Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Anti-Milwaukee Challenger Wins Waukesha Mayoral Primary

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.

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.


james Wigderson said...

Watch for Nelson to get surprising sources of support.

You should like the anti-Milwaukee candidate. You don't want to sell Waukesha water, and he doesn't want to buy it. You both support Waukesha sinking lots of expensive shallow wells draining the surface water features of Waukesha County.

He even loves bike paths so much he thinks Waukesha should snowplow them.

Ted said...

Wait you post comment after comment that Waukesha shouldn't get Milwaukee water and their problems are their own making and railing Waukesha at every turn... then when a anti Lake Michigan water candidate wins the primary proving a lot of people in waukesha want to sovle their own problems without Milwaukee invovlement... you rail on that as "Anti-Milwaukee"... Your frig'n all over the place man... you write blogs like my Grandpa fishes... pointless and probably drunk...

Anonymous said...

The anti-Milwaukee platform will win over many people. What is shocking or wrong about that? Milwaukee is known for a high crime rate (yes even with flynns media campaigns), bad schools, old houses on small lots, apartment buildings everywhere, and high taxes. They don't want Waukesha to become Milwaukee or share it's burden of low income residents. Can you blame them?
I don't know if you ever leave the east side or whatever area you live in where you aren't experincing the same loss of quality of life and property value as most of the city is. You advocate low income housing for the suburbs but what low income housing is in your backyard? How does that affect you?

James Rowen said...

I think leaders or potential leaders who campaign against another municipality might achieve a short-term goal but ultimately drag down the public debate and larger policy issues.

Unknown said...

Let's get this correct.
Jim is pro-Lake Michigan.
Jim supports true regional cooperation that makes sense for Milwaukee. Not the kind of cooperation that requires Milwaukee to bend over for the soap.
Jim would not want the "anti-Milwaukee" candidate to win. Waukesha is already anti-Milwaukee enough. I assume that Jim doesn't write about his positive feelings about Mayor Nelson because the haters would put it on a flyer and use it for campaign lit for the other guy.

james wigderson said...

No, let's try to hold people to what they actually write and say. Jim doesn't want Milwaukee to sell Waukesha water. Jeff Scrima does not want to buy water from Milwaukee. Jim's complaining about Scrima's attitude.

Go figure.

eno said...

The problem with a Milwaukee/Waukesha water deal as I see it is not the deal as it would stand today.... its 10 years down the road when Milwaukee puts it greedy finger on the faucet and wants to "renegotiate" the deal...

Once a Lake Michigan deal is penned Milwaukee has the ability to bring Waukesha to its knees if it so chooses.

I don't view it as anti-Milwaukee as much as I view it as common sense... Milwaukee Water is like my mother-in-law... once you let her move in, she'll choke off your soul till you have no will to live... and I swear she keeps stealing my beer...

james wigderson said...

"I think leaders or potential leaders who campaign against another municipality might achieve a short-term goal but ultimately drag down the public debate and larger policy issues."

Yes, I feel the same way whenever I see an opinion leader relentlessly attack Waukesha.