Transparency in government is vital to a healthy democracy. Wisconsin has a long tradition of openness with regard to public meetings and records, including what may be the nation’s first state records law, enacted in 1849.
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has put together a great resource guide for understanding the state’s open meetings and public records laws.
Aaron Key wasn’t sure he wanted a tattoo on his neck. Especially one of a giant squid smoking a joint.
But the guys running Squid’s Smoke Shop in Portland, Ore., convinced him: It would be a perfect way to promote their store.
They would even pay him and a friend $150 apiece if they agreed to turn their bodies into walking billboards.
Key, who is mentally disabled, was swayed.
He and his friend, Marquis Glover, liked Squid’s. It was their hangout. The 19-year-olds spent many afternoons there playing Xbox and chatting with the owner, “Squid,” and the store clerks.
So they took the money and got the ink etched on their necks, tentacles creeping down to their collarbones.
It would be months before the young men learned the whole thing was a setup. The guys running Squid’s were actually undercover ATF agents conducting a sting to get guns away from criminals and drugs off the street.
The tattoos had been sponsored by the U.S. government; advertisements for a fake storefront.
The teens found out as they were arrested and booked into jail.
Read more from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s outstanding report here.
One of my very favorite episodes of This American Life:
A professor in Pennsylvania makes a calculation, to discover that his state is sitting atop a massive reserve of natural gas—enough to revolutionize how America gets its energy. But another professor in Pennsylvania does a different calculation and reaches a troubling conclusion: that getting natural gas out of the ground poses a risk to public health. Two men, two calculations, and two very different consequences
Google, the tech giant supposedly guided by its “don’t be evil” motto, has been funding a growing list of groups advancing the agenda of the Koch brothers.
Organizations that received “substantial” funding from Google for the first time over the past year include Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union (best known for its CPAC conference), and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation that led the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act: Heritage Action.
Detective Rodolfo Gomez Jr. is currently suspended from the Milwaukee Police Department for beating a handcuffed suspect. He also has a lengthy history of disturbing behavior. And he, like 4 other officers currently suspended for disciplinary problems, has filed a duty disability claim that would allow him to continue receiving 75% of his salary, tax-free, despite being suspended.
Train maker Talgo Inc. filed a nearly $66 million claim against Wisconsin on Thursday, saying the money is owed after Gov. Scott Walker acted in bad faith in deciding to abandon a high-speed rail line connecting Milwaukee and Madison.
“You don’t want this headline. You really don’t. You don’t want this headline, you don’t want the story, you don’t want the hassle that’s about to happen.”—Democratic State Senator Jon Erpenbach, promising to give Wisconsin Republicans “all out hell” if they proceed with their plan to approve two new anti-abortion bills next Tuesday.
“Nearly 900,000 people in Wisconsin will have a harder time putting food on the table starting in November, when a temporary boost to FoodShare, Wisconsin’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), ends. Notwithstanding the looming reductions, the House of Representatives has proposed another substantial cut as part of the Farm Bill. The across-the-board cuts in November will reduce the food assistance by $89 million for struggling Wisconsin families in fiscal year 2014 alone. Cuts of that magnitude will cause significant pain for low-income families and hurt Wisconsin’s economy.”—Wisconsin Budget Project
Everyone knows you can’t always believe what you read, but sometimes even official documents aren’t a path to the truth. This week we have stories of people whose lives are altered when seemingly boring documents like birth certificates and petitions are used against them.
Act Three of the most recent episode of This American Life is about Scott Walker’s administration (and other random tea partiers) using the Wisconsin recall petition against people. I highly recommend listening to it.
Kelly Dwyer, 27, has been missing since the morning of October 11th. Her boyfriend, who police say may have been the last person to see her before she disappeared, has been arrestedtwice since then on unrelated charges. Anyone with information is asked to call Milwaukee Police Sensitive Crimes: (414) 935-7405.
It’s a topic so hot in Wisconsin, no one involved with it can talk about it. A wide-ranging investigation, a special prosecutor, and the cloak of secrecy. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this week that a former federal prosecutor had been appointed to lead a “John Doe investigation” into state-level issues in Wisconsin, including the 2011 and 2012 recall elections. And this John Doe investigation reportedly grew out of an earlier John Doe probe, which closed in March after snaring six former aides and associates of Gov. Scott Walker (R). But hang on a second. What exactly is a John Doe investigation? For those outside Wisconsin, the term may be unfamiliar, and with good reason. Wisconsin may be the only state that uses them.