Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Scrima Has A Huge Task To Manage

How awkward: The upset-winning Waukesha Mayor-elect Jeff Scrima looks like he will inherit the Lake Michigan diversion plan drawn up by outgoing Mayor Larry Nelson and his team, assuming the Waukesha Common Council approves it Thursday night and sends it off to an unknown future in an eight-state review.

That is - - unless the Council holds it so that Scrima can participate in deciding if that is the right course of action.

Which, by the way, would allow the city to try and repair the deficiences in the plan, and information gaps - - which have been summarized usefully by several environmental groups.

Which might actually help Waukesha win eventual diversion permission by improving the precedent-setting application.

My guess is that a delay and major surgery on the plan is unlikely - - too much treasure spent on the draft, too much pressure now from business groups who could overplay their hand, and Waukesha's - - and that Scrima will keep some distance from plan so that he doesn't come to own it quickly.

Nelson's team drew it up, so for now, it is certainly their's (and the Council's, too).

As to the election: I can't say I am surprised, as I had noted several times on my blog the extremely fast-growing Facebook site against the diversion plan, and most of the "fans" of the site were Scrima supporters.

People I know in Waukesha tell me the water plan was only one of several key election issues. And it is certainly a dangerous time for incumbents.

I think much of the opposition to the Lake Michigan diversion plan stems from the whopping projected cost - - at least $164 million - - and the angst in the city over either paying even more to a relatively more distant, non-Milwaukee supplier for more miles of pipeline, or meeting Milwaukee's contract conditions that also come with a price tag.

And the water utility has said non-Lake Michigan alternatives are even more expensive; without an independent and side-by-side cost and environmental analysis - - done independently - - the application proceeds under a cloud.

Decades of careless over pumping of water in Waukesha (way before Larry Nelson or Jeff Scrima), and a fruitless legal challenge to federal clean water standards added millions of inflationary dollars to a solution now really pricey: Jeff Scrima will have to manage and sell one solution or another to a restless electorate that already feels squeezed and over taxed.

1 comment:

James Wigderson said...

Jim, Scrima has already said the Common Council should go ahead with the application process. Given that his vote totals in the city roughly coincide with Gundrum's, this has more to do with Nelson being a Dem than it does the water issue. Scrima was already flip-flopping on the issue prior to the election.