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Friday, September 11, 2009

State Committee: Less Information Is More

In a short AP article titled,"Wis. bill would keep property information secret" posted in the Janesville Gazette online edition, the story singles out a Democrat while the actual proposal appears to have bi-partisan support. There was a little more to the story as posted in the Journal Sentinel including a statement on the bill from Mike McCabe.
JSonline Excerpt:
Rep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia), who owns a popcorn business and pushed for limited access to client information, said he's concerned about a competitor accessing his customer list online.
God forbid if a competitor offered a client a better deal or if a watchdog found out a lawmaker sponsored legislation handing a business client a government contract before receiving a $$$ campaign donation. We wouldn't want that.

But the proposal could have some merit considering judges are regularly harassed and threatened by defendants. Beyond that, the bill looks like it will hide more than it will open and it becomes only a further embarrassment knowing the committee approved the change as part of a bill intended to increase government transparency. DOH!

But I also thought, they could be taking their cue from cities like Janesville's online property search database where residents, stakeholders, city government and officials have enjoyed property ownership in complete secrecy for years and the local media rarely if ever reported on any public opposition to the questionable practice. Trying to follow the money in property purchases by the city government and its insiders is nearly an impossible task for citizen government watch dogs. Taking everybody out of the system under the justification of personal privacy is a poor excuse to hide the local government's property ownership and it's relationship to the taxrolls. But that's exactly how everyone seems to want it. With that said, most Janesville residents should find little wrong with the state legislators proposal to hide property ownership information.


Anonymous said...

You can still find out the names of property owners at the Rock County property tax search web page.

Lou Kaye said...

That's true, but then why doesn't Janesville do the same? And I'm not sure if everybody (including government owned, etc.) is identified on the Rock County web site. Holding open meetings and televising them is a good thing but only a small step toward transparency in government. Genuine transparency can only happen when governmental transactions are detailed and all the participants are identified. Without that, it is impossible to follow the money.

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