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Political Warfare in WI

From the beginning of the brouhaha in Wisconsin over benefits for public sector employees and the issue of collective bargaining rights, I have been amenable to the argument that public sector employees should, especially in the context of substantial fiscal strain on the state, contribute more towards their benefits.  As such, the notion that teachers and other public sector employees should start contributing more toward their health insurance and their pensions struck me as reasonable, even knowing that such changes to take home pay (a figure I have seen reported as 8%) would be a challenge to family budgets.  I have also been amenable to the argument that public sectors unions may, indeed, have too cozy of a relationship with certain elected officials.  However, I must confess that while I understand the philosophical argument, I came away from the whole drama not all that convinced (and also think that a full conversation on this topic would require some discussion of the relationship between corporations and other groups with government as well–that, however, is a separate topic).

One thing that has vexed me from the beginning was the argument that curtailing collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin public sector employees  (excluding, of course, police, state troopers and firefighters) would mean immediate remedies to the state’s fiscal woes.  Throughout the debate I sought out such explanations, but could not find them.

Indeed, my fundamental position from the beginning was that compromise should have been more on Governor Walker’s agenda than it was—see, for example, my post Wisconsin and Practical Politics (Not to Mention Compromise).

The way events unfolded, such as Republicans deciding that the striping of collective bargaining rights was actually more important than other fiscal considerations, led me to conclude (and this is no shock) that the whole thing was far more about ideology than it was about good governance or even simple fiscal issues.

A story that helps underscore this is the following story:  Abusing Open Records to Attack Academic Freedom.

Short version:  a history professor at Wisconsin, William Cronon, wrote a blog post about the fight in his state and the actors animating much of it.  The response has been for an official of the Republican Party of Wisconsin to file an open records request for Cronon’s e-mails (Cronon also wrote an op-ed in the NYT, that was published after the records request—so the below was triggered by a blog post):

******************************************

From: Stephan Thompson [mailto:SThompson@wisgop.org]
Sent: Thursday, March 17, 2011 2:37 PM
To: Dowling, John
Subject: Open Records Request

Dear Mr. Dowling,

Under Wisconsin open records law, we are requesting copies of the following items:

Copies of all emails into and out of Prof. William Cronon’s state email account from January 1, 2011 to present which reference any of the following terms: Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or Mary Bell.

We are making this request under Chapter 19.32 of the Wisconsin state statutes, through the Open Records law. Specifically, we would like to cite the following section of Wis. Stat. 19.32 (2) that defines a public record as “anything recorded or preserved that has been created or is being kept by the agency. This includes tapes, films, charts, photographs, computer printouts, etc.”

Thank you for your prompt attention, and please make us aware of any costs in advance of preparation of this request.

Sincerely,

Stephan Thompson

Republican Party of Wisconsin

608-257-4765

******************************************

I think James Fallows sums up this situation quite well with the following:

The reason this strikes me particularly hard at the moment: I am staying in a country where a lot of recent news concerns how far the government is going in electronic monitoring of email and other messages to prevent any group, notably including academics or students, from organizing in order to protest. I don’t like that any better in Madison than I do in Beijing.

The only reason to seek to look at a critic’s e-mails is the hope of intimidating that critic or hoping to find something embarrassing about said critic (with the ultimate goal of silencing said critic).  This all has absolutely noting to do with the state budget or even the philosophical legitimacy of public sector unions.  This is about ideology and one of the outgrows of ideology is often thuggery.  This should be roundly criticized.

I will conclude with portions of Cronon’s blog post in response to this situation:

My most important observation is that I find it simply outrageous that the Wisconsin Republican Party would seek to employ the state’s Open Records Law for the nakedly political purpose of trying to embarrass, harass, or silence a university professor (and a citizen) who has asked legitimate questions and identified potentially legitimate criticisms concerning the influence of a national organization on state legislative activity. I’m offended by this not just because it’s yet another abuse of law and procedure that has seemingly become standard operating procedure for the state’s Republican Party under Governor Walker, but because it’s such an obvious assault on academic freedom at a great research university that helped invent the concept of academic freedom way back in 1894.

[…]

Most of my professional colleagues will instantly recognize this request for access to a professor’s emails as a potential threat to academic freedom: an effort by a powerful political group—the Republican Party of my own state, no less—to seek weapons they can use against me. Most of us would feel at least a little nervous about giving someone carte blanche to rummage through our online communications, and in the academic world this raises special concerns because such inquiries have often in the past been used to suppress unpopular ideas.

Indeed.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Stan says:

    One of the sections in Governor Walker’s bill separates the Madison campus from the rest of the University of Wisconsin and gives the governor power to appoint six of the nine members of the Madison campus’s governing board. Walker’s previous record in student government at Marquette University, as a member of the Wisconsin legislature, and as chief executive of Milwaukee County shows that he plays to win. So if I were Professor Cronon I’d start preparing for trouble.

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  2. hey norm says:

    “Is asking to see a professor’s e-mails a legitimate open records request or is it an attempt at silencing a critic?”
    Yes. And yes.
    Dictum of the IT age…Don’t ever put anything into a computer that you wouldn’t want the entire world to see.

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  3. ponce says:

    Offhand, I can think of several wingnut professors whose government e-mail accounts I’d like to get a look at.

    Doesn’t box wine princess Althouse work at the same school as William Cronon?

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  4. mantis says:

    Glenn Reynolds works for a public university too. Freeloader. Let’s see his email!

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  5. DensityDuck says:

    I look forward to your explanation of why Sarah Palin shouldn’t have to respond to any FOIA requests regarding her tenure as the Governor of Alaska.

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  6. @DD:

    I look forward to your explanation of why Sarah Palin shouldn’t have to respond to any FOIA requests regarding her tenure as the Governor of Alaska.

    That is unlikely to be forthcoming. I think that there is a rather substantial difference between an elected official and a university professor.

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  7. @DD:

    Indeed, I should think that the difference would be obvious.

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  8. […] me @OTB:  Political Warfare in WI. addthis_url = 'http%3A%2F%2Fwww.poliblogger.com%2F%3Fp%3D19634'; addthis_title = […]

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  9. mantis says:

    I look forward to your explanation of why Sarah Palin shouldn’t have to respond to any FOIA requests regarding her tenure as the Governor of Alaska.

    Let’s also note that you didn’t argue that UWM or Cronon should not respond to the request, but rather criticized the request itself.

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  10. ponce says:

    “Glenn Reynolds works for a public university too. Freeloader. Let’s see his email!”

    And let’s not forget Newt Gingrich was a professor. I’d love to see his email account.

    How does one fill out the request?

    Can I just copy and paste the Republican’s request posted here?

    I’ll settle for Althouse’s account if it’s just a Wisconsin thing.

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  11. george says:

    That is unlikely to be forthcoming. I think that there is a rather substantial difference between an elected official and a university professor.

    Actually I’m against going after either – and I can see arguments going both ways on this (either that elected officials should be more open, or that a university professor’s should be more open).

    So I don’t actually see it being obvious that either, both, or none should be open to public scrutiny, unless you go at it from a particular philosophical viewpoint.

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  12. mantis says:

    So I don’t actually see it being obvious that either, both, or none should be open to public scrutiny, unless you go at it from a particular philosophical viewpoint.

    So you’re not into the whole transparency in government thing, then?

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  13. @mantis:

    Let’s also note that you didn’t argue that UWM or Cronon should not respond to the request, but rather criticized the request itself.

    True–although to be clear on my position, I think that the University and Cronon ought to fight the request for at least three reasons:

    1) I think it runs afoul of academic freedom.
    2) I think that it potentially runs afoul of FERPA (the federal law that protects privacy for students–more here)
    3) I think that there is an argument to be made that a .edu account maintained by a professor is actually as much a personal account as a professional one (although I myself started bifurcating my own e-mails some time back)

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  14. mantis says:

    I think that the University and Cronon ought to fight the request for at least three reasons:

    I agree, though I think people should stick to rebutting the arguments made, rather than arguments assumed. However, this one is assumed no more!

    1) I think it runs afoul of academic freedom.

    I’m not all that keen on this argument in this situation. I prefer to stay away from “chilling effect” arguments wherever possible.

    2) I think that it potentially runs afoul of FERPA (the federal law that protects privacy for students–more here)

    This is my biggest concern. If students think their professors’ emails can be made public at whim, they will be less likely to email them about sensitive or difficult issues. I know I would were I a student.

    3) I think that there is an argument to be made that a .edu account maintained by a professor is actually as much a personal account as a professional one (although I myself started bifurcating my own e-mails some time back)

    I suspect we’ll see some high level cases decided on the issue of employer provided email accounts, privacy, and FOIA in the near future. Hoping they go the right way…

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  15. george says:

    So you’re not into the whole transparency in government thing, then?

    I differentiate between personal and business transactions. Its the same thing as the difference between going through official paper letters as opposed to personal letters. Arguably gov’t employees (elected or otherwise) shouldn’t be using gov’t email for personal transactions, but that would apply equally to governors and professors.

    In terms of email, its exceedingly easy to forge, so I personally wouldn’t trust it to convict someone of jay walking, Its being used in this case just for intimidation, in the case of elected officials its typically used just to gain political mileage, neither of which strike me as being desirable.

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  16. george says:

    2) I think that it potentially runs afoul of FERPA (the federal law that protects privacy for students–more here)

    This is my biggest concern. If students think their professors’ emails can be made public at whim, they will be less likely to email them about sensitive or difficult issues. I know I would were I a student.

    How is that any different than a random citizen sending sensitive or difficult issues to an elected official?

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  17. How is that any different than a random citizen sending sensitive or difficult issues to an elected official?

    Well, perhaps most importantly, there is federal privacy protections attached to student-faculty communication (that’s what FERPA is).

    Second, there is no general presumption of privacy if I e-mail something to my congressmen. The professor-student relationship is different than the constituent-elected official one.

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  18. mantis says:

    How is that any different than a random citizen sending sensitive or difficult issues to an elected official?

    Well, it’s different because the relationship is completely different. Most citizens do not have regular personal interaction with elected officials, whereas professors do. Professors have a personal and vested interest in the success of all their individual students, while most elected officials represent far, far larger groups and personal attention is not expected. Further, there is an expectation of privacy when a student contacts a professor for help or advice. I don’t believe such an expectation exists when contacting public officials. And on top of all of that, most public officials are elected or appointed by elected officials. We expect our elected officials to be accountable and responsive in ways that don’t normally apply to other professions.

    And, as Stephen notes, there are laws protecting the privacy of students. No such laws exist, to my knowledge, protecting the privacy of citizen emails to elected officials.

    Let me just cite an hypothetical example which is based on an actual case I’m familiar with. Say a student is being stalked by someone, and has gone through great lengths to hide from that person. Part of this has entailed moving from one university to another. This student contacts a professor who expects his students to post some of their work online to explain her situation and why she cannot post identifying info on the web. What if that email became publicly available on the web? This student would have to uproot herself, yet again, to avoid a criminal.

    I can imagine no such scenarios involving an email to a governor or other elected official. I know sometimes people send their sob stories to officials, but that’s usually because they want attention for them, not the opposite.

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  19. Wiley Stoner says:

    Steven, what is exactly that difference between an elected official and a public money supported college prof? If the prof works for a state school or a state supported school, he is a public employee. In what universe do you live that employees are not responsible to those who sign there checks? WTF is wrong with your thinking? If you work for the public you are responsbile to that public. If you were educated in public schools, you should sue for malpractice. They failed to educate you.

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  20. george says:

    Well, perhaps most importantly, there is federal privacy protections attached to student-faculty communication (that’s what FERPA is)..

    If that’s the case, shouldn’t this whole request be a non-issue?

    As I said, my biggest concern in any case is how trivial it is to forge stored emails … I still find it hard to believe they can be used as evidence for anything.

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  21. mantis says:

    Email forgeries are easy to identify.

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  22. wr says:

    Wiley — If you go to a state hospital, should the communications between you and your doctor be made public? After all, the taxpayer signs the doctor’s check.

    Although I’d like you to show me the law that says anyone who works for any government agency gives up all right to privacy in exchange for the salary.

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  23. mantis says:

    Steven, what is exactly that difference between an elected official and a public money supported college prof

    Well, there’s that word “elected,” for one. There are many other differences.

    If the prof works for a state school or a state supported school, he is a public employee.

    So?

    In what universe do you live that employees are not responsible to those who sign there checks?

    Sorry, does Stephan Thompson sign William Cronon’s paychecks? He does not.

    If you work for the public you are responsbile to that public. forfeit all expectations of privacy.

    Fixed that for you.

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  24. PD Shaw says:

    FERPA protects education records, not necessarily communications. Professors are not doctors or lawyers or therapist that public policy promotes communication with the promises of special confidentiality. Perhaps a given e-mail might be an education record, but if it were all Dowling needs to do is produce the e-mails and black out student names, the e-mail address, social security numbers and student identification numbers.

    To me this sounds like someone doing something that is completely legal, but which we may not like the intended use. And it may be a pain in the butt for Dowling to threat between competing legal obligations. Which is the customary and normal outome when someone decides, there ought to be a law . . ..

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  25. PD Shaw says:

    threat = thread

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  26. mantis says:

    FERPA protects education records, not necessarily communications.

    This is true. The definition is quite broad, but so are the exceptions:

    (4) (A) For the purposes of this section, the term “education records” means, except as may be provided otherwise in subparagraph (B), those records, files, documents, and other materials which–

    (i) contain information directly related to a student; and
    (ii) are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution.

    (B) The term “education records” does not include–
    (i) records of instructional, supervisory, and administrative personnel and educational personnel ancillary thereto which are in the sole possession of the maker thereof and which are not accessible or revealed to any other person except a substitute;
    (ii) records maintained by a law enforcement unit of the educational agency or institution that were created by that law enforcement unit for the purpose of law enforcement.

    (iii) in the case of persons who are employed by an educational agency or institution but who are not in attendance at such agency or institution, records made and maintained in the normal course of business which relate exclusively to such person in that person’s capacity as an employee and are not available for use for any other purpose; or

    (iv) records on a student who is eighteen years of age or older, or is attending an institution of postsecondary education, which are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in his professional or paraprofessional capacity, or assisting in that capacity, and which are made, maintained, or used only in connection with the provision of treatment to the student, and are not available to anyone other than persons providing such treatment, except that such records can be personally reviewed by a physician or other appropriate professional of the student’s choice.

    It seems to me that through B(i), an email to a professor would not be classified as an education record under FERPA. Not positive about that, though.

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  27. george says:

    Email forgeries are easy to identify.

    Not up to date on that; last time I looked several years ago the method was mainly statistical, which is pretty easy to defeat. Perhaps they have better methods now. And replacing the files (or deleting them) is notoriously easy, as is the whole path chain.

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  28. Is asking to see a professor’s e-mails a legitimate open records request or is it an attempt at silencing a critic? If the answer was ‘both’ I would not be surprised.

    On the topic of organized labor or ‘big labor’, when have unions supported or opposed any issue from something other than a self-serving interest? Many people earn their living with the understanding their income stream is always at risk from situations outside their control. It seems that unions believe their members, including leadership, are exempt from this fact.

    One can criticize politicians, employers, the wealthy, Wall Street and all the other currently acceptable villains. They all can be defined as ‘special interest’ at some point and so can unions.

    It’s time to fix our ailing nation. We can get back to the petty adversarial relationships after that task is complete.

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  29. mantis says:

    Not up to date on that; last time I looked several years ago the method was mainly statistical, which is pretty easy to defeat. Perhaps they have better methods now. And replacing the files (or deleting them) is notoriously easy, as is the whole path chain.

    Excuse me, I’ll elaborate slightly. Email forgeries are easy to identify with access to the email server in question. In this situation, access is assured.

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  30. george says:

    Excuse me, I’ll elaborate slightly. Email forgeries are easy to identify with access to the email server in question. In this situation, access is assured.

    Typically the forgery chain starts on the server. Both the hackers and the system security people are specialists, but the odds are usually on the side of the hacker because of all the human errors the system security people have to defend against.

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  31. mantis says:

    Typically the forgery chain starts on the server.

    I don’t think this is true. If you’re referring to hacking someone’s account and sending out fraudulent emails, that’s a different story, but that’s not forgery. That’s a legitimate account being controlled by someone other than the owner.

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  32. wr says:

    Stanford Matthews — One major feature of working in a unionized company is precisely that you are able to lessen the risk to your income from situations outside your control. What I’m trying to understand is why you seem to believe this is a bad thing. We all seek to accomplish this, and joining a union is just one method.

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  33. george says:

    I don’t think this is true. If you’re referring to hacking someone’s account and sending out fraudulent emails, that’s a different story, but that’s not forgery. That’s a legitimate account being controlled by someone other than the owner.

    Okay, perhaps ‘typically’ is overstating it, as spoofing is more common, as is account hacking. But server hacking tends to the method of choice for experienced hackers; that for instance is what seems to have been the attack on Yahoo in China.

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  34. tom p says:

    On the topic of organized labor or ‘big labor’, when have unions supported or opposed any issue from something other than a self-serving interest? Many people earn their living with the understanding their income stream is always at risk from situations outside their control. It seems that unions believe their members, including leadership, are exempt from this fact.

    Stafford, that is why unions exist… My income stream is ALWAYS at risk (I work in the only bizz where I know, as soon as I am hired, that I am working myself out of a job) (construction). I have a union to minimize this fact. (or as I like to think of it: Maximize the benefits of it…”) Why is that a problem?

    Because the guys who sign my check want to hire me and fire me with a minimum of responsibility? And you blame me for saying “FU!”????

    Really, I don’t get you guys.

    Must be nice to live in your comfortable world of gauranteed paychecks

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  35. wr says:

    There’s only one way to get a guaranteed paycheck, and that’s to buy a congressman. Or, in Wisconsin, a governor…

    Oh, wait, I forgot. In Wisconsin you only need to have sex with a Republican politician. Then you’re guaranteed a cushy job that pays at least 150% of what the last person who held it got…

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  36. Max Lybbert says:

    It’s obviously a ham-handed approach. The good news is that abuse of open records laws for is so obvious that most states’ open records laws have exceptions things like this.

    At least that’s my assumption, given that FOIA has such exceptions, and I believe most states have modeled their laws on FOIA.

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  37. Stan says:

    This just in – a Wisconsin agency published the law today despite a stay issued by a judge pending an appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and Governor Walker and his legislative henchmen have not proclaimed that it’s in effect. Judges, judges, we don’t need no stinking judges! We’re Republicans! We’re above the law!

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  38. just me says:

    To me this sounds like someone doing something that is completely legal, but which we may not like the intended use.

    This is where I am at. I think the man works for a government organization and the records probably are subject to FOIA. There are all sorts of paid employees in government agencies, so I don’t think being paid verses elected should make a difference.

    However I do think the request is definitely an attempt at intimidation,.

    So I would argue it is probably a legal use of the law and the professor will likely have to comply, but I also think it is an application of the law that leaves most of us uncomfortable.

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  39. sam says:

    It’s nothing more than a political SLAPP suit.

    Asshats.

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  40. I thank readers for responding to my comment and am sorry I could not get back before now.

    I’m sure you have read about excessive perks granted unions. I’m sure you have read about excessive actions of employers. Without addressing employer excesses right now, organized labor regularly makes demands upon employers that do not take into account the cost of operating the business. An example would be COLA. Demanding an automatic pay raise equal to a cost of living estimate does not recognize several factors. A business may not be able to meet this arbitrary increase based on revenue and expenses. They may not be able to pass that additional expense to their customers based on what their competitors are able to do.

    And I see a widespread opposition to notions like merit pay that may support my contention union demands are always self-serving. What I mean by that is they rarely if ever take into account other factors that may weigh on an employer’s ability to concede an argument.

    For the reader who replied about ‘construction.’ I made my living in maintenance and construction for many years. Yes, make hay while the sun shines. It will always come to an end. That is part of my point. Supply and demand being a basic economic principle suggests that employers and employees alike are subject to these forces.

    For unions to demand concessions that hope to eliminate the downside of these forces at the employers’ expense is unrealistic. Everyone who earns a living must deal with downturns as an individual. That is why I no longer work in construction or similar occupations that are often affected by that trend.

    I hope this clarifies my earlier point but being a rushed first draft with no allowance for serious preparation in the style of a rigorous debate it may easily fail to convince.

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  41. […] ‘Political Warfare in WI,’ Outside the Beltway, 25 March. […]

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  42. wr says:

    “And I see a widespread opposition to notions like merit pay that may support my contention union demands are always self-serving. What I mean by that is they rarely if ever take into account other factors that may weigh on an employer’s ability to concede an argument.”

    Of course that’s the case — because it is the role of the union to advocate for the workers, not for the owners. And again, I don’t understand your objection here. You seem to be saying that the union should be taking the employer’s side of the argument, and that because they don’t, they are harming businesses.

    I’d say that in most negotiations the employer has greater power than even unionized workers. They are completely able to make their own arguments in their favor. Then the unions take up the other side of the argument. Ideally, the two sides compromise at a point which gives each side some of what it needs.

    And if union demands are too great, then the company can say no. If they don’t, it’s probably because they believe the benefits of the new agreement outweigh the costs.

    When you show me an employer who negotiates with only the well-being of his workers in mind, I will have to agree that it’s wrong for unions to make addiitonal demands. Until then, the system as you describe it seems pretty fair. Too bad that the owners have spent the last forty years bribing politicians to make organizing harder.

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  43. Moderate Mom says:

    Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Professor’s school email address belong to the school, not to the Professor in a private capacity? Also, I think I remember reading somewhere (probably in relation to the Doctors associated with the University Hospital that were handing out sick notes at the Capitol protests) that conducting political activity on school owned email accounts was prohibited. If that is the case, and the Professor was conducting political activity related to the collective bargaining bill on his school provided email account, wouldn’t that place him not only in violation of the University’s stated email account rules, but also make him subject to the open records inquiry as well?

    I will be the first to day that anything he writes on a personal email account is nobody’s business, but on a school provided email account, I think the Republicans are within their rights to make the open records request.

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  44. mantis says:

    If that is the case, and the Professor was conducting political activity related to the collective bargaining bill on his school provided email account, wouldn’t that place him not only in violation of the University’s stated email account rules, but also make him subject to the open records inquiry as well?

    There is no reason to believe he used his university email account for anything political. The request was made in response to a post on his private blog.

    I will be the first to day that anything he writes on a personal email account is nobody’s business, but on a school provided email account, I think the Republicans are within their rights to make the open records request.

    Then why don’t they request all Wisconsin public university professors’ accounts? If you’re going fishing, might as well fish big.

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  45. @Moderate Mom:

    Part of the problem is that there is no evidence whatsoever that Cronon was using his Wisc e-mail account for anything political. Rather, he wrote a private blog post on a non-university server and the state GOP didn’t like its content, so they decided to harass Cronon.

    In regards to this:

    Also, I think I remember reading somewhere (probably in relation to the Doctors associated with the University Hospital that were handing out sick notes at the Capitol protests) that conducting political activity on school owned email accounts was prohibited.

    Cronon is a professor of history–hence the issue of sick notes is not connected to this issue.

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  46. Max Lybbert says:

    If that is the case, and the Professor was conducting political activity related to the collective bargaining bill on his school provided email account, wouldn’t that place him not only in violation of the University’s stated email account rules, but also make him subject to the open records inquiry as well?

    I generally agree with you on this point (remember Palin’s personal email, after all). But if the question is “did the professor do something wrong” then the university needs to investigate, not a politician. Open records law isn’t about violations of state policies, or the state monitoring its employees the way most employers do.

    Open records law is about making things available to the public when it makes sense to. Some information shouldn’t be public (contract negotiations, personal information, legal advice to the state, or ongoing police investigations, for instance). I am positive that Wisconsin’s open records law will provide several ways to deny this request.

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  47. Xenos says:

    The Wisc. open records law has a pretty fuzzy balancing test that the custodian of records has to follow when evaluating requests. There is a recent Wisc. Supreme Court case that holds that a teacher’s private emails on the state system are not public records. So while there could be a violation of rules or even the law if inappropriate things were done on the state-controlled email system, a FOIA is not going to get the emails released.

    These issues are clearer where the law gives specific exemptions… see the Indiana law as a good example. These balancing tests seem like a good way to keep lawyers employed, though.

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  48. […] Political Warfare in WI (outsidethebeltway.com) […]

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  49. sam says:

    Here’s a link to case Xenos cites above: http://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=52285

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  50. […] Part of it is the death throes of the unions, who are rapidly losing popularity, and the right is too stupid to realize they could solve the whole problem by making the US union optional.  We are also seeing a problem in the way that Ron Paul is organizing his college age supporters.  We are seeing it in Wisconsin. […]

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  51. […] ‘Political Warfare in WI,’ Outside the Beltway, 25 March. […]

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