, to be exact - - when Federal Highway Administration reviewers came to Milwaukee and asked the public for input about how the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission was doing its job.

It was quite the hearing/non-hearing: here's my blog account of how it went that day.

Every four years, the feds conduct this review, and without renewed certification at the conclusion, SEWRPC would lose its ability to greenlight major transportation projects in a seven-county region.

The review report was promised in March, then May, then the feds stopped responding to inquiries about when the report was to be forthcoming.

An inquiry more than a month ago from the office of US Rep. Gwen Moore did not produce the report, either.

The report that followed a raucous 2004 certification review found deficiencies in SEWRPC's outreach efforts, an understatement that was finally addressed in 2007 when SEWRPC created an Environmental Justice Task Force.

Despite the task force creation, two civil rights complaints against SEWRPC are still pending with federal agencies over alleged discrimination in project selection, hiring and advisory committee appointments: how the feds will recertify SEWRPC with these complaints hanging over the agency's Pewaukee-based managers is anybody's guess.

But inviting the public in to deliver opinion and suggestions for agency approval, then delaying the findings of the federal review, is justice delayed and input wasted.

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