Letter from the Publisher: Your right to know is under attack
Once again the Wisconsin State Assembly is trying to make it harder to see what is happening at all levels of the government. This has to be stopped.
Assembly Bill 70 allows local governments to stop publishing their meeting minutes in the newspaper. Under this bill, local governments, including village boards and school boards, can place their minutes on a web site and in one public place and call it a day.
Specifically, the Bill allows local governments to:
- Skip publishing their minutes in the newspaper.
- Stop publishing detailed information on receipts and expenditures, and instead provide the numbers “in the aggregate.”
- Put the minutes on government-owned web sites—with no requirement to tell the public how to find the sites.
- Extend the amount of time some governmental bodies can keep their proceedings private, from the current 45 days to 60 days.
- Delete the minutes after three years.
Most of the people running our governmental bodies are hard-working, ethical, principled people who strive every day to serve the good of the public. But not everyone. From time to time, a bad actor gets into a position of governmental power. That’s why the Founding Fathers of this great nation empowered the press to keep an eye on things. And that is what this bill attacks.
This bill creates bureaucratic obstacles to seeing what is going on with our government. Specifically, how do people know where to find the web site with the minutes? Why do the minutes go away after just three years? Why are the minutes limited only to those with Internet access? And why do governmental bodies get more time to keep their proceedings private?
Please join me in protecting our right to know. Find out who your legislator by going to legis.wisconsin.gov and following the links to your State Assembly person. Then call them to tell them to protect our right to know. You will be glad you did so.