December: Wisconsin lawmakers embrace secrecy, fast-tracking

This spring, I taught an investigative reporting class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that investigated the state of Wisconsin’s democracy. We interviewed current and former lawmakers and activists on the left and right, consulted public opinion polls, talked to regular people and tapped experts who study voting, redistricting and money in politics. The conclusion: Many […]

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November: Racine case shows folly of official secrecy

Secrecy in government, compounded by court-ordered secrecy, gives rise to speculation and rumor. That never serves the public interest. A case involving Racine City Attorney Scott Letteney and Racine Alderperson Sandy Weidner illustrates that very well. Last August, the city attorney sought an ethics violation sanction against the alderperson for sharing allegedly confidential communications from […]

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Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council releases 2018 candidate survey results

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCT. 18, 2018 Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council releases 2018 candidate survey results Contact: Bill Lueders, president, Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, blueders@gmail.com, 608-669-4712 Dear Editors: The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is pleased to make available the results of its survey of Wisconsin legislative candidates in the Nov. 6 election. We surveyed 204 candidates: […]

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Candidate Survey 2018

Search the 2018 Survey Results We surveyed all candidates for State legislative offices with the following questions: Ending the legislature’s exemption for open records retention:  Do you support ending the exemption in the state’s records retention law for members of the Legislature, which would make lawmakers subject to the same retention rules as all other […]

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May: UW loses big when it tries to keep secrets

When UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee released records about sexual misconduct complaints to news organizations last month, they heavily redacted the documents and refused to identify numerous employees who were found to have committed wrongdoing. Should media outlets sue to challenge those redactions, history suggests they’ll have a good shot at prevailing. We are the authors of […]

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April: Policies put public health at risk

Wisconsin’s open government laws were meant to strengthen our democracy by ensuring an informed electorate. But, sometimes, transparency is about more than democracy—it is about human health, with serious consequences when transparency fails. Earlier this year, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the city of Milwaukee had failed to alert thousands of families whose children […]

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March: Let the sunshine in!

Let the sunshine in! In my career as a journalist, I have encountered many public officials who respect government openness and transparency. There was the state records custodian who turned over dozens of her boss’s embarrassing emails after telling him that keeping them secret would violate the law. And the university staffers who pointed me […]

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February: Citizens have a right to electronic records

Computers have made examining government records easier than ever. The smallest townships across Wisconsin post the meeting agendas and minutes online. And websites for government agencies at all levels contain an enormous amount of other information. Electronic records are also available on request. Say you want to see a skate-park-feasibility study you’ve heard about. You […]

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