Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council

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Oct. 7, 2008

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Minutes of Oct. 7, 2008 meeting 

The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council was called to order on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008, at 1:30 p.m. Present were Bill Lueders, Christa Westerberg, Thomas Koetting, Dee Hall, Dick Record, Doug Wojcik, Gina Duwe, Gordon Govier, Bob Welch, Tim Kelley, Roger Schneider, Bob Dreps, Peter Fox, Diane Martin, Ann Frisch, Anita Weier, Mike Buelow and Dave Zweifel. 

Because the secretary was ill and unable to attend, it was unanimously decided that the approval of the minutes of the July 15, 2008, meeting will be conducted via e-mail at a later date. 

The treasurer's report was presented and showed a balance of $6,913.70. The only expenditure the past three months was $57 for a sheet cake for the Council's 30th anniversary celebration. 

President Bill Lueders gave several reports:  
* The Photographers Bill of Rights is complete and Doug Wojcik is distributing them to sheriffs', fire departments and other places.

* The open records' audit is well underway and is expected to be ready for release in early to mid-November.

* The 30th anniversary event will include an address by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and a debate between Lueders and Rep. Marlin Schneider. It will be held in the Nafziger Room at the UW-Madison Journalism School. 

Gina Duwe gave a report on the Council's Web site. She announced that a redesign will make it easy to use. We will need to find a volunteer to take the lead on posting stories and issues. Peter Fox suggested that we also post FOIC minutes. Lueders appointed Gina Duwe, Anne Frisch, Christa Westerberg and Mike Buelow to informally act as auditors for the Web site. 

Attorney Bob Dreps reported on recent court cases:

* In the State of Wisconsin (Peg Lautenschlager) vs. Zien and Gunderson case regarding bill drafts by legislators, the court of appeals eventually dismissed the case on procedural grounds. The merits of Lautenschlager's argument that legislators couldn't show bill drafts to some and not to others was never decided. Considerable discussion followed on what the Council could do to get to the merits, including watching for a similar situation and then bringing suit to get the courts to address the issue. It was later decided that the Council should ask Lautenschlager to write a post-mortem on the case, underscoring her arguments why drafts should not be kept from public inspection.

*The Journal Sentinel and Lakeland Times' combined suit for the names of state employees has been certified to the Supreme Court and arguments will be heard this fall with a decision expected in the spring. Employee unions are contending that collective bargaining agreements that block the release of names trumps the open records law, a contention that is vigorously disputed by the two newspapers and the FOIC. 

Peter Fox reported that legislators Robin Vos and Marlin Schneider are preparing to come back with another bill in the new legislative session to allow certain criminal  records to be expunged from the CCAP. He suggested the at the Council's membership be aware of the issues in this long-running attempt so that they are prepared to counter the arguments when the bill is actually introduced, probably in January. 

Lueders told the Council that WIREdata needs a refinement of the open records law because as it stands now there is a loophole that could allow a contractor who is maintaining public records to make a profit and set a prohibitively exorbitant price on obtaining the record. Attorney Dreps agreed that the changes it proposes are innocuous. Lueders moved and Dreps seconded that the Council support WIREdata's proposed changes. The motion passed unanimously. 

Tom Kriegl, a Sauk County supervisor, appeared before the Council to ask its support in his efforts to gain information form the Sauk County Sheriff's Department. Kriegl has filed suit against the sheriff, contending that he won't release Huber Law inmate numbers. The suit was thrown out by a Sauk County judge and Kriegl plans to appeal. Lueders suggested that some of the media people on the Council might want to take a look at the case for possible news stories. Kriegl was given several suggestions by Council members on how he might proceed. No formal action was taken on the supervisor's request. 

Lueders walked through a number of exhibits attached to the Council agenda and discussion ensued on one -- a district attorney's decision to agree to seal the arrest record of a sheriff's department deputy accused of intentionally running over his girl friend. Some Council members asked if this has become a common practice in the state.. Lueders said he would attempt to find out if there are other instances and report back at the next meeting. 

The next meeting was set for Tuesday, Jan. 20th, 2009, for the auditorium of Capital Newspapers, 1901 Fish Hatchery Rd., Madison.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:15 p.m.  

Respectfully submitted,  
Dave Zweifel  
Acting Secretary