Earlier this year, the Republican dominated Wisconsin legislature did Gov. Scott Walker’s bidding and elided The Wisconsin Idea from the University of Wisconsin system’s mission statement. The Wisconsin Idea had been part of the statutes for well over a century and promised this:
Inherent in this broad mission are methods of instruction, research, extended training and public service designed to educate people and improve the human condition. Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.
You can see why this scared the Walker Administration: education, search for truth, public service. Not welcome in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin! The Walker Way overrides the Wisconsin Way and the Wisconsin Idea.
The outcry was fierce and Walker had to back down … the change was withdrawn (and blamed on a staffer, which is also the Walker Way).
Lesson learned, right? No. It. Was. Not.
On Thursday night, right before the long holiday weekend, Walker’s GOP legislature snuck a provision into the omnibus Budget Bill they were “crafting”, a provision that would essentially repeal the state’s Open Record Law. When this change was exposed by the Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee and questioned by the press, the Republican leaders refused to identify who had asked for the change. But you don’t have to dig deep to realize that the Open Records laws were behind the surprising interest of the normally docile press in Wisconsin, in investigating irregularities in WEDC, an agency set up by Walker to pick winners and losers in the economy with a special focus in including Walker campaign donors in the winners circle.
The outcry was even more fierce this time and came from some surprising places: the teaparty Attorney General and the right-wing talk show radio hosts in Milwaukee who created Scott Walker as an empty vessel to fill with their ideology. There had been signs that the right-wing talkers were realizing they had used Abby Normal’s brain when they built their Frankenstein and this time they Tweeted their dismay and spoke out in editorials, one on the front page of the normally pro-Walker Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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