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Sunday, August 16, 2009

State pays over $81,500 to newspapers

The Wisconsin Department of Administration paid the Journal Sentinel $51,256 and the Lakeland Times of Minocqua $30,278 for wrongly withholding names of state employees in 2005, the Journal Sentinel reported. The money covers the newspapers' costs of lawsuits. The state unsuccessfully argued that it couldn't release names because of labor agreements with its union employees. The state (and thereby taxpayers) might pay more. The Supreme Cour ruling sent the case back to circuit court to detemine if the state has to pay the papers' legal bills during appeals from the unions. The records probably won't be released until then. A Dane County Circuit judge has ruled that the county will have to pay in an open records lawsuit brought by the Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal, WTMJ-TV and WISC-TV.
The state paid two newspapers more than $81,500 this week after improperly refusing to release the names of state employees.

The payments - which could climb higher because they don't include appeal costs - came as the Capital Times of Madison sued the state for delaying the release of public records related to judicial appointments.

An attorney representing the Capital Times said it seemed as if Gov. Jim Doyle's office was deliberately slow in providing the records, in hopes they would lose their news value. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Doyle suggested the Capital Times was trying to "pose as open records champions and cost the taxpayers some money over it."
More here.

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