Friday, February 10, 2012

Wisconsin: Ignore the Public Comments

"Public comments...may be different than what you hear in this room. Ignore the public comments."

That's what Wisconsin Republicans were told to do while they secretly redrew district maps to keep them in office. Of course, the Republicans didn't want Wisconsin to know they were screwing us over. The Republicans also signed confidentiality agreements to not talk about the maps while they worked on them in secret at a private law firm in Madison.

The information came about during court proceedings for a lawsuit against the Republicans in front of a three-judge panel. The Republicans fought hard to keep this information secret, but the judges forcefully ruled against them saying,
"Quite frankly, the Legislature (Republicans) and the actions of its counsel give every appearance of flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to hide from both the court and the public the true nature of exactly what transpired in the redistricting process."
"Indeed, the arguments advanced by the Legislature more than suggest that it wishes to have its cake and eat it too. "
"...the Legislature has taken action that affects the voting rights of Wisconsin's citizens and now attempts to cloak the record of that action behind a charade masking as a privilege."
"Finally, given the Legislature's refusal to adequately cooperate in the discovery process, despite the Court's having twice denied their requests for privilege, the Court reaffirms its earlier directive: cooperate immediately. Neither this Court, the parties in the case, nor Wisconsin's citizens have the interest or time to endure the litigation tactics being used by public officials or their private counsel in what has quickly become a poorly disguised attempt to cover up a process that should have been public from the outset, despite the Legislature's concerted efforts to mask the process behind the closed doors of a private law firm."
Ignore the money they spend, too. We taxpayers paid $400,000 for these secret meetings to draw up where and who we vote for. The secretly gerrymandered maps were finished months ago, but we're still paying for two Republican aides to work at the private law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich. We pay the two aides $129,236 per year in total, and we don't know what they're doing there. According to the Journal Sentinel, the agreements say the aides are "working at the direction of Michael Best attorneys."

When asked about the news, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said, "You almost get the image of a shadowy government." An immigrants rights group has written a complaint letter to the Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to investigate the Republicans' redistricting process as another violation of the Open Meetings Law. You may remember the last one.

Wisconsin: Ignore the public comments of Republicans, because they clearly aren't being the slightest truthful. Do we really want to be ruled by the secret government of Scott Walker?

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