The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has scheduled the very first meeting of its new Environmental Justice Task Force. It's at 4 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 7) at Heartlove Place, 3229 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
"Heck," you must be thinking. "This can't be that SEWRPC -- not the folks with the Pewaukee headquarters inaccessible to public transit! Not the group that took the words 'environmental' and 'justice' out of the term 'environmental justice'!"
Yes, indeedy, this task force is being brought to you by the very group that cannot afford to conduct a regional affordable housing study but CAN afford to celebrate its own 50th anniversary by paying $60,000 to a writer to pen a commemorative book that absolutely no one will read and CAN afford to pay more than $130,000 to a pr firm for things like suggesting the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission become known as the Regional Planning Commission of Southeastern Wisconsin and CAN afford to award a $50,000 no-bid contract to old friends of an influential SEWRPC official to conduct a study of Milwaukee's 30th Street Corridor in order to win the hearts and minds of black Milwaukee County supervisors even though said study is duplicative of what the city already is doing.
Rest assured that SEWRPC didn't go out of its way to inform the broader public about the meeting. I was part of the committee that met with SEWRPC for a couple years to get it to establish this task force, but SEWRPC didn't send me any notice of the first meeting. SEWRPC didn't even put a notice of the meeting on its web site until someone complained about it not being there.
The meeting is happening, though, and that's a small step forward. A very small one. SEWRPC is still playing games. Just look at the way it worded the agenda items.
SEWRPC's own guy, Gary Korb, will, according to the agenda, provide a "review of SEWRPC efforts to meet Federal Environmental Justice responsibilities relative to transportation planning."
ACLU attorney Karyn Rotker, who has been relentless in her pursuit of better environmental justice practices at SEWRPC, will then provide her "perspective."
Excuse me? What makes one a "review" and one a "perspective"? The fact that Gary is paid by SEWRPC and Karyn knows a lot about environmental justice? Why isn't Karyn listed as providing a "review of SEWRPC's environmental justice shortcomings"?
Hey, for next meeting, let Karyn's side write the agenda. Betcha it comes out a little different.
More on SEWRPC: Power grab, power grab, power grab. SEWRPC wants to decide who sets up a water management plan for Milwaukee area watersheds. Jim Rowen has more on this here. The response to this proposal should be a simple, emphatic "No."