Dave Reid

Committee Requests Federal Government Not Re-certify SEWRPC

By - Oct 28th, 2008 11:54 pm

Alderman Bob Bauman lead the efforts to bring forward a resolution that would have the City of Milwaukee request that Milwaukee County withdraw from the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (“SEWRPC”). This drastic change has been brewing for years as SEWRPC has been seen as being unresponsive to requests from Milwaukee. Alderman Bauman gave a long and passionate introduction explaining how, “it (SEWRPC) does not serve the city of Milwaukee and its citizens.” He expounded on his feelings and expressed his view that SEWRPC has a suburban bias which he wrapped up with “where you work, where you office, and who you associate with informs your view.”

SEWRPC Executive Director Phil Evenson responded to Alderman Bauman’s comments by explaining the legal hurdles that would be involved in Milwaukee County withdrawing from SEWRPC and defended the organization’s actions. He point out that last Thursday they created a committee to handle the housing study that has been on hold since the 1970’s. Ken Yunker, who will take over for Phil Evenson after the new year, added that the housing study had been delayed because of a loss of federal funding dating back to the early 1980’s. This discussion seemed to remind the committee of one of their long standing issue with SEWRPC, in that SEWRPC has at least appeared to be non-responsive to Milwaukee’s interests.

Common Council President Willie Hines addressed concerns that this resolution would appear to hurt regional cooperation, stating that “while we all embrace regional cooperation it can’t be a one way street, it has to be something that goes both ways.” Alderman Michael Murphy expressed his frustration stating that “the current governing structure is inherently biased against urban areas,” but made it clear that he doesn’t want to withdraw from SEWRPC. Specifically, he made it clear that his intention is to call for a change in the structure of their governing body to better represent the population each county. At this point Alderman Bob Donovan, Jim Bohl, and Nik Kovac each chimed in to make their intentions clear, that they agreed with Murphy’s comments.

While this resolution on the surface may seem as if Milwaukee is turning its back on regionalism, the committee made it clear that the real issue is making sure that SEWRPC’s governance appropriately reflects the population make up of the region it represents. This resolution was passed with Alderman Bauman’s amendment that included requesting the federal government not to re-certify SEWRPC in its current configuration, and will now go before the full Common Council.

Categories: Politics

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