Openness Report

The Wisconsin Openness Report, a weekly newsletter produced by the WNA, highlights coverage of public records, open meetings and First Amendment issues. If you’ve recently written a story about open government or free speech, please email us at Julia.Hunter@wnanews.com.

DOJ, UW Board of Regents withdraw motion seeking injunction over records released in error

MADISON – The state Department of Justice and the UW Board of Regents have withdrawn a motion seeking to bar a former UW-Oshkosh Advance-Titan reporter from publishing information from documents they argued were released by mistake. The motion sought to force Alex Nemec, who now works for the Oconomowoc Enterprise, to destroy personnel records he received from the school and to prohibit him from publishing any information gleaned from the…

Newspaper’s request for legal costs in Racine records case denied

RACINE – A public records request by The (Racine) Journal Times for legal costs in the city of Racine’s contempt of court case against Alderman Sandy Weidner has been denied. City Attorney Scott Letteney’s office said the requested invoices were under seal, along with the case, meaning the amount the city is spending on the case…

Records: Poynette officer garnered 2 citizen complaints before controversial arrest

POYNETTE – Records obtained by the Lodi Enterprise/Poynette Press reveal that Poynette police officer Sam Yanke received two citizen complaints before a controversial traffic stop last month led to his resignation. During a Sept. 26 traffic stop that was captured on video, Yanke pulled a 37-year-old woman from the driver’s seat of her car and put his arms…

Mequon officials charged with open meetings violation reach plea agreement, resign

MEQUON – Two members of the Mequon Police and Fire Commission who were charged earlier this month with an open meetings violation have reached a plea agreement with the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office and have resigned from the commission. During an illegal meeting at a Port Washington restaurant, Thomas Luzinski, chairman of the commission, and Charles Neman…

DNA backlog grows to nearly 800 cases in state crime labs

MADISON – According to figures released about four weeks after USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin requested them under open records laws, a backlog of months-old DNA evidence has grown to nearly 800 cases. Attorney General Brad Schimel, who oversees the state crime labs, released new figures Friday. Schimel, a Republican, is campaigning for re-election and has faced criticism from…

Northwoods River News proposes records lawsuit settlement

RHINELANDER – The Northwoods River News has proposed a settlement with the city of Rhinelander in a recent open records case. In exchange for the city’s payment of $8,000 to cover the newspaper’s legal fees, the River News has agreed to drop the lawsuit it filed against the city in August 2017. The lawsuit was…

Records reveal past conduct issues for former Summit police officer

SUMMIT – A former Summit police officer who resigned in August following an internal investigation violated the department’s code of conduct more than four years ago, according to documents obtained by Lake Country Now through an open records request. During a 2014 investigation, Todd Borchardt violated policy after threatening to arrest a group home supervisor who…

DOJ seeks injunction over records it says were released in error

OSHKOSH – In an unprecedented intrusion on news reporting, UW-Oshkosh is seeking to bar a journalist from publishing information obtained from documents it says were sent to him by mistake. Attorney General Brad Schimel filed a motion on Oct. 3 to reopen the open records case involving journalist Alex Nemec and UW-Oshkosh business school professor…