Update: Geez, the comments have a way of beating people down. We reached Alderman Kelli Stein to talk about the Environmental Advisory Board she asked Mayor John Dickert to create. Surprise, surprise, negative bloggers, it's nothing like the bureaucratic-time-wasting-socialist-tree-hug fest imagined. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Stein's idea, modeled on several other cities around the country, is to create a strictly advisory board that would develop ideas to protect and promote the environment in Racine. Interestingly, Stein didn't recommend the board because she's a staunch environmentalist trying to save the world one solar panel at a time. She's doing it because it's an opportunity to lure new businesses to the city.
"I'm not a gung-ho crazy environmentalist," Stein said. "This could give Racine an additional selling point" to attract companies.
The seven-member board would bring together environmentally minded businesses, organizations and residents in one room and challenge them to build on Racine's existing green efforts through grants and other resources. That's important, Stein said, because environmentally conscious programs also can be fiscally responsible programs.
Case in point, she noted, is the recycling proposal in the mayor's budget. While environmentally friendly, the city can save money by getting more people and businesses to recycle.
There's also a marketing aspect to going green, Stein said. Cities like Austin, Texas, and Raleigh, N.C., are using green initiatives to attract businesses. Racine can do the same, she said, noting no other neighboring cities have a formal committee to explore and implement green programs.
The committee itself would meet monthly and only serve an advisory role (hence the name, "Environmental Advisory Board." It wouldn't add a layer of bureaucracy to the city because resolutions wouldn't be routed through the committee. The board would only make recommendations to the City Council and the existing committees, Stein said.
"I don't want another level of government," she said. "I wouldn't support fines for businesses, or anything like that."
But she added she expects the board to have a real impact.
"It's designed to look for solutions instead of wait for them," Stein said. "... It's just meant to be helpful."
Her idea won approval from a powerful ally Tuesday night. Mayor John Dickert, who has the power to create boards, said Stein didn't have to present her idea because he'd already decided to support it.
Dickert will appoint six community members and an alderman to the board. Stein said she would like to serve on the board, but the decision was up to the mayor. "If another alderman wants to serve, that's OK with me," she said.
Stein said it's critical for Racine to pursue green businesses and promote its environmental resources.
"I don't want Racine to fall behind," she said.
Stein already had two people express interest in serve on the board, and she hopes others will apply. She even encouraged people who are skeptical of the board to get involved and bring
If you're interested in the serving on the Environmental Advisory Board, contact the mayor's office at (262) 636-9111.
Original: New City Council Member Kelli Stein is ready to make her first mark on the city.
She's asking Mayor John Dickert to create a seven-member "Environmental Advisory Board" to: "find ways to adopt environmental objectives as a city with its businesses and citizens." The committee would include six residents and one alderman.
City Council President QA Shakoor II will introduce Stein's proposal at Tuesday's council meeting. The item will be referred to the mayor for consideration.