Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Like The Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay Needs Attention, Cleanup Funding

Watching the Gulf of Mexico being damaged is a reminder that all our waterways need attention.

Here's a piece about the Chesapeake Bay - - which ought to resonate with all Great Lakes advocates.

July 5th A Big Day For Wisconsin Public Health

And for the liberation of music from smoky venues, as the statewide workplace smoking law takes effect.


Local Artists Showing In Brookfield

Good friend and nature photographer Patrick Dean is showing there.

The Menace Of Sprawl, In One Line

From the good folks at

"For all the implications of ‘sprawl’-- from job loss and economic decline, to alarming obesity, asthma rates and segregation, to the loss of habitat and global warming, to our dangerous dependence on foreign oil--all of them are driven by one fundamental problem: the mismatch between where we live and where we work." --Shaun Donovan, Secretary Housing and Urban Development (HUD) February 2010

Poll Shows Support For Lake Michigan Water To Waukesha, But...

Maybe 343 people is a statistically-sound sample, but if 61% are age 55 and over, is that sound polling?

Does that reflect the breakout of Waukesha voters?

I really don't know.

And why does the PR attached to the poll say "just under 400" people were polled if the true number is 343?

Organic Milk A Boon For Wisconsin Farming

Glad to see this kind of story in the Dairy State.

Waukesha Council Waters Down Mayor's Authority

And increases its own, as the post-election battle with new Mayor Jeff Scrima roils, or rolls on.

The matter at hand was making the City Administrator report not to the Mayor, but the Council itself, so now she has many bosses and not a presumably less-friendly one at that.

But the real issue is the Lake Michigan water application, which Scrima questions, but which the Council and City Administrator support - - and which the state has declined to review until a) the water utility provides more data, and b) Waukesha's government clarifies it it is still open to alternatives other than Lake Michigan.

The Great Lakes Compact requires all options to be studied, with a diversion meeting a 'no-reasonable-alternative, last-ditch' alternative.

But as to the political infighting in the wake of Scrima's defeat of Larry Nelson - - who hired the current city administrator:

Can't redo the election, so can the business community and the rest of the political establishment in Waukesha (and nearby) bully him into signing?

Don Behm of the Journal Sentinel reports that some city officials are meeting with Scrima today to see if he will sign a letter to the DNR supporting the application.

The letter will be drafted by the water utility commission - - something of an autonomous level of government in Waukesha - - but not unheard of ("Chinatown?") when it comes to water utilities or agencies that generate revenue for their cities.

I'd love to be in that meeting, but the bright light from the sole bulb dangling over the table at which Scrima will be forced to sign his confession might hurt my eyes.

We'll certainly know how it goes if Scrima walks around town with a large band-aid on his nose.

'Climategate' Was The Real Hoax: Retractions Being Made

But as this article says, the damage was done.

Do You Need A 12-Pack With That Candy Bar?

Walgreens wants to sell alcohol at its stores.

Must be a shortage of booze outlets in Milwaukee.

Link To City Downtown/Master Plan Update

Read the plan here.

Cuts In Public Spending Are Depressing

The 1930's analogies are scary.

Milwaukee Downtown Plan Update Offered Tonight

Milwaukee's CNU affiliates remind us:
On Wednesday, June 30, 2010, the City of Milwaukee will host a Downtown Area Plan Update. The Update Builds On the 1999 Downtown Master Plan - Come To See This Update That Will Guide Development Over The Next Decade!

Downtown Plan Open House
Wednesday, June 30
4pm - 7pm with 20 min. presentations at 4:30 and 6:30
City Hall
Third Floor
Room 301A

BP Means "Buying Politicians," With Millions

BP's US arm let a torrent of cash flow into the political system, The Washington Post reports.

BP's Bankruptcy Options

One banking expert says it could happen and be a "horror" for the US government, meaning all of us.

Milwaukee's New Master Plan: Exciting Times

This description of another great revival in the offing in Milwaukee is hugely exciting.

Developments on or near Pere Marquette Park, King Drive, the Intermodal Station, W. Broadway and all, I am sure.

One thing leads to another, as it already has.

Add in a modern streetcar system to tie it together - - with access from Chicago and Madison on high speed trains - - and you've really got something cooking here.

If you honor cities and love Milwaukee, you can do nothing but read this news and cheer - - and commit to participating in what will surely be a lengthy, participatory process.

A city like Milwaukee, land-locked by a short-sighted legislature decades ago, was forced to constantly reinvest and reinvent, and I see in these ambitions plans that Mayor Tom Barrett and his team are 100% engaged in that process.

I've seen this sort of promise and enthusiasm and results before.

Paul Soglin helped bring about Madison's modern downtown, including the Capitol Square, the State Street Mall and new housing that put full-time residents and their synergy into a commercial and business district.

John Norquist remade Milwaukee's downtown and other neighborhoods nearby. He first talked to me about a job in 1991 - - five years before I accepted the offer - - and to sell it walked me through empty buildings and desolate streets in what is now the maturing Third and Firth Wards.

He told me at that time that in a few years, all those abandoned warehouses and factories would be lofts and condos and shops because people would be moving there to be near the water, theaters, Summerfest and their jobs - - all accessible on foot, by bike or bus.

I thought he was nuts.

He was right and I was wrong.

So here comes another big Milwaukee redefinition and amplification, and all I see is opportunity and more success.

And thanks to Tom Daykin for another great story translating what might be wonky details into an important piece of journalism.

And some of you think you don't need newspapers anymore.

Who's nuts now?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Public Policy Forum Poll Shows Milwaukee County Support For Streetcars; Wider Approval For Some Transportation Tax Increases

That good news in "The People Speak" poll supports the downtown rail system moving forward under Mayor Tom Barrett, and might give pause to County Exec Scott Walker, the leader, along with talk radio hosts, of the opposition to city rail.

There is opposition in the out-counties, to which I say: "ride it when you are in the City of Milwaukee, and have a nice day."

So there is a greater level of support for adding rail in Milwaukee than you'd think if you get your news and commentary about such things from conservative talkers.

Other polling highlights - - some taxes aimed at transportation improvements have solid support:

A majority of people in the region would support a one-cent-per-gallon increase in the gasoline tax for transportation purposes - - again, a finding that goes against the conservative anti-taxing narrative - - though there is less support for a two-cent increase, or for toll roads, either.

And a majority of people in all the region's counties favor a half-cent increase in the sales tax to get Milwaukee's bus system on a solid footing.

From the poll conclusions:

" for using the sales tax to fund improvements in the Milwaukee County bus system is much stronger (Chart 11). A majority of all respondents and all subgroups agreed with the statement, “A half-cent sales tax in Milwaukee County is the best option for funding the Milwaukee County bus system.”

And this I found surprising and reassuring: in the region, only 30% of respondents say that the state of the transportation system is holding back the region's growth.

In other words: the sky is not falling, as some would have you believe, and taxes, selectively applied, generate support for transportation improvements, including city rail and the Milwaukee County transit system.

These are among the fascinating and generally under-reported findings in this latest Public Policy Forum poll.

You can read more here.

And here is more about how the poll is conducted, from the Forum's webpages:

"The People Speak is a tracking poll and is conducted at regular intervals throughout the year. The People Speak is designed and analyzed by the Public Policy Forum in partnership with CUIR [Center for Urban Initiatives and Research at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee] and The Business Journal Serving Greater Milwaukee and is funded by The Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation and the Argosy Foundation.

"For the complete results of the June poll, as well as previous polls, please visit the poll's homepage at:"

Good Perspective In Isthmus On Wisconsin's OWI Crisis

Treat first offenses as a serious breach of public safety.

MMSD's Environmentalism

Another blogger gives the agency its props.

DNR Now Offering Air Quality Information By County

You can now, reports the DNR, receive notices by e-mail, RSS feed or text messages whenever your county has an air quality watch or advisory. The Department of Natural Resources has improved its Air Quality Notification system to include this feature. Previously, subscribers could only sign up to get a message for all air quality watches and advisories, no matter where they occurred in the state.

To subscribe to air quality notices by county, multiple counties or statewide use the links at the top of the Wisconsin Statewide Air Quality Notices page of the DNR website. The subscription page for the county option also includes air quality web pages tailored to each county. Current subscribers who want to continue receiving notices for all counties do not need to take any action.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Anne Bogar at or (608)266-3725

Manage Your DNR Subscriptions:
Add new subscriptions, delete subscriptions, and manage your profile.

If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please contact

Other inquiries can be directed
to the DNR.

101 S. Webster Street • PO Box 7921 • Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7921608-266-2621

Water Diversion Advocates Forgetting Their Physics

And I don't mean with regard to hydrology, or the movement of water pushed by big pumps across the Great Lakes boundary from Milwaukee to Waukesha.

I mean politically.

Because in politics, the same Newtonian law applies: for every action there will be a counter reaction.

For example, when Waukesha sent its much-anticipated application for a Lake Michigan diversion to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the DNR returned it as insufficient and incomplete.

Newton verified.

But the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce criticized the DNR's action without mentioning the technical, procedural and financial gaps that the DNR said it found in the application.

The inference? That the DNR was bowing to the wishes of Jeff Scrima, Waukesha's new Mayor, who had raised questions about the application in his successful campaign to unseat Larry Nelson, an application supporter

Did the Chamber suppose its spin went unnoticed in the DNR's hallways?

Now you have the Chamber joining in a separate business coalition's politicking for the application in a news release and an online petition - - but mischaracterizing the preliminary conclusions for a new regional water supply system being drafted - - but not yet adopted - - by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

Since the regulatory approval for the application in Wisconsin must come from the DNR, and not SEWRPC, why would the advocates for the application keep putting the DNR in a box?

And while we're posing political questions, here's another one:

Why on earth would SEWRPC play along with the business coalition's political stagecraft when the SEWRPC Environmental Justice Task Force - - a body with which SEWRPC has already had a rocky relationship over the EJTF's demand for an independent analysis of the draft water study - - has yet to finish that very analysis and review it?

Does SEWRPC care about how playing footsie with the business coalition - - see these letters - - is received when the EJTF meets next Thursday - - with its work on the water study on the agenda?

Is SEWRPC looking to get hit with yet another civil rights complaint over its treatment of the region's minority communities - - a problem area that the EJTF was supposed to address when federal planning regulators and the ACLU of Wisconsin more or less forced SEWRPC to create the EJTF in the first place?

I know that much of this pressure for the application is aimed at Mayor Scrima.

I hear that at least one senior Waukesha County politician has told Scrima in no uncertain terms to get on board - - which, of course, leaves the county's valuable shallow wells available to developers and municipalities outside the City of Waukesha - - but, again: is there any consideration for the opposite effect this pressure will create in the Scrima camp?

The camp that won the election?

If push comes to shove, isn't there a shove back?

Not to mention the impact in the other Great Lakes states - - all of which must approve Waukesha's application - - as they see powerful business and political interests pushing the application as a way to help local and regional businesses in Wisconsin?

The business coalition includes the language below in its arguments, but does the rest of the Great Lakes region care enough to approve the precedent-setting diversion request under the terms of the new Compact's water management and conservation goals:

"The Sustainable Water Supply Coalition (SH2OSC) is a growing alliance of regional businesses and organizations focused on advancing our region as a global water hub focusing on water technology, water conservation and water industry development through the review and support of sound sustainable water use initiatives.

Our first order of business is to help secure a sustainable source of water for the City of Waukesha. We believe our own “backyard” challenges, such as the City of Waukesha’s need to attain court-ordered radium compliance, must be solved with broad community support for this region to become a true “water hub.” As you are aware, the City of Waukesha recently released its application under the Great Lakes Compact for the right to receive and return Lake Michigan water."

Dave Dempsey, a recognized Great Lakes expert who served as environmental adviser to the Governor of Michigan - - the state most likely to ask the toughest questions of any diversion application - - has already strongly critiqued both the application and its support in the business community as out of sync with the Compact.

Makes you wonder if anybody out Waukesha way is listening?

The power play for the application and against Scrima is pitched to a local audience, but it seems to ignore the roles of Wisconsin and out-state regulators and reviewers who ultimately control the application's future.

They make up an audience for the application whose importance cannot be over-stated.

The late, great Massachusetts Congressman Tip O'Neil famously said that all politics is local.

But maybe there is an exception when eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces are in control.

Good News: Eric Von Is Coming Back

Hot damn!

Another Depression?

Krugman says it's underway, thanks to spending nervous-nellies.

Milwaukee A Leader In Green Roofs

NewsBuzz notes Milwaukee's national reputation for green roof construction.

I'm impressed with the partnership that created the latest project atop the Central library downtown - - the city, MMSD, WE Energy and other donors - - and the wide range of benefits these green roofs create: lower energy bills, reduced stormwater runoff, cleaner air.

And the jobs to build them.

Going green adds value to the economy and enhances the city. Hats off to all the players.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Business Group Repeats Its Overstatement Of SEWRPC Action On Great Lakes Water

In a posting earlier Monday, I noted that a business group had mischaracterized what actions the Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has taken in a study to determine if it's a good idea to divert Lake Michigan water to Waukesha.

The pro-diversion business group says SEWRPC has recommended that option, when actually only an advisory committee to SEWRPC has done so.

The SEWRPC study is not yet completed.

The advisory committee includes Waukesha's water utility manager along with water utility managers from Waukesha's potential Lake Michigan water suppliers - - Milwaukee, Racine and Oak Creek together 28 additional government, business, academic and other experts.

I also see that the business group is urging people to sign an online petition that backs the Waukesha application for Lake Michigan water - - and it repeats the group's earlier overstatement of what SEWPRC has done:

"Both the City of Waukesha and our regional planning authority (Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Authority [sic] have comprehensively reviewed all potential options, considering both environmental impact and cost effectiveness, concluding that Great Lakes water is the best option for Waukesha. "

[I added the [sic] because SEWRPC is a Commission, not an Authority]

Again, SEWRPC has concluded nothing.

Can we get a little more accuracy into these messages?

Let's Clarify What SEWRPC Has And Has Not Recommended Regarding Lake Michigan Water

The power politics playing out over Waukesha's application for a Lake Michigan diversion - - referenced frequently on this blog whether it's the emergence of a big business diversion support group, or the intense in-fighting within Waukesha city government after pro-diversion, former Mayor Larry Nelson was upset in the April election - - roll on.

I want to comment on the release today by that business support group of a statement about the application that, I think, overstates things as they stand right now.

This reminds me of last week's statement from the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce that also, as I saw it, didn't get the whole story out there for its members.

Start with the bold-faced title and lede (that's a newspaper term for opening, or lead sentence, but spelled "lede" to differentiate from being lead, or the metal, etc.) sentence in the business group's release- - and I will reprint its full text below so you can make your own judgements:

"SEWRPC Reaffirms Recommendation of Great Lakes Water as Future Waukesha Water Supply

June 28, 2010—(Delafield, WI ) Per an inquiry by the Sustainable Water Supply Coalition (SH2OSC), The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) has reaffirmed its late 2009 recommendation that Great Lakes water is the recommended option for the City of Waukesha’s future water supply needs."

Two questions, and this is more than splitting hairs:

You know what's missing in that title and first sentence?

A word like "draft" or "committee" or "preliminary."

And whose recommendation is being cited?


Well, not exactly.

For the record (SEWRPC's response letter is at the end of this file) SEWRPC - - the agency, through its 21-member board - - has recommended nothing.

A SEWRPC advisory committee has made such a recommendation, but as SEWRPC itself makes clear, the committee's work is advisory, and thus preliminary, and the full study is not done yet.

If a Common Council citizen advisory committee recommends a policy, do we say "the city has recommended?"

We do not.

Because it hasn't.

And let me say that this is not the first time there has been this confusion over substance and procedures in written materials about SEWRPC's ongoing water study.

An early draft of the Waukesha application had also inaccurately said that SEWRPC's water supply study had recommended the Lake Michigan alternative for Waukesha, but after it was pointed out at a public hearing in Waukesha's city hall, the drafters of the application acknowledged that the reference was not accurate and clarified it in subsequent application drafts.

Let me continue:

It is crucial to understand that the ongoing and unfolding SEWRPC water study involves the SEWRPC's Environmental Justice Task Force, and the EJTF, another SEWRPC-created Citizen advisory body, has yet to finish its work on a related study.

And it is not clear if or how the EJTF report can be integrated into the rest of the draft water study - - a project that has been on hold since 2009.

This is a link to the EJTF and its work that is taken off the SEWRPC's water supply webpage.

And the SEWRPC home page - - - - says this about its water supply study:

"Regional Water Supply Study

The final stages of preparing a regional water supply plan are underway. This planning effort will lead to the preparation and adoption of a regional water supply plan. more "

How many ways do I have to say it: the water study is not finished.

That is why, despite the business group's hype, the SEWRPC's response letter states that the water study is a "preliminary recommended plan," and that the Waukesha application is in line with that preliminary recommendation and the ongoing study "as it stands now" - - with final consideration coming later this year.


(The EJFT piece was to be done two-to-three months ago, so these matters do not move quickly, and it is not clear yet whether a final report with the EJTF component will undergo major redrafting. Or will need additional public meetings or hearings.)

You see - - this is not as simple as "SEWRPC Reaffirms Recommendation of Great Lakes Water as Future Waukesha Water Supply."

And the business group repeats in this online petition its overstatement of what SEWRPC has done.

My point is that it is one thing to say an advisory committee has reached a conclusion - - and yes, the business group's release gets it right after the headline and lede sentence - - where that emphasis could and should have been..

Here is the full text of the business group's release (with one typo note as [sic], as SEWRPC is SEWRPC, not "SEWRPAC'):

For Immediate Release: Contact: Brian J. Nemoir, Executive Director June 28, 2010 262.646.2342

SEWRPC Reaffirms Recommendation of Great Lakes Water as Future Waukesha Water Supply

June 28, 2010—(Delafield, WI ) Per an inquiry by the Sustainable Water Supply Coalition (SH2OSC), The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) has reaffirmed its late 2009 recommendation that Great Lakes water is the recommended option for the City of Waukesha’s future water supply needs.

Per a letter dated June 18th (see attached) the SH2OSC Board of Directors asked SEWRPAC [sic] to confirm, “That an application by the City of Waukesha for a sustainable water source from Lake Michigan is consistent with the recommended water supply alternative unanimously endorsed by the Regional Water Supply Planning Advisory Committee.”

In response (see attached), SEWRPC outlined the four year review process conducted by the advisory committee comprised over 30 members. Membership included: knowledgeable planners, engineers, scientists, water utility managers and representatives of concerned Federal and State agencies as well as representatives of the academic, agricultural, industrial and environmental communities within the region (list included). In considering regional water supply, and recommending Lake Michigan as a source of supply for the City of Waukesha, there were six primary reasons cited:

Reduction in chloride discharge to the environment due to the reduced water softening requirement;

Favorable environmental impacts on recovery of deep aquifer. This issue is important in addressing the objectives of 2003 Wisconsin Act 310 and the recommendations of the State Groundwater Advisory Committee created by that law;

Favorable environmental impacts on stream baseflows, lake levels, and wetlands; • Ability to preserve groundwater for other uses, such as agriculture;

• Opportunity to use excess water production capacity at the existing supplier utilities;


Cost advantages to both supplier and purchasing utilities.

The SEWRPC response also notes that during final consideration of the recommended plan, “there were no comments made objecting to the provision of Lake Michigan supply for the Waukesha Water Utility.”“As the City of Waukesha works to advance its application for Great Lakes water, notably approved by the Common Council 14‐1, it should do so knowing that extensive efforts were made reviewing the various options at both the local and regional level,” stated Ed Olson, Co‐ Chair of the SH2OSC and President of Waukesha Memorial Hospital.

“Waukesha’s challenge in securing a sustainable water source has a solution, Lake Michigan water, and the time has come for the City to advance a unified effort to address this critical need.”

The Sustainable Water Supply Coalition (SH2OSC) is a growing alliance of regional businesses and organizations focused on advancing our region as a global water hub through the review and support of sound sustainable water use initiatives. SH2OSC is a 501c4, for more information:

WMC Boss Laments Political Divisiveness: Pinch Me, I Must Be Dreaming

The good folks at the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce helped trash Louis Butler in the 2008 Supreme Court race with horrible TV ads, yet the state business group's outgoing leader bemoans the lack of civility in politics.

Jim Haney even wonders aloud if the group had contributed to that in any way, then says he doesn't know how to fix it.

Now That Gun Ownership Rights Are Clarified And Broadened...

Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling...maybe we can turn our collective political and legal attention effort ensuring that everyone has a good job, health care, schooling and a roof over their heads.

UWM WATER Institute Partnering In Gulf Spill Science

Sandra McLellan, a professor at the UWM Great Lakes WATER Institute, is part of the team of scientists studying the effects on the food chain of the Gulf oil spill.

McLellan and the WATER Institute identified Milwaukee County stormwater discharge pipes as a key source of Lake Michigan beachfront e. coli contamination; without her work, plus donations from the MMSD, Sheldon Lubar and others, Milwaukee's signature public space - - Bradford Beach - - would not be the recreational and environmental success we now all enjoy.

Book Pitches Rebuilding America's Passenger Train System

Gotta get this book.

The intro by James Howard Kuntsler should be a bonus.

Major Ruling In East Troy/Lake Beulah Well Case

The State Supreme Court points the DNR to the Wisconsin Constitution's directive about protecting the state's waters under the Public Trust Doctrine, according to the Journal Sentinel.

This is potentially an explosive ruling; at stake is an East Troy well sunk very close to Lake Beulah - - a matter I noted more than two years ago when the Madison law firm of Lawton & Cates got involved.

I am pleased to see the high court emphasizing the Public Trust Doctrine, as that historic section of the state constitution (it predates statehood, all the way back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787) must be front-and-center in the agency's review of Waukesha's application to divert water from Lake Michigan and return it, as treated wastewater via Underwood Creek and the Menomonee River.

Charlotte Offers Light Rail Lessons For Success

Excellent report on how Charlotte got its light rail running, and got it right.

Legal Giant With Madison Ties Dies In Seattle

Sad news passed along from a long-time poli sci department friend: Prof. Stuart Scheingold has died at 78.

More Wind Turbine Business, Jobs In Wisconsin

Glad to see this.

Expert Says...Oil Peaked; Wind Is The Next Big Thing

This insider says the Gulf blowout is a sign that the days of easy oil are over and wind is where it's at.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Washington Post Takes Real World Look At Sean Duffy

From Dave Obey, a potential goofy step down.

Thoughtful Meditation On Environmentalism, Politics And Commerce In The Northwest

From The NY Times and definitely worth the read.

Walker, Neumann Stand For Discrimination

Scott Walker and Mark Neumann endorse discrimination, specifically singling out gay citizen/taxpayers for reduced rights under the law.

It's nothing less than a craven and self-serving appeal for votes from an ideologically-based constituency, and is an unacceptable attitude for a public official; Neumann comes across as a hapless homophobe while Walker, ever the pol, chooses his words more carefully.

But it's baloney no matter how they slice it.

Embedding legal discrimination in the law, let alone a state constitution like Wisconsin's, should be condemned outright.

It's not a liberal or a conservative issue - - note that leading conservative scholar and former George W. Bush solicitor general Ted Olson is actively trying to undo this legal damage in California.

Wisconsin's constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages and civil unions was the brainchild of former Assembly Majority leader John Gard, who tried to use it as a platform to the US House of Representatives - - a cynical ploy rejected even by a relatively-conservative northern Wisconsin electorate.

Marriage and civil unions convey legal and financial benefits to those who choose them, and preventing by law a class of Americans from receiving those benefits is absolutely against the US Constitution's equal protection and due process standards.

Let's hope the amendment is thrown out by the Wisconsin Supreme Court and that no proponent of legal bigotry is elected our Governor.

BP Has Its Defenders - - In England, Anyway

Not surprising that the commentator finds the real casualty in the tragedy is not the Gulf of Mexico or its residents' way of life - - it's America's status as a good business partner.

Say what?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wauwatosa Taxpayers, Through TIF, Will Finance Part of UWM's Engineering/Innovation Campus

I'll be they thought it was a UWM/Private Sector plan.


$11..5 million in proposed TIF funds from the taxpayers to a developer for infrastructure - - to be taken up by the Tosa Plan Commission Monday, July 12, at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.

Some readers of the blog cannot see the public notice I copied out. In part, a description from reads:

A TIF district has been proposed for the Co. Grounds where the UW-Milwaukee is creating a engineering and applied science campus at the NE corner of hwy 45 and Watertown Plank Road. The university buildings will be tax exempt. However, a residential development and private research buildings and laboratories are expected to generate tax revenue.

The land is largely unimproved lacking infrastructure such as access road, utility connections and storm water facilities that are needed to make it useful development, UWM officials have said. There also will be costs associated with renovating the historic Eschweiler building, a stipulation of the land sale agreement. Developers estimate the site's potential value at $75 million. A business accelerator and private research facilities are expected to create local jobs. A Joint review board representing the various taxing entities, including the city and Milw Co will meet within the next two weeks to decide whether to allow a TIF. If approved, some of the TIF dollars would be used to cover the local contribution required to get a federal $ 4.2 million grant to construct the accelerator.

Rep. Bart Stupak, (D-MI), Makes The Case For Mining, Drilling Bans Covering Great Lakes

All the Great Lakes states need far tougher bans on oil, gas and minerals exploration and removal from beneath, through or near these precious bodies of water.

Thanks to Xoff for this posting.

Golf Course Runoff Becomes Lake Park Water Feature

Amazing what ingenuity and philanthropy can do.

Reactionaries Out To Buy The Fall Elections

Here comes the Right's flood of campaign funding, with Karl Rove front-and-center.

Bottled Water Is Wasteful; Madison Promoting Its Tap Water

The City of Madison had some problems with some of its wells, but now that's in the past and the city is more aggressively pushing tap water as an alternative to expensive bottled water and its wasteful plastic containers.

This should be a relatively easy sell in progressive Madison.

Sprawling Cities - - Like Atlanta - - Are Hotter

Another negative for sprawl, but a plus for cities with heat-reducing density.

Janesville Firm's Oil Cleanup Demo Getting More YouTube Hits

Closing in on 6,000.

30% increase from yesterday, and far, far more above and beyond its first posting just a few days ago.

I hope they post new video from their upcoming trip to the Gulf.

Online Comments On Newspaper Story Become Recall Organizing Platform

Another example of the way the Internet has changed newspapering: a story about a budding recall effort in Waukesha lets potential allies swap contact information.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Gaffe Inspired By GOP Hysteria Over Obama

Joe Wilson ("you lie") and Joe Barton ( the BP Suck-Up Apologist) John Kyl.

Does the whole party have foot-in-mouth disease?

County Garage Concrete Collapse: Let The Investigators Do Their Work

I remember from my Milwaukee Journal days looking into aviation accidents that early suppositions often gave way to hidden facts leading to surprising or layered conclusions.

So I'm going to wait for the investigations to get tied up, or for some official preliminary findings to be released about the collapse of a piece of the County parking structure on Lincoln Memorial Drive before I have anything to say about it here.

Waukesha Water Utility Commission Knee-Deep In Diversion Politics

The upset defeat of Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson, a proponent of diverting Lake Michigan water, continues to create a political overflow in Waukesha politics.

And while the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce is getting involved - - details here - - let's remember that Waukesha's diversion application for Lake Michigan water was found insufficient and incomplete in several areas (see sample graph, blue bold-facing, in left blog margin), including cost breakouts and comparisons that go beyond the split between new Mayor Scrima and other officials.

Janesville Firm's Oil Cleanup Method Getting More Attention

I posted one YouTube video a few days ago. At that time, the video had had 304 view. Today, 4,400.

WISC-TV3 in Madison has newer video of another impressive demonstration.

The company is headed to the Gulf with samples. Rooting for them.

Tuna Being Depleted; As With Whaling, We Learn Nothing

Grim portrait in the NY Times of tuna's future.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Local Reminder That A Federal Government With Resources Is a Good Thing

Whether its the Gulf oil disaster, or a tornado in Eagle, the people still need that big Federal government.

Waukesha Chamber Letter On Water Is Accurate, But...

The Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce is trying through an email to members to drum up support for the city's Lake Michigan diversion plan, and takes the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to task for suspending its review of the application.

I can understand the Chamber's disappointment, but:

The email to Chamber members fails to mention that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, while citing in its tabling of Waukesha's Lake Michigan application the continuing debate within Waukesha government about water supply options, also cited deficiencies in cost data and return flow information in the application, as well.

Here is a portion of the DNR's notification to Waukesha (full text at the end of this posting) a couple of weeks ago, and I thought it was important enough to put out on the front of my blog in bold and colored type:

"...the application lacks sufficient detail, as required by the Compact, regarding the costs for the diversion. We would expect the cost analysis for each of the requested options to be based upon information received from the potential withdrawal sources indicating what they would be charging for providing Great Lakes water. The City must provide to the Department detailed cost estimates for each of the withdrawal and corresponding return flow options."

In other words, the DNR cited multiple factors in its decision to delay its initial review and the water utility has said it will comply with the DNR's requests.

So let's not create a narrative that says that the delay is all about the statements by new Mayor Jeff Scrima that there may yet be alternatives to Lake Michigan that have not been fully explored.

And remember - - these are issues that the Great Lakes Compact spells out, and which, if the DNR does bring them up the other states certainly will.



Exactly What The DNR Said To Waukesha About The Lake Michigan Diversion Application

In the DNR's words, and what it asks for from Waukesha, at a minimum:

June 8, 2010

Jeff Scrima, Mayor City Hall – Room 208 201 Delafield Street Waukesha, WI 53188

Dear Mayor Scrima:

Jim Doyle, Governor Matthew J. Frank, Secretary

101 S. Webster St. Box 7921 Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7921 Telephone 608-266-2621 FAX 608-267-3579 TTY Access via relay - 711

The Department received Waukesha’s application for a diversion of Great Lakes water on May 20, 2010.

After receiving the Waukesha application we conducted an initial completeness review.

That review identified some deficiencies in the application.

Through preliminary discussions with representatives for the City it was suggested to us that Great Lakes water was the only viable option for a sustainable water supply, however, subsequent to the submittal of the application, it has been publically discussed that the City is continuing to examine alternatives to Great Lakes water and is actively considering other sources of Great Lakes water.

We understand these additional considerations may be important to Waukesha’s ultimate decision to seek Great Lakes water. One of the key requirements of the Compact for approving an application for a diversion is demonstrating that there is no reasonable water supply alternative.

Through Discussions with representatives with the city we were told that Great Lakes water was the only viable option for a sustainable water supply. Due to the fact that it has been publically discussed that the City is examining alternatives to Great Lakes water and is actively considering other sources the Department cannot move forward on reviewing the application and the City must confirm that Great Lakes water is in fact the only long term sustainable water option.

The Great Lakes Compact requires the return flow to be as close as possible to the withdrawal source.

The submitted proposal identifies three possible withdrawal source options to obtain Great Lakes water. However, without providing a corresponding return flow option for each withdrawal source it is not possible to determine whether the proposal will comply with this requirement. The City must provide to the Department both the point of withdrawal and with the proposed return flow location.

In addition, the application lacks sufficient detail, as required by the Compact, regarding the costs for the diversion. We would expect the cost analysis for each of the requested options to be based upon information received from the potential withdrawal sources indicating what they would be charging for providing Great Lakes water. The City must provide to the Department detailed cost estimates for each of the withdrawal and corresponding return flow options.

There have been press reports where you have questioned whether this application had gone through the appropriate local approvals. Additionally, the City failed to pay the statutorily (s.281.346 (12)(d), Wis. Stats.) required review fee of $5,000. Before moving forward with the application the City will be required to pay this fee and attest that the application has received all the appropriate city approvals necessary for submittal under the Compact.

At a minimum, resolution of the outlined items above is necessary before the Department can move forward with the acceptance and review of your application. If you have specific questions, please contact Bruce Baker at (608) 266-1902.


{signed by DNr Secretary Matt Frank: signature did not copy]