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Public Records

Five Months

In a local newspaper’s story about a former chancellor’s leave of absence, one learns that information about her leave came five months after a public records request: Tuesday marked five months since The Gazette filed an open records request with UW-W for information on Kopper’s leave during the fall semester, when she previously had plans…

School Board Applicants’ Letters of Interest

Last week, I posted on the applicant interviews with the Whitewater Unified School Board for a vacancy (following the resignation of board member Jean Linos). See School Board, 9.16.19: Applicant Interviews and Reporting. Seeing that the agenda for the meeting lacked key information, and a local newspaper’s reporting (Gazette; Beleckis) was deficient, I submitted a…

School Board, 9.16.19: Applicant Interviews and Reporting

On Monday night, the Whitewater Unified School District’s board met to interview four applicants for a vacancy on the board (following the resignation of board member Jean Linos). The agenda for the meeting, although posted online, listed none of the applicants: not by total number, let alone by name or with their accompanying letters of…

Sunshine Week 2018 (A Methodical Approach)

Writing about a topic is a deliberate, often slow, process. Something happens – perhaps of concern – but one may not address it immediately. A bit of waiting can be a sound response. Along the way, an original perspective may change, and a project grow larger (or smaller). See Steps for Blogging on a Policy or Proposal.…

Sunshine Week 2018 (City, District, and State)

Local readers may have heard, as I have heard, that area officials know that there are ways around municipal ordinances and school district policies on open government. There’s no surprise in hearing this: there is no human construct that cannot be circumvented; there are few professing a public interest who do not simultaneously feel the…

Daylight (Part 3 in a Series)

One finds oneself with a question, when there are gaps in a public record, when there are easily-avoidable deficiencies of open government: What will one do about it? A good method in this matter is deliberate, dispassionate, and diligent. A few thoughts: 1. Foundation. One looks at state and local provisions for public records and…

Midnight (Part 2 in a Series)

Open government is right both in itself and in consequence: a free society confers political power only for limited & enumerated purposes. Those who confer this power have a right of oversight and a sensible obligation to assure that power’s exercise remains limited & enumerated. The right derives both naturally and by positive law. In…

The Newspaper-Caused Public Records Problem

Not far from Whitewater, Janesville’s local newspaper finds itself in an access-to-information conflict with the Janesville School District.  There’s no surprise in any of this.  (Quick note: I’m using that paper as an example because it’s close-at-hand.  One could find other examples easily enough.) For years that paper has ridiculed citizens’ petition efforts, toadied to business…

4 Points About Public Records Requests

So a local paper complains that a local school superintendent won’t comply with a public records request, won’t put the paper on a media contact list, and simply ‘must’ improve communications.   A few points — 1.  Compliance with a public records request isn’t a ‘communications’ issue; it’s a legal issue, of rights of residents…

The Public Records Law Still Stands

After a push to alter Wisconsin’s Public Records Law (Wis. Stat. §§ 19.31-19.39), we’re now secure with the original law intact.   Below one will find a recording of Wisconsin A.G. Brad Schimel’s Open Government Summit, held earlier this week at the Concourse in Madison.   J.B. Hollen, Schimel’s immediate predecessor, started strongly in favor of the…

Biting the Hand That Fed Him

Janesville City Manager Eric Levitt has decamped to Simi Valley, California. Readers will recall that Mr. Levitt touted the supposed benefits of a Generac-supporting ‘Innovation Express’ bus costing hundreds of thousands in public money. He kindly visited Whitewater last budget season to ask Whitewater taxpayers to kick in for a private company’s needs. (See, Whitewater’s…

Polling and Public Records

Charles Franklin, a UW-Madison professor and pollster is now visiting at Marquette. He’ll be conducting polls on Wisconsin politics (recall, other topics) while a visiting professor. Embedded below is a brief interview of Franklin, conducted last week. Watch Polling specialist assesses recall movement on PBS. See more from Here and Now. Writing at Fighting Bob,…