May: Ask lawmakers for the records they delete

If a legislator deletes an email, is it truly gone? Not necessarily. On March 10, Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ordered Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to search for deleted emails that should have been preserved after an open records request from American Oversight, a watchdog group. Weeks later, Vos’ team surrendered an astounding 20,000 […]

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March: Opees awards highlight good and bad

For the sixteenth consecutive year, the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is presenting its Openness Awards, or Opees, to recognize outstanding efforts to protect the state’s tradition of open government, as well as some of the threats to it. The awards, part of the observance of national Sunshine Week (sunshineweek.org), March 13-19, are given in […]

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November: Records shed light on board shenanigans

The Natural Resources Board, an all-volunteer body that guides policy for the Department of Natural Resources, is part of Wisconsin’s tradition of open government. The idea to empower volunteers  —  rather than politicians  —  was first proposed in the progressive era by leading conservationists, including Aldo Leopold, who understood that decisions about natural resources should […]

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April: Record location fees invite abuses

It happens all the time. A member of the public or representative of the press will file a request under Wisconsin’s open records law, which applies to all state and local government entities. But instead of records, the requester gets a bill. “The city will require pre-payment in full before we begin fulfilling your request,” […]

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