Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Waukesha County, Fiefdoms, Pockets Of Power Abound

It's clear that the State Supreme Court election fiasco delivered by Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus was an accident waiting to happen - - and it's fair to ask: if the accident that is waiting to happen, happens, is it truly an accident?

Let's hope we get some answers from the Government Accountability Board and the US Justice Department.

Nickolaus impenetrable grip on data and procedures in her office indicate that she considers that office her office. And she's not the only entrenched local official on the map.

But it's worth noting that there are other fiefdoms and small centers of tightly-held power out Waukesha way.

Take the City of Waukesha Water Utility, which, for years, has operated with great independence from the rest of city government.

Its water utility commission has had the same chairman for 22 years - - nominated, like other commissioner and board members by the Mayor and approved by the Waukesha common council, or so folks thought.

But when new Mayor Jeff Scrima took over in April, 2010 and wanted to change the direction of the water utility commission by selecting another person to be the chairman, the Common Council said "no."

The Common Council was being pushed by the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce and affiliated advocay group to approve the application and keep Mayor Scrima at arm's length.

The Council said it was the appointing authority - - having overlooked the law for at least 20 years - -  and agreed to a compromise that allowed Scrima one appointment while it reappointed long-time chair and Lake Michigan water booster Dan Warren - - who is also the President of the school district.

And then, there's Pewaukee-based, Waukesha County-centric SEWRPC... 

SEWRPC, shall we say, works closely with Waukesha interests, having in the last few years written:

A recommendation for a diversion of Lake Michigan water after a request for a regional water supply
plan by the Waukesha County Board;

A key component of the City of Waukesha's draft Lake Michigan diversion application - - the map for where the water could be distributed, including into the Town of Waukesha, which was not consulted about the map. And which since withheld its willingness to be in the map - - for now - - leaving a hole in the city;s stalled application.

A $6.5 billion regional freeway expansion plan, with the Zoo Interchange reconstruction and expansion now fast-tracked by the Walker administration as Waukesha County officials had urged;

A recommendation for a $23.1 million full diamond interchange to serve a never-builtshopping mall off I-94 at...Pabst Farms (see Warren, above).

More about Waukesha County, here.

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