“In an act of brazen cynicism Thursday night, the Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee sneaked into the state budget bill a group of fundamental policy changes that would have blown up Wisconsin’s long, proud history of open government and access to public records.
They tried to rewrite state law so the public could no longer see their communications while writing legislation. They tried to exempt from public view a host of records created by the governor’s administration, state agencies and local governments, and put new limits on public access to information about dismissed criminal charges. They tried to grant themselves broad new special legal privileges that would allow them to refrain from releasing records when they were sued, and to bar current and former staff members from disclosing information.
They tried to wall off Wisconsin records behind a cloak of legal privilege and operational secrecy beyond what any other state in America allows.
They did this all without warning, after the last workday before a long holiday weekend — a classic ploy for politicians unable to achieve their goals, as our nation’s founders intended, through full disclosure and open debate….”