The Journal Sentinel has a story
that is both shocking and not: Of the 600 firefighters in Milwaukee County suburbs, one
is African-American, and he was hired only nine months ago.
chiefs, while denying racist hiring - - and let's hope that the US
Justice Department Civil Rights Division goes a little deeper into the
issue than that - - say they cannot remember ever having an
African-American in the fire service.
The story says that there
are 12,000 African-Americans living in the eighteen suburban Milwaukee
County communities - - you know the names: Franklin and River Hills,
Greenfield and Oak Creek, and so on - - and their African-American
residents make up 3.3% of those suburban communities' population.
You get into the surrounding counties, and the African-American population shrinks below that paltry 3.3% percentage.
Ozaukee County: 1.4%.
Waukesha County: 1.3%.
Washington County: 1.1%.
Go deeper into the US Census Bureau website
date, and the effects are apparent of certain public, non-market
factors, like legally preventing Milwaukee in 1955 from expanding by
annexation, and disconnecting job centers, like the City of New Berlin's
industrial park in Waukesha County, from direct bus service.
City of Waukesha: 1.3%
City of New Berlin: 0.4%.
Keeping going west but still in neighboring Waukesha County (using a different census website
of Oconomowoc: 0.3%. (Remember a few years ago when an off-duty
volunteer fire chief and another off-duty firefighter in that general
area chased an African-American fisherman off a public bridge? With a
pistol and a German Shepherd. True story
City of Delafield: 0.1% - - six African-American residents of 6,472.
some of you are still wondering why others of us been appalled at the
ongoing, 34-year-delay by the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning
Commission (SEWRPC) in writing a regional housing plan that would
address and give credibility to affordability and expose discriminatory
(Yes, SEWRPC has created,
after years of delay, broken promises and pressure, a committee to begin
a roughly two-year study. The committee not long ago had its first
meeting. More are scheduled
would be perfectly within its statutory mandate to assertively
investigate the region's racial and economic segregation, but it chooses
In 2007, SEWRPC grudgingly created an Environmental
Justice Task Force, and only last week hired an outreach manager: both
are supposed to facilitate communication with low-income and minority
Little wonder that civil rights complaints have been
filed over transportation and SEWRPC decision-making, policy planning,
hiring, spending or appointing members to advisory committees that favor
the suburbs with public dollars and other resources.
some, including myself, have urged Milwaukee to withdraw from SEWRPC so
that public agendas that include minority communities can get real study
and action in a new, urban-focused body.
And why selling
diverted Great Lakes water to growing Waukesha County communities like
Waukesha and New Berlin will intensify the racial and income separation
between the City of Milwaukee - - with its majority population of
minority residents - - and the surrounding, sprawl-happy communities and
Had SEWRPC included these socio-economic issues and
others in its draft regional water supply study, its pro-diversion
analysis and recommendations might have been different, or at least more
fully-informed and useful.