Why do you want public records? Because they are public.

The opening line of the Wausau Daily Herald’s article about Alderman Tom Miller’s open records request for Bill Nagle’s old e-mails pisses me off:

A Wausau City Council member would not say Wednesday why he has asked to see more than four years worth of retired City Attorney Bill Nagle’s e-mails, or what he plans to do next after his initial request was denied.

So? Who cares what he plans to do with the information? Miller has every right to request whatever he wants, and does not owe an explanation to anyone.

I get that the paper wants to find (or create) a newsworthy story, but coming at it from this angle gives the impression that the people making public records requests are the ones deserving of scrutiny, as if they are doing something wrong. There is nothing wrong with being curious about the content of e-mails that the city attorney sent, and if they contain inappropriate information then the requestor is doing us all a favor by finding that out.

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3 Responses to “Why do you want public records? Because they are public.”


  1. 1 Jeni September 7, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    Just endured an almost month-long trial with open records requests from Kenosha…talk about P’d off! For starters, I was asked a plethora of questions they had no right to ask. Then they sent me a form they said I had to fill out with all my personal info on it. Then they laid claim to their own open records rules. That is not legal. had to cite state statute to these clueless LAWMAKERS repeatedly.

    They really have forgotten who their bosses are. I’m convinced.

  2. 2 John Washburn September 12, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    If elected officials call themselves civil servants, do I then get to tell them I am one of their civil masters?

  3. 3 Elizabeth September 15, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Hmm, “civil master”… it has a nice ring to it!


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