The Wisconsin State Legislature is one of three state legislatures to win the second annual Black Hole Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. The coveted award is given in recognition of "the most heinous violations of the public's right to know. " The Badger State was an underdog in the competition, given its long-time reputation for clean and open government. The controlling GOP majority faced a daunting task. But with mad ferocity and the sense of purpose of true ideologues, they managed to (mostly) shut out the public and nail down the award. Among their accomplishments, according to the SPJ:
The Wisconsin State Legislature ignored the state's open meetings law in hastily passing a collective bargaining bill in March 2011, then successfully urged the state supreme court to exempt it from this law.And that's not even including the blag plastic trashbags taped over the windows in the door to the Assembly chamber, put there to obstruct the view of representatives conducting their infamous "war on women."
Additionally, tasked with redrawing voter boundaries based on the 2010 Census, the legislature's Republican leadership hammered out new maps behind closed doors, even having their members sign secrecy agreements. The maps were unveiled less than a week before the only public hearing on the bills, which promptly passed. Afterward, the leaders fought court orders to release records showing what they had done, drawing an uncommonly sharp rebuke from a federal judge.
The Wisconsin legislature also passed a law barring even police from knowing who may be carrying concealed weapons. And while opening the state capitol to these weapons, it cracked down on the use of cameras by citizens in the state assembly.
It's not a true black hole, of course. Gravity keeps everything from escaping from a real black hole, even light. This is more like a rusty, leaky black hole, spewing toxic sludge in the form of divisiveness, bad policies and worse laws. The legislature needs to be fixed. The repair job starts this June in the recalls and will continue until it's finished in the November election.