Abele Wants $1,000 for His Emails—But He’d Never Charged a Fee When They Concerned Walker: UPDATED

May. 2, 2013
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Funny—when I’d file open records requests with Milwaukee County to look into the communications of the Walker administration, the county always provided them for no cost.

In fact, just a few weeks ago, the county mailed me a disc with more than 2,000 pages of documents sent to and from Walker’s campaign and county emails. Not a penny was charged. Not even for postage.

But suddenly the price of responding to open records requests has jumped.

Perhaps it’s because they concern Count Executive Chris Abele, his spokesman, Brendan Conway, and his favorite county supervisor, Deanna Alexander

I’ve been informed that the Shepherd will be charged almost $1,000 just to locate the Abele-related records. The cost of copying them is extra.

My requests were pretty simple, too. I just wanted to see all of the communications between Abele, Alexander and Conway and the folks who have been pushing for the state-imposed “reform” of Milwaukee County—Joe Sanfelippo, Joe Rice, Charlie Sykes, Aaron Rodriguez, Dan Bice, Mark Belling and Jim Bohl.

There should be quite a few of them. I’ve seen snippets of emails that Abele and Alexander have sent to Sanfelippo, Sykes and Co., and Conway, allegedly Abele’s spokesman, also wrote a press release for Alexander, allegedly a member of the board of supervisors, regarding “her” proposal for a county audit.

(See the always excellent Capper and Cory Liebmann for more about Abele's emails.)  

In fact, Alexander even bcc’ed Sanfelippo, Sykes, Conway and Co. on an email she sent to me regarding her grandstanding statement on the county’s medical examiner’s testimony during the Derek Williams inquest. Who knows what other county matters she's sending on to the right-wing gasbag machine.

How insecure—or devious—can you get?

So while it may turn up a multitude of records, it sounds like an easy search to me. In fact, I could probably do it myself if I had access to their taxpayer-funded computers.

But apparently Abele wants to charge $1,000 to cough up records that should be available to anyone who asks.

He is, after all, a public servant.

He’s not the king.

And if he wanted to show that his administration doesn’t respond to reporters’ open records requests in a politically biased manner, he’d be consistent and release these documents for free.

UPDATE: I've just been informed that the cost of responding to my ORRs is so high because I asked for "all" communications, not simply emails. Well, frankly, I always ask for "all" communications when I submit an open records request. (The only recent one, the request that resulted in 2K+ pages from the Walker years, was limited to emails because I wanted to see the county emails that were sent to his campaign account.)

I've asked what will happen if I simply limit my request to the emails from Abele, Alexander and Conway. I haven't heard back yet...

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