Following the Aug. 9 police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, citizens and the public demanded to know the involved officer’s name. The Ferguson Police Department stirred national attention, and some outrage, by waiting six days to reveal it: Officer Darren Wilson. Wisconsin has Ferguson beat. On April 30, 2014, a Milwaukee police officer shot Dontre Hamilton 14 times, killing him.
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
Apparently, many of the hundreds of open records requests being made of Walker’s county office were going to the Walker campaign for review. Clearly, these were all public records and the campaign should have had no involvement whatsoever in their review or release.
Grothman’s bill would raise the threshold for when donors to state and local campaigns must disclose their occupations and eliminate the requirement that the donor’s principal place of employment be disclosed. Continue Reading
State Sen. Leah Vukmir is making a novel legal argument to dodge a public records request — one that could neuter Wisconsin’s Open Records Law. Continue Reading
So far as we can recall, no lawmaker has ever before tried to defeat the state’s open records law by employing this ruse. We are deeply disappointed in both Sen. Vukmir and the Attorney General’s Office, for the position it has taken. Continue Reading
Doesn’t the public have a right to know who came up with these ideas? This would let voters hold their elected officials accountable at the ballot box and look for potential conflicts. Continue Reading
On July 30, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on newly released emails between Scott Walker’s campaign staff and county aides in 2010, back when the future governor was Milwaukee county executive. One email was from Cindy Archer, then a top county aide, to Walker and his campaign staff, advising that “we may be responding too quickly” to open records requests regarding a county parking structure collapse that killed a 15-year-old boy. The requests were from the state Democratic Party and the campaign of Walker’s GOP primary opponent, which presumably wanted to use the tragedy to impugn Walker. That’s a pretty low motivation — Walker, in a draft statement, aptly called it “disgusting” — but the state’s Open Records Law does not allow a requester’s motives to be taken into account. Continue Reading