Madison — 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.
It appears that the state delayed the release of records in two separate instances:
The state Department of Administration this week paid the Journal Sentinel $51,256 and the Lakeland Times of Minocqua $30,278 after the state Supreme Court ruled last month the state was wrong to withhold the names of employees in 2005. The state argued it couldn’t release the names because of labor agreements with its union employees.
I am not sure why the state took this position. Who would think that contracts with unions would trump the open records laws? Perhaps any excuse is better than none?