Thursday, April 22, 2010

Diversion Politics Driven By Image, Money

Milwaukee wants clarification from new Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima about his campaign remarks that suggested no eagerness to buy Lake Michigan water from Milwaukee, or to meet Milwaukee conditions.

The issue is larger than what Scrima thinks; at more than one recent meeting, several Waukeska aldermen expressed the same reservations: no willingness to add money beyond the cost of water to a deal, or to cooperate with Milwaukee on regional issues, like transit, affordable housing or jobs.

Part of this is economic: at $164 million - - and I have my doubts that the estimated cost of the Lake Michigan diversion will hold over time - - it's a pricey project for a city the size of Waukesha.

Then there is the image issue: Wauesha does not want to be seen as a Milwaukee bedroom community, or a suburb.

It sees itself as the historically-established seat of a separate county - - and not coincidentally, the Waukesha County Board has made that clear by disassociating itself from any regional transit authority that includes Milwaukee, and made sure there were limitrd transit connections by killing Milwaukee's light rail planning more than ten years ago.

When it comes down to it, the water deal problem is Waukesha's, not Milwaukee's.

Waukesha wants the water, having set aside other alternatives involving more shallow wells, or the Fox River, or more conservation and recycling, so Lake Michigan is its choice.

Milwaukee has laid out its conditions for a sale, and if Waukesha balks, it is free to go to Racine and or Oak Creek, which are more expensive because of distance and offer water not up to Milwaukee standards.

If Waukesha remains wedded to the Lake Michigan option, it will have to resolve the contradiction between its financial situation and attitude towards Milwaukee.


Anonymous said...

If the folks in Waukesha want Milwaukee water, the solution is simple. They should move to Milwaukee.

They have done their best to carve out a little enclave away from the, um, "urban influences" of their neighbor to the east. They should take responsibility for those decisions.

Michael J. Cheaney said...

Its attitude toward Milwaukee.....

What about Milwaukees attitude toward Waukesha?

Yes Milwaukee has something that Waukesha will need in the not to distant future...but on the other hand we have something that you desperately want increased revenue in the form of an RTA...-And its pissing Milwaukee off not to have access to it.

The only difference between what Milwaukee wants and Waukesha Needs is that Waukesha has other options when it comes to water.

Milwaukee and the RTA and trying to shove light rail down our throats?

Not so much.