Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The real story on Wisconsin Idea docs- Walker was trying to end Open Records again

In case you were busy getting a jump on Memorial Day weekend fun, you may have missed that our Governor suffered yet another loss in court late Friday afternoon, as one of his many attempts to hide information from the public was shot down. This time it was in regards to the notorious attempt in Walker’s 2015-17 state budget to literally rewrite the Wisconsin Idea- the core mission of the University of Wisconsin System.
The Center for Media and Democracy filed a lawsuit a year ago against Walker, saying he was illegally withholding records related to the creation of the proposal to refocus the "Wisconsin Idea" on career readiness instead of public service and seeking a broader truth. He later backed down from the proposal after a public backlash, saying it was a mistake.

Dane County Circuit Judge Amy Smith, in ruling against Walker on Friday, rejected the Republican's argument that he could withhold the records because they were part of a "deliberative process." Smith said no such ruling exists in Wisconsin state law….

Smith ruled Friday that Walker wrongly withheld 12 email exchanges and six attachments, but that three attachments were properly withheld. But for the majority of the material, Smith said that Walker's concerns over releasing the records did not outweigh the public's interest in disclosure.

"Wisconsin Open Records Law has long-held that the public interest in disclosure — the right of the people of Wisconsin to know what their government is doing — is a strong presumption for every record," Smith wrote.
Naturally Walker decided to release the records in a classic Holiday Weekend news dump Friday evening (you can click here to read those documents), but there’s a bigger issue here, and it hearkens back to another Open Records incident which happened at the start of another holiday weekend last year.

Remember when the WisGOPs on the state’s Joint Finance Committee tried to destroy the state’s Open Records law right before the 4th of July weekend last year? That attempt blew up in WisGOP’s face when immediate public outrage forced them to back down, but one of those proposals matches what Walker tried to do with the Wisconsin Idea documents last week.
The amendments would exempt all "deliberative materials" from disclosure under the public records law, protecting anything that might have informed a policy decision.

"Deliberative materials" are broadly defined as “communications and other materials, including opinions, analyses, briefings, background information, recommendations, suggestions, drafts, correspondence about drafts, and notes, created or prepared in the process of reaching a decision concerning a policy or course of action.”

This measure could protect the disclosure of communications, draft legislation, or background materials from groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC." It would allow legislators to hide their communications with lobbyists or campaign donors seeking policy favors. And it would allow the governor to hide how the executive budget was developed--including, for example, how, and why, a governor's office might have sought to alter the purpose of the university system.
Pretty damn familiar, isn’t it?

In addition to the pulling the “Friday news dump” strategy, take a look at the weak sauce Scotty was trying to offer up yesterday regarding the Wisconsin Idea case, as he tried to weasel his way out of the issue.
"I think, for us, it's very clear what the courts have said. That was debatable before, and so this made it clear," Walker said on Tuesday. "Anything you write down, even if it's just notes, in terms of discussion, is all available for open records."
It was NEVER “debatable”, Scotty! You and your WisGOP allies wanted to change the Open Records Law by hook or by crook, and the only "debate" that existed was whether you could get away with it legally as well as politically. Now that the answer is a resounding “NO” on both fronts, you’re backing off.

The Capital Times wrote a scathing editorial yesterday that gets to the center of the real alarming part of this whole incident- that Scott Walker continues to try to legislate and gain power through deception, and he lies and makes excuses after he’s caught. Those actions show a total lack of character and respect for the voters.
Every assessment of the sad story of Walker’s assault on the Wisconsin Idea and his “drafting error” claim points to the conclusion that Walker, when faced with a politically embarrassing revelation about his own wrongdoing, lied to the people of Wisconsin and to the Republicans he hoped would nominate him for president.

Wisconsinites should be asking themselves a pair of fundamental questions:

1. What else has Scott Walker lied about?

2. How can voters trust a governor who — after getting caught attacking a core principle of this state, the Wisconsin Idea itself — chose not to take the blame but instead tried to deceive the people he swore to serve?
Well stated, and it shows what a scumbag Walker is for trying to pull this act on the Wisconsinites that pay his salary.

“Unintimidated” MY ASS! What kind of weak-minded, prideless fool would continue to support such a lowlife?


  1. And the next question is, who will Walker punish for this?

  2. Another good read, Jake, but I think you have underestimated two things:

    First, note how masterfully Walker changed the subject from the Wisconsin Idea and to Open Records. He made the story about how he "complied" with the judge instead of about how he lied to reporters and the public. Even independent news sources like WPR fell for this distraction.

    Second, you say he is "backing off." I totally disagree. To the Walkerbots, his words are a clarion call to revisit/reboot the Open Records changes, since now they know they HAVE to do so in order to avoid future lawsuits and to protect their backroom modus operandi. These are not words meant for the public, since he knows some tiny fraction of the public will even see them, care about them, or bother to give him credit for "backing down." He's not speaking to the public; he's speaking to his base and toadies. Expect Open Records to be back on their agenda soon.

    1. Oh, I think you're doing a job of reading between the lines. Part of the reason I posted this is because of Walker's absurd spin and how people are trying to blow off the heinous Hail Mary in court that he was trying to pull off.

      When I said backing off, I meant specifically with the Wisconsin Idea docs. I think you are right on when you say that eradicating Open Records Laws is on the WisGOP agenda, but they don't want to tell the voters that before the 2016 elections (stop me if you've seen that act before).

      Which is why it's the Dems' jobs to say ALL WisGOPs will gut the Open Records Law if they are returned to office, and put those bastards on the record.