For a quick journalistic recap, we still don’t know who authored the changes to tenure/layoff provisions that seek to strip earned property rights from a significant number of Wisconsin employees. I do know that before our Independence Day totalitarian turn toward government secrecy, there were multiple open records requests filed with members of the JFC and UW President Cross pertaining to all documentation regarding those changes and how they were put together.
Going on a month now… no response. That is to be expected in today’s Wisconsin.
If you’d like a peek at what UW folks have been dealing with, just get quickly caught up on the 4th of July open records debacle, which is pretty much the same working dynamics played out at a larger scale. As we now know that the Governor’s office was directly involved in the move to eviscerate public view of government activity, some lower on the food chain are scrambling to answer the massive journalistic and public outcry. Now, this example is meant to be indicative of what we’re dealing with in the UW, and I type that with one hand on my forehead while I know that somewhere, someone else is yelling, “Yeah, but what did tenured faculty do about it!” Anyway, behold Dale Kooyenga, powerful member of the Joint Finance Committee, who sent an apology to a right-wing website (!) because, basically, he claims not to know what he was voting for when he said Aye! to secrecy in government:
After inquiries my understanding was the changes would have put Wisconsin law consistent with many other states and the US Congress in order to facilitate more honest dialogue among stakeholders. Since the vote this has been found to be inaccurate. I apologize for not recognizing the scope of these changes.
If I weren’t so depressed I’d be laughing hysterically.
Kooyenga, instead of reading this important piece of legislation… “inquired” about it. With whom? Let me point something out: Robin Vos (Chair of the Committee on Grudges, Misery, and Payback) has said that one of the reasons UW professors shouldn’t have tenure is so that we can ensure…wait for it…keep waiting…they keep up to date on their research!!!!!! Does reading the legislation one votes on count as being up to date? No tenure for you Kooyenga!
I’m not finished.
Kooyenga, in order to make amends, is working on the following:
Kooyenga is actively seeking a co-sponsor for legislation that would require all budget motions to be posted 24 hours in advance of committee adoption. That would effectively put an end to last-minute stealth proposals like the attempt to gut the open records law.
Did you all get that? If we only had 24 hours to preview the motions, actually look at them, make people wait a bit for a vote, then dangerous things like this will not happen. In Wisconsin, this is a great idea for legislation, just not for guns. It is not even two weeks ago that Kooyenga voted to ensure sure people didn’t have to wait a banana-split second before arming themselves, but when it comes to legislation that exposed him as doing a really terrible job… “Will everyone please just slow down a dab nab second!”
So here is my bitter reminder: yes, I’m happy that the Wisconsin media snapped awake when overreach applied to them. Now please try to remember all of the other instances, like the one that is the subject of my blog series: so who specifically drafted the legislation that stripped UW faculty of an earned property right? How much did UW central know about this in advance? Did they participate? Etc. Feel free to use your now reinstated access to public records to find out. We could really use the help and support. How else will the public know?
It must have been refreshing for a lot of the Wisconsin media to take a side for a moment, to not entertain a phony “opposing view,” to make a stand that was clearly correct and to call out wrong doing. Keep at it. Keep at it regarding the UW and any other host of issues, and you can start at the MJS by rewriting the headline that currently reads “Campuses scramble to find who wins, loses in budget shakeout.” It’s a quarter of a billion dollar cut to higher education on top of previous cuts. There’s no winner except cynicism.
We all lost.