Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wisconsin's Republican Rulers; Big Government Authoritarians love Secrets.

Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council’s Bill Lueders finally enumerated the reason why “authoritarian” is the only word that describes the states Republican legislature and Walker administration. Unfortunately, Lueders forgot to use the word authoritarian.
We’re talking about the new rules that supposedly preserve decorum and order in the public’s legislative galleries of the Capitol. As Lueders gently describes it:  “They impede the ability of citizens to participate in their democracy and offer fresh proof, if any were needed, that the Legislature feels no need to follow the rules it has put in place for others.”

But back in 1977 the legislature wrote: "make a reasonable effort to accommodate any person desiring to record, film or photograph the meeting," so long as this does not cause disruption."

Our gerrymandered permanent authoritarian Republican legislature has decided, behind closed doors, that they’re the boss now. "Majority Republicans passed, over nearly unanimous Democratic opposition," the following new rules, without a peep from small, open government conservative voters:
WSJ: The Assembly rules bar visitors from using "audio or video devices to record, photograph, film, videotape, or in any way depict the proceedings on or about the Assembly floor." The rules, which also include a ban on reading newspapers "or other printed materials," eating food, displaying signs or wearing hats … Taking a photo from the gallery to document the grade school field trip? Forbidden. Unobtrusively recording a legislative session of particular interest? Yer outta here! Taking notes on a laptop? What do you think this is, a classroom?
Authoritarian legislators are not subject to the same rules as local politicians. While we can’t record the work of politicians in the Capitol, we can record our local elected officials. The exceptions continue:
A special exemption lets members of the same political party meet in secret, even if they constitute a majority and can determine legislative outcomes. Lawmakers also have exempted themselves from the records retention rules in place for all other governmental officials. Village department heads must retain their official correspondence for years, but lawmakers can legally delete emails and shred letters whenever they want.
When and if the Democrats return to power, and decide to keep the same rules in place, you know what Republicans will say then? Like during the Bush "spend like drunken sailor" years, conservative voters will claim they never liked or agreed with Walker's secretive, authoritarian, big government ways. Reaffirming again that Republicans live by a whole different set of rules.

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