Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Whalen Shoots.....He BORES!

School Board president John Whalen has responded to community resident Roger Fetterly's Open Records request.  For the second time, Fetterly's request has been denied.  What exactly is Whalen hiding?  Clearly he fears the public being informed.  Whalen's response is a beaten road. It's tired. It lacks imagination.  Frankly, it's boring.

TO:    Roger Fetterly

FROM:  John Whalen, School Board President

DATE:  February 8, 2011

RE:    Open Records Request


Thank you for your email of February 7, 2011, to me.  In your email, you renew your previous open records request from January 23,2011. That request was to inspect a document you referred to as “6 Employment Contract Proposals” that Dr. Culver submitted to the School Board for its consideration. When I responded to your earlier request on January 24, 2011, I confirmed the existence of the document, but I declined your request to inspect the document at that time. We have consulted with legal counsel in regard to your request.  Our response to your renewed request is the same as when we previously responded. We decline to release the requested record for inspection at this time.

The process of negotiations between Dr. Culver and the School Board has not concluded. The Board continues to work with Dr. Culver to address possible changes to his employment contract with the School District under Section 118.24, Wis. Stats. This matter differs significantly from the release of labor union initial proposals referenced in your most recent email as those proposals, from each party, are required to be presented in an open session under Wisconsin law. See Section 111.70 (4) (cm) 2. Wis. Stats. No such requirement exists for administrative contract negotiations. 

As stated in my earlier email to you, we do not believe that it is appropriate, at this time, to release the requested material while these negotiations are in process. Contrary to your assertion I have considered the public interest in allowing the inspection of the requested material versus the public interest in allowing the school board to complete its statutory responsibility under Section 118.24 Wis. Stats. to contract with a school district administrator.

To release the requested material at this time, would unduly interfere with the negotiation process. In particular:
1.      The release of this information at this time would discourage the free and open exchange of contract ideas between the Board and it primary administrative officer, said exchange being essential to the success of the negotiation process.
2.      The release of the information at this time would negatively affect the negotiation environment by subjecting the process to outside influence by persons and or groups who are not a party to the contract, and this in turn may negatively impact discussions that are essential to completion of the process..

Withholding this information, at this time, is supported by Section 19.85(1)(c) and (e), which are indicative of public policy where I have, as here, made a specific demonstration that there is a need to restrict public access at the time the request to inspect the record is made.  See Section 19.35(1)(a), Wis. Stats.

The record information that you have requested will be available once the negotiation process described above is concluded.  The records are not, however, available at this time, given the ongoing process of negotiation.

The law requires that I inform you that, because your request for a record was made in writing, our determination to not release the record at this time is subject to review by mandamus under Section 19.37(1), Wis. Stats., or upon application to the Attorney General or a district attorney.  See Section 19.35(4), Wis. Stats.

Thank you for your continuing interest in the Sun Prairie Area School District.


Whalen's playing a dangerous game here...virtually daring someone to challenge his decision.  It certainly appears that this is WHALEN'S decision...not that of the board.  As usual...we have so very many questions...

1. If the "negotiations" are not complete...and since there are no closed sessions scheduled between now and the board meeting on Monday Feb 14th...then Culver's contract cannot be part of the agenda...right?

2. So...let us get this straight...Whalen can't share Culver's proposals because it would subject them to "outside influence".  EXCUSE US!  But aren't WE the ones that the board represents?  Don't WE have a right to know what exactly the board is negotiating FOR US?

3.  Does anybody else feel like this is just a little too cozy?  After a closed door session 2 weeks ago, NOTHING has transpired.  That doesn't exactly sound like "active negotiations".  Anyone else smell what we smell?  That maybe Whalen has contracted the same disease as Terry Shimecchio?   Do we now have John Whalenocchio?  

4. Releasing the proposals would discourage "free and open exchange of contract ideas"?  A sphincter says "WHAT"?  Is what Whalen saying that if the public knew the proposals being considered by the board then board members' ears would be ringing from all the negative calls they'd receive?

5. Is this a board decision?  Or a unilateral Whalen decision.  Are there any board members out there who feel that Whalen is on shaky ground (to say the least) and will cough up the requested documents?  You have our e-mail address.   Paging AG Van Hollen...your involvement is requested! 

We think that this laundry is a tad malodorous.