I was struck by three things in today's Wall Street Journal story about Waukesha's pitch for Lake Michigan water:
First, the absence of Mayor Larry Nelson from the story.
Nelson is in a tough spot politically in Waukesha: he's a Democrat in a very Republican area, with generally pro-business establishment Republicans to court come election time next April, but also with generally Democratic environmentalists in his city raising questions about the implications of the diversion plan.
And conservatives already see the $78 million capital cost - - and about $5-6 million in annual operations - - of the diversion as a big number for the city's water ratepayers to swallow.
The best path for Nelson, like all chief executives, is to be on-the-job, on-the-case, managing a problem.
I also notice water utility general manager Dan Duchinak - - the spokesman fronted for the story - - saying that the diversion is preferable to going west of the city and buying land where there is available shallow and clean water.
So it's better perhaps to tangle with Milwaukee and force a solution there than it is to bump up against developers and municipalities to the west?
Again, let Duchniak deliver these messages, not Nelson.
Finally, the story ends with Duchniak saying Waukesha could end up going to court if the city's application gets turned down by one or more states "for the wrong reasons."
Better to have a threat to blow up the entire Great Lakes Compact come from a non-elected staffer than the Mayor, but I cannot imagine a worse public relations message being sent via a major national newspaper to the decision-makers, regulators and observers both in the Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces with advisory roles to play.