John K. Enger: Governor must embrace openness

John K. Enger: Governor must embrace openness

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My wife and I have been avid supporters of Gov. Tony Evers and we were hopeful that his election would signal the return to good government in this state.

However, we have been deeply disappointed with his recent response to newspaper requests for documents pertaining to the operation of his office.

Wisconsin statutes on public records are clear, as seen in the statement of policy under the law: “[A]n essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of officers and employees whose responsibility it is to provide such information. To that end, ss. 19.32 to 19.37 (the public records law) shall be construed in every instance with a presumption of complete public access, consistent with the conduct of governmental business. The denial of public access generally is contrary to the public interest, and only in an exceptional case may access be denied. “

We both spent decades in state government through our jobs at UW-Stout and were keenly sensitive to our duties as public servants.

I personally attended numerous training sessions by the Attorney General pertaining to the law and in each meeting we were given the unambiguous message that the public had a right to know what work we were performing relative to our duties.

If requests for information under the public records law were inconvenient or bothersome then that was just too bad. Honor the requests or find another line of work.

We can expect no less in the performance of our governor than that required of all public servants. If Wisconsin is ever going to return to clean and open government, it must start at the top. Good luck, Gov. Evers, in fulfilling your election promises.

John K. Enger, Menomonie

John K. Enger retired in 2005 as executive director of university relations at UW-Stout.


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