At the heart of Wisconsin’s government transparency laws is a presumption of openness — that “all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them.”
To keep each other safe, we’ve been asked to add barriers — distance and masks — to our face-to-face interaction. We also have videoconferencing to help overcome those barriers.
Yet to this day, Republican leaders in the state Assembly are holding meetings without requiring attendees to wear masks or offering a video option for those who don’t feel safe attending.
You can walk into City Hall asking to see records without ever having to give your name.
The behavior of public employees on the job is subject to public scrutiny in nearly every circumstance under Wisconsin law. That means the public has a right to see disciplinary records of all employees. The right doesn’t just apply to the records of elected or appointed officials. It doesn’t just apply to managers or supervisors. […]
When the Oconto Police and Fire Commission said in April that it had interviewed two finalists for the open position of chief of police, Kent Tempus of the Oconto County Reporter asked who the finalists were.
It was a simple request, made under the part of Wisconsin’s open records law that requires the naming of final candidates for public offices.
The answer should have been simple, too — but it wasn’t.
It’s been nearly two years since Republicans in the state Legislature tried to use a secretive, last-minute measure just before the July 4 holiday weekend to gut Wisconsin’s open records law. This effort, once publicized, was met with public outrage and abandoned. This was the most egregious but by no means only example of lawmakers […]
It might be about to get tougher—a lot tougher—to follow the money in Wisconsin politics.