Preliminary Remarks on a 12.15.15 Meeting

Post 51 in a series. When Green Turns Brown is an examination of a small town’s digester-energy project, in which Whitewater, Wisconsin would import other cities’ waste, claiming that the result would be both profitable and green.

I’ve had lots of questions about the 12.15.15 Common Council meeting in Whitewater, that discussed waste importation, and a broader wastewater plant upgrade (I’ve now emailed everyone back – thanks much for your inquiries).

I watched the discussion on 12.15, and have reviewed it yet again since then. The full discussion is filled with some very solid assessments from residents and Council, and more than a few inadequate, almost evasive remarks from the municipal administration.  There’s a lot there, both very sound and equally disappointing.

One can categorize the discussion by the three groups that spoke: (1) members of the municipal administration & vendor representatives, (2) residents, and (3) members of Common Council.

On Council, there were excellent questions from many, but one could not overlook that Stephanie Goettl showed a command of the whole project, touching on issues that I’ve not considered or addressed in this more narrowly-focused series. I’m sure that we’d have different opinions on some other subjects, but intelligent, thorough, and focused is always admirable.

Briefly, I’ll say that parts of the discussion, from some members of Council and from two residents (Jeff Knight, Larry Kachel) showed the unmistakable clarity that comes from fundamentals, applied to the project generally and to waste importation (as the particular focus of this series). There’s much to admire in that, truly.  I believe – and do so because it’s so evidently true – that we’re a fortunate town of many talented people with much to offer.

For the municipal administration (that is, city employees and the vendors on whom they’ve relied), it was a tellingly disappointing showing. If one had doubts about waste importation before, there’s more reason to doubt after listening to Messrs. Clapper and Reel, and the vendor representatives.  Candidly, some of the remarks from the city manager and wastewater superintendent call into question whether they grasp key aspects of the project and its consequences.

There’s much to consider, and there yet lingers the possibility that this city’s full-time staff will keep pushing for a waste-importation project with an unfounded, ill-considered enthusiasm.

I’ve notes to review, additional information recently received to consider, and as always more to read. One should, and can afford to be, diligent and methodical.

Here’s the video recording of the 12.15.15 meeting, with most of the evening’s discussion revolving around the wastewater treatment plant –

Common Council Meeting 12/15/2015 from Whitewater Community TV on Vimeo.


Originally published 12.17.15 @ FREE WHITEWATER.