Your Right to Know: AG’s office could do more on openness

Jonathan Anderson

Should enforcement of Wisconsin’s open records and open meetings laws depend on individual citizens having to file often costly and protracted lawsuits? That is one option prescribed under these laws, and those who prevail in such cases can recover attorney’s fees. But the laws also contain provisions intended to help people resolve disputes in a cheaper and less complicated way: Citizens can ask the state attorney general or county district attorney to sue a government authority, and any person can seek advice from the attorney general. Continue Reading

Podcast: On the indefinite commitment of ‘sexually violent persons’

Dianne Hendrickson and her son Eric, a sex offender confined to Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, inside the visiting area. The state committed Eric as a sexually violent person in 2002. The Hendricksons believe he has been denied discharge from the facility for rule infractions unrelated to the risk he poses to the community as a sex offender. Dianne Hendrickson is eager to see her son come home: “I have never prayed or wished for anything more than that.”

About this series
The Center’s Nora G. Hertel teamed up with Gilman Halsted of Wisconsin Public Radio on “Rethinking Sex Offenders,” a three-day series examining Wisconsin’s changing methods of dealing with sexually violent persons. Find stories, audio, photos and data at this page: Project: Rethinking Sex Offenders. Involuntary commitment for crimes not (yet) committed. The men of Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, known as “sexually violent persons,” have a strange in-between status. They are in treatment, learning to control their impulses so they can eventually be released. Continue Reading

Your Right to Know: OpenBook offers partial peek at state spending

Michael Buelow

In January, the state of Wisconsin launched a new websitewith a searchable database that lets the public see what state government spends on goods, services and other operating costs. OpenBook Wisconsin — openbook.wi.gov — debuted with more than 25 million records for expenses including real estate transactions, building projects, maintenance, office supplies, and rents. Records for state agencies, the Legislature and the courts date back to mid-2007. The site’s records for the University of Wisconsin System start in fiscal 2013. The site, which the state plans to update every two weeks, allows searches for each fiscal year by state agency, type of expenditure or vendor. Continue Reading

Wisconsin InfoLink April Hot topic: Wisconsin taxes

Besides knowing that paying taxes is a sure thing and the deadline this year is April 17, what else do you know about Wisconsin taxes? To offer a helpful start at learning more about Wisconsin taxes, income and otherwise, Wisconsin InfoLink has compiled a number of useful tax links that can shed some light on this certain fact of life. Continue Reading