By James Rowen Special to Published Dec 06, 2009 at 9:51 AM

Stumbling towards an important public policy decision, but with little effective notice.

If you guessed that the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors is involved, you are right.

The issue is how the County says it proposes to protect a unique environmental feature on a large parcel of public land -- the Milwaukee County Grounds in Western Wauwatosa close to the Zoo Interchange -- where it has already agreed to sell a major piece of land to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for an innovation center and new engineering school.

The environmental feature put at risk by the UWM expansion is a Monarch butterfly migration site, with trails amidst some of the remaining, but fast-disappearing Milwaukee County open space nearby.

Why, you ask, is the protection plan coming after the land sale approval?

Good question.

Can the plan work, or be fully funded?

More good questions.

Why are two County Board committees to take up the plan with so little effective public notice; committee meetings presage full Board consideration just down the road?

Better questions yet.

And why did UWM choose to expand its East side Milwaukee campus miles and miles away and right into years of looming freeway expansion, to boot?

The best question of all.

I have posted on my blog a discussion of some of the issues as well as the committees' meeting schedules Monday and Tuesday at the Courthouse. Both are at 9 a.m. when most people will be at work elsewhere.

Are those meeting time for the public's convenience, or for the Supervisors'?

So many questions...

Let's hope people can get to a meeting somehow, someway, or contact a Supervisor prior to committee action and force out an explanation for a backwards process that involves a major unit of local government and public university, too. 

James Rowen Special to
James Rowen is a Milwaukee writer and consultant who blogs at He worked as a reporter and assistant metro editor at The Milwaukee Journal and Journal Sentinel, and held several positions with Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, including Chief of Staff. Rowen is on the board of the Institute for One Wisconsin Now, and receives funding from The Brico Fund; neither organization has control over his writing and blogging.