Minnesota has its political flaws, to be sure. Most of its important legislation is cut in back-room deals and we find out well after the fact that somehow, some way, an Iron Range lawmaker got $300,000 to replace an outhouse in the middle of nowhere.
Sometimes lawmakers vote for things without having a clue what the impact is and sometimes the impact is tragic, but for the most part their lack of vision is out in the open for most of us to see if we want to take a look.
Over in Wisconsin this weekend, as in other places, people will stick an American flag on the porch and say all the right things about freedom and democracy, and they’ll ignore everything their lawmakers are doing to undermine the romanticized notion of what America stands for.
They’re trying to keep its citizens from finding out what they’re up to.
In one of the final votes on the state budget, GOP lawmakers approved sweeping limits on public access to records.
“The taxpayers who are paying for all of this are being told, ‘It’s none of your damn business,'” Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Our state’s tradition of open government is on the line.”
The co-chairman of the budget committee, Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), told the newspaper that “multiple” people sought the changes but he wouldn’t identify them.
There’s some first-class American values.
It’s safe to say that not a single lawmaker in Wisconsin campaigned on eliminating public oversight of the government there.
Budget committee member Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, told Madison.com that he didn’t seek the changes and isn’t sure who did. “I honestly don’t need (the changes) for my purposes,” he said. “We have nothing to hide.”
Translation: “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?”
But Hudson Rep. Dean Knudson of Hudson said the changes clarify what is a record for lawmakers and would “make it easier for us all to stay on the right side (of the laws).”
“If Wisconsin wants to take a giant leap into corruption, I think that’s a good move for them to make,” Lueders said. “It’s cowardly. It’s dirty. It violates the tradition of the state of Wisconsin, and it shows what miserable cowards that these people are that they would stick this in an omnibus motion.”
God bless America.