Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Opaque Transparency

Two years ago, as Scott Walker was poised to take office and proceed with his agenda of malfeasance, Mark Pitsch of the Wisconsin State Journal, wrote a gushing piece about how much better Walker was going to be in regards to openness and transparency:
My first question was a softball: “Will you pledge right now to run the most open, transparent gubernatorial administration in the history of the universe?”

Gov.-elect Scott Walker’s one-word reply: “Absolutely.”

In fact, it’s hard to imagine that Walker will not oversee a more forthcoming executive branch than his predecessor once he’s sworn into office Jan. 3. During his eight years in office, Gov. Jim Doyle and members of his administration increasingly operated out of a bunker, shunning media inquiries, defying the state open records law and keeping his whereabouts under wraps.

One example: The governor’s office waited to respond to a request from The Capital Times for letters regarding nominees to fill a judicial vacancy until just minutes before announcing its pick, a delay for which it is now being sued.

So there is reason for optimism among open government advocates, based in part on Walker’s record as Milwaukee’s longtime county executive.

After Citizens for Responsive Government asked for records of all county government expenditures, Walker’s administration turned them over and the group put them on its website. Walker followed suit, posting spending records on the county’s website as soon as they were entered in the county’s own record-keeping system. Walker, in an interview, says that as governor he’d like to do the same thing for state agencies.
Those of us who had already lived under Walker reign of terror for eight years laughed in derision at these statement for we knew better. Walker's transparency was as opaque as a brick wall.

Sure enough, only two months into office, and news organizations were being forced to sue Walker to get him to release information through open record requests.

Again, this was nothing new.

Walker's opaque transparency has continued to this day. Ranging from his discussions to "divide and conquer" to his whereabouts (which usually weren't even in the state) to the way he had lobbyists contact his Chief of Staff through non-official channels to gain an audience with Walker.

Now we apparently don't have a right to know what polluters are putting in the water, in the air or in the soil:
The DNR says it's shutting out the public and the media from the agency's enforcement conferences with alleged polluters.

After the DNR issues a notice of violation in a pollution case, the department schedules a meeting with the alleged violator. At the enforcement conference, the company is allowed to present any evidence that it obeyed the law or is fixing the problem. The news media rarely cover enforcement conferences, but earlier this year, a newspaper reported the DNR was holding an enforcement session with WE Energies about the 2011 bluff collapse at the utility's Oak Creek power plant. Several electronic media outlets covered the conference. The media and public are now banned from the conferences, according to DNR enforcement official Steve Sisbach. He says open conferences put a chill on candor, "It's not the best place to conduct a candid conversation.''

Sisbach says the state Justice Department has received declared enforcement conferences are not open meetings. But Sisbach says the public can get a written summary of the conference, and discuss the results with the DNR.

That's not open enough for Scot Ross of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, "People in Wisconsin deserve to know what is going on."

DNR deputy Secretary Matt Moroney says he's partly behind booting the public out of DNR enforcement conferences. Moroney is a former leader of a builders group, and is part of a team of Scott Walker appointees running the DNR.
The gentle reader might recognize Mornoney's name as one of the culprits involved in the attempted cover up of Herr Environemental's dumping of illegal amounts of effluence, which ended up making its way into people's water wells.

So, we are supposed to blindly trust one of the people involved with a serious cover up of a willful breaking of several laws which endangered the health and lives of a whole community. What could go wrong?


  1. We are looking at some very serious problems ahead. Now Walker will have all the power to do as he pleased. Now is the time to get a drive to get all state IDs and registered. Yes a judge stopped it. But that is not a long term thing. It is still in the courts and believe me if it is stopped for good. Another bill with corrections to make it unstoppable will follow. So now is the time to hold Tate's feet to the fire and demand one is starte

  2. "Walker reign of terror"? What a joke!