Great Lakes governors' summit: A sign of progress?
This past weekend a meeting of governors from Great Lakes states was held on Mackinac Island. Not all of the governors attended and there were no major policy initiatives. But independent journalist Gary Wilson says just meeting is important.
Wilson writes A Chicago View for the online news site Great Lakes Echo. In his column, Wilson gives Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and "A" for style and getting governors engaged on issues such as invasive species. But he says on policy the grade is "incomplete."
Wilson told WMUK's Gordon Evans that Snyder deserves credit for getting the governors together for the first time since they signed the Great Lakes Compact eight years ago. Wilson says there have been significant developments at the federal level, and mayors in the region have been working on Great Lakes issues. But he says governors have been "on the sidelines." Wilson says in fairness, governors have been focusing on jobs and budget issues. But he says economic development and the environment go together.
In his column, Wilson says he was looking for "a kernel of substance" from the meeting. He says Illinois Governor Pat Quinn provided it with his statement that the Great Lakes may have to be separated from the Mississippi River to address the problem of Asian Carp possibly reaching the lakes. Wilson says there is political pressure on Quinn and other leaders in Illinois because of the importance of the state's shipping industry.
The other big issue facing Great Lakes governors, according to Wilson, will be a proposal for water diversion to Waukesha, Wisconsin. It will be the first such request under the Great Lakes compact. All eight governors of Great Lakes' states have to approve any diversion of water. Wilson says the amount of scrutiny on this request will set the precedent for future applications.
Wilson says he thinks Governor Snyder and other governors from Great Lakes states want to meet more regularly. But he says getting together and talking is the easy part. Wilson says it remains to be seen if real action comes from those meetings.