I didn't have time a few days ago to give the proper attention to an important legal filing regarding allegations of housing discrimination in Waukesha County, but can do so now.
The known racial disparities between Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties are deepened and widened by government planning and public dollar spending west of 124th St. - - the basic border between the two counties.
As a spokesman for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council - - the organization that brought a formal complaint to federal housing authorities - - said upon its filing:
“Communities do not become and remain all-white by accident. They get that way and stay that way because local governments and private actors erect barriers to racial and ethnic integration,” said William R. Tisdale, MMFHC’s President and CEO. “The only reason the County and local governments are getting these federal housing funds is because they have promised to counteract these forces. Our complaint shines a bright light on their misrepresentations over the past five years.”Let's shine that light widely and brightly.
As this very moment, Scott Walker has accelerated the spending of $1.7 billion in state and federal highway funds to ease the commute through the Zoo Interchange that sits between the two counties. And more spending is on the horizon west across Waukesha County to the Jefferson County line, and on a separate north-south bypass west of the City of Waukesha without similar expenditures for public transit.
The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning, headquartered in the exurban Waukesha County community of Pewaukee - - one-third of SEWRPC's annual operating budget comes from Milwaukee County taxpayers - - wrote the freeway expansion and rebuilding plan.
And has green-lighted the spending of another $23 million in local, state and federal dollars to build The Interchange To Nowhere - - a full-diamond interchange to the never-built shopping mall in the relatively upper-income, sprawly Pabst Farm development in Western Waukesha that is, along with the interchange site itself, on land that the commission's master plan said should be preserved.
And you still cannot take a direct, public transit bus from the region's major job center that is the City of Milwaukee (with its majority-minority population) to the largest such employment site in Waukesha County - - the New Berlin Industrial Park - - in the same, heavily-white city that, a year ago, blocked after protests, the construction of a housing development to have included so-called workforce, or affordable rental units.
Some public financing assistance was to have been included in the project
Additionally, SEWRPC repeatedly touted its master plan for decades without researching and issuing an updated, contemporary regional housing study - - an ongoing endeavor it agreed to begin, under pressure from fair housing advocates, after a 35-year lull.
See the picture emerging?
The complaint over how some federal grants are disbursed and used in Waukesha County communities should surface evidence about the history of the specific housing-related grants and programs and decision-making that has distorted development and restricted freedom of choice and movement in this region for decades.
Hats off to the groups that filed the complaint. Let the investigation begin, and, down the road, some remedies emerge.