Race And Milwaukee: Here's Another Take

You read and hear alot about race and Milwaukee, and it's often not good news.

But consider the under-reported, institutional side of things, such as...

For years, (examples from 2002 and , too) I've written and argued that policy-making at SEWRPC is unrepresentative of the racial composition of its seven-county region, and especially for City of Milwaukee residents, where minorities make up a majority of the city's population of roughly 600,000

(And I at another site often on these matters, fyi).

It's well-known that much of SEWRPC's policy-making for the region originates, percolates and is fine-tuned in its committees.

They meet with experts and consultants on transportation, water management and other basic planning matters of real importance to all taxpayers who provide 100% of SEWRPC's annual budget, with Milwaukee County taxpayers supplying the largest recurring annual donation.

It's a public agency - - but in name only when it comes to the racial makeup of its all-important committees.

Karyn Rotker, an attorney with the ACLU-Wisconsin, asked Philip Evenson, SEWRPC's executive director, to supply the racial makeup of some current SEWRPC committees.

Below is what Evenson provided about five SEWRPC committees and a sixth not appointed by SEWRPC, though let me provide you with the mathematical plot-spoiler:

Three of 126 (or two percent) SEWRPC committee members are minorities.

And this is 2007, more than 40 years after you'd have thought landmark federal statutes adopted in the wake of the civil rights movement would have made segregated governance at publicly-funded governmental agencies illegal.

Here is Evenson's reply, in his own words (the bold-faced highlights are mine:

1. Milw Co Transit Program Committee; 11 members, 9 white, 2 African-American, 1 Hispanic; all appointed by the Milw Co Executive (not a SEWRPC committee).

2. Population and Economic Forecasts Committee; 12 members, all white; appointed by SEWRPC with membership targeted to include individuals
from thepublic, private, and academic sectors with professional responsibilities and expertise in the subject matter.

3. Regional Land Use Planning Committee; 25 members, 24 white, 1
African-American; appointed by SEWRPC with membership targeted to
include county and local planning professionals on a population proportional
basis plus relevant state and federal agencies.

4. Regional Telecommunications Planning Committee; 22 members, 21
white, 1 African-American; appointed by SEWRPC with membership targeted to
include individuals from the public and private sectors with expertise and
knowledge in or related to the telecommunications industry.

5. Regional Water Supply Planning Committee; 33 members, 32 white, 1
Hispanic; appointed by SEWRPC with membership targeted to individuals
with professional responsibilities and expertise in or related to water
supply matters, drawing from public and private water utilities, industry,
agriculture, development and environment groups, county planners, state
and federal agencies, and academia.

6. Regional Water Quality Management Plan Update Committee; 34 members, all
white; appointed by SEWRPC with membership targeted to individuals with
professional responsibilities and expertise in or related to water quality
management matters, drawing from public works agencies, state and federal
agencies, land trusts, county planners and conservationists, development and
environment groups, and academia.

We collect no information on income, disability, residence location, or
employment for members on these committees other than what can be
inferred from job titles.

Published

March 27, 2007 - 8:51pm

Author

randomness