DAILY WISCONSIN

Open Government

2019 Openness Award Winners

Simpson Street Free PressA Madison-based newspaper produced mainly by high school students, the Simpson Street Free Press pushed back hard against the claims made by a group affiliated with the Madison School District that the group was not subject to the state’s open records and meetings laws. The effort prompted one school board member to call for requiring any group that includes school district representatives to follow openness laws.

Via Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council names 2019 Openness Award winners – WisconsinWatch.org.

Open Government Traveling Show Locations

La Crosse: March 15, 2 p.m. La Crosse Public Library. Local sponsor: La Crosse Tribune.

Eau Claire: March 15, 7 p.m. Centennial Hall, Room 1614, UW-Eau Claire. Local sponsor: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, UW-Eau Claire chapter, Society of Professional Journalists

Wausau: March 16, 10 a.m. Marathon County Public Library. Local sponsor:Wausau Daily Herald-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Green Bay: March 16, 2 p.m. Green Bay Public Library. Local Sponsor: Green Bay Press-Gazette-USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN

Appleton: March 16, 7:30 p.m. Appleton Public Library. Local sponsor: Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Sheboygan: March 17, 10 a.m. Sheboygan Public Library. Local sponsor: Sheboygan Press-USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Waukesha: March 17, 2 p.m, Waukesha Public Library. Local sponsor: Schott, Bublitz and Engel S.C.

Janesville: March 17, 7 p.m. Blackhawk Technical College. Local sponsor: Janesville Gazette

Via Open Government Traveling Show @ Uppity Wisconsin.

Local Print Capitulates on the Way Out

“Not far from Whitewater, Janesville’s local newspaper finds itself in an access-to-information conflict with the Janesville School District.  There’s no surprise in any of this.  (Quick note: I’m using that paper as an example because it’s close-at-hand.  One could find other examples easily enough.) For years that paper has ridiculed citizens’ petition efforts, toadied to business…

Avoiding the Public They Serve

Two former cabinet members under Gov. Scott Walker say they were instructed by former Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch not to conduct important state business by state email or on state telephones. Huebsch said he merely warned fellow cabinet members to be careful because such communications could be made public.

Via Former cabinet members: Top Scott Walker aide ordered them to avoid state email, phones @ WisconsinWatch.org.

Surreptitious

Dee Hall is the managing editor at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Department of Administrative staff told Hall higher-ups instructed them to use alternative communication methods, rather than official email addresses. This comes after a change from the Public Records Board which exempts text messages from public records laws.

Public Records Requests Are A Right, Not a Gift 

So a local paper complains that a local school superintendent won’t comply with a public records request, won’t put the paper on a media contact list, and simply ‘must’ improve communications. 

A few points –

1. Compliance with a public records request isn’t a ‘communications’ issue; it’s a legal issue, of rights of residents under Wisconsin law….

Via 4 Points About Public Records Requests @ FREE WHITEWATER.

Meanwhile, for the Mighty

Last week the news was about his failure to provide under a Freedom of Information request a complete visitor’s log for those who visited the Governor’s Mansion.   This morning in bold headlines the Wisconsin State Journal reports that his campaign failed to submit required employer information for nearly 6,000 contributors last year.    This matter of reporting information on employers is one that I called attention to recently, and one that the current Republican controlled legislature is working to remove from our laws.

Via The Rules Do Not Apply To Scott Walker @ Caffeinated Politics.

Pot, Kettle

The latest criticism is that GAB staff used Gmail accounts, rather than their official state email accounts, to communicate with prosecutors during the Walker investigation.

At a hearing last week, Rep. David Craig (R-Big Bend) grilled GAB Director Kevin Kennedy over the agency’s use of Gmail during the John Doe investigation, claiming that private email was subject to hacking and suggesting that the Department of Justice needed to look into the GAB’s actions.

Yet documents obtained through records requests show that Rep. Craig uses a private Hotmail account for official business, including for correspondence with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also hammered the GAB over its use of Gmail. When asked about his own use of private email, Vos said that he uses his state email account “in 99.9 percent of the cases,” adding, “our policy is we tell people to utilize legislative email when conducting official business. That’s the policy that we practice.”

But documents obtained through public records requests tell another story….

Via Hypocrisy Alert: Speaker Vos and Rep. Craig Use Private Email, Too @ PR Watch.

Journal Sentinel Calls for Ouster of Boss Vos

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has shown that he will make every effort to gut the state’s open records law, no matter what the citizens of Wisconsin think, which raises the question of whether he is fit to represent the public’s interests in the state Legislature.

His utter disdain for transparency in conducting the public’s business should encourage civic-minded citizens in southern Racine County who believe in open, honest government to seriously consider replacing him. We hope Vos will face strong challengers in next year’s elections, starting with the Republican primary in August.

Via Editorial: Robin Vos keeps trying to gut open records law @ JSOnline.

No Legislative Records for You 

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MADISON — Newly released records show that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is exploring the idea of treating the Legislature differently than other government bodies in Wisconsin when it comes to handling open records.

Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer said Tuesday, September 8th that Vos wants to debate the changes before the end of the session next spring.

Via Assembly Speaker Robin Vos exploring changing open records law for Legislature only @ Fox 6.  

Hiding land sales to factory farms

Now the Wisconsin DNR “parcels for sale” website has been changed to hide to whom and when the sales took/will take place, the description of the land, and replaced by a link to a site entitled “Wisconsin Surplus [exit DNR],” in an effort to block information about public land Walker wants auctioned.Walker has been pushing for codifying foreign ownership of Wisconsin public lands for years in his effort to negate a 127-year-old Wisconsin law limiting such foreign ownership.

Via MAL Contends . . .: Scott Walker—DNR Webpage Hides Land Sales, Sell-off of Wisconsin Goes On.

Whose Idea?

A review by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism shows similarities between recent records request denials from the governor’s office and the state Department of Administration and changes inserted in the budget Thursday by Republican leaders — similarities that raise questions about whether Walker himself was involved in the budget proposal.

Critics from the left and right agree the measure would keep vast categories of state and local government documents secret.

Via Dee Hall: Walker Vows to Change Proposal Gutting Open Records @ Urban Milwaukee.