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As I See It

Lawmakers circumventing Wisconsin’s open meetings laws



Wisconsin’s open meetings laws are pretty clear. Basically, they insist that the people’s business be done in a public forum. But some of our elected representatives would rather you not know what they are doing. Members of the Assembly Corrections Committee plan a tour of Wisconsin’s troubled yourth prison. They want to see first-hand the conditions of this facility, which is currently the subject of a federal investigation alleging physical and sexual assaults of inmates by guards. It is good that our legislators are finally looking into these long-standing problems, but it is troubling that they would prefer to do so in private. So they have developed a plan to circumvent Wisconsin’s open meetings laws. Instead of all of the members of the committee visiting the prison at once, which would make it a public meeting, they have decicded to go halvsies. Today, five members of the 11 member committee, not enough to constitute a forum, will tour Lincoln Hills. The remaining members of the committee will tour later. This allows members of the committee to deny reporter’s access to the tour. But we the public should have access, and we should be outraged they are purposely avoiding complying with the law, especially as we begin Sunshine Week. They should let the sun shine in on Lincoln Hills.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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