Monday, June 20, 2016

More WI records withholding extends Walker secrecy, double-talk

No one should be surprised that Gov. Walker through his cabinet level Department of Corrections would be caught withholding "a trove" of the public's records about conditions inside a violence-wracked and otherwise mismanaged youth incarceration facility, as the Journal Sentinel reports today.

Playing fast and loose with Open Records - - the people's property and not the government's, just like the money in your bank account is yours and the bank holds it with your permission as custodian or trustee - - has been Walker standard operating procedure since the disclosures about the secret email system run for partisan, campaign purposes right out of Walker's Milwaukee County Executive office suite by his personal staff.

The secret operation defeated the entire purpose of open communications on public property and public time, the records of which are meant to be available to anyone - - citizen, business or reporter - - who sought to review them as the state's Open Records statute guarantees.

Since then Walker has withheld records by imperiously creating a class of so-called "transitory" documents to withheld which he had no authority to designate.

His party used its legislative monopoly to try and blow even larger holes in the Open Records statute itself, a scheme dropped after a firestorm of protest statewide.

He was then caught withholding records that proved he indeed knew the rewriting in his last budget to wipe out as part of his assault on the UW System - - and the UW campus in liberal Madison in particular - - the core search-for-truth principle in the state's iconic mission statement - - The Wisconsin Idea.

Records finally pried loose by a lawsuit and judge's order which proved that the rewrite of The Wisconsin Idea was not the result of a "drafting error," as Walker had claimed, but an intentional plan at his direction - - all of which he lied about for months and straight through his pitch to the state and country that he was Presidential timber.

The pattern stretches back to his strategy of withholding from the people during his 2010 run for Governor his intention to drop a bomb on 50 years of public sector collective bargaining, then springing it on the people after his no-mandate 52% margin of victory - - bad enough - - but camouflaging it all as a "modest, modest proposal," as he told Madison reporter Bill Luedders - - when it was the complete opposite.

So when Walker said the other day that he was directing all state agencies to get better organized - - they've only been at this for more than five+ years - - and to respond quickly to Open Records requests - - in other words, to obey and comply with state law - - you knew if you have been paying any attention these last few years that we were just days away from more disclosures that the exact opposite was happening.

Why all the secrecy, dishonesty, double-talk and double-dealing?

Because Walker and his lieutenants intend to do as much damage to this once-progressive state by weakening or eliminating venerable institutions, law, common practice and Wisconsin legacy - - from environmental guarantees to collective bargaining to voting rights and more - - and they do not want to be distracted or slowed by fair play and records releases that would block their ideological juggernaut on behalf of special interests and donors who keep the GOP in power here in any way.

Look no farther than the two year + struggle by Friends of the Black River Forest and others opposing the destruction of a nature preserve along Lake Michigan for a Kohler Co. golf course to obtain the public record of the project from the DNR which is legally-obligated to review the project.

But will Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp - - a devotee of DNR land sales, corporate naming rights for state parks and other business-first policies, give the neighbors a fair shake?

Posted on the Friends of the Black Forest [FBRF] Facebook page recently:
For two years FBRF has been asking the DNR what the status of the Kohler Company's applications and permits were and we were told they were not complete. Now with records received from the USACE [US Army Corps of Engineers] and a year later from the DNR, we find that in 2015 at least 36 employees worked on the proposal along with several making site visits traveling from Madison on the taxpayers' dime.... 
When will the DNR stop working privately for a privileged company? What other private citizen can use a state agency to smooth out all the objections and laws for them BEFORE he applies for permits? 
When will the DNR stop working privately for a privileged company? What other private citizen can use a state agency to smooth out all the objections and laws for them BEFORE he applies for permits?

And this observation in a recent FBRF news release:
The "Friends"  oppose the project because of massive impacts to the hydrology of the area caused by planned deforestation of 160 acres and destruction of functional wetlands along Lake Michigan adjacent to Kohler-Andrae Park. Claudia Bricks, spokesperson, states, "there are so many things wrong with this proposal, beginning with a DNR who is working privately for Kohler with no application on file..." 
Plus - - if penalties result from illegal records' withholding, the taxpayers ponpay for the lawyers and the settlements - - so the bad actors suffer no personal trouble except a few headlines which they no doubt treat as badges of courage.y up 

Final thought from this 2012 posting about Walker's then-Year of Deceit:
The Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice, whose reporting about the ongoing Walker-related John Doe probe has been outstanding, captured in this memorable column the ironic essence underlying Scott Walker's performance:
Gov. Scott Walker says he isn't worried about a John Doe investigation of his current and former aides.
That's because, Walker said, he is a man of integrity.
"I know that throughout my career - first in the Legislature, then as county executive and now for the last 10 months as governor - I live by the standards I got from my parents," said Walker, whose father was a Baptist minister. "Certainly, they got me to the rank of Eagle Scout, and I continue to have that kind of integrity."


Anonymous said...

"I know that throughout my career - first in the Legislature, then as county executive and now for the last 10 months as governor - I live by the standards I got from my parents,"


That about explains everything!

Jonathan Swift said...

My parents taught me to lie, cheat and steal; bless them for that. Happy father's day Dad.

Apparently members of the Evangelical Pharisee branch of the Baptist Church.

MadCityVoter said...

Don't blame his parents or his religion -- Scott Walker fails to meet minimum standards in everything he does. And then he tries to cover for it by accusing everyone else of being failures (lazy, stupid, incompetent, partisan, whatever). Maybe he can't help it, never having known himself to be any better, or maybe like a vampire he just doesn't own a mirror, or missed class the day they learned about "irony"...

my5cents said...

Jonathan Swift: Thank you for summing it all up in one sentence. I had a good laugh at that.