Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

The witness’ motive


In this morning’s Waukesha Freeman (just a buck on Saturday), Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima said people should question my motives for referring to Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel the open records issue with Waukesha Business Improvement District (BID) President Norm Bruce.

Scrima said, “Since Mr. Bruce turned over the records free of charge, people should question the motives of Mr. Wigderson.”

I am going to assume that Scrima did not know of Bruce’s alleged attempt to inflate the cost of requesting open records when Scrima made that statement. My motive in this matter, as it is in in anything, is to get to the truth. When a public official makes that more difficult unnecessarily and possibly maliciously, then I have obligations to do my part to ensure that the public has full access to public records.

I don’t want to keep referring open records matters to the District Attorney anymore than Schimel wants to see a referral from me in his inbox. The simple solution is to just provide the records that I have legally requested.

The BID Vice President Lynn Gaffey did. So did Kerry Mackay and Ron Lostetter. When they had questions about what I asked, I answered them.

But taking copies of records that I requested over to Quickprint to make more copies and then ask them to charge a higher price  is going to get you an interview with the district attorney, and it almost caused a lawsuit to be filed by my attorney Mike Maistelman. As Maxwell Smart would have said, it missed going to court by that much.

As for Bruce’s novel contention that he thought he was supposed to charge me $.25/page, nowhere in the emails he sent to me does he ever say that, something the District Attorney will take into account in the investigation. Instead, Bruce attempted to justify the charge by factoring in how much time he spent on answering the request, even though I told him that was illegal.

So either Bruce is lying now (likely) and/or he was lying then (also likely). But both statements cannot be true.

When we question motives, we might have a clue to Bruce’s motivation, Mayor Jeff Scrima’s attitude towards “bloggers and troublemakers.” Scrima’s appointment to the BID, it turns out, is only as good as the person who made the appointment.

The Waukesha Freeman reports that Bruce may be subject to a $1000 fine. Here’s the actual penalty under the law:

(4) PENALTY. Any authority which or legal custodian under s. 19.33 who arbitrarily and capriciously denies or delays response to a request or charges excessive fees may be required to forfeit not more than $ 1,000. Forfeitures under this section shall be enforced by action on behalf of the state by the attorney general or by the district attorney of any county where a violation occurs. In actions brought by the attorney general, the court shall award any forfeiture recovered together with reasonable costs to the state; and in actions brought by the district attorney, the court shall award any forfeiture recovered together with reasonable costs to the county.

Bruce could potentially be required to reimburse the county for the time spent investigating the alleged violation. In addition, the BID may have questions about Bruce’s continued role as president.

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