Court Election Reform in the Spotlight

In this update: 1. Panel calls for reform of high court elections 2. Action Alert: Urge support for new disclosure rules 3. Open government laws not always followed 4. Taverns in a league of their own 5. Talk radio’s underbelly Court Election Reform in the Spotlight

Email date: 11/19/08

In this update:
1. Panel calls for reform of high court elections
2. Action Alert: Urge support for new disclosure rules
3. Open government laws not always followed
4. Taverns in a league of their own
5. Talk radio’s underbelly

Last night’s forum on justice, money and politics at the UW Law School drew a near-capacity crowd to one of the school’s largest lecture halls. State Supreme Court justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Patrick Crooks offered their thoughts on the state of the judiciary and ways to improve public awareness of and confidence in Wisconsin’s highest court. They were joined by Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe and Wisconsin State Journal editorial page editor Scott Milfred, an advocate of doing away with contested Supreme Court elections and replacing them with an appointment process known as "merit selection."

To read some of the news coverage of the event, go here, here and here.

Milwaukee Public Radio aired a lengthy story Monday about how the 2009 Supreme Court race is shaping up. To listen, go here.

______________________________________________________________

One of the focal points of the discussion at the Law School was the need for disclosure of special interest campaigning. The state Government Accountability Board’s recent approval of new disclosure rules for so-called "issue ad" campaigns was frequently mentioned. Newspapers like the Green Bay Press-Gazette and Eau Claire Leader-Telegram also have weighed in recently on the GAB’s action.

Now it’s your turn. Take action and contact the governor and your state legislators and let them know where you stand on the need for disclosure of special interest electioneering in state elections.

______________________________________________________________

Wisconsin has been known for having some of the nation’s strongest open records and open meetings laws. But even the best open government laws aren’t worth much if they are not obeyed. And as the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council reported today, these laws are not always being faithfully followed.

Democracy Campaign research director Mike Buelow is a member of the council.

______________________________________________________________

As influential lobbying groups go, the Tavern League of Wisconsin may not be in a class by itself, but it doesn’t take long to call the roll. Fox 6 in Milwaukee took a close look at the tavern industry’s political influence. To watch the story, go here and click on the November 11 story about the Tavern League.

______________________________________________________________

Milwaukee Magazine has caused quite a stir with the feature story in its latest edition. It’s about the talk radio business in our state’s largest city. Must-read stuff.

The magazine has been alternately cheered and blasted for publishing the article. Editor Bruce Murphy posted a spirited defense yesterday.