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4/14/2010 3:53:00 PM
Times sues Sen. Mark Miller for open records violation
11 weeks pass without response to open records request
Sen. Mark Miller
Sen. Mark Miller

Richard Moore
Investigative Reporter


The Lakeland Times has filed an open records lawsuit against Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) over an open records request, Times' publisher Gregg Walker has announced.

On Jan. 15, the newspaper made a request for specific records, which Miller acknowledged in a Jan. 25 letter. However, in his response, Miller neither denied the request nor said he would fulfill it.

Nearly three months - 11 weeks - has passed without any further communication from the senator, and that, Walker said, amounts to a violation of the law.

"Sen. Miller needed to deny the request citing a specific statute, or he needed to provide the records," Walker said. "He has done neither. We are patient, but it is clear that his delay is a tactic to evade the state's open records law."

The Times' attorney, Robert Dreps of Godfrey & Kahn, filed the complaint Wednesday afternoon.

The request

The Times sent the request Jan. 15.

In the letter, the newspaper requested all electronic and written correspondence between Miller and any member of his staff and Tia Nelson, the executive director of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, Natural Resources Board member Jonathan Ela, DNR deputy secretary Pat Henderson, and the Gathering Waters Conservancy.

The Times made similar requests to the DNR and Nelson. Both the DNR and Nelson have complied.

In addition, the newspaper sought all electronic and written correspondence to or from Miller or any member of his staff that pertained to Stewardship access requirements in the 2009 budget bill or to the Stewardship access rule the DNR is now promulgating.

In his response, Miller neither denied the request or fulfilled it but said he was reviewing it.

"I am in the process of reviewing your request and and determining how best to proceed with my response," Miller wrote. "Because the request appears to be quite extensive and because each member of my office has a variety of duties in addition to responding to requests it may take some time to complete a response."

Miller said he did intend to respond, but Walker said the passing of nearly three months is not acceptable.

"This is an obvious attempt to deny a request by delaying it," Walker said. "We are dealing with timely matters, and we believe the senator is simply stalling until those matters pass."

The complaint

In the complaint, The Times claims that a denial of public access can only be made in an exceptional case and this is not an exceptional case.

The complaint also asserts that state statutes require a response "as soon as practicable and without delay."

"Senator Miller's delay in responding to the newspaper's request has the same effect as a denial," the complaint states. "It has caused and will continue to cause injury to the plaintiffs by depriving them and the rest of the public of their rights under the Open Records law."

Richard Moore can be reached at rmmoore1@verizon.net.



Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Article comment by: butch

I have met NR miller before and didnt care for his ego then so its no wonder what he is pulling,
And for Mr M--quit whining--if you dont like it read a different newspaper! Republicans! jeez!!


Posted: Sunday, April 18, 2010
Article comment by: S

I can't run I'm to ugly and I don't own a suit anymore.

Chill dude, sounds like your meds are wearing off.


Posted: Friday, April 16, 2010
Article comment by: M

Dear S.

Step up or shut up. You can run and try to do something, or sit on your computer and whine.

BTW: The Times would NEVER sue a Republican...just saying.


Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010
Article comment by: S

Yes sir, Sen. Mark Miller. Typical politician, Good looking, well dressed, always has a smile on his face and absolutely worthless.



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