The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism received seven awards in the Milwaukee Press Club’s annual Awards for Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism, which were announced today. The Center now has won 32 awards from the press club.
“Most people in Wisconsin, including public officials, have grown to appreciate the state’s traditions of open government,” said Bill Lueders, council president. “These awards are meant to encourage this trend.”
Nominations are being sought for the fifth annual Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award, recognizing an individual’s extraordinary contributions to open government or investigative journalism in Wisconsin.
The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page. Minnesota’s Houston County may become the first in the state to permanently ban frac sand mining after an unanimous vote last week to approve a new mining ordinance. Meanwhile, Alberta-based rail company Canadian Pacific is upgrading its tracks, which carry crude oil as well as sand through the county, and a Houston County resident is still planning multiple frac sand mining operations in the area. But frac sand opponents are still optimistic: “This is an amazing move and victory for the people,” said one resident.
This blanket exemption would spare the UW from needing a good reason to deny access to these records, as current law requires. Instead, universities could categorically spurn inquiries from citizens, media and even lawmakers looking into controversial research, potential threats to public safety, conflicts of interest or how tax dollars are spent.
In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled that the village of Palatine, Illinois, may have violated the act by leaving parking tickets, which included personal information, on the windshields of motorists. Some Wisconsin police departments, instructed by their insurers, began redacting personal information from police reports. No other state — not even Illinois, where the Palatine case occurred — adopted this interpretation.
The Wisconsin DNR reports that there has not yet been any major changes in the frac sand industry, but at least one oil analyst, based in Milwaukee, isn’t convinced: “The only thing we can say for sure is that the go-go days are over.”
It’s a pretty simple question for a public official: “What exactly do you do with your time?”
Sometimes, the best way to answer that question is to obtain the official’s calendar, through the state’s open records law. In my work as a reporter, I’ve done this for the state treasurer and his staff, who work for an office with few official duties. I’ve also used the monthly calendars of Gov. Scott Walker to plot his travel and track his day-to-day meetings. So when I wanted a better understanding of how the duties of Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen and Chief Administrative Officer Jim Amodeo overlap, I asked to see their calendars. Amodeo’s response was simply, “Oh, OK.”
The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page. More than 40 percent of the registered voters in the Winona County, Minn., township of Saratoga have signed a petition calling for a moratorium on frac sand mining in the area. “Even the smallest communities have the right to decide what does and doesn’t happen in their community,” said activist Johanna Rupprecht. Winona Daily News November 25
Less than one month since the first city in Texas banned hydraulic fracturing, industry supporters are wondering whether they should blame their defeat on Denton’s large college student population.
HIPAA remains a “prickly” obstacle for journalists. As one health reporter puts it, “Often times, people are unsure about the law and can’t be bothered to check so it’s easier to say ‘no’ and refer to HIPAA.”