-By John Nichols
May 26, 2011- When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Republican allies in the state legislature panicked in the face of mass demonstrations opposing their attempt to strip state, county and municipal employees and public school teachers of their collective bargaining rights, they hurriedly called a legislative conference committee and then the state Senate into action and passed a version of the law. The Republicans wanted to act quickly, on a cold night when Democratic senators were outside the Capitol and the crowds were at home. But they neglected to honor the most basic principle of open government in a state that has prided itself for its commitment to transparency: the people are their representatives must be given proper notice when the legislature is in session and acting on matters of general concern.
That failure to respect not just the state’s Open Meetings law but the state’s historic commitment to open and honest governance tripped Walker and his compatriots up.