A few words about information, access to it and opportunities to talk to policy-makers in the State Capitol - - in the context of the imbroglio over mining legislation.
Spoiler alert: it all depends on who you are and who you know.
Assembly Republicans set up a hearing on their version of the mining bill in Milwaukee last last year that was hundreds of miles from the Bad River watershed where the most affected people live, and videos have been posted that show State Reps. Mary Williams, (R-Medford), and Jeff Stone, (R-Greendale) dodging, ducking and denying citizens various routes to easily connect over the issue - - but if you are a pro-mining lobbyist, the way to direct communication with Legislative power and fast access to documents is smoothed for you.
That's clear in some records made available to me under the State Open Records law by the office of State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald that show fast, friendly interaction between the Senate office and pro-mining lobbyists.
* At 4:52 p.m. on Friday, February 10th, State Sen. Neal Kedzie, (R-Elkhorn), sent an email to about 20 legislators and staffers telling them to hold time on the following Friday, February 17th, for a hearing - - later cancelled by parliamentary maneuvering by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald - - on an alternative mining proposal a select committee chaired by Kedzie was preparing for release.
*Four minutes later, at 4:56 p.m., the Kedzie email was forwarded by Fitzgerald Chief of Staff John Hogan to Bob Seitz and Scott Manley.
State lobbying records show that Seitz is a registered, contract lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite LLC, the mining company that wants to open the iron ore mine near Ashland , and Manley is the Director, Environmental Policy and a registered lobbyist for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.
The WMC, a statewide business trade association, is a strong supporter of the mine and legislative efforts to steamline state mining reviews.
* At 3:18 p.m. on Monday, February 13th, Kedzie sent out another email about the public hearing he was planning, with fresh information about the location, and a reference to the bill he was going to introduce, with its Legislative Reference Bureau [LRB] file number.
* One minute later, at 3:19 p.m., Hogan forwarded that email to Manley and Seitz.
* Still at 3:19 p.m., Manley emailed Hogan and said:
How can we get a copy of the LRB [Legislative Reference Bureau] draft? Is it available?* One minute later, at 3:20 p.m., Hogan responded to Manley:
I'll get you one.I posted yesterday an email from Fitzgerald's staff to Charlie Sykes during the that same period two weeks ago when Senate Republicans were abandoning Kedzie's plan in favor of the Assembly's more pro-mining version.