Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is SEWRPC Bypassing Its Justice Task Force?

After a flurry of questions, complaints and emails about a transparent, Open Meeting process, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission agreed to schedule a meeting of its justice task for September 2nd to air continuing questions from a socio-economic point of view about regional water policy plans being drafted by SEWRPC.

The task force had demanded that role, and SEWRPc had agreed - - a good move, since its relationship with its own task force has been rocky - - to hold its water supply study until the task force and its consultants finished the work.

SEWRPC outreach manager Gary Korb said in an email to me last week, (which I posted on my blog along with a fuller history). that the task force would have a final meeting on the matter on September 2nd.

His response, in full, says:


As you are likely aware, an extended review period for the EJTF to ask questions and comment upon the Socio-Economic Impact (SEI) Analysis prepared by UW-Milwaukee’s Center for Economic Development (UWM-CED) concluded on August 6, 2010.

Commission committees/task forces have not operated in an identical manner. Technical committees like the Water Supply Committee may have generally operated in the manner you described. Other committees/task forces have not. The Commission does not enforce a uniform method of operation on committees/task forces.

Over four meetings, the EJTF has reviewed, discussed, and commented on the scope and findings of the SEI. UWM-CED has responded to Task Force comments and expanded their analysis and report. You were present at the July 8th meeting. At the meeting, EJTF member Jackie Schellinger desired to make a motion to accept the UWM-CED report. Vice-Chair Nancy Holmlund suggested that the EJTF not act on a motion, as she recalled there was an issue raised at the July 8th meeting which should still be analyzed by UWM-CED and incorporated in the SEI report. After some EJTF discussion, it was determined that there was one remaining question to be answered—the potential impacts of the differential in the costs of water supply alternatives to the City of Waukesha. The potential need to schedule a meeting of the EJTF during the first week of August was discussed to consider this question and complete the EJTF review of the SEI. Professor Rast of UWM-CED indicated the need to complete the study by the end of July and suggested that the EJTF review of the response to this last unanswered question, and the SEI, be completed by email before the end of July.

The EJTF was in unanimous agreement at the July 8th meeting to complete the study in this manner, rather than to schedule an additional meeting in August or to hold off until September. Based upon recent interest expressed by Task Force members, however, we expect that further discussion of the SEI will be an item on the EJTF meeting agenda of September 2, 2010.


Gary Korb

Regional Planning Educator

UW-Extension working with SEWRPC.

But in looking at the SEWRPC website yesterday and today, I see two apparently contradictory things.

1. No scheduled meeting for the task force.

2. But there is a scheduled meeting earlier, on August 24th, for the water supply committee, with an agenda item to approve the justice task force work:

"Consideration of remaining portion of Chapter X, “Recommended Water Supply Plan,” of SEWRPC Planning Report No. 52 beginning on page 18, describing the recommended regional water supply plan, including Appendix P, “Summary and Conclusions of the Socioeconomic Impact Analysis of the Regional Water Supply Plan for Southeastern Wisconsin” (copies enclosed)"

How could the water supply advisory committee be taking up the task force work on August 24th if the task force work was to be finished at a meeting on September 2nd?

I will send this posting to SEWRPC and ask for an explanation.

I did email Korb yesterday about the September 2nd meeting notice, but have not gotten a response to that question.

This is what appears on the task force page about its meeting schedule:

"Scheduled Meetings of the Environmental Justice Task Force

All meetings will begin at 4:00 p.m. and conclude, if possible, by 6:00 p.m.

No meetings announced at this time."

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