Questions for a Reporter, and the Community | FREE WHITEWATER

Questions for a Reporter, and the Community

Readers of FREE WHITEWATER know that I have written about the lawsuit against Larry Meyer, former investigator of the Whitewater Police Department. This is a public matter involving the conduct of a public employee. It tells much about how that employee was supervised and managed. Most recently, in a post entitled, “Clear Information in the Lawsuit Against Larry Meyer,” I wrote about coverage of the lawsuit from Bliss Communications, publishers of the Janesville Gazette and The Week (and their online versions).

I have always been opposed to a settlement of this matter than contains a confidentiality provision, that would prevent discussion of a public matter, involving public duties, at public expense, from a public employee. So far as I recall, press accounts of the lawsuit have never addressed this issue. (For my opposition to a confidentiality provision, see my posts entitled, Questions on the Settlement in the Larry Meyer Case and Cat Has Your Tongue?)

No public official has defended confidentiality in this matter, although I have invited Whitewater Police Chief Jim Coan, or anyone he might designate — should he lack the confidence to defend the issue himself — to offer a defense. I would post that defense in full, and reply thereafter. I made this offer on December 28th, and Chief Coan has not replied.

(Note to Coan: A literal reading of Genesis declares that all creation took only six days; you have already allowed eight days to lapse without a reply to my invitation. How hard can it be?)

There are new court filings in the case (from January 3rd), in which counsel for the Defendant, Larry Meyer, supports a motion to compel settlement.

Here are my questions for the reporters of the Gazette and Week, with a bonus question added afterward.

1. On Confidentiality. Attorney Braithwaite, representing Meyer, includes two unsigned versions of a settlement agreement in this case. These versions appear as Exhibits B and C of Attorney Braithwaite’s January 3rd affidavit. Both versions contain lengthy confidentiality provisions. Each of these provisions expressly and specifically lists your newspaper, the Janesville Gazette.

These two versions of the settlement agreement in this public matter are littered with confidentiality provisions against the public interest.

Why has your newspaper not reported that the settlement includes proposed confidentiality agreements involving a lawsuit against a public employee, involving a public matter, at public expense, during the exercise of public duties?

2. On Quoting the Walworth County District Attorney, Phillip Koss, in your December 22nd Gazette story, entitled, “Cvicker Decides Not to Settle Suit.” You quote D.A. Koss at length, protesting against the idea of a ‘global settlement,’ where charges in a prior criminal matter would be reduced in exchange for the settlement of the civil suit against Meyer.

In Exhibit A of Defense Attorney Braithwaite’s January 3rd affidavit, Braithwaite includes a copy of an email from D.A. Koss.

Will you report on that email, and in light of it, what do you believe that it says about whether discussions of a global settlement actually took place, and Koss’s candid estimation of the merits of discussing a possible global settlement?

Bonus Question:

When the Gazette reports on a story on December 22nd, why does it run the same copy in the Week with a different date, December 31st? I understand that it’s publication in a second paper, but why not indicate that the story is a republication of an earlier story? The story is not ‘new’ on DEcember 31st, it’s nine days old. Why not indicate that the story is a republication?

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