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What’s there to hide?

We here at the New Richmond News like transparency, but also understand why there are times when keeping things under wraps is important.

This state has open records laws that not only help protect the privacy of individuals when needed, but it is also pretty clear about when things should be open to the light of day.

However, when it comes to our esteemed state and national politicians we can’t understand why there isn’t more flexibility when it comes to covering their interactions with constituents.

Such was the case last week when Gov. Scott Walker held “private” listening sessions in Pepin while about three dozen stood outside wondering if he’s hearing both sides of the story.

According to reports, Walker was in the midst of about 40 scheduled listening sessions across the state, supposedly trying to get back in touch with constituents after spending much of the first half of the year attempting to earn the Republican nomination for president.

These “invitation only” sessions are what many would call “cheerleading” meetings in which Walker and his staff cherry pick constituents in which to converse.

But when pushed about why they were closed to the general public, Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said the sessions were not open to allow those meeting the governor the chance to “feel more comfortable about speaking out.”

Poppycock.

It’s clearly a sham carried out by politicians -- on both sides of the aisle -- to insulate themselves from criticism and to keep comments out of the press.

Sen. Ron Johnson and his staffers carry out the same policy, one that is also evident by the Legislature when drafting the state budget.

These noninclusive meetings are simply a means to keep the general public from hearing what is really being discussed. And the notion that closed doors allow constituents the opportunity to open up to the governor is fantasy

These are not confessionals, folks.

These are public officials carrying out the will of the people without including the people. It’s easy to include your friends and party hacks to meet in a quiet place to talk about things that affect us all.

To Gov. Walker, Sen. Johnson and all the other politicians who carry out this policy, get over yourselves.

It’s time to open the doors to the public. If you really want to know what’s on all constituents’ minds, it’s only logical that everyone have a kick at the can.

Open the doors, please.

Raymond T. Rivard, editor

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