Anti-Milwaukee politics - - and a disdain for regionalism - - are among the issues driving Waukesha politics towards isolation in the region and perhaps even towards more expensive water supply options.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
At $164 million, consultants have told Waukesha that the Lake Michigan diversion option is the cheapest of the three best water supply alternatives.
Milwaukee also offers the best quality water and closest Lake Michigan source - - which is why Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson has said Milwaukee would be Waukesha's preferred supplier.
City of Milwaukee policy requires cost-sharing above and beyond water rate charges to help Milwaukee defray socio-economic costs it carries regionally, and disproportionately - - and though negotiations between Waukesha and Milwaukee are far down the road, Nelson's opponents made it clear they didn't want anything to do with paying Milwaukee a penny more for water than basic user charges set by the state..
As to Nelson's second-place finish, with just 26% of the vote, it's important to remember that in primaries, a challenger can come out on top in February only to discover that he or she had brought out a maximum, protest vote - - and can't win the April finale.
On the other hand, with three of four votes primary cast for someone else, Nelson has a huge hill to climb.
Nelson may find himself struggling in the first wave of conservative taxpayer anger rising in the political process.
The City of Waukesha, after all, is the county seat in a very conservative area.
Friends in Waukesha have been telling me for sometime that there is considerable unhappiness with Nelson over the water utility's spending on diversion consultants - - in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers, lobbyists, PR specialists and scientists.
Including a last-minute switch of engineering consultants a few months ago after years of work by a different firm.
And the water utility, on which Nelson sits, and with members of his choosing, has long been run autocratically, some Waukesha residents have argued.
People also say that a failed effort by Nelson to convert a city park on the Fox River downtown into a privately-run baseball operation also aggravated a wide spectrum of voters.
So it's just not the water issue that led to Nelson's distant second-place primary finish.
If Nelson can't win another term, and Waukesha swears in real estate developer Jeff Scrima as Mayor- - an opponent of a cooperative water deal with Milwaukee - - the city there will still have to find a suitable and affordable water supply solution that meets a 2018 legal deadline.
Puts into perspective all those years the city wasted fighting the federal clean water standard.