Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council
Minutes of April 21, 2009, meeting
The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council was called to order on Tuesday, April 21, 2009, at 1:30 PM. Present were Bill Lueders, Christa Westerberg, Dee Hall, Bob Drechsel, Bob Dreps, Peter Fox, Dave Zwiefel, Roger Schneider, Thomas Koetting, Anita Weier, Hank Koshollek, Ann Frisch, Tim Kelley, Gina Duwe, Teryl Franklin, Andy Hall, Mike Buelow, Bob Welch.
The minutes of the January 27, 2009, meeting were approved.
The treasurer’s report was presented and showed a balance of $6,964. Expenditures were $254 and income (dues payments) was $300.
The treasurer’s report was approved.
President Bill Lueders gave several reports:
· Sunshine Week was in March and went well
· The WFOIC Opee awards were presented during Sunshine Week. Thanks were received from James Drabek and Brian Buswell.
· The Citizen Advocacy Center Report on Wisconsin’s openness laws was presented and discussed.
· WFOIC has received a request from the WI Attorney General’s office to pay printing costs for the Public Records and Open Meetings compliance guides. The 2008 cost would be $2,400.00. The request was discussed. Lueders could ask the NFOIC for funding, with the AG assisting with the grant application. Or a WFOIC member may be able to do the printing directly. WFOIC would need to get credit for assistance.
· The council, on a motion from Dave Zweifel seconded by Dee Hall, approves sending a representative to the NFOIC conference in June 2009 in Minneapolis, and pay reasonable conference expenses. Christa Westerberg is selected to attend.
Dick Mial has had to resign as Secretary of the WFOIC for work reasons. Peter Fox nominates Dee Hall for a one-year term. Approved by unanimous consent.
The future direction of the council is discussed. Lueders asked about members seeking opportunities to be an “ambassador of openness.” Hall notes she gives open government advice to callers. Should WFOIC conduct panel discussions with other groups? Westerberg has contacted the WI Towns Association, League of WI Municipalities, the Milwaukee City Attorney’s office, and UW-Extension, who would be open to doing panels with us. Westerberg suggests we let these groups know we are available to participate in panels. Phillip Freeburg of UW-Extension, who Lueders and Westerberg met with, introduces himself and the UW-Extension Local Government center, which hosts multiple trainings each year.
The WFOIC legislative agenda is presented and discussed. George Stanley had suggested by email that changes to the Department of Regulation and Licensing database policy be pursued legislatively. Hall suggests AG opinions are a good way to deal with excessive fees, and Lueders will do so with New Richmond policy. Dreps notes need for clarification in law for reviewing and redacting records. Lueders suggests presenting a revised legislative agenda at every meeting.
Records retention is discussed under Wis. Stat. s 19.21. It was noted that Madison has a model retention policy, but otherwise there is little guidance. Lueders suggests media members investigate.
Dreps notes this issue dovetails with excessive fees. Dreps provides an update on the Shield Law. It has been drafted and Rep. Parisi is looking for co-sponsors. Police records legislation is still in the talking phase.
Gina Duwe presents the new WFOIC website, and some changes were suggested. Thanks to Gina for spearheading website revision. Traffic numbers to the website were reviewed.
Dreps discusses the MJS v. DOA case, which was argued in the WI Supreme Court the week previous.
Legislative Update. There was good action on the foreclosure-related eviction proposal purge in the budget. Peter Fox notes continuous attempts to purge WCCA entries for those 25 and younger, and that these attempts have passed the Joint Finance Committee. Lueders will send out an action alert. The bill to open party caucuses was discussed.
Doug Kammer has contacted the WFOIC regarding whether the WI State Bar is subject to the Public Records and Open Meetings laws. It was agreed there is not much the WFOIC can do.
Miscellaneous: Lueders discusses the individual against whom a restraining order was obtained for repeated records requests, notes Westerberg’s recent article in the WI Lawyer Magazine, Obama on defending Bush-era secrecy, the Rock Springs Village clerk embezzlement concealment, a Post-Crescent editorial regarding sealing records, the Freemont-Weyauwega school board violations, and Marlin Schneider’s attempt to erase old OWI convictions.
Two new members were discussed: Hank Koshollek from the News Photographers, and it was noted that a new member was needed to represent the Society of Professional Journalists in place of Dick Mial. Ann Frisch is resigning due to a move out of state.
Your Right to Know: Bob Dreps will do a column on the DNR/DOA decision when it comes out, and the Shield Law when it’s introduced. Bill Lueders will do one on expungement. Peter Fox notes Buswell holding violations are happening all over the state.
Andy Hall announces a May 9 conference on investigative journalism, open records panel. Phillip Freeburg notes the UW-LAX website and a paper posted there on what Robert’s Rules of Order require for minutes.
The next meeting will be held on July 16, at Capital Newspapers, 1901 Fish Hatchery Road, Madison.
The meeting was adjourned at approximately 3:30.