Wisconsin board backs away from open records rule changes

Wisconsin officials backed away Thursday from a move to cut back on record-keeping requirements amid a backlash by open government advocates.

The board that oversees state public records will instead revisit its August vote changing the definition of so-called transitory records, such as texts and other messages deemed to have only temporary value. Gov. Scott Walker's administration has used the changes to deny requests for text messages and records of visits to the governor's mansion.

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Wisconsin Public Records Board head: We didn’t change transitory records definition

The head of the state's Public Records Board said it did not change the meaning of a "transitory" record at its August meeting.

Matt Blessing, an archivist with the Wisconsin Historical Society and chairman of the Public Records Board, said the board did not change its policy at the meeting, but rather expanded the description of what constitutes a "transitory" record including more specific examples to guide staff in training and orientation.

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Open records expert: State wrong on Hill Farms case

Open government advocates are blasting a move by the Walker administration to withhold the names of some 40 parties who toured the Hill Farms site last month in advance of a sale and redevelopment of the 21-acre property.

“Is the state contending that the parties seeking a slice of this multi-million dollar pie will lose their appetite if their identities are revealed prior to the completion of negotiations?” says Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

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