On Sunday, August 14, after a night of unrest prompted by the fatal police shooting of a black man, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said his review of body camera video of the incident proved the officer had acted appropriately. “The individual did turn toward the officer with a firearm in his hand,” Flynn stated, later saying the man, 23-year-old Sylville Smith, “was raising up with” the gun. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said a still photo he was shown from the video “demonstrates, without question, that (Smith) had a gun in his hand.” In fact, Barrett declared, the officer “ordered that individual to drop his gun, the individual did not drop his gun.”
This purportedly exculpatory video itself was not promptly released, despite requests from Barrett and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that this occur. It still has not been released. But we know now that public officials did not give an accurate account of what it shows.
Victories in open government, spearheaded by investigative journalism and citizen activism in a year of unprecedented attacks on government transparency, were celebrated by journalists, members of the public and champions of public records laws at the sixth annual Watchdog Awards Wednesday evening in Madison.
Journalists, students and the public are invited for an innovative workshop at the University of Wisconsin-Madison focusing on investigative reporting techniques to hold the powerful accountable. The event will be held April 8 and 9 at the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St. It is being presented by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Investigative Reporters and Editors.
Nominations are being sought for the fifth annual Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award, recognizing an individual’s extraordinary contributions to open government or investigative journalism in Wisconsin.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative reporter Dave Umhoefer, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for his 2008 investigation into pension padding in Milwaukee County, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Distinguished WisconsinWatch.orgdog Award.
Nominations are being sought for the 2014 Distinguished WisconsinWatch.orgdog Award, presented annually to recognize an individual’s extraordinary contributions to open government or investigative journalism in Wisconsin.
To assess the DOA’s performance, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism analyzed the nearly 200 records requests the agency received in the first six months of 2012. The analysis found the DOA took an average of 24 days to provide records or denials.
More than 4,000 applicants were denied a Wisconsin concealed carry license and more than 400 had their licenses revoked or suspended in the program’s first 14 months, records show. These included dozens of felons, domestic abusers, illegal drug users and “fugitives from justice.”
Public officials sometimes resist sharing the information that forms the path for their actions with citizens and taxpayers. But it’s not “their” business, it’s the public’s business. The public has every right to know the details of government operations.