Why does Garey Bies want to make it harder to access public records?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published this article over the weekend, which keyed me into a bill that I hadn’t known was coming down the pipes.

State Rep. Garey Bies is sponsering Assembly Bill 522 which purports to protect police records (from who? journalists? the public?) in situations where multiple officers or agencies may have had custodianship of them. His reasoning seems to be that if any open investigations — which are exempt from disclosure until closed under current law — are being handled by multiple officers or departments, then some might know that the investigation is still open, and others might not. Then, those that think the investigation has been closed might provide access to documents pertinent to it to unscrupulous requestors trying to dig up information that they are not entitled to!

 …Is it just me, or is that a stretch?

It would no doubt be in Rep. Bies’ interests to let us know what he was thinking when he agreed to sponsor this bill, but he does not seem to be updating his Notes from the West Wing much recently.

Milwaukee County Clerk of Courts John Barrett seems to have a much better grasp on how unworkable (and though he doesn’t say it out loud, pointless) this bill is. As he says:

[T]o create this new definition of multiple custodianship is too difficult to administer.

To which I would add: “and it serves no useful purpose anyway so why are you wasting my time.” (Answers like that may be part of why I do not hold public office.)


3 Responses to “Why does Garey Bies want to make it harder to access public records?”

  1. 1 Leslie Graves November 5, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Thanks for doing such a great job keeping up with the FOIA scene in mah home state.

  2. 2 Elizabeth November 6, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for stopping by and for the link! SSOR is a great open records doorway.

  1. 1 More about Bill 522 « Wisconsin Sunbeam Trackback on November 7, 2007 at 3:58 pm

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