open records watch: Walker edition

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21 Responses

  1. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    Again raising the question, how did Wisconsin become a banana republic? It is not on the list of states I would expect this of.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      The Kochs, basically. They can do whatever they want, and their interested are varied and numerous.
      The Republicans have them to blame for the Tea Party…Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      Wisconsin is something of an anomaly.
      Its politics are a tension between Madison (Boulder (Berkeley of the Rockies) of the Midwest), Milwaukee (blue-collar unionism), and the Townies (i.e., Racine County).

      If viewed from the perspective of the national party, Walker is significantly different from other Republicans.
      Viewed from the Wisconsin perspective, he’s just another Townie.

      But that’s why Wisconsin would put both Russ Feingold (a Madison-style progressive) in office at the same time as Jim Sensenbrenner (Townie).Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      @richard-hershberger

      From what I hear, Walker’s main base is in the suburban and exurban counties of Milwaukee.

      My Wisconsin friends and articles tell me that Milwaukee experience white flight a lot later than the rest of the United States. Something like 3 to 4 decades later. This contributes to the current political situation in Wisconsin where a progressive-purple state is becoming conservative.

      Also Wisconsin always seemed to swing between two poles. There was Eugene McCarthy, the LaFollettes, Russ Feingold, and other progressive icons. There was also Joseph McCarthy.Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Well, everything Scott Walker does is bigger, but I’ve known of Democratic candidates to do this sort of thing on a smaller scale. Hmm, trying to think of whom – perhaps Mario Cuomo? Somebody like that. I think mostly they don’t want to provide a source to anyone looking to make them look foolish in the context of a presidential campaign.

    I think the main concern is that someone could dig up a statement that seems to contradict their current political stance, and makes them look like a “flip-flopper”. Because presidential candidates quite frequently take positions that are quite contradictory to their stances as governors or mayors. I’m thinking of Mitt Romney, for instance.

    There could be something worse in their, but I kind of doubt it, for the reason that up until now, it’s been in the public record, and politicians are usually smart enough to keep the really bad stuff out of that record.

    Nevertheless, I think open public records are a good thing, and shouldn’t be sacrificed to Walker’s (or anybody else’s) presidential ambitions.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      The first Clinton presidency had some similar scandal with regard to the health care reform Hillary was working on, IIRC.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Damon says:

        I recall that this was a big concern, @damon — that the team was negotiating with health insurers behind closed doors.

        This is not a partisan issue; public disclosure makes governing more difficult. You can’t negotiate that back-room deal that easily smooths-over a complicated issue; and you can’t hide the access you give to individual and interest groups where political issues are often negotiated.Report

        • Avatar Damon in reply to zic says:

          @zic

          “This is not a partisan issue; public disclosure makes governing more difficult. You can’t negotiate that back-room deal that easily smooths-over a complicated issue”

          Yeah, I pity the difficult work that politicians have to do in sunshine. It’s SO hard to do it that way. Much easier to just get a deal in the smoke filled room done and go back to collecting campaign donations.Report

  3. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Seems consistent with the general tenor of current Midwestern state policy: privatize. 🙂Report

  4. There are days when I’m actually kind of proud of how Colorado’s legislature acts (some forced by initiative, some adopted on their own): no substantive legislation attached to budget bills, every amendment has a sponsor, every committee vote is either unanimous or there’s a roll call, every vote is recorded and available.

    That said, I am also of the opinion that the bill/amendment drafting system ought to be off limits for open-records requests. Once something’s introduced, yeah, public record. Until then, it’s working notes (which here, are not subject to open-records requests) that may or may not ever amount to anything. When the big budget bill was being debated here, those of us on the budget committee staff prepared literally hundreds of potential amendments for members; relatively few of those were ever actually introduced.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Michael Cain says:

      That said, I am also of the opinion that the bill/amendment drafting system ought to be off limits for open-records requests.

      I disagree; though I might agree to limiting it until the bill is out of a committee; but once they pass it out, their process should be open.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to zic says:

        As soon as the bill is introduced, it’s a public document; every amendment that’s actually introduced is a public document; every committee report, once it’s signed. But those are all in the public-facing tracking system. The drafting system also has dozens of bills that never got introduced and hundreds of amendments that were never introduced or were abandoned half-finished. An example from memory: one of the members requested a sequence of budget amendments be prepared that said “Cut the dental benefit by 4%”; “Cut the dental benefit by 3.5%”; …. ; “Cut the dental benefit by 0.5%”. None of them got introduced.Report

    • Avatar Damon in reply to Michael Cain says:

      @michael-cain

      And EVERY SINGLE bit of work you did, and those of the committee staff, was paid for by your state taxpayers. It’s not your work product, it’s theirs. They own it. They are entitled to look at if it they want.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Damon says:

        Well, Colorado statute — and we’re a direct initiative state, so the taxpayers can certainly change it if they feel strongly — makes a sharp distinction between “product” and the kinds of notes people make during meetings, or while on the phone. Every bit of “product” defined by the statue is absolutely available. My notes when, as part of the legislative staff, I talked to someone at an agency about the nuances of a particular pile of federal dollars? The eighty-seven different versions of a document that I saved over the three weeks while I was preparing it? By statute, no. But 30 seconds after I sat down in front of the budget committee and said “My name is Michael Cain, Joint Budget Committee staff, and I’m presenting the staff recommendations for the Department of Labor budget” into the microphone, the document was online and available — no open-records request needed.

        One of the main reasons for budget staff leaving at the end of their first session was the stress of knowing that every single one of their recommendations was out there in public for the world to second-guess. If every single error-filled draft was also available, no one would take the job.Report

        • Avatar Damon in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Oh yes, I realize the difference between the “law” and what would normally be the case with the gov’t. Curious how “govt” can make laws governing how it operates that deviate from every other aspect of the laws that govern society.

          “One of the main reasons for budget staff leaving at the end of their first session was the stress of knowing that every single one of their recommendations was out there in public for the world to second-guess.”

          Really? For the last 25 years every single decision or recommendation I’ve ever made has been subject to federal/state/foreign gov’t audit, review, and criminal/civil prosecution.

          I have gigabytes of documents, emails, etc. stored in case some auditor or investigator asks me a question about something that happened years ago. I really have no sympathy.Report

  5. Avatar ktward says:

    This is an excellent example of why I keep trying to drum into my [millennial] kids’ heads that local and state governance arguably matters way more to them, personally, than Federal governance.

    Basically, we’re just 50 different fiefdoms which, for whatever reasons, have managed to form various alliances. I’m not suggesting the Fed Guv is powerless- we know it’s not. But for sure, Fed Guv is way less powerful than either the left or right is willing to admit. Albeit for different reasons.

    Meanwhile, the right does seem to be way more strategic: they’ve been very busy for decades buying up political/judicial posts on local/state levels.

    What’s the left been doing on the local/state level?Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to ktward says:

      I think the problem is that the has forgotten the “local” part of “Think Globally. Act locally.”

      The left does local government in the areas where it dominates so cities and urban areas including the Progressive haven of Madison, Wisconsin. But they tend to be bored by stuff like school boards and city councils generally. The GOP has a whole apparatus that is meant to build up candidates from city council to state rep to state-wide office and beyond. I don’t see something similar on the part of the Democratic Party except in heavily Democratic areas.

      This might be another observation that Democratic voters and left-of-center Americans are just jampacked too much and therefore easy to isolate.Report