SEN. ERPENBACH'S BALANCING TEST
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach came to talk to our editorial
board Monday, clearly unhappy with our criticism of
him for a state Appeals Court ruling that he had violated
the state's open records law. He didn't change our
opinion. But he made some important and, frankly,
troubling points that bear some further discussion.
Erpenbach disagrees with the ruling and genuinely
feels his office's policy of redacting the names of
every citizen who contacts the office is consistent
with the balancing test included in the state law.
That issue may not be finally resolved without further
appeals or legislative action. But Erpenbach's greater
point is the depths to which politics has sunk that
make his protection of his constituents' privacy so
important to him. He sees lists being compiled for
reasons of political payback. He is really worried
about that and we respect that. We're just not sure
the danger rises to the level of interpreting the
open records law to allow withholding information
about citizens contacting their elected officials.
But it is a reality of politics today and it is a
danger that has to be addressed. And we'd like to
work with the Senator on addressing it.