Posts Tagged ‘open records’

Open records for UW student government?

August 5, 2009

Frankly, I don’t know why anybody in their right mind would care to look into the business of student government, but just in case any of you are crazy or bored enough to attempt, Patrick McEwen and Tom Templeton are looking after you. I ran into Patrick and Tom the other day. They were looking spiffy after their meeting with Rep. Mark Gottlieb, a Republican member of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities. They’d been discussing proposals to subject UW student governments to open records law. Gottlieb is the author of one such bill.

As Patrick noted, a point that has been raised in advocating for more transparency in student government is the situation at UW-Milwaukee, where members of the student council refused to release their minutes to the student newspaper. Nevertheless, there are legitimate reasons to be cautious in approaching the issue, according to McEwen. His position, which I support to a certain degree, is that although governing bodies, such as ASM and SSFC, should be subject to open records requests, not all GSSF groups should be. Patrick cited PAVE – a counseling session with a student should not be open to the public. That being said, I can’t imagine that being a problem – all kinds of reasonable exceptions exist in state government as well, although sometimes the Doyle administration attempts to expand “reasonable” to unreasonable degrees.

What do you think dear reader? Can you think of any exceptions or concerns that should be raised?

Free speech victory in the Badger State

July 16, 2009

We used to be called “Squeaky Clean Wisconsin.” A 1970 review of the Wisconsin legislature called Wisconsin one of the most transparent and modernized state governments in America. So it was encouraging to see that the tradition will continue with the latest Supreme Court ruling.

Although you may soon no longer be able to text message while you drive, you will be able to have access to the names of state employees, whether or not they are members of unions. In a 6-1 decision, the state supreme court ruled in favor of a newspaper attempting to get the records and names of certain state employees.

However, the Court did not assert that the Doyle administration’s attempt to hide the names of state workers was unconstitutional, as many open government advocates would like to believe. It simply said that because the Open Records Act had not been amended to create an exemption for state workers, they were still subject to the law.

The issue at the origin of the case was, like many in Wisconsin, drunk driving. The Journal-Sentinel had requested a list of employees who are no longer allowed to drive state vehicles. The idea, I assume, was to see if the state’s “prohibited list” matched up with drunk driving records. In a separate request, the Lakeland Times asked to see the salaries of employees in the Dept. of Natural Resources.

It touched a soft spot when George Stanley, managing editor of the Journal-Sentinel, cited the taxpayer’s right to know how much corrections officers are making in overtime pay. True muckraking about the prison system in this state would be humiliating for legislators, unions and prison contractors. As well as for the last three governors of the state.

Brunch Links

July 16, 2009

Dustin Christopher: Have you thanked a 911 dispatcher this week?

Paul Soglin: Paul Ryan is everything Sarah Palin isn’t: deceptive and dangerous.

State Journal Blog: State employee names cannot be protected – are subject to open records laws.

Milwaukee Rising: “A decision the other way would have set the terrible precedent of allowing laws to be changed silently and secretly, without public notice or debate, to satisfy whatever special interest can get their hooks into a willing legislator.”

La Crosse Tribune: However, arbitration records between teachers and school administrators can be kept secret, even if it involves porn.

Post Crescent: Van Hollen pursues animal cruelty case against men who ran down deer with snowmobiles.