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Issue of the Week: The True Impact of Waukesha’s Water Request

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

Mar. 17, 2010
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Will Lake Michigan water allow Waukesha to develop at the expense of minority residents of Milwaukee and low-income workers?

That’s likely, according to a new report by the ACLU of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Sustainable Story Hill and the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP.

The groups studied housing and economic patterns in the region and found that the difference between Milwaukee and Waukesha counties is stark. In 2008, an astounding 92% of Waukesha residents were white, compared to 58% in Milwaukee. Four percent of Waukesha residents were Hispanic, while Milwaukee had a population that was 12% Hispanic. And a shocking 1% of Waukesha residents were African American, compared to 25% in Milwaukee County.

In addition to racial segregation, the groups found that housing policies in Waukesha favor single-family homeowners and the well-off, reliable transportation between the two communities is lacking, and Waukesha continues to foster an unwelcoming attitude toward non-whites.

So those deciding whether Waukesha should receive water from Lake Michigan should consider if it would foster additional suburban development that shuts out minorities and those who aren’t wealthy. Sharing a natural resource such as water should lead to sustainable communities, not to more segregated, isolated islands of the haves and have-nots.

Hero of the Week

Rhonda Ray

In today’s 24-hour news cycle, even horrific stories can become forgotten quickly, such as the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January. Just last week, however, President Obama reminded the world that the situation in Haiti remains “dire” and much work needs to be done.

In light of the ongoing crisis, we salute the efforts of Rhonda Ray, a Kaplan College student who, as an intern at Riverwest’s Capitol Medical Group, went above and beyond to coordinate a large donation of needed medical supplies to relief workers in Haiti. Ray spent many unpaid hours on the phone soliciting donations from area medical organizations and arranging their transport to Haiti.

For her outstanding example of what one determined person can do to make a difference on a global scale, we make Rhonda Ray our Hero of the Week.

Jerk of the Week

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

Last week J.B. Van Hollen announced that he was filing charges against five individuals for election fraud. Now, everyone agrees that planned and coordinated double voting completely undermines the democratic electoral process. But after all of Van Hollen’s politically motivated efforts to appeal to his suburban base by finding “massive voter fraud” in Milwaukee, he has essentially come up empty. Two of the five people were charged with voter registration fraud, but not voter fraud—names were registered, but there were no actual illegal votes cast. One person was on probation and voted, which is illegal in Wisconsin (though legal in other states). And the final two were the only people charged with actually voting twice. They voted early by absentee and, according to the complaint, apparently didn’t remember and voted again on Election Day. Wrong, yes. A malicious conspiracy to commit fraud, definitely not. After wasting tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on his political crusade to find voter fraud in Milwaukee and then striking out, Van Hollen owes Milwaukee residents an apology.


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